Everyone has go-to muscles that they use to perform daily activities, and they vary from person to person depending on body shape and lifestyle. We often use these muscles subconsciously, which can lead to overuse injuries. These muscles are also easy to fire while working out, building bulk in the dominant muscles that are already strong and making it difficult to correct imbalances and evenly distribute the workload during exercise. The beauty of private Pilates sessions is that the instructor can focus on identifying and strengthening an individual’s weak muscles. For legs specifically, dominant and weak muscles depend largely on posture and gait. Many people rely on their quads and are disconnected from their inner thighs and their medial hamstrings. Others are more disconnected from their gluteus medius (one of three glute muscles) or the deep rotators of their hips.
To learn how to work the entire leg and achieve the desirable long, lean aesthetic, Robb Report caught up with leading Pilates instructor Erika Bloom, founder of the east coast’s eponymous Pilates studios and a former professional dancer who turned to Pilates to heal a back injury that left her paralyzed on her left side. “Traditional exercises only allow people to rely on their dominant muscles,” explains Bloom. “Pilates requires grace, balance, flow, and control, which targets all of the muscles in the leg, including small intrinsic musculature and weak muscle groups. The concept keeps legs long and slim as they’re being toned.”
Individual Pilates sessions at Erika Bloom's studios range from $140 to $300 per hour. But if you can't get into the studio for personalized work, here are six of Bloom’s recommendations for leg exercises that can be done at home—just in time for shorts weather. (erikabloompilates.com)