by Anne Batty,
Certified Exercise Professional
It is said that, “variety is the spice of life.” After all, Christopher Columbus was willing to sail halfway around the world to search for something new to add some zest to Queen Isabella’s life. And if you’re anything like Isabella, you might be looking for something to add some flavor to your life as well … especially where your exercise regime is concerned.
The good news is … you don’t have to sail halfway around the world to put some zing into your workouts. Three of the newest trends in fitness have recently hit town, and they are guaranteed to help you season things up a bit.
In an intimate, ocean-view studio on Pacific Coast Hwy in Capistrano Beach, UCI Exercise Professional Jeannie McCormick - along with a hand-picked, uniquely trained staff - invites students to embrace their inner ballerina and experience the cutting edge, body/mind practice termed Ballet Barre.
Founded in London over 50-years-ago, barre workouts originated as a result of a back injury suffered by former English ballerina Lottie Berk, and it is a method that combines the elements of dance, Pilates and yoga. Designed to help students attain a longer, leaner, dancer-like physique, this is a genre that relies mainly upon one’s bodyweight for resistance, while its moves challenge core stability and balance.
At Capo Beach’s Desa Prana studio, participants encounter a modest well-appointed open space complete with mirrors, barres and burnished wood flooring. Students are advised to wear ballet shoes, but barefoot workouts are acceptable. Props used include balls, light weights, mats and TRX straps. Classes are typically just under an hour and include a warm-up, light weight work (upper body), barre sessions (mostly lower body), floor work and final cool down and stretch.
Those familiar with ballet will recognize the various dance positions and graceful arm movements used in the classes. No “tutus” or prior dance experience are required, and participants are assured to feel stronger, more flexible, and more coordinated with every class.
“This is not just a series of exercises, it is a practice,” says McCormick. “And when approached with dedication, it is a practice that produces strong, sleek, chiseled, stream-lined bodies, as well as clear and peaceful minds.”
Along with barre classes, yoga, Pilates and Pilates Reformer classes are also available. And this is one of the few studios in the area to offer Tower Pilates.
For days, times and rates
First you take some cha, cha, cha, spice it up with salsa, samba and rumba dance moves, mix in some low impact grapevines, toe taps and light jogs, and what have you got? The hot, hot, hot workout named Zumba!
Zumba is a cardio exercise accidentally created by celebrity fitness trainer “Beto” Perez in his native Colombia in the mid-‘90s. And although this Latin dance-inspired, calorie-burning workout has maintained its popularity, several 24 Hr. Fitness innovators like Carolina Bejarano and Jessica Chait, have taken it a “step” further incorporating risers into the routine and calling it Zumba Step.
Presently offered at the recently opened 24 Hr. Fitness facility at the north end of town, fitness enthusiasts have the instructors’ assurance that they can perform this routine with or without the addition of risers. But those seeking a more powerful workout are advised to utilize a single or double stack to “step it up a notch.”
This new take begins with the usual fast/slow combination of rhythmic movements, integrating resistance training to tone and sculpt the body and burn fat. Step movements are soon added, building slowly. Synchronized arm movements accompanied by knee lifts complete the picture, and participants soon begin to breathe deeper and perspire freely. In “step terms” the addition of height to the movements increases the challenge and thus the intensity, giving those looking for more cardio the opportunity to burn more calories.
Like the original Zumba classes, Zumba Step also has that element of party involved. It’s not unusual to hear a few “oles” as participants find themselves getting caught up in the fiery rhythms of the spicy Latin music.
Blending the core body control of Pilates, with the breathing, stretching and balance of yoga, 24 Hr Fitness in San Clemente also offers a newly termed PiYo class. The Pilates part of this equation strengthens and tones the body, while the yoga portion promotes the stretching, mindfulness and relaxation that helps create a total body-mind experience.
PiYo classes provide an exercise for those who want more than just flexibility. They offer a dynamic fusion workout that is easy on the joints, and delivers strength, balance, agility and flexibility in one unique, calorie-burning muscle-building routine.
Inspired by renown Exercise Professional Charlene Johnson, this workout utilizes movement along with static poses. Featuring a continuous ebb and flow from one exercise to another - accompanied by deep breathing, balance, stretching, and strengthening - these classes are pre-designed to get the heart rate going. During a PiYo class, students will find themselves standing in a yoga pose one minute, and down on the floor in a Pilates pose the next. Participants have been known to describe this class as a hyper-version of yoga.
This routine lasts about an hour and includes squats, burpees (a squat jumping movement), lunges push-ups, and many other movements. As is true in most regimes, the moves start off slowly and are easily picked up as they progress.
Mats, water, and towels are the only equipment necessary.