When the folks at HuffPost Healthy Living asked if I would be up for Physique 57's two-week challenge, I couldn't type the words "Yes, please" fast enough. I've been to The Bar Method and Pilates Plus in Los Angeles, but hadn't yet tried the "high-intensity, celebrity-magnet workout ... known for transforming fleshy figures into taut, toned silhouettes."
The challenge was eight classes in two weeks, and they suggested doing four classes a week. Class one left my legs shaking and my body sore, but I found it pretty similar to The Bar Method. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- the combo of short spurts of exercises focusing on one body part (first arms, then thighs, seat, abs) is effective and just painful enough that you get through it and then get a rest by moving on to something else.
I went back for class number two and then three, four, five, six. I couldn't get enough, actually. The instructors are all phenomenal, coming over to make sure they know your name and to help adjust form for those that are new. When I went to class two days in a row, I could feel the soreness creeping into my thighs within seconds of class starting, and yet, the next day I wanted to go back. There is an addictive quality to this workout that I can't exactly put my finger on. My theory is that it's the instructors who make this class so fun with big smiles on their faces and an attitude of "do your best, you will get better at this." There is no shame in not knowing how to do something and no shame in taking a quick break when your hamstrings are on fire.
The challenge of eight classes in two weeks is part of Physique 57's model: they swear that you will see results after just eight classes. And you know what? I did. Legs are more toned, arms are stronger but not bulky. My stomach is flatter after just two weeks.
To get more insight on the world of Physique 57, I caught up with founder and CEO Jennifer Maanavi. Read what she has to say below:
How do you differentiate the Physique 57 workout from other barre workouts?
1. It really begins behind the scenes: Many of the other larger barre studio companies use a franchise business model. We've chosen to focus on quality vs. quantity, opening fewer studios to ensure the highest quality training.
2. Our signature class is 57 minutes: We're all about being efficient, so this is our nod to the concept of making the most out of every minute. There's something mentally appealing about shaving off those last three minutes and giving them back to the client without sacrificing the efficiency of the workout.
3. Class stays fresh: Instructors are given specific "ingredients," such as time intervals, muscles to work and types of exercises to use in class. They have flexibility to "mix" their own class recipe creatively. Innovative choreography makes class fun, exciting and different every time and prevents boredom at the barre.
4. Our technique: The Physique 57 technique blends full body energizing cardio, fluid barre-based dance exercises and targeted muscle sculpting with specific focus on abs, arms, seat and thighs. The challenging class is broken into eight- to 10-minute intervals that combine sprints, recovery and stretching to maximize a single muscle group without overusing it. This translates to gorgeous, elongated lean muscle tone.
What is the hardest part of class for you? (for me it's definitely the thigh dancing portion, good grief!)
Thigh dancing, for sure! After six years, I still struggle through those 60 seconds of shimmying after coming off a thigh sprint at the barre. I try to remind myself that pain now equals pride later!
What's the minimum number of times you would suggest someone go to class a week to see some real results? How about a maximum? Do you think seven days a week is too much?
For best results over the short and long term, we recommend taking class four times per week. Since our workout is non-jarring for the joints, there's a very low risk of injury when coming seven times per week. Fashion Designer Norma Kamali has been coming six to seven times per week for years. As far as a minimum, one to two times per week is certainly better than zero! Clients typically see visible results in as few as eight workouts. The more times per week you take class, the sooner you'll see the benefits. It really comes down to each client's unique situation and individual workout-life balance.
Photos courtesy of Physique 57: