Pilates Burpee Jump Rope Thanksgiving Challenge

As you may or may not know, it’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. My Cali pal, Sylvia Favela is visiting and it’s been a great time to reflect on my many blessings.

I really couldn’t ask for a better life: I live in a free country, I’m healthy, my ‘work’ never seems like work because I love helping people with fitness, my kids are happy and healthy, I have fantastic friends and clients like you and of course we have our pup, Sev to spice our life up.

banff sylvia 3 13

Seriously, life is good. I love my life 😉

Sylvia and I aren’t your typical girls when we get together, no spa days or girly things. We do workouts and videos together and sit butt to butt on the couch while we share what helps our clients get the most results. But we did manage to get up Banff, one of the most beautiful places on earth, for our annual visit and pumpkin pie 🙂

I have two workouts for you today. They’re short and effective as you’ll see in the video demonstrations for each of them.

One workout uses two of my favorite exercises and the other one is just plain horrible on the core.

It’s a perfect combination for a pre-Thanksgiving feast (for those of you in Canada). It’s always a great idea to boost your metabolism with this sort of workout prior to a big feast. For me (and most of the people I coach), once I have a good workout under my belt, I tend to keep my eating under check a little better.


Sylvia had a workout she called “3 Balls of Fury” . It’s in itself challenging when balancing on a stability ball and adding weight with a dumbbell. To add variation and a little spice to a Pilates moves, a stability ball increases the intensity and muscle control of the entire body.  The core works to keep you on the ball while the muscles in the rest of your body are firing to keep you balanced.

Here are the steps:

#1 Ball of  Fury  – Ball with Dumbbell banff sylvia 2013
– Keep hips inline to the knees, hips off ball at all times
– Keep spine and belly button pushed into the ball
– Hold dumbbell with both hands
– Arms straight over head

– Curl up twist at the obliques to each side
– Don’t let the arms cross in front of your chest to twist

#2 Ball of Fury – Ball inner thighs with Dumbbell
– Ball in between the calves, do not hook your feet around the ball
– Dumbbell in both hands

– Keep spine down and stomach pulled in
– Arms over head

– Knees in line to the hips

-Legs extends from the knee to the sky
– Intensify the move by extending the legs at 45 degree angle

#3 Ball of Fury – Ball in hand

– Ball in hands ball overhead
– Knees bent, feet flat on the floor

– Beginner, knees and feet apart

– Intensify the move, knees and feet together
– Articulate spine as you roll up
– Keep chest opened

– Do not fall down, control your move down

You can begin with timed sets, 30 seconds of work for a total of 3 rounds, to help you focus on controlling the move.  To kick it up a notch, try 3 Rounds, 10 reps of each movement.  Keep in mind Pilates core moves are designed to be low rep and intense.  Do not break form!  When your muscles are fatigued and holding form is a challenge, modify the movement by keeping your knees and feet pulled in to the mid-line of your body.

Here is a demonstration of the workout:


pilates bodywgt


You can find more fun and effective Pilates core moves here.

You can easily add these core moves after your challenge workouts.

And you can make up for a little Thanksgiving faux pas (read: pumpkin pie) when you include some metabolism boosting workouts like the one below.

banff sylvia 2 2013

I made her do a Challenge Burpee/Jump Rope combination.

The jump rope set is straight forward enough. Just do it. Do any sort of jump you can to keep the rope moving for the set. If you can’t jump rope anymore, just throw the rope aside and do the phantom skip as Sylvia demonstrates.

The burpee is another story and takes a bit of practice.  It’s not as complicated as it sounds, once you watch the video it will be a snap. Here are the steps:

1. Hold the DB’s by your side
2. Drop the DB’s to the floor
3. Do a squat thrust to high plank
4. Push up
5. Renegade row
6. Bring the feet back to hands and stand up
7. Hinge at the hip to do a RDL (Romanian Deadlift)
8. Upright row to place DB’s to shoulders
9. Squat with DB’s in front rack position
10. Push press
11. Bring the DB’s to the sides again
12. Repeat 😉

You can do one min of the jump rope followed by one min of the burpee combo exercise for up to 12 min of sweaty work. If one minute is too much, then adjust the time to what you can handle. Scratch that, adjust the time to just a little more than you can handle, I always want you to reach a little further.

Head here for more some Challenge Burpee workouts, and here for some Challenge Jump Rope workouts.