4 Mind-Body Workouts with a Stretchy Band

The exercise world has used compact and portable stretch bands for a long time to work muscles without a lot of gadgets, why not mind-body fitness? The physical therapy and rehabilitation world used those rubbery bands for workouts long before the exercise folks stole them for theirs.

So, now how about a quasi-Reformer workout with a stretch band? This so-called Flex-Band workout was developed by Moira Stott, the president of Stott Conditioning, as an answer to the dilemma whose motto is, “Love the Reformer but it won’t fit in my house.” And a pretty cool answer to this workout is also, “Look, Ma, no Reformer.” Or maybe, “Look Ma, my Reformer packs in my purse.”

One thing to be aware of: Be sure to hang onto the band tightly so that one end doesn’t spring loose into your face or against your body. And check your band before each use to make sure you don’t see any tears or holes that could make the band break. They are rubber, and they can break down with age, heat, or cold exposure, and just plain use.

Workout #1: Footwork, First Position

You do this in what looks like the dancer’s first position, with heels together and toes out. Hold the position strongly to recruit your buttocks muscles completely.

  1. Lie on your back, hold the band with one end in each hand and the middle part wrapped around the balls of your feet. Keep your toes turned out and your heels together.

  2. Rotate your legs from the hips so that your knees are bent slightly but turned out with the knee cap over the toe.

  3. Inhale, hang onto that stabilized body (meaning the abs are tight and spine aligned), squeeze your heels together, and straighten your knees against the resistance of the band, keeping the knees turned out from the hips even as they straighten.

  4. Exhale, bend your knees, and return to your starting position so that the band loses some of its tautness.

  5. Repeat 5–10 times.

Workout #2: Footwork, Wrap Toes

You’re working your entire legs and hips.

  1. Lie on your back, with your knees bent and rotated inward so your knees and feet are side-by-side and inner thighs are glued together. Keep your feet flexed (so the feet are cocked into a right angle with the lower leg). Hold one end of the band in each hand and put the middle part around your heels.

    Bend your elbows as much as you need to hold the band in this position.

  2. Exhale, and straighten your knees to push against the band. Let your feet move away from your body.

  3. Inhale, bending your knees to return to the starting position.

  4. Repeat 5–10 times.

Workout #3: Back Rowing Preps, Pulling Arms Straight Back

In the next two exercises, if your hamstrings are tight, you can either bend your knees slightly or sit on a cushion to relieve the tension.

  1. Sit tall on your pelvic bones with your legs straight.

  2. Flex your feet (so the toes are pointing upward) and hold one end of the band in each hand with the middle part wrapped around your arches. (Make sure there’s enough tension so that the band isn’t just sagging there.)

  3. Inhale, then exhale and use your back muscles to feel as if you are sliding your shoulder blades down while also feeling as if you are trying to press your palms backward and your fingers toward the floor. Your arms stay straight as the tension in the band increases. Reach backward only as far as your ribs and back remain neutral and you don’t have to strain any muscles.

    Inhale, keeping those shoulder blades where they are, and reach your straight arms down again but forward toward your toes to allow the band to relax a little bit of the tension you just added.

  4. Repeat 5 times.

Workout #4: Back Rowing Preps, Curls

You use the arms and body in this exercise much as you do in the Reformer version of this exercise. Although it’s called curls (for the biceps in your arms), you still work the legs and torso as you keep yourself stabilized.

  1. Sit tall on your pelvic bones with your legs straight.

  2. Flex your feet and hold one end of the band in each hand with the palms facing up and your arms reaching straight out in front of your shoulders. The middle part of the band is wrapped around your arches.

  3. Inhale, then exhale, and curl your arms through the elbow to reach your hands toward your ears — here’s the hard part — without dropping your elbows.

  4. Inhale, and again without dropping your elbows, allow your arms to lengthen and your hands to reach outward.

  5. Repeat 5–10 times.

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