Everyone’s talking about Physique 57 as the hot new toning workout that combines ballet, Pilates and isometrics in killer 57-minute classes
Celebs are flocking to Physique 57 studios in New York, the Hamptons and LA including Demi Moore, Christy Turlington, Zooey Deschanel and kelly Ripa who gushed, ‘Physique 57 transformed my body in ways I never thought possible. I’m a short person, but I’m becoming longer and leaner. The class works your glutes, your abs, and your obliques. It’s all about building muscle, then stretching it out.’
But tempting as it is, I am in London. I bought the book, The Physique 57 Solution (from Amazon) in January this year when ti came out which includes a two week eating plan and workout programme. American Elle hailed it as the new muscle lengthening, deep toning workout but well laid out as it is, my little ADHD brain wasn’t inspired by the workout in book form. Good news is, Physique 57 now offer online workouts that are super-easy to access. You can buy a set or a one-off as I did, pay for it like you would anything else on line and off you go – celeb workout in your kitchen.
It helps that co-founder Tanya Becker who takes the class and the eight off women doing it on screen with her all have those tiny but lean and toned bodies; compact and strong without any bulk. In fact, Becker claims to have lost 70 pounds after having twins doing Physique 57 workouts.
Five minutes into the workout I realised why. It involves deep, isometric movements that work every part of the body seperately until muscles are literally shaking.
About a third of the class is spent at the barre (you can use a dining chair as I did) working hips, thighs, love handles and abs until they burn, mostly on tip toes and doing lots of hip shimmying that works the glutes and hamstrings – all the big calorie burn muscles.
Jennifer’s motivational mantas start out cheesy but they help get through the pain by reminding you of the shallow fact that you just want to look better in a bikini : ‘Are you a calorie burning machine? Oh yeh you are, come on now ten more! Are you going to love showing off that butt on the beach? Oh yeh, you are…20 more!’
The moves remind me of the old Lotte Berk ballet workouts (Lotte Berk was a former ballet dancer that invented The Lotte Berk Method one of the very first barre workouts for real people) but with the intensity multiplied by about 10. The barre section works muscles that never really see the light of day except when they’r sticking out of your jeans, those paddy bits at the back of your waist, sort of the icing bit over the muffin tops, for example.
The ab section on the floor is a killer and goes on for about 15 minutes. What is refreshing is that most of the abs moves are different to anything I have done before sort of Pilates meets Callisthenics meets yoga in a hybrid that makes for pain in all the right places and also in parts of the abdominal area that other ab exercises don’t hit. I completed the class four hours ago and my biceps, abs and quadriceps still feel shaky.
Becker’s co-founder Jennifer Maanavi (left) used to work on Wall Street and attend the Lotte Berk studio for her own body conditioning. When it closed in 2005, she got together with Becker, a long time Lotte Berk instructor and they created Physique 57 which they call ‘a modern take on Lotte Berk’s fitness revelation.’
But what makes it different to other barre workouts? Physique 57 uses more interval training in which you sprint through moves quickly to increase heart rate and get a cardio effect along with old school hard-core bootcampy moves such as one legged push-ups and rotating side planks. This is no walk in the park and even during the supposedly fun bits like the butt shimmying section, I could feel muscles working that I haven’t felt in a long time.
Where? Anywhere. Access classes online
How much? $7.99US which equate to £4.62 for one class
Did I pay? Yes
Calories burned: 146 Calories calculated using the Ki Fit Body Monitor
Any props? You’ll need a squishy ball to hold between knees (I used a yoga block which worked fine) and some hand weights.
PROS Do it anywhere, easy to sign up, pay and get going, motivational instruction, works deep muscles, works up a sweat, it’s over quickly as the exercises are new and take concentration and focus CONS Can’t think of any!
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