I just tried this 15-minute Pamela Reif Pilates workout — here's what happened

A photo of Pamela Reif doing a side plank with leg raise
(Image credit: YouTube/Pamela Reif)

The best workouts won’t just tone and sculpt into different parts of the body; they leave you with that post-workout glow. One workout that did just this is YouTuber Pamela Reif’s (yes, the same Pamela Reif who set my abs on fire with this six-minute brutal ab workout) latest Pilates workout. 

Anyone who has followed my fitness exploits will know that I’m a huge Pilates fan. As well as targeting the abdominal muscles, lower back, hips, and buttocks, studies have found regular Pilates practice can improve muscle tone, posture, balance, and joint mobility. As a low-impact exercise, Pilates is suitable for nearly all fitness levels, although pregnant women might want to check with their doctor before practicing Pilates during pregnancy. Want to give it a go? Take a look at these Pilates exercises that target your core for the ultimate burn

Famous for her belly-blasting ab workouts, Reif recently uploaded a 15-minute, full-body Pilates class, which is designed for “slow, full-body toning.” As Reif outlines in her description, the workout targets the “abs, booty, outer thighs, and arms, without squats, jumping, or mountain climbers.” I couldn’t wait to try the new workout, so unrolled my exercise mat (looking for a new mat for your home workouts? We’ve found the best yoga mats here), and gave it a go. Read on to find out what happened next.  

What is the Pamela Reif 15-minute Pilates workout? 

Not sure what to expect? If you’ve followed Reif’s videos before, the chances are you’ll recognize a few of the exercises, but if you’re new to Pilates, here are some of the moves to expect during the workout. 

Tabletop pulses: To do this exercise, start on all fours. Engaging your core, raise your right arm and your left leg to the ceiling, keep both outstretched, and pulse them up and down. The movement should be small but controlled. Pulse the same arm and leg for the full 30-seconds. 

Plank and pike: For this exercise, you’ll move from a plank position, with your core engaged and your palms pressed into the floor, to a pike position, with your hips are bent up towards the ceiling, but your legs still straight (think about making a V position with your body). Move between the two exercises. 

Ab lean back and butterfly: For this exercise, you’ll get into a V hold position. To do this, start sitting on your seat bones on your mat, and lean your torso backward until you feel your core start to engage. From there, open your arms out to the side. As you bring them back together, bring your torso up to a sitting position. Keep moving back and forward into the V hold position as you open and close your arms.

Side plank and knee opener: This move seems to combine two different Pilates exercises — the side plank, which works the core and the oblique muscles, and the clam, which targets the glutes. To do it, get into a side plank, with your hips stacked and your knees bent, with the lower knee resting on the floor. From here, raise your bent top knee up off the bottom knee, then slowly bring them back together.  

I tried the Pamela Reif 15-minute Pilates workout — here’s what happened 

First, I loved the intensity of this workout. Like most Pilates classes, it was a slow burner. It didn’t leave me feeling overly sweaty or exhausted, like I would after a run or a HIIT class, but gave me that achy-glow that only Pilates lovers will understand. With Pilates, you don’t often feel the effects of the class when you stand up from the mat, but a few hours later, you’re likely to feel it in your core and lower body. 

Like all of Pamela Reif’s YouTube workouts, the playlist was on-point for this class. I also loved how Pamela didn’t spend any time between exercises talking them through, although beginners will want to pay close attention to her form to ensure they are getting the technique right. 

Like a traditional mat Pilates class, Pamela added moments of breathwork, stretching, or gentler movements to allow you to breathe and refocus. This is another major selling point of Pilates for me — a good Pilates class can feel as mentally restorative as yoga does, something we all seem to need in mid-January when diet and fitness shaming is rife. 

If you do one workout this week, make it this one. It won’t leave you mopping sweat from your brow (hell, I’d just fake tanned before doing this and managed not to make any sweat patches), but it will leave you with that happy, relaxed, Pilates feeling that if I could, I’d bottle and sell. 

Looking for more workout inspiration? Check out the best ab workouts you can do for free, plus the exercise that is better than sit-ups at sculpting your abs

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.