Want to get fit fast without logging long hours at the gym? So did Parminder Nagra, star of the hit FOX drama Alcatraz, after she gave birth to her son Kai in 2010. So the actress, who first rose to stardom in the hit Bend it Like Beckham, turned to her trainer of eight years, Thalia Thomas at Studio Soma in West Hollywood, to lose the baby weight through SomaSculpt, a cardio Pilates program which burns 400-600 calories per session.
"Parminder always looks for a fast, effective way to strengthen but also lengthen her muscles," says Thomas. "With her busy schedule, she has limited time and needs to make every hour count, so doing SomaSculpt helps her get her Pilates-inspired exercises done but, at the same time, work on her cardiovascular system and spot train problem areas."
Post-baby, Nagra's abs are "flatter and stronger," her legs are leaner and her flexibility and cardiovascular levels are both through the roof, thanks to Thomas's innovative program, which uses a Bosu ball and Pilates moves to tighten up the "abs, legs, glutes and upper body."
Now you can get similar results in the comfort of your own home. "Many portions of the SomaSculpt workout are typically performed on a Bosu ball but it is easily modified," says Thomas, who designed this five-move routine (minus the ball) specifically for SELF.
Going Up Side
Stand with the legs parallel, hips-width apart. Bend the knees as far as you can without lifting the heels off the floor (top). If you have a bad lower back or knees, limit the range of motion. Make sure the knees are over the toes. Your arms can be out to the side for balance or holding onto something (like a chair, shown above). For added calorie-burning, you can hold onto two-pound weights. Begin to transfer your weight onto one leg as you raise the other leg up as high as you can keeping the lifted leg parallel (bottom). Return back to the squat and repeat for four sets of ten. Change legs and repeat then repeat again on both sides.
Single Leg Stretch
(Check with your doctor before doing this exercise if you have a lower back injury.) Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair. If you do not have any injuries, sit up so your back is not leaning against the back of the chair. For a less-aggressive version, lean back to support your back Bend one knee into your chest as far as you can as you extend the other leg out the height of the hip (above). Make sure you are pulling your navel to your spine and your shoulders are relaxed and pulling down. Alternate the legs in and out for two minutes.
Double Leg Stretch
In the same position as the previous exercise on the chair, pull both knees into your chest as far as you can (top). Squeezing your inner thighs together, extend the legs out in front of you (bottom) then pull them back into your chest. Repeat this for 20 reps.
Place your feet on a couch, table or chair and push yourself up into a plank position. Swivel your hips to the right and bring the outside edges of your feet onto the chair. The right foot will be in front of the left, but the thighs remain parallel. Lower onto your right elbow, forearm facing in the direction of your toes. Bring your left hand lightly to the back of your head, elbow pointing straight up (top). Lower (bottom) and lift the chest towards the floor without arching the back. The elbow moves as a result, it doesn't lead the movement. Make sure the inner thighs are squeezing, as well as the buttocks for maximum support to the lower back. Repeat for four sets of ten.
Stand with your legs together and your arms behind your head. Lift your knee to your chest as your other leg stays straight while you twist your body bringing your opposite elbow to your knee (above). Alternate legs and repeat for two minutes.