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Choreographer Tanya Becker co-founded Physique 57 after a decade as a Lotte Berk trainer. Her update of the 1950s isometric method combines ballet, Pilates, and weights into an hour of thigh-squeezing, ab-crunching, and leg-bending set to a bubbly pop-music soundtrack. The exercises come in intervals of extreme sprints punctuated by cooling stretches. The three Manhattan studios (plus one in the Hamptons) sport a primped, feminine look in shades of periwinkle and cream, and classrooms are plushly carpeted. Physique has attracted serious star power since opening in 2006: Kelly Ripa and Karolina Kurkova are among its famous fans. There are supplementals like mat-based Pilates and yoga classes, but the signature classes are what most students gravitate toward. These are offered at three levels of difficulty, with only slight variations in choreography within each echelon. There are props aplenty as everyone gets playground balls, mats, and a yard of ballet barre to hang onto as they squat, thrust, and kick with fully engaged glutes. Moves are controlled, precise, and calibrated for intense resistance. Graceful, perky instructors ask beginners for only ten to twenty reps, meaning the discomfort of each intense movement doesn’t last too long.Pros
Classes hold a maximum of 25 students so instructors and their assistants have plenty of time for personal attention.
Reservations are recommended and wait lists are not unusual, making guilt-mollifying last minute workouts difficult to schedule.
When you’re pregnant, you want to get the benefits of the workout you love, but you can and should do only about half of your usual exercise. Physique 57’s Tanya Becker and Megan Hicks devised a pregnant-women-only class ($33 per class) where students (pending written permission from their doctor) get a modified version of the ballet-based core-strengthening work developed by the now-defunct Lotte Berk studio. Ab exercises normally done with your back against the wall are instead performed by leaning against a specially designed wedge for support, for example. Moms who return within six months of their delivery get a 20 percent discount on a pack of twenty classes.
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