Physique 57: Pain Is Gain

Physique 57 is KILL-ER. Founded by Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi and Tanya Becker, Physique is a barre-inspired fitness technique meant to create a physique that combines the picturesque ‘dancer’s body’ with today’s strong, empowered women. Located in Bridgehampton, NYC, LA, and spreading, Physique is popular among celebrities, moms-to-be using the prenatal DVD right in their own living room, and everyone in between for good reason.

Focused on the large muscle groups, (thighs, abs, glutes, and arms) which burn the most calories, with small-twitch movements creates precision…and pain! Ok, I made it almost four sentences without saying the word pain. Yes, this is a painful class, but pain is gain. These tiny painful movements are killing fat, blasting cals, and toning the muscles. Physique 57 makes the claim of producing visible results in weeks and I don’t doubt it. The method is meant to strengthen and then lengthen quickly, with intervals of intense work followed by stretches to elongate the muscles and increase flexibility.
photo 1First, we warmed-up and got right into arms. I stuck with five-pound weights, which was tough, but doable (shockingly.) This may be the only part of class I’d label “doable.” We then upped-it a notch with push-ups and planks before our first of many sets of thighs…ah thighs. Enter, pain.

Just a few minutes into class, I was feeling the burn pain when Meredith said, “when it starts to get hard, we start to get negative. Stay positive! Thighs burn the most calories of any muscle group!” Easier said than done, but it was enough to push me through the set. Physique’s method of “Interval Overload” simply means pushing the muscles to exhaustion with lots of reps, and then some more after that, to really tone.

photo 2This isn’t exactly a ‘sweaty’ class, but it definitely gets your heart pumping. It’s the best of both worlds because you get your cardio and simultaneously sculpt and lengthen. This was my second “mixed” Physique 57 class with Meredith in Bridgehampton. If this is a “mixed” class, I can’t imagine surviving an ‘advanced’ class. The philosophy is ideal, though: you can always modify or take a quick break, but the class will always challenge you. It’s better to set the ‘barre’ high and modify than having anyone walk out of class thinking it was too easy. Yeah, that won’t happen. Ever.

Meredith is super nice and bubbly, but when class starts, she gets down to business. Why? Because she knows firsthand how effective this workout can be and she wants each and every member of the class to gain the maximum benefits. She explains that she’s looking for that shake, that muscle twitch to show that change is happening (yes, my muscles were a’twitchin.) Meredith has the grace of a dancer and the strength of a fitness professional. She clearly takes it upon herself to bring energy into the room and to turn each person’s muscles to jello. Physique 57 is tough, but Meredith’s personalized coaching and energy really make you want to take it one step further.photo 5Physique is really a full-body workout focused on hitting all large muscle groups. Your glutes will love to hate ‘pretzel’ and don’t even get me started on ‘waterski.’ I always knew waterskiing was not my sport and this has been re-confirmed. The back, obliques, shoulders, bi’s, and tri’s won’t feel neglected either, there’s something to target them all.

57’s perks? Strength, flexibility, bone density, body alignment, balance, and more. But, does it ever get easier? No. Never. In fact, it may just get harder as you get better. Meredith even admitted after class that she struggles during thighs when she is able to take the class herself. She said people look at her like “you’re an instructor, you should be able to do this easily!” but the point is: it never gets easy! I asked Meredith what makes Physique different from other barre classes; we agreed it’s the perfect combination of pace and intensity.

Physique 57 also sells their DVD’s and workouts online so that you can feel the burn pain right at home. What will you miss? The pressure of getting it right every time, Meredith’s awesome personality, and the space (ie: super-duper clean carpets and huge mirrors to watch yourself make that scrunched-up ouch face up close and personal.)

One Healthy Breakdown: Don’t let the ballet barre or the cute blond fool you, Physique 57 will make you work for that stretch and yes, you’ll gain from the pain.

Follow Me