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I skipped the gym and tried this couch workout instead, and I was impressed with the results

Aug 19, 2023

This is a useful lazy day routine for building leg strength and boosting flexibility

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We all have those days when we just don't feel like going to the gym. Even the idea of rolling out the yoga mat for a workout might feel like too much effort. But movement, however small, is one of the best ways to improve your physical and mental health and a little bit of exercise is better than none.

So on a rare day that I couldn't even face a five-minute workout, I tried this couch Pilates routine by instructor Georgia Weibel instead. It's made up of six exercises that you can do from the comfort of your couch to help you build strength and flexibility.

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There are six moves to master here, many of which involve an element of balance. Most of them you need to perform for 10 repetitions (reps), apart from the stretching 'mermaid' pose which only requires four reps. We'd recommend doing three full sets of the exercises, so that you can reap the benefits of this short routine.

As with any Pilates routine, it's important to focus on form (sadly you can't slouch just because it's on a soft, comfy couch). Remember to engage your core muscles and watch your alignment in the elongated poses.

I liked that I didn't have to get any equipment ready to do this routine. All I had to do was move from my desk chair to the couch to get in position. The moves were then fairly straightforward and I did feel some muscle burn when doing the split squat variation.

That said, the session was still a lot less demanding than my typical gym routine, and I'm not going to ditch my functional strength training routines anytime soon. But it's a nice, short workout option for when you really don't feel up to exercise. I found that by the end of the session my heart rate was slightly elevated and I could feel that I'd engaged a broad range of muscles.

What I did really enjoy about the routine was the stretching exercises. There were a couple of moves that involved reaching up overhead and leaning to the side—the 'mermaid' and the 'side bend'—which felt satisfying and put my flexibility to the test. They were certainly very welcome after having spent the morning hunched over a computer.

I was impressed at just how refreshed I felt after this session. It shows that even on a quiet day, a little bit of movement can help you refocus. I'll definitely come back to it for some gentle but challenging movement and it will work well as a low-impact option for anyone who prefers to workout from home.

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Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.

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