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In Transit

The full-body Pilates workout you can do on a plane (without anyone noticing)

Yup, even when the seat belt sign is on.

by Rebecca Willa Davis | 04.26.2018

There are unspoken rules when you’re in the air: Let the person in the middle seat get both arm rests, don’t walk around barefoot, and never, ever utter the word “bomb” (not even if you’re telling your friend about the amazing fat bombs you made the night before).

But one that seems to be regularly broken is using the airplane as your personal workout studio. Who can blame you for wanting to squeeze in a couple push-up reps or a few minutes in down dog when you’ve been sitting for houuuuurs? (I say this as someone who has lived in both Tokyo and Buenos Aires and has taken more than her fair share of long-ass flights.)

The general consensus among flight attendants I’ve spoken with has been that they don’t appreciate mile-high workout moves (especially when it happens in the back galley—as one unlucky yogi en route to Japan found out). That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re stuck upright in your seat until you reach your destination.

She knows how to come up with moves that you can make happen even if you’re not spandex-clad and lying on a Reformer in the middle of a studio.

Just ask Moraima Gaetmank, who has mastered the art of doing low-key stretches on an airplane without bothering her seatmates. As the founder of Studio Kinetique (the Parisian Pilates spot for chic fashion girls and prima ballerinas alike), she knows the physical damage a flight can do to the body—from both her own travels and those of her globetrotting clients. And she also knows how to come up with moves that you can make happen even if you’re not spandex-clad and lying on a Reformer in the middle of a studio. “The French are not ones to walk into a studio in their Lululemon leggings,” she explains, adding, “We have a client who comes and works out in an Alaia dress!” (And is there anything more French than doing something that’s both understated and impactful?)

Here, Gaetmank—along with her Studio Kinetique instructors—shares a head-to-toe, Pilates-inspired workout you can do on the airplane (or car, or train, or whatever else is getting you from point A to point B) to keep your body limber without working up a sweat…or catching any ire from the pilot.

Pilates airplane stretch for arms

Stretch 1 – Wrists

Breathe in: Intertwine your hands and stretch your arms in front of you, palms facing out.

Breathe out: Lift your arms above your head, pushing the palms up towards the ceiling and allowing your shoulders to rise up.

Breathe in: Slide your shoulder blades down and lower your arms.

Pilates airplane stretch for arms

Stretch 2 – Arms

Breathe in: Grab your right elbow behind your head with your left hand.

Breathe out: Bend to the left, pushing your right armpit up while gently pushing your elbow down. Repeat on the other side.

Pilates airplane stretch for hamstrings

Stretch 3 – Hamstrings

Breathe in: Sitting on the edge of your chair, keep your left leg bent and stretch your right leg long in front of you, flexed.

Breathe out: Push the right heel and project your sternum forward while keeping your back straight. Repeat on the other side.

Pilates airplane stretch for glutes

Stretch 4 – Glutes

Breathe in: Place your right foot over your left knee and rest your arms on either end of your leg.

Breathe out: Allow your chest to fall forward. Repeat on the other side.

Pilates airplane stretch for back pain

Stretch 5 – Back

Breathe in: Separate your feet, placing them flat on the floor.

Breathe out: Roll your head and spine down towards the floor, one vertebrae at a time.

Breathe in: Allow your head to hang between your knees with your arms heavy, touching the floor.

Breathe out: Hollow your navel and begin to uncurl your spine, one vertebrae at a time, back to a seated position.

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