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With the help of a kettlebell or dumbbell, this exercise can be done anywhere and will tone, strengthen and improve flexibility.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

One of my favourite do-anywhere exercises is known as the "get up," or "Turkish get up." Whatever you call it, some iteration of this movement will benefit almost anyone. Those who are aesthetically driven will appreciate that it tones the entire body. Athletes will appreciate that it requires co-ordination and connects the core to the rest of the body. And those who exercise to maintain functional fitness and mobility will appreciate that the get-up improves flexibility and strengthens the movement pattern needed to get down on and up from the floor.

What you need

Traditionally the exercise is done with a kettlebell, which resembles a cannonball with a handle. Alternatively, use a dumbbell or a can of soup. Or, forgo the weight altogether – you might find that at first using only your body weight is completely appropriate.

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The basic exercise

Start by lying on your back with your left leg straight and your right knee bent with the bottom of your right foot on the floor. Your right arm should be straight up above your chest and your left arm should be out to the left side on the floor.

Note: Keep your right arm straight and knuckles facing the ceiling throughout the entire exercise.

First, anchor into your right foot and left hand as you curl up on a slight diagonal moving to the left; you should end slightly perched on your left bum cheek.

Next, stay anchored into your right foot and left hand. Lift your hips up into the air. (Remember, your right arm is still straight.) Now – this part requires mobility so don't get frustrated – stay anchored into your right foot and left hand as you hover your left leg off of the floor and sweep it under and then behind you.

Your left knee should end up on the ground (or a mat) roughly under your hips.

Lift your left hand off of the mat and kneel tall into a Romeo lunge position: Your right knee is bent, right foot on the floor in front of you, and your left leg is bent, left knee on floor roughly under your hips. Use your front leg – particularly the right bum muscles – to push yourself to standing. Is your right arm still straight? It should be.

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Finally, take a breath – you made it. Now, retrace your steps. Lower your left knee to the ground. Place your left hand on the ground. Thread your left leg back in front of you onto the ground and lower your torso back to the floor.

Repeat three to five times with your right arm straight and then – this takes brain power – do the entire exercise with your left arm straight and your left leg bent.

Progressions

Use a heavier weight or hold the kettlebell with the bell portion up in the air. Having to keep the bell facing straight up toward the ceiling will require wrist strength and will challenge balance. The wrist may not seem like an important body part, but it is; for many of us our wrists are "weak links." Any weak link prevents other muscle groups and movements from getting stronger; you will never reach your full pull-up or push-up potential if your wrists are proportionally weaker.

Regressions

If the move seems complicated, break down the sections. Try five to 10 reps of each section before putting it all together.

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If you don't feel flexible enough to move your leg back into the lunge, start with a seated figure-four stretch. Sit in a chair, back straight. Bring your right ankle on top of your left thigh. Push gently on your right thigh so that you feel a stretch in your right hip. Repeat left.

If your legs don't feel strong enough to propel you up from the ground, start with a basic "sit to stand." Sit in a chair. Without using momentum and/or rocking forward, use your bum and core to stand up. Then, use your bum and core to slowly lower yourself back down onto the chair. Once that gets easy, do the same move without the chair behind you.

Kathleen Trotter is a personal trainer, Pilates equipment specialist and author of Finding Your Fit. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter @KTrotterFitness

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