May 17

Wanderlust Wellness: A 20-Minute Pilates Class For The Road

I like to think I lead a pretty active, healthy lifestyle. I eat right (most of the time) and I workout regularly. Whether it’s running on the beach, swimming, practicing yoga or Pilates, I always feel better if I get an exercise in. However, when it comes to travel, my regular routine seems to fall by the wayside. I rarely make time for a dedicated workout and I tend to indulge a little more in meals out.

I don’t have a free weight or machine routine, so hotel gyms don’t really work for me, and you never know what you’re going to to get from a Pilates or yoga class on the road. Most of all, it’s just hard to find the time and energy to exercise when you could be out exploring a city, sunning on the beach or sleeping in an extra hour.

Krista Schollaert-Garabedian of Lates Pilates Studio

Krista Schollaert-Garabedian of Lates Pilates Studio

I reached out to my best friend Krista Schollaert-Garabedian, owner of Lates Pilates Studio in Pittsburgh, to give me a quick 20-minute workout I could do on the road. She and I have traveled extensively together and our travel styles are the same. We love an action-packed vacation, from wandering the streets of new and familiar cities to bicycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, learning to surf or hiking the Hollywood Hills. We also love our fair share of eating, drinking and lazing around.

I remember Krista always doing a little Pilates exercise in our hotel rooms in between activities, so I asked her to share a routine with me. I tested it out on a recent trip to Cancun and it gets my seal of approval (obviously!). All you need is 20-minutes and a little floor space.

Krista’s 20-Minute Pilates-Inspired In Room Workout

“When we travel, we tend to be on our feet a whole lot, so when I get to my hotel, the first thing I like to do is lay on the floor and pull one knee in at a time, roll out my ankles, flex and point my toes, straighten my leg, stretch out my hamstrings and then cross my straight leg over my body and do an IT stretch,” Krista told me. Start with this stretching routine.

Abdominal Series

If you practice Pilates, then you’re probably familiar with the abdominal curl. It’s the posture you keep your spine in during the ab series. If you’re a beginner, think abs tight, naval to spine and ribcage in. The ab series consists of five moves and you’ll do 10 reps of each before moving onto the next one.

1. Single Leg Stretch-  With your upper body curled, pull both knees into the chest and place both hands on the right knee. Send your left leg straight, either hovering off the floor if abs are strong enough or higher if weaker, then switch legs at a fast tempo.

2. Double Leg Stretch- Start with your knees into your chest and your upper body curled with both hands on your shins. Extend both legs out as low as you can and hold. Extend your arms behind you. Then, pull your knees back into your chest and your arms back to your shins.

3. Scissor Kicks- Extend both legs straight up and go into an upper body curl. Reach for your right leg’s shin or ankle and pull your straight right leg to you while you send your straight left leg down to the floor. Switch legs at a fast pace.

4. Double Leg Lift- Place your hands behind your head and extend your legs straight up to the sky. Curl your upper body. Lower your legs down to the floor as far as your abs can hold them and pause. Take your time lifting  your legs slowly back up to the starting point.

5. Criss Cross- Place your hands behind your head with your legs in table top position and curl your upper body. Twist your upper body up to the right side and pull your left knee to the elbow. At the same time, extend your straight right leg and switch. This exercise should be done slowly while maintaining both shoulders off the ground as you  twist.

Standing Yoga Series

The next portion of the workout takes a few cues from yoga.

1. Cat Cow Stretches- On all fours, alternate between arching your spine (cat) and raising your hips and head while lowering your spine (cow). It’s helpful to time these movements with the inhale and exhale of your breath.

2. Downward Facing Dog to Plank- To get the blood flowing, move from plank to downward facing dog for about 5 reps. On the last rep, pull your right knee into your chest and hold there for five breaths, then step it through between you hands.

3. Low Runner’s Lunge to Standing Lunge- You are now in a low runner’s lunge. Find the sweet spot to allow your hip flexors to release. Then, find your way to a standing lunge with your hands on your hips. After you’ve cultivated balance, start bending your back leg to the floor with a bent knee. After 10 reps, place hands back on  floor and switch sides.

Side Series

Krista Pilates

Rest for a moment in child’s pose before moving to your side. For beginners, you can lay on your side with a hand behind your head and for more advanced, position yourself on your knee with a hand on the floor. You’ll do the following three exercises in reps of 10 and then switch sides.

1. Leg Lifts- Lift the top leg to hip level and lower back down.

2. Pendulum Kicks- Keeping the leg hip level, swing your straight leg back and forth. The goal here is to keep the hips in alignment like you are in between two walls.

3. Hip Circles- For a hip opener, take your straight leg and imagine you’re drawing small circles in the air with your pointed toe. These can be large or small circles, but the idea is to maintain proper alignment.

The Teaser

Your final test of ab strength is with the teaser. If you’re more of a yogi, this is also called boat pose. The easiest way to start your teaser is to find a seat on your sits bones, curl your spine so that your lower back touches the floor and raise your legs to table top. From there, hold the back of you your legs and balance.  If you’ve got it, extend your legs straight, trying to make your body form a V-like shape.

To intensify, curl your spine all the way down onto your back, trying to touch your feet and head at the same time to the floor. Once you’ve touched the floor roll back up to the V position. Do 10 reps.

Final Spine Stretch

Place your feet on the floor and make your way to a standing position. Roll down to touch your toes articulating each vertebrae on the way down. While hanging like a rag doll, shake your head yes and no, and release your shoulders. Once you feel relaxed, slowly roll your spine back up to a standing position and focus on your breath. Your head is the last thing to come up. Finally, test your balance and try to come onto the balls of your feet. Balance here for at least one full breath circuit and you’re all done.


If you’re traveling to Pittsburgh and looking for a great Pilates class, make an appointment at Krista’s Lates Pilates Studio. She’s the best! Do you have any special tips for staying in shape and working out while you travel? Please share them in the comments below.

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