Living with Harmony ~ A Blog for your Mind & Body

Pilates Butterfly Exercise with Hand Weights

Posted in Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Pilates,Toning Balls by Harmony on January 6, 2011

In under two minutes you’ll learn how to do the Pilates Butterfly exercise using small hand weights.  The Butterfly is an arm workout that also incorporates a spinal rotation to help loosen up back muscles.  In this video they use small neoprene dumbbells, but you could also use your Pilates Toning Balls or small neoprene grip weights if you already have them.


Exercises for New Moms & You

Posted in Core/Fitness,Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Mini Exercise Ball,Toning Balls by Harmony on December 10, 2010

Although these following exercises are intended for new mom’s trouble spots, you may find these exercises perfect for you too.  Two of these exercises use small exercise balls.  We carry three different sizes:  6″ Exercise/Body Rolling Ball, 7″ Exercise Therapy Ball, and a 9″ Exercise Therapy Ball.  These small vinyl inflatable balls have many uses so feel free to incorporate into other exercises, such as holding the ball between your hands during crunches.  The simple act of squeezing the ball between your legs or your hands activates additional muscles and brings more awareness to those areas.

The Wood Chop exercise is to be performed with a dumbbell or hand weight.  Check out these options:  Neoprene Dumbbell Weight Set (2, 3, 5lbs), Grip Weights (3 or 5lbs), or the Soft Weighted Toning Balls (2lbs).

Exercises to Tackle Your Trouble Spots

Exercise: Ball Squats

Ball Squats
Best for Thighs

Exercise: Ball Squats

Do It: In a standing position, place a beach ball between your thighs (you can also use a basketball or a pillow). Holding ball firmly, bend knees into squat position, as if you’re going to sit in a chair (make sure your knees don’t extend past toes). Hold for two counts; return to start position. Repeat 20 times.

Why It Works: This targets the front of your thighs, plus your inner thighs, which have to work to hold the ball in place.

Exercise: Wood Chop with Dumbbell

Wood Chop with Dumbell
Best for Allover Toning

Exercise: Wood Chop with Dumbbell

Do It: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight in front of you. Bend knees as if you’re sitting in a chair, so thighs are almost parallel with floor. As you bend, rotate shoulders to the left, bringing weight toward left knee. Straighten legs, twisting torso right as you raise weight diagonally over your right shoulder. Repeat 10 times; switch sides.

Why It Works: The squat incorporates your glutes and thighs, while the twisting motion targets your obliques, Pasternak explains.


Exercise: Walking Lunge with Trunk Twist

Walking Lunge with Trunk Twist
Best for Lower Body

Exercise: Walking Lunge with Trunk Twist

Do It: Start with feet together, holding a ball in front of you with both hands. Step forward three to four feet with right leg, as shown, lunging forward until thigh is parallel to floor, knee over ankle. As you lunge, twist torso right, keeping head and pelvis facing forward. Bring torso back to front. Pushing off with right heel, bring left foot forward into a lunge and twist torso to left. Do 20 lunges — 10 each side.

Why It Works: Lunges target glutes, quads, and hamstrings. The torso twist works your abs, particularly the obliques.

Originally published in the July 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

Pilates Boxing Exercise with Hand Weights

Posted in Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Pilates,Toning Balls by Harmony on December 9, 2010

A quick video showing us how to perform the Pilates Boxing exercise with small hand weights.  The model is using small neoprene dumbbells, but you could also use the neoprene grip weights or soft-weight Pilates toning balls during this and many other Pilates arm exercises.

Pilates Arm Exercises with Weights

Posted in Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Pilates,Toning Balls by Harmony on December 2, 2010

The following video shows us how to do two Pilates exercises using soft-weighted Toning Balls. The first is an arm extension and the second is a variation of the Hug a Tree exercise. Adding weights to your Pilates routine is a sure way to increase strength quickly.

The model in this video is using Toning Balls, but you could also use light-weight dumbbells or grip weights as well. The Toning Balls have a soft vinyl texture making them easy to grasp and hold throughout the exercises.

Pilates Series of Five with Hand Weights

Posted in Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Pilates,Toning Balls by Harmony on November 11, 2010

Learn how to do the Pilates “Series of Five” with hand weights. You can use your choice of hand weights – whichever you think are the most comfortable for you to hold and which ones would offer you the most versatility allowing you to use in other exercises of your choice. Consider small soft neoprene dumbbells, neoprene grip weights, or Pilates soft weighted toning balls.

The video is just over four minutes long and will cover the details on doing five Pilates floor exercises: Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Scissors, Lower Lift, and Criss Cross. All while holding the small hand weights to add arm strengthening and toning while performing these ab and leg workouts.


Toning Balls: Add to Pilates, Yoga, and Exercises

Posted in Core/Fitness,Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Pilates,Toning Balls,Yoga by Harmony on September 16, 2010

The soft, weighted Toning Balls that we carry are 2 lbs each and are sold as a pair.  They are manufactured by Natural Fitness and are made with the environmentally friendly phthalate-free vinyl.  The size and texture of toning balls make them easy to grip and can improve your hand and finger strength as well.

The following exercises could also be done with hand held weights – such as our neoprene dumbbell weight set, that offers weights from 2lbs to 5lbs for those looking to up their weights in these exercises.

Another way to increase the intensity of the workouts below (without increasing the weight) is to up the repetitions or the number of sets.  Or, if you know an intermediate or advanced level of the exercise or pose, try that while using the weights.  For example, if you practice yoga and are familiar with a “Blowing Tree”, you could perform this variation while holding the weights as well.  Feel free to experiment, but pay attention to your body!

Toning Ball Workout

by Denise Wang ~


Toning balls are a popular accessory to a variety of different exercise routines, including Yoga, Pilates and basic calisthenics. Toning balls are an alternative to hand held dumbbells or weights and are made of a soft vinyl material. Toning balls come in weights between 1.1 pounds and 5.5 pounds per ball and are held in the open palm with a gentle grip. For light weight training and as added resistance to popular Yoga and Pilates exercises, the balls also help individuals with balance, coordination and flexibility. Performing a 20 to 30 minute workout with toning balls adds interest and effectiveness to any exercise routine.

Step 1 – General

Utilize weighted toning balls to work arms, shoulders and upper torso strength and flexibility. Toning balls are popularly used in Yoga and Pilates workouts by balancing them in the palm of the hand for added resistance or muscle toning exercises. Adding even a slight weight resistance to such poses as Warrior’s Pose, Tree pose and basic calisthenic or isometric exercises like jumping jacks, shoulder raises and arm circles is helpful.

Step 2

Work the arms by holding a ball gently in each hand, arms at your sides. Start with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Using a 1 to 2 pound ball, lift both arms above the head, pause and then lower. Repeat this exercise between 12 and 15 times, repeating the set twice.

Step 3

Stand with the feet just over shoulder width apart. Tuck in the abdominal muscles and, holding a ball in each hand, bend slowly forward at the waist until your back is level or parallel to the floor, arms hanging downward. Holding the stomach in and looking downward, extend your arms outward. Raise the arms until they are level with your torso, even with the shoulders and hold. Count to 5 and then slowly lower to the original position. Repeat this exercise between 10 and 15 times. Repeat this set two times.

Step 4

When performing a Pilates Criss Cross, hold a light pair of toning balls in the hands near the side of the head instead of clasping the hands behind the head. Lie down on the floor, legs bent and lifted above your hips. Tuck in the abdominal muscles and lift the head and shoulders off the floor. Extend one leg out while the other pulls in toward your chest. Switch legs, pushing the opposite leg outward while bringing the other knee toward your chest.

Step 5

Hold onto a light set of toning balls when performing Yoga moves like the Tree Pose. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Gradually shift most of your weight to the right foot and bend your left knee, lifting and resting your left foot along the inside of the right leg. Beginners may only be able to place the foot at ankle or calf level. Balancing, lift the arms over the head, keeping them either shoulder width apart or bringing the hands together high above the head, depending on your balance, comfort and strength level. Hold this position for 1 minute, rest a few moments and then switch sides.

Read more:

Pilates Bands in 100's and Spine Twist

Posted in Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Pilates,Pilates Bands by Harmony on May 20, 2010

Just a short 3-minute video on using Pilates Bands or hand weights in the Pilates 100’s and Spine Twists. This version of 100’s with the bands is different than last week – just to show you the variety of ways to use this great Pilates tool!  This video shows three models performing the same exercise with slight modifications done by each.

Exercises for AnyBody

Posted in Core/Fitness,Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To by Harmony on May 14, 2010

Some nice standing exercises to work your legs and arms “for anybody”. Gently guided instructions using light hand weights in a squat against the wall.  We offer a neoprene dumbell set in weights varying from 2 – 5 lbs.  Great for these exercises.  Start with the two-pounders, and then as you get stronger, and IF you desire, move up to the higher weights for an added challenge.

Toning Arms with Pilates and Weights

Posted in Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Pilates,Toning Balls by Harmony on May 6, 2010

More tips on toning those arms! It’s springtime…which means strapless dresses and swimsuits are just around the corner, right ladies?  In this video, you’ll learn a number of Pilates exercises using hand weights to help tone those arms.  Check out our new neoprene dumbell set which offers weights in 2lb, 3lb and 5lb pairs.  Great to have a selection for different exercises or to grow into as you get stronger.  And, it comes in a convenient carry/storage case.  You could also use the 2lb Pilates Toning Balls in these exercises as well.