Pilates is about more than a cute outfit — although a little spandex and a stretchy headband can’t hurt.

It’s really all about toning, aligning, and balancing your bod. Since it’s low impact and comes with a bunch of benefits, Pilates is great whether you’re a hardcore gym goer or a fitness n00b.

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Ball type: yoga ball

This Pilates move targets the deepest muscles in your core. Do as many as you can while keeping your spine aligned and abs working. Basically, go until the burn is too hot to handle (or until you are!).

How to do it:

  1. Lie faceup on the floor or an exercise mat with legs bent and hands behind your head.
  2. Lift your shoulders and place the ball under your back.
  3. Imagine you have an ice-cold glass of lemonade on your pelvis — you need to balance so it doesn’t spill!
  4. Lift your right leg at 90 degrees, hinging at the hip to bring right knee upward as you move chest toward knee.
  5. Inhale and exhale deeply, expanding your stomach and rib cage and lengthening your spine to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat 5–10 times on each leg.

Pro tip: Aim to work your core without rocking your pelvis.

Ball type: medicine ball

This bridge move works your core and legs and boosts your balance and flexibility. It’s also perfect to prep your bod and spine for other Pilates poses.

How to do it:

  1. Lie faceup on the mat with feet flat.
  2. Place the ball under one foot and find your balance. Distribute your weight evenly among your foot bones in the center of the ball.
  3. Press firmly into your feet. Your pelvis should lift just a few inches while remaining parallel to the floor.
  4. Lower down to the floor, leading with your tailbone.
  5. Repeat 6–8 times on each foot.

Pro tips:

  • Be sure to keep the ball centered on all your foot bones to avoid a rolled ankle.
  • You may be tempted to squeeze your glutes like you mean it in this position, but you should actually feel it in the backs of your legs. If you feel your booty working, start squeezing your legs instead.
  • Make this one harder by increasing the distance between the ball and your pelvis.

Ball type: yoga ball

This move will have your abs, hip flexors, hamstrings, and inner thighs screaming in no time. Start with 8 or so reps and work your way up as you build strength.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the ball with feet hip-width apart and arms in line with your shoulders.
  2. Walk your feet forward and round your spine until the ball supports your mid-back. Keep your back rounded.
  3. Put your hands behind your head and inhale. Arch your upper back over the ball to prep for the crunch.
  4. Exhale as you curl up. Stay aligned by imagining your ribs sliding toward your belly button.
  5. After 8 or so reps, reach your arms to the ceiling and walk your feet back.
  6. Curl up through your spine to return to the starting position.

Pro tips:

  • Struggling to stabilize? Widen your stance.
  • Want a bigger balance challenge? Bring your legs closer together.
  • To avoid over-arching, straining, or injuring your spine, keep your abs heavily engaged during this one.

Ball type: yoga ball

Lift, baby, lift! (For at least 8 reps, that is.) Get ready for some core, glute, and hamstring action on this one.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the ball with feet hip-width apart. Reach arms straight up, keeping them in line with shoulders.
  2. Exhale and walk your feet forward until the ball supports your upper back and neck. Your hips will rise to the challenge. (Keep a straight line from shoulders to knees.)
  3. Inhale to lower your hips halfway down, maintaining a neutral spine.
  4. Exhale and push your feet into the floor like you mean it. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips again.
  5. Return to the starting position, with arms straight up in the air.

Pro tips:

  • A neutral, relaxed spine will help you get the most from every lift.
  • Challenge your balance and work your inner thighs by bringing your feet closer together on this one.
  • To make it easier, widen your legs for more stability.

Ball type: yoga ball

Time to bend and curl like you’re the cat’s meow. This move will stretch your chest and increase spinal flexibility to channel your inner feline.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a kneeling position. Face the ball and put your paws 😸 on it. Keep your arms long and shoulder-width apart.
  2. Exhale and roll down from the top of your head, moving the ball forward until your back is straight. Now you should have a good view of the floor.
  3. Inhale into the stretch.
  4. Exhale to bring your pelvic floor and abs up and in. Slowly roll up to a straight spine.

Pro tips:

  • Feeling extra-flexible and maybe a little frisky? When you’re stretched out like a cat, rotate your spine and chest upward for an additional stretch.
  • When rolling down and out into the Cat position, imagine extra space between your ribs and hips.
  • When you roll up, aim for more length and space in your torso.

Ball type: yoga ball

Who needs regular old push-ups when you can bust them out on a ball? Aim for 5–8 reps of this powerful move. It’ll work your core, chest, arms, and inner thighs.

How to do it:

  1. Get into plank position on the ball: Start with the front of your bod lying over the ball, then walk your hands out until you’re planked.
  2. Inhale to bend your elbows and bring your torso closer to the floor.
  3. Exhale and straighten your elbows.
  4. Repeat.

Pro tip: Love a challenge? The farther you walk your hands from the ball, the tougher you’ll find this one. You can also keep that in mind to make things a little simpler.

Ball type: yoga ball

Embody a swan’s grace when you dive into this pose. It’ll work your hip extensors, back extensors, and core. Aim for 5–8 reps for this one.

How to do it:

  1. Start with your hips and abs on top of the ball, facedown, with feet hip-width apart. Place your palms on the floor in front of the ball.
  2. Inhale and lengthen your neck and torso until they form a straight line. Keep inhaling to push the spinal stretch a little farther.
  3. Exhale, squeeze your glutes, and rock your bod forward. You should be bending at your elbows.
  4. Inhale and lift your chest back up (straightening your arms) and down again (bending them).
  5. Keep rocking it out. When you’re done, bend over the ball to relax your back.

Pro tips:

  • Since no two torsos are alike (and ball sizes vary), expect to experiment a bit to find your ideal position. Most of the time, your chest and upper back should be a bit in front of the ball. But mostly, aim for balance.
  • Keep your core and legs workin’ it the entire time to avoid stress on your spine.

Ball type: yoga ball

Get rocking side to side with this ball side bend. This will kick your core into gear while emphasizing your obliques, lats, and shoulders. Shoot for 5–8 reps on each side.

How to do it:

  1. Start sideways on the ball, with your top leg straight and pressed into the wall. Need more stability? Keep your knees on the floor. Want a greater challenge? Straighten both legs.
  2. With your bod draped over the ball, put your hands behind your head.
  3. Exhale to lengthen and “side bend” up toward the sky.
  4. Inhale to bend back down. You should feel a stretch in your side and your abs working.

Pro tips:

  • You can keep the side of your hip or waist on the ball — your call. For the most part, the lower the ball is on your body, the harder it will be to stabilize.
  • Make it even harder by reaching your arms straight up overhead.
  • Keep your spine aligned — your ribs shouldn’t thrust forward, and your lower back should be neutral, not arched.

Ball type: yoga ball

Time to lift off with the side leg lift. This move will work your obliques, lats, hip abductors, and glutes. Aim for at least 8 reps on each side.

How to do it:

  1. Start sideways on the ball, top leg straight, foot on the floor. Rest your bottom knee on the floor. Drape over the ball.
  2. Reach your bottom arm to the floor on the opposite side of the ball. Need more support? Grip the ball with your top hand. Want to make it harder? Put your top hand behind your head.
  3. Exhale and lift your top leg. Shoot for hip height.
  4. Inhale and slowly bring your leg back down.

Pro tips:

  • As with the side bend, keep your side form solid to protect your spine. Keep your back neutral and ribs in.
  • Having a hard time keeping your knee on the floor and your hand on the floor? Opt for a smaller ball!

Ball type: yoga ball

Circling round and round will do a number on your core. It’ll work your obliques, lats, glutes, and hip extensors too.

How to do it:

  1. Start in the same position as for the side leg lift: sideways on the ball, top leg straight with foot on the floor, bottom knee on the floor.
  2. Lift your leg higher as you move back and down, almost as if you’re drawing a small circle in the air.
  3. Switch directions after 5–8 reps.

Pro tips:

  • Struggling to stay stable? The smaller the circle, the easier it will be to balance.
  • Love a balance and flexibility challenge? Make larger circles.
  • As with all the side poses, maintain a neutral spine to protect your back from overextension.

Ball type: Pilates ball

Tease out your core, hip flexor, ab, and oblique strength with this pose. Pilates stans know that the Teaser is a classic pose. Using a ball is a popular way to modify it.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the floor with tailbone tucked toward the floor and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Exhale and elongate your spine. Lift your pelvic floor.
  3. Hinge your torso and lift one leg at a time.
  4. Grab the ball with arms straight in front of your bod.
  5. Place the ball between your knees.
  6. Inhale and squeeze your core. Exhale and grab the ball again.
  7. Repeat grabbing and placing the ball between your knees — the Teaser — about 8 times.

Pro tips:

  • Feeling like a pro? Advance this pose by straightening your leg.
  • Challenge yourself further by grabbing the ball with just one hand. (This will work only if the ball is small enough, though.)
  • Keep in mind that this pose tends to work best with a smaller ball in general. Experiment to find the perf size ball for your fave Pilates poses.