I Do This Instead of Sit-Ups (Spoiler: Still Terrible)


Gang, meet Sue, my insanely fabulous Pilates instructor.  She’s a mom, a cool chick, and a decidedly normal (read:  not intimidating or overly precious) Pilates teacher.  But don’t be fooled by her soothing voice – I’m cursing her (silently, in my head) at least a few times each week.

When I first started working with Sue, I was still reeling from the aftermath of my mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.  I was also worried about my stomach – while the diastasis I developed during Pax’s pregnancy had technically healed, I still had little-to-no core strength to speak of.  I had a small, hard little post-partum pooch, looked pregnant in a bikini (only 2-3 months pregnant, but still) and was literally afraid to do sit-ups lest I make my stomach ‘punch out’.  (Traditional sit-ups can actually make this whole situation worse.)

Sue helped me realize that I could regain core strength – Pilates is almost more PT than traditional exercise – and the one piece that has been crucial to both regaining that core strength and flattening my stomach is the traditional Pilates Ab Series.

This is a series of 5 exercises, 8-10 reps each.  It’s simple enough that one could do them every day….but they’re pretty terrible. The good news is that the whole thing takes less than 5 minutes, and is insanely effective.  I’m considering….maybe….the possibility….of doing them onceperday?  Ugh – I know, I hate it too.  But this girl isn’t getting any younger, and I’m starting to realize that if I want that flat stomach I’ve gotta fight for it.  Not to mention that a strong core makes everything better.

So.  Give the video a watch.  And let me know if you want to join my little summer challenge:  Ab series, once per day.  You can curse me the whole time.  (And Sue – I’ll be cursing you.)

Urban Front Pilates, thank you for letting us shoot in the studio.  I’m so freaking glad I found you. (And Sue!!)



ps.  Hey Philly – if you have any questions for Sue, or would like to start working with her, too, she can be reached either at Urban Front or here.


  1. That was SO hard!!! But I’m up for the challenge. I have always had a pooch and I am intrigued to see if this will flatten it but if not, I will have a stronger core!

  2. I’m really intrigued by this! I have the dreaded c-shelf from my c-section (4 years ago). My doctor said no amount of exercise will ever make it go away, but I REFUSE to believe that! One question, I’m not very flexible, so can you do these exercises and make a difference even if you have to modify leg height?

  3. Love this! it would be super awesome to have the routine on a printable, too, or even just listed in the post so one doesn’t have to watch the video each time 🙂

    • Ok! So Mad (our fab intern) just uploaded a graphic. Does this work as a printable? Or something more black-white-printer friendly?

  4. Shana, I’m so happy to see you mention diastasis recti. Several years ago I took your advice and did the Mutu System – and it worked! I loved it so much I did it for three years. And then I did something stupid. I did hard core Pilates on the reformer (36 hours in two months) with an instructor that didn’t know anything about DR, and I tore my DR back open! So after two months, all my other measurements were lower and my abdominal measurements were 1” higher!
    So I caution all moms (new or old) to check if they have DR and only work with instructors who are knowledgeable about it. Otherwise all the sit ups, v ups, planks, etc could make their pooch worse!
    As for me, I’m back doing Mutu, and after only two weeks my DR is closed! But I can’t find a DR knowledgeable yoga or Pilates instructor in my area so it’s all I can do for now.
    Here’s to not working out hard, but to working out SMART and hard!

    • Sing it, Sister. My DR years were so freaking frustrating. And it’s still a battle, to be honest. But YES: cheers to working smart and hard!

  5. I’m in! Trying to get back in shape after a wreck! Lots of liquid diets and soft foods = soft middle! Thanks for sharing this. Love your energy and honesty and am super thankful you shared!

  6. My dr. said the same thing. Small diastasis from my c-section and the only thing that supposedly will cure it is a tummy tuck. Not interested. I do want to try it too

  7. Love Pilates, have been doing it for awhile now, such a great way to excerise. Where did you get those athletic leggings I have seen many people where them but don’t know where to find them. Can you do a post on those?

  8. I’m in! I have been doing a HIIT workout, which I really really love, since September, but I’m still not happy with my midsection. I can definitely work in 5 minutes a day to try and flatten it out. I’m totally starting this ASAP!

  9. Hooray for DR-smart exercise and strong, functional cores! If anyone has diastasis, I highly recommend Core Exercise Solutions. A step up from Mutu in terms of expertise and she provides critique of your videos so you know you’re doing the moves right and not making yourself worse!

  10. I am checking back today, Yay you made a printable version. I really thought I was going to do this a few days ago, but I lazy-ied out. I reread this post and 5 min a day is not too bad, thanks this is great!

  11. Thank you so much! Both of my children were ten pounds at birth and this feels like it should help get me on the road to less pooch!

  12. Shana, would you ever consider doing a more extensive post about pilates? I’m interested in it, but nervous about what the first time is like (esp since I’m super out of shape), how much it costs, how you decide if it’s right or going to work for you… stuff like that. Thank you in advance!

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