Saturday, November 13, 2010

Physique 57

Numerous friends have been periodically trying to get me into a Physique 57 class for at least six months. "You'll hate it, but you'll love the results", they have said. I have happily agreed to attend "someday" and hopped off to Bikram yoga. Yesterday, after acting class, I was lamenting my crowded schedule to a fellow actor when she suggested I combine two tasks (find something to blog about and go to the gym) and come to her Physique 57 class. As there was no arguing her logic, I decided to tag along. 

Physique 57 is known for being the celebrity sculpting workout. Kelly Ripa, Christy Turlington, and Kim Raver have raved (ha!) about it for a while now and tons of dancers I know are "addicted" to it and have recently started teaching it. The big buzz has been that people have claimed to see results in their bodies in less than three or four classes. I was a little skeptical until I did a little research. The Physique website says they call their workout process Interval Overload (I'm not sure I want to do anything that includes the word overload, but apparently, that's just me). Interval Overload, they said, targets larger muscle groups and overloads them to the point of fatigue and then stretches them immediately afterward. Well, I guess that'd do the trick, anyway. Ugh, I acquiesced. All right, I'll try anything once.

The studio on Spring street in Manhattan smelled and sounded more like a spa than a place to work out. Lavender wafted through the air and soft music played behind the reception counter (a welcome olfactory respite after years of Bikram practice). I signed up for an introductory class (which comes with one free second class) and headed for the dressing room. Here's one thing about Physique that will turn most people off: it's pricey. Classes are $35 each. Since I was new, I got two for one, so I reasoned that they would actually be $17.50. $35 per hour, though, is a little steep if I were to continue to attend three or four times per week. My friend, Reshma, pointed out that if you buy packages of classes, the price is lowered, but I thought to myself, "This had better be worth it or I'm not coming back". 

Well, folks, it actually was. I have never in my life had a more intense muscular workout. Now, y'all know that I'm a gym, dance, and yoga studio regular. Heck, I take silks class at the trapeze school every Friday (see January 16th blog). This Physique 57 stuff was ridiculous. Like, ridiculously good. The class is taught in a carpeted room with mirrors, weights, ballet barres, and balls lining the room. (Incidentally, I looked like the only dancer in the room - everyone else looked fairly normal and not necessarily buff). I was surprised that it was also taught to heart-pumping house music. Our body builder-looking teacher started with a set of arm exercies with free weights. Intense, but not crazy. I had done this kind of workout at a hard body pump class at the gym. We then went to the barres. Let me describe the first thing we did. Bear with me, folks. We put a ball (like the one you used to play kickball with on the playground) between our knees and faced the barre. Holding on with two hands, we rose to our toes leaned back slightly, and bent our knees to a right angle with the floor. Then we "pulsed" up and down there. For AT LEAST four minutes. Without stopping. Or straightening our knees. If you think it's easy, try it at home. With a timer. When we finally stood back up, I felt a burning sensation roll down my legs. I wanted to cry and jump up and down at the same time. But I couldn't because we were doing ANOTHER SET of that same thing on one toe. WHAT? 

We moved from one muscle group to another and stretched between. I began to realize how people saw results so quickly. I was shaking after the first half hour. There were times when I had to stop and rest when everyone else in the class plugged on. How were these old ladies doing this?!? The abdominal set was the last thing we did and those ten minutes alone were worth the thirty-five bones I shelled out for the class. I looked over at Reshma with saucer eyes and smiled. I had found my new workout obsession.

At the end of class, I shakily stood, returned my weights, and mentally started rearranging my budget.

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