07/12/2010 17:59 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

The Pencil Skirt Workout

Slinky tailoring - think Christina Hendricks in Mad Men - never goes out of style. The classic pencil skirt is a perfect showcase for curvy hips or a pert bottom. Make sure yours is up to scratch with our pick of the best lower body exercises and classes for firmer thighs and a flatter stomach.

Marilyn Monroe
Famously curvy Marilyn Monroe. Photo: Getty

Belly dancing
Sign up to your local belly dancing class and you could undulate your way to a better figure. Belly dancing is particularly good for working the hips and thighs, as well as strengthening your core. It's for you if you hate packed, competitive classes at the gym and want to have fun while you sweat.

No need to pay for gym membership or a personal trainer, as all you need is some stairs. To improve the look of your legs, simply step on and off the steps in 60 second bursts. Lead first with your right leg and then with your left. Start with 50 steps on each leg and build up the amount you do every day.

Personal trainers often single out the squat as one of the best possible exercises for firming up the lower body. Happily, it's also a move which shows quick results. Ensure you keep your weight back in your heels as you squat, as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair. Stick your bottom out and keep your arms raised to help you balance. Begin with two sets of 10 squats, and increase the number of sets as you feel it becoming easier.

If you're a seasoned jogger or gym bunny, you may have well-muscled legs but want to work on their shape. Try taking a pilates class in order to elongate your muscles and improve posture. Pilates concentrates on precise movements, which are wonderful for working legs, bottoms and stomachs.

Double lunges

Give your hips and bottom an intense workout by performing a set of double lunges. Stand with feet together, holding a water bottle (or a 2kg weight) in each hand and step your right leg forward into a right-angled lunge. Do not allow your knees to overshoot your toes. Bring your leg back to the start position and then step it behind you, before returning to the original position. Repeat 20 times on each leg.

Spin classes
If you're already fit and are looking for an extra push to get you into that slinky skirt, join an intensive spinning class. These classes are not for wimps - make sure you're committed to at least 45 minutes of mad stationary cycling while being shouted at by a wild-eyed instructor. The benefits? Thighs of steel and a booty to make Shakira weep.

Get moving
The easiest way to target your lower body is to get hold of a pedometer. This device measures the number of steps you take every day. Experts recommend we take 10,000 steps or more a day in order to burn fat and improve our overall body shape.