This group fitness class is all about toning and strengthening your core.

When it comes to working out, I love getting sweaty—going for a run, taking a BODYPUMP class, cycling. But I tend to shy away from anything that focuses on my core, especially when it includes repetitive and isolated movements. Why? Quite simply because it hurts.

But activating and training our core and back muscles are key to a strong and fit body. So how do you add core work into your typical routine without forcing yourself to do hundreds of crunches and sit ups? Try a POP Pilates class! Of course, you’ll work more than just your mid-section in POP, but in almost every track there is some form of killer core work. (Some of the section names include “ab challenge,” “hard core” and “abs and thighs.”) You won’t get super sweaty during POP, but you will tone and firm your abdominals, oblique muscles, back and more, all to pop music and top 40 tracks.

Don’t believe me? Take a class and see for yourself, or try these five killer moves from POP for a toned mid-section.


  1. Frogger Abs: This move works your abdominals and thighs. Start lying on your back in table top position with knees suspended directly over hips. Place your heels together to make a V-shape with your feet, push your knees slightly out to create a diamond shape with your legs. Stack your hands on top of each other and straighten your arms above your head on the floor. Reach your hands toward ankles and push your legs diagonally out in front as you engage your core and come into a crunch, squeeze your thighs together and maintain the V-shape with your feet. Control back down to start position and repeat.
  2. Punch Crunch: Lay flat on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Engage your core and punch four times as you twist through your core and crunch up—right fist to left knee, left fist to right knee, repeat. At the top bring your hands straight out in front of you and roll back down with control to starting position. Repeat. The big challenge here is to keep your feet flat on the floor through the entire move.
  3. Animalia: On all fours, place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under hips, toes on the floor. Keeping your core engaged and your back flat, lift your knees slightly off the floor into a hover. Keep your hands planted, take one small step forward with your right foot, then your left foot and walk back out right foot, then left. Repeat this “in, in, out, out” movement while maintaining the hover.


  1. Sprinters: Lay flat on your back, legs straight out in front of you on the floor, arms bent at a 90 degree angle directly over your shoulders, palms open toward your face. As you crunch up keep your core engaged and drive your right leg up to table top position while you twist through your core and bring your left elbow to the inside of your right knee. Keep your chest lifted and palm open to look like you are sprinting to the finish. Control on the way back down and repeat on the other side.
  2. Plié Oblique Crunch: This move gives you the lower-body benefits of a squat, with some oblique work as well. Stand with feet wider than shoulders, toes pointed toward the corners of the room and arms straight up above shoulders, palms facing in. Engage your core, drop your booty straight down and come into a plié squat with knees directly over your ankles at the bottom. As you rise, drive your right knee up above hip height and pull both arms down, bringing right elbow to connect with right knee, creating a small side crunch. Control your right leg back down to the floor, return to start and repeat.

Find a POP Pilates class near you, and get to know the creator, Cassey Ho.

Much thanks to Jessica David, Area Group Exercise Manager for 24 Hour Fitness Colorado and POP Pilates instructor, for the movement descriptions.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Blogilates