The Modern Pretzel

A dancer’s physique, which certainly looks good in a bathing suit, consists of strong abs and a beautifully lifted tushie.

The legendary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham introduced this exercise as “The Pretzel.” It’s been updated to slim the waistline, tone the lower back and obliques, all while lifting the seat muscles. You might not be able to complete a grand jeté, but you’ll look like you could!

Want to try it? Tell us why and you could win a free introductory class. We’re giving away five free passes, compliments of Akemi. Email

  • Begin with your front leg at a 45 degree angle and your back leg at a 90 degree angle.
  • Twist at the waist and rotate your hips a few times to warm up the muscles.
  • Lift the back leg while extending the opposite arm.
  • Lift the leg, just an inch or two. Start with 10 lifts but increase eventually to 30.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Variations: You can hold an exercise ball in front of you to engage your upper body. You can also change the lifting motion. Move your leg back an inch or two. Make small circles with your knee or—for the really advanced—straighten your leg and then lift.

Author Jocelyn Davis teaches the Akemi Fitness method, which blends core exercises, dance, Pilates and yoga. Inspired by the Lotte Berk method, akemi classes use weights and a ballet barre to tone, sculpt and lengthen all muscle groups.

Win a free lesson compliments of Akemi. Email

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