Renown for its energetic and exhilarating interpretation of the barre method, Physique 57 devotees need not give up their addiction while “with baby.” While the allure of brushing shoulders with celebs, or the exclusive in-the-know atmosphere may be a draw for some, the true beauty of Physique 57’s “bump-barre” class is its ability to stretch, tone and invigorate your body, even when you’re training for two. Alicia Weihl, Physique 57’s director of training, and a new mom herself, gives Well Rounded the lowdown on the fitness brand’s prenatal offerings.
Schedule and Locations:
SPRING STREET: The Butterick Building, 161 Avenue of the Americas, Ground Floor; 212-463-0570 Tues. and Sat. 1-2pm
57th STREET: The New York Gallery Building, 24 West 57th Street, Suite 805, 212-399-0570
Thurs. and Sat. 3-4pm, Sun. 12:45-1:45pm
In-studio private sessions by request at an additional cost.
Cost: Single class: $36, multi-class packages available
Well Rounded: Tell me about the Physique 57 exercise philosophy in a few sentences.
Alicia Weihl: Physique 57 combines strength training, stretching and cardio to create an all-over strong and supple body. The workout is based on the principle of interval overload, working each individual muscle group to the point of fatigue, and then stretching it for relief. Every class combines unique choreography and upbeat music to not only make it an effective but also an invigorating experience.
WR: Why is this type of class so beneficial for a pregnant woman?
AW: The Physique 57 workout is low-impact, focusing on proper form and alignment and controlled movement execution. You use your own bodyweight for resistance and the ballet barre for stability, and our instructors are extremely attentive in providing guidance and corrections to make sure that you maximize the efficiency of your workout. Not only is it safe workout, but it’s extremely helpful in preparing the body and mind for labor and delivery. It also helps ease postnatal recovery.
WR: What are some of the fitness tips you tell your mamas-to-be during class?
AW: While Physique 57 helps women prepare physically for labor and delivery, the mental and emotional benefits of working out are at least as important. The Physique 57 technique is extremely empowering. New clients are always surprised at how challenging some of the smallest, most precise movements can be. Doing just one extra rep, going just one inch deeper in your positions, or taking control and listening to what your body needs, will make you walk out the door a little taller, and ready to take on the world. The resulting mental strength, perseverance, and confidence are exactly what a woman needs during labor.
Most importantly, women need to listen to their bodies and have fun. Our pre/postnatal classes are non-competitive and there is a wonderful sense of community where moms and moms-to-be can connect and share their experiences.
WR: Any wellness benefits besides toning up and staying in shape?
AW: Many pre-natal and postnatal workouts are so modified that they are not even recognizable in comparison to the original version. What’s great about the Physique 57 technique is that it’s as though it was created specifically for pregnancy! We focus not merely on what’s “allowed,” but instead on what’s essential for the body to both look and feel good during this time.
With the extreme postural shifts and hormonal changes during and following pregnancy, women can become very uncomfortable and unstable in their own bodies. Throughout the workout we teach proper posture and body mechanics, and target important muscle groups (the glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, pelvic floor, abdominals, and upper and lower back) to support an ever-changing body. Our clients experience improved posture, decreased lower-back pain, increased pelvic stability, better circulation, reduced swelling and they sleep better. I’ve been inspired by so many of our clients who go through their pregnancies with strength and grace, and they return after having their babies and very quickly rehabilitate their bodies.
WR: Can you give us one Physique 57-style “do-at-home” exercise that pregnant women can try during pregnancy when they can’t get out to a Physique 57 class?
UPRIGHT V THIGHS:
Targets: thighs, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, pelvic floor, postural muscles
Set-up: Stand facing a countertop or a high-backed chair, where you can lightly rest your hands at waist level, with your elbows softened by your sides.
Action: Step your heels together with your toes only 2 inches apart. Lift your heels 2 inches off the ground so that your weight is over the balls of your feet and bend your knees forward, lowering halfway down. (Your knees should only be 3-4 inches apart and should track directly over your third toes.) You should be able to lift your hands just off your furniture and remain on balance. Keep your head lifted proudly, your shoulders stacked over your hips, and your tailbone directly over your heels. Engage your core for stability by hugging your abs around your baby if pregnant, or by pulling your navel to your spine if postnatal. Always move with control and focus on your form.
Variations: Small, slow pulses down, hip circles, hip tucks forward and back, hip shakes side to side, or lower your seat towards your heels and up halfway, like you’re sliding down a wall.
Benefits: This position works your pelvic floor against gravity, helping to prepare the body for labor and aiding in postnatal recovery. The movements target all of the essential muscle groups for pregnancy and beyond.