Easy Pilates and Cardio Workout with Relaxing Cool Down — Active Recovery Workout

31 Min • Lower Body, Total Body
  • View on YouTube
    • Training Type Low Impact, Pilates, Stretching/Flexibility
    • Equipment Mat, No Equipment


    Tone, strengthen, and increase overall range of motion with this light workout that uses low impact total body cardio mixed in with Pilates intervals. I've provided many ways to modify this routine to work for many different fitness levels and goals, so whether you're brand new to exercise or just looking for an active recovery workout, I hope you'll enjoy this cardio and Pilates workout.

    I personally love this routine. It makes me feel good, refreshed, and relaxed. It targets the glutes and thighs from multiple angles, involves total body movements during the cardio intervals, and calls upon balance, coordination, and bodily control. It's a beginner-level workout, but with deceptively sneaky nervous system and coordination challenges worked in. The workout is a manageable 30 minutes and includes a feel-good warm up cardio that gradually escalates, and a nice, relaxing cool down and stretch.

    Related: 10 Beginner Workouts that you can do at home for free

    For some people, this workout might be a walk in the park — a rest day workout. For someone at a different place in their fitness journey, this routine might feel difficult. Wherever you're at right now, make sure to keep your self talk positive as you move throughout this routine. Don't get mad or frustrated if an interval becomes difficult or your muscles and lungs start to fatigue. Just observe, "so this is where I'm at today." and be content and nonjudgmental with what you observe. You're here, you've shown up, and you've decided to move—and that's all that matters through the 30 minutes you're doing this workout.

    Workout Challenge Level
    The difficulty level of this workout is relatively versatile, but it is generally geared towards beginners, those needing a light/recovery/active rest day, and/or a workout for when maybe you're not feeling your greatest but want to move around so that you don't feel stiff and sluggish. This can even be a great workout when you have cramps (some people have found that light activity can even help relieve cramps). On the other hand, you can follow this same format and get in a sweaty cardiovascular challenge and a great butt and thigh workout, by making the low impact cardio exercises explosive/dynamic and using weights, resistance bands, or ankle weights.

    Workout Structure
    This is a bodyweight workout that can easily be made much more difficult by adding dumbbells, resistance bands, or ankle weights. The cardio warm up focuses on light total body movements. Next, we move through intervals of Pilates and low impact cardio exercises. Feel free to speed up or slow down, use more or less range of motion, do fewer or more repetitions, add weights, or drop them, etc. The cool down is a nice chance to slow down while doing some relaxing deep stretches.

    Warm Up Cardio Workout - 30 Seconds Each
    A lot of these warm up exercises play with breath work. If you're brand new to the moves, feel free to slow it down so that you can try and match movement with breath.

    Stretch + March
    Ventral Lift + Step
    IT Stretch Steps
    Chest Opener + Reach
    Single Leg Walker + Arms 
    Other Side
    3 Marches + Kick
    Rear Step + Press & Pulldown 
    3 Step Side Lunges
    Fly Jacks

    Pilates and Cardio Workout - 45 Seconds Active, 15 Seconds Rest
    Kneeling Reverse Leg Lift
    Other Side
    Hydrant + Extension (alternating)
    Other Side

    Side Lunge + Lift
    2 Side Step Squats
    Slow Jumping Jacks + Knee & Curl
    Step/Lunge Forward + Ventral Raise

    Water Break

    Side Leg Raises
    Other Side
    Other Side

    Single Leg Runner
    Warrior Jacks
    Press + 3 Point Step
    Bird Dog

    Cool Down and Stretch
    A note about the cool down - this is a nice, relaxing, slow-paced cool down. We're intentionally in no hurry here. Take this time to focus on the fact that you showed up for a workout today. Then, try to clear your head, even if not just for the last few minutes of this routine. Throughout these relaxing stretches, you should also focus on your breathing. Aim for slow, even breaths that make both your belly and your chest rise. 

    Cat to Cow
    Cat to Cow Side Stretch
    Prone Quad Stretch
    Cobra Stretch
    Kneeling Calf Stretch
    Supine Single Leg Hamstring Stretch
    Lying Torso Stretch
    Full Body Stretch

    I will definitely revisit this workout myself. In fact, I used it before it was published on YouTube - one of the perks of filming and editing your own workout videos, I suppose. Ha! 

    If you know someone who is just getting started with working out and you think they might like this workout, please share!