Get in Peak Hiking Shape this Spring with Pilates and London!

Hiking requires a great deal cardiovascular fitness and whole body strength - especially in your legs.  I like to use my environment to help me prepare. 

But what to do when London is flat?

First, I walk.  A lot.  In addition to all of the benefits of being outdoors as the weather improves, I benefit from a bit of light cardio work and improved leg strength, which certainly doesn't hurt my hiking form.  I always try to avoid public transport or at least take the bus or tube a few stops away from where I’m going, to fit in more time for walking.  Let’s be clear, it is not a slow, leisurely walk.  If I take the tube, I consider myself lucky to finish my journey in a station with stairs like Covent Garden.

193 steps to the top = fantastic work for your legs.

In addition to “stair-summits” throughout London tube stations, I get in peak (pun intended) hiking shape through running and pilates.  The Wunda Chair is an athletic piece of kit that allows me to focus on core strength and leg power.  I programme challenging leg exercises into every one of my studio classes at bePilates on Thursday evenings - if you let me know when your next hike is planned, I would love to help your prepare.  

When I don’t have time for my own workout in the studio, I make sure to complete some pilates or pilates inspired exercises at home, before I start out a long day of teaching.  I’ve included a few simple exercises from my at-home routine to get you started:


Exercise Name:  Shoulder Bridge Prep (Pelvic Lift)

Rocio demonstrates pelvic lift on the reformer.

Rocio demonstrates pelvic lift on the reformer.

Starting Position:  Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent at a right angle and your feet on the floor in line with your hips.

Movement Sequence:  Inhale to prepare.  As you exhale, gently roll the spine up starting with the pelvis into your bridge.  Inhale at the top and as you exhale, slowly bring your spine back down to your starting position.  Perform 8-10 repetitions.

Top Tips:

  • Initiate the movement by drawing your tail bone towards your pubic bone and your pubic bone to your chest as you press down equally through your feet, hands and shoulders to articulate the spine as you bridge.
  • Try to roll up only as far as the bottom tips of your shoulder blades to maintain a gentle curve to the spine at the top of your bridge.
Just a little progression from all-4's on the floor!

Just a little progression from all-4's on the floor!

Exercise Name:  All-Four Leg Lower and Lift

Starting Position:  In all-4 position, start with your knees under your hips and our hands under your shoulders.  Try to create a long spine from head to tail.  Lengthen your right leg behind you so that your toes rest gently on the floor, maintaining your long spine.

Movement Sequence:  Lift your leg up to hip height before tapping it back down to the ground.  Repeat 10 times before changing legs to repeat on your left side.

Top Tips:

  • Focus on length, rather than lift maintain a stable back.
  • If you have weak wrists, you can complete this exercise from your forearms with elbows under your shoulders.
  • For an added challenge, try adding circles each direction after you've completed your leg lift/lower series with care not to arch or curl the spine or collapse in your shoulders.

Making a few small changes to your daily commute or adding in some simple exercises at home can mean all the difference to help you build strength and stamina for your next trek. 

For some great routes in London, get started with and for hikes further afield, check out for some proper inspiration.

Want to see how pilates or pilates inspired exercises can help you improve your fitness in time for the great outdoors this spring?  Join Rocio here at the studio Thursday evenings and Fridays.  Check out her group class schedule here or book a private lesson.