Toned From Head To Toe: Three Lean Body Workouts
We’ve heard many women—maybe even ourselves—share the desire for a “dancer’s body,” probably not referring to the disturbing images of the Hollywood hit Black Swan, but rather the long, lean muscles of trained dancers.
Not 16 years old and not ready to train 40 hours a week with the New York City Ballet to get that body? Luckily, we found some local classes to help women (and men, too!) achieve those sought-after dancer bodies…and don’t worry, rhythm, tutus and tights are not required.
BACK TO THE BARRE
Ballet dancers are known for their lean bodies honed through years of working at “the barre.” It’s no surprise, then, that more studios are offering classes that incorporate barre work. One such studio is The Dailey Method (TDM). Created by Jill Dailey in the Bay area, TDM is a practice that takes time to master, but offers an incredibly efficient one-hour workout targeting women’s most troublesome areas. Dailey combined her study of kinesiology with her early training in ballet and later training in Pilates and yoga.
Having trained as a classical dancer myself, I will admit I was pretty confident before entering my first TDM class. I was humbled the minute the signature Dailey Method marches began and I broke a sweat; I knew this was my kind of class. Ten minutes in, my thighs were burning, and after 20 minutes, just about every major muscle in my body was shaking. In just one hour, I received a full-body workout that reminded me of my years at the ballet barre. As I left the beautiful facility and looked down the steps I needed to take to reach my car, I wondered if my legs had the strength left to support me. The following day, I couldn’t fully straighten my arms without my triceps feeling like they were going to rip. Okay, I may have exaggerated the pain in my body just a bit, but I sure was sore, in a hurts-so-good kind of way.
Stacey Armijo, owner of The Dailey Method Roseville and my instructor for day one, suggested that I take three to five classes within one week. Despite wanting to soak in a tub the remainder of the week, I managed to take her advice. I found that I was able to do a little less the second day because I was so sore, but I finished the class and still felt good. Each time I went, I had a different instructor with different exercises, but one thing remained the same: I got a workout.
What I enjoyed most about The Dailey Method was the teaching-style. I have taken many classes that promise many of the same things—longer, leaner muscles, better posture, etc.—but the instructors don’t provide any sort of corrections or encouragement, so it’s up to your best guess if you’re doing things correctly. At TDM, the instructors really give you a lot of feedback, easy-to-understand corrections and encouragement, just when you need it. Having so much of my own experience with proper alignment, I’m always leery of programs boasting knowledge in that area; however, TDM is not only based on proper alignment, but the teachers stress it with each and every exercise. Most importantly, they really know what they’re talking about. Practitioners will not only see results more quickly this way, but will also avoid injury.
I asked Armijo and fellow instructor and owner of the new Folsom location, Sandra Lemos, why they wanted to invest in this program. Without hesitation, they both chimed in: “Results.” Both women have children, both have amazing bodies, and both have an equal passion for The Dailey Method. They encouraged me to read through the testimonials they have hanging in the lobby. There were pages upon pages of women’s incredible stories and appreciation for the program. Armijo and Lemos challenge women to give the class a shot, and say that after taking three classes a week for six weeks, you’ll not only begin to see and feel your body change, but you’ll also be hooked.
With a new location in Folsom and free childcare at both locales, I’ll certainly be back. It’s perhaps one of the most efficient workouts I’ve ever received, and as a working mom, I’m all about efficiency!
Joseph Pilates designed the Pilates method based on his belief that the mind and body are inter-related. Many of his early students were dancers, which is how Pilates has become such a large part of the dance community today. Therefore, it goes without saying that Pilates can help you achieve the longer, leaner muscles that so many of us are after.
There are different pieces of apparatus used in Pilates, each with its own exercises. California Family Fitness, Spare Time Clubs, Snap Fitness Clubs and other area fitness studios offer what is considered “mat Pilates” where no apparatus (other than a mat) is needed, although many instructors incorporate some equipment such as large exercise balls and smaller weighted balls for variation. These classes are typically open to those in all fitness levels, and the instructors are great at offering modifications for those with injuries or limitations. They also offer options for a great challenge. In fact, Suzanne Cardenas with California Family Fitness is known for her signature phrase: “If you want more…go here…” followed by a challenging add-on to the exercise. Area Spare Time Clubs, Pilates-only studios, and some physical therapy offices offer a larger range of modules including the popular “reformer” classes—the reformer is an apparatus that promotes a greater range of motion and offers more resistance than the basic mat class.
Like Pilates, yoga incorporates the mind and body, but it also incorporates spiritual disciplines. However, there are so many variations of yoga, so many studios in our area, and so many classes at gyms, that there really is something for everyone. You don’t have to be spiritual at all to reap the physical benefits of this practice.
Yoga classes follow a series of poses and depending on the type of yoga, these poses are either held for a long period of time or flow from one pose to the next, and in some classes there is a combination of the two. Maintaining correct form in these poses is the challenge and promotes strength, flexibility and better posture. Temperature-controlled rooms known as “hot yoga” are very popular and provide added benefits, and certainly challenges. Be prepared to sweat like you never have before if you choose this option.
And for those of you thinking: “Yoga is so boring; I will never get a good workout,” I personally challenge you to give it a try. You’ll be surprised at how difficult it really is, and how great you feel when you’re done.
Instructors have to undergo pretty significant training to become certified to teach in any of these practices, but no matter the class, students may find that they favor one instructor or practice over another for whatever reason. It’s important to try several classes before deciding if the practice is right for you. Many area studios have introductory rates for new students, so be sure to ask before signing up for classes.