Pilates. It comes in different forms: group mat, reformer classes, at-home DVDs, and crazy contraption--um, equipment--personal-training sessions. No matter which method you prefer, or even if you're new to the technique, Pilates is arguably best known for its ability to tone and lengthen limbs.
I'm a big fan myself, as I find it to be more of a sweat-session than yoga (Bikram aside, obviously). I feel long and lean after a class, and perform many Pilates-style moves while at the gym.
The beauty of most Pilates moves is that even if you think you're targeting one area of the body, you are almost always utilizing a variety of muscles, particularly your core. This week's Move of the Week is no different. The leg raise and circles work every inch of the thigh, while holding the other leg steady above the ground requires a strong core and good balance.
Here's what to do: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Contract abs, lifting your upper body slightly off the ground. Raise your right leg five inches (or keep it on the ground, if that’s too challenging) and the left leg straight up toward the sky. Keeping your core engaged and hips stable, trace four softball-size circles clockwise with your entire left leg; reverse, circling four times counterclockwise. Lower both legs, switch sides, and repeat.
Move of the Week: Circles in the Sky