The class, which was offered at my gym, promised to help me "discover my inner ballerina" with classical ballet technique for beginners and intermediate students. While fit enough to keep up in most exercise classes and graceful enough to stay under the radar on the dance floor, a dancer I am not. To find out what happened when I took center stage, and what you can expect from a beginner ballet class, keep reading.
The park touts the class as the "most exciting workout you can get in public," so my workout buddy and I went in with sky high expectations. Would we learn tricks? Would we jump barefoot? Would we sweat? In short: Oh yes. Oh no. Oh yes! The class, which costs $16 for a single, one-hour session and $144 for a pack of 10 sessions, was held in House of Air's Matrix — a giant jumpy field of 42 conjoined trampolines. There were about 20 people in the 7 a.m. class (two guys and the rest all women I'd put in the 25 to 35 demo), and after slipping on special house-provided wrestling shoes, we spread out into personal trampoline areas. Where did we go from there?
Now that Black Swan is out in theaters, Natalie Portman's dramatic body transformation is on a lot of people's minds. To train for her role as a prima ballerina, the actress followed an intense fitness regimen, training for five to eight hours a day, six days a week, for more than a year. The training may seem crazy, but Natalie was conditioning herself to the lifestyle that many professional ballet dancers follow.
To transform herself, Natalie turned to Mary Helen Bowers, the founder behind the Ballet Beautiful method. Once a professional dancer herself, Mary created the method as a way to "perfect and maintain her form" while she was with the New York City Ballet Company. Like other fitness programs centered around ballet, Ballet Beautiful focuses on creating a strong, lean, and flexible body, while still maintaining the feminine form. The method centers on traditional ballet moves with strengthening and strengthening exercises. But, Ballet Beautiful studio classes tend to run high in price: $35 for a 30 minute class and $55 for a full hour.
It's true what they say though — you do get what you pay for. Natalie is absolutely convincing as a dancer in the film, exhibiting all of the grace and strength that you would expect from a ballerina. And, she definitely looks like she possesses an entirely new body than the one she had prior to filming.
What do you get when you cross aerobics, yoga, and martial arts in one? intenSati. Curious about the fitness craze that has taken Manhattan by storm, I jumped into a class here in San Francisco to see what the buzz was all about. After 55 minutes, my sweaty red face and shaky legs told me part of what I needed to know — it's a good workout! But there's more . . . intenSati goes deeper than cardio and lunges. It's also about empowerment, building one's confidence, and finding courage to take control of one's body and mind.We can all go through the motions of any step aerobics class and get our gear soaking wet. IntenSati does all that but also offers a work out of the mind, which we could all probably use from time to time, if not every day! Influenced deeply by Deepak Chopra, Patricia Moreno, the creator of the intenSati method, believes in positive psychology and asks her class participants to cheer themselves along during the workout.
The ladies of new toning method Barre3 rolled into NYC this week from their usual base in Portland, OR. Their most famous client, Madonna, was also in town to work on her new movie and promote her new clothing line — coincidence? I didn't ask the ladies last Thursday night, when they hosted a private class to teach their moves to a handful of fitness folks and friends.
Being a novice to Barre3, I didn't know what to expect and, to be honest, I was scared! We gathered at the Baryshnikov Arts Center for what turned out to be an intermediate level class. The room, designed for ballet, featured two barres, and each work station was outfitted with a towel, water, mat, strap, exercise ball (founder Sadie Lincoln and her business associate Amy Lecler prefer one certain model, the Fitball USA mini), and hand weights. We began with simple yoga stretching under Sadie's guidance, then transitioned to barre work that involved modified forms of push-ups and squats — and lots of 'em! After about 30 of Sadie's barre-based push-ups, I started shaking pretty intensely. She calls that "the earthquake," and said it's actually a good thing that puts one's metabolism into overdrive. Sadie emphasized the importance of focusing on breaths, much like in yoga, and on keeping your hips even throughout the poses.
To read more about my experience with Barre3, just read more
Gyrotonic method of exercise is most often compared to Pilates, but it's more multi-dimensional. Pilates tends to work mostly in two planes where Gyrotonic moves you through three planes of motions, often simultaneously. It's very circular where Pilates can be very square and Gyrotonic emphasizes mobility and Pilates tends to focus more on stability. You can think of Gyrotonic as yoga with resistance and continual motion that teaches you how to support your body as it moves through large ranges of motions. I think it would be great for aiding the reach of tennis players and the spines of the desk bound.
We used the old-school magic circle, a classic Pilates prop also known as a toning ring, for both arm work and leg work. Push-ups with a wide variety of hand positions peppered the class. And these weren't careless and quick push-ups, but the slow, painful, methodical kind.
I really enjoyed the class and appreciated the challenge. It's nice to see Pilates concepts, like alignment and deep ab engagement, meld with more traditional moves from toning and sculpting classes. Two days post-class, my abs and glutes are still feeling the challenge. Have you tried a Power Pilates class? Share your opinion below.
Photo courtesy of Pilates Unlimited
Yoga isn't just for the mat anymore. Nowadays, people do yoga moves while cradled in a ribbon or hanging from the ceiling, in between hiking hills, and while balancing on a paddle board. Need another yoga trend to try? Slackline Yoga involves doing yoga poses on a tensioned rope or slackline. Talk about challenging our sense of balance.
I had the opportunity to try this type of yoga at a demonstration over the weekend. To find out what I thought, read more
Though boot-camp-style fitness was a trend to watch back in 2009, the craze isn't going away. In fact, boot camps are bigger than ever. We've got tons of these outdoor group workout programs in SF — CrossFit, VyAyr, BodyFi, and more — and their popularity is spreading nationwide.
Boot camps are a great way to get outside and get motivated, plus they're a great switchup if you're a Pilates practitioner. Have you ever enrolled in a boot camp?
It's been remarkably hot here lately, and even though I'm used to doing yoga in a heated room, the 90-degree temps and humidity are starting to get to me. To combat the heat, I decided to check out a new three-class yoga series offered by my studio called Yoga and Paddleboarding. All I needed was some comfy clothes I didn't mind getting wet, and they offered a paddleboard I could borrow.
For the first class, I was a little disappointed that we only did yoga on the beach using a paddleboard as our mat, and we didn't make it into the water (until after the class ended to cool off). But it was important to focus on balancing poses to strengthen and center the body, so that we'd feel more stable on the board. For the second class, we started with about 20 minutes of dry land practice again, but then we paddled ourselves about 40 feet from the shore. The instructor showed us how to move slowly on our boards so we'd be able to practice some basic yoga moves like Downward Facing Dog, Upward Facing Dog, and Pigeon without falling into the water.
To hear more about Paddleboard Yoga keep reading