01/23/2013 11:24 am ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Bring Your Own Stilettos (BYOS) Exercise Class

BYOS (Bring Your Own Stilettos) should be the slogan for the exercise class in New York City, called the Stiletto Workout, where women are instructed to do a series of controlled choreographed workout moves in their stilettos.

So, if you thought the trend was barefoot -- well, think again, as it just may be high heels....

As a reconstructive foot surgeon practicing in Manhattan, my initial thought was one of caution regarding this class. Since high heels are bad for your feet (bunion makers), how could an exercise class in heels be good for you?

The class "builds cores strength, promotes confidence in heels and tones and defines the body for a curvier figure," says Nicole Damaris, creator of the Stiletto Workout. "It's not a dancing in heels class or teaching women how to walk in heels," says Damaris. Rather, the exercises involve wearing heels while performing stretches, squats, leg lifts and slow-pace kicks.

In my foot surgery practice, I see plenty of women with foot and ankle injuries from a misstep on the street, so balance and coordination in heels is important. Seems to me that any program that helps with these issues could be helpful -- so long as its safe.

The Stiletto Workout offers a controlled environment for women to gain comfort and strengthen those muscles that activate when wearing heels, so there may be theoretical benefit. Like any other fitness program, a medical liability release is required, and there are heel height and platform restrictions to further promote a safe environment. Damaris says that "nobody has been injured in the class," with up to about 100 women attending weekly.

The foot and lower leg function differently in heels. When the foot is placed in point with stilettos, the calf muscles and hamstrings are effectively shortened. Over time, this shortening or tightness becomes permanent, which can lead to bunions, hammer toes, and flat feet.

What the workout is missing is a dedicated program to strengthen the small muscles of the feet -- which work to keep the arch strong and limit bunion formation/progression. These muscles are best targeted with barefoot exercises (such as toe crunches or barefoot squats), rather than locked in a heel.

As a surgeon who performs bunionplasty surgery to help women return to high heels and pointy-toed shoes, I can only encourage women to consider exercise programs that are aimed at strengthening the feet and legs. It's not clear if the Stiletto Workout will help one shed pounds, though Damaris says she "lost two inches off her waistline when developing the program." What is clear, to this foot surgeon, is that the program provides an opportunity to strengthening your extremities and stability in heels in a controlled environment.

Will you BYOS?

-- Dr. Blitz, New York City

To learn more about Dr. Neal Blitz, please visit

For info on the Stiletto Workout visit

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