The American trainer directed a mantra familiar to those anxious to get a flat tummy: Keep the stomach muscles working, and curl up and uncurl one spinal bone at a time. For 55 minutes, the fitness buffs gasped at the series of tough abdominal crunches, twists and other exercises firing up the trunk muscles.
In January, Plana Forma fitness studio will offer more challenging classes which are based on Physique 57—a workout that combines Pilates, ballet, yoga and even plyometrics.
Antonietta Vicario, global training manager for Physique 57, visited Manila to teach new classes that would challenge Plana Forma’s regular clients. Among them, So You Think You’re Ab-Vance, focuses on exercising the major muscles that girdle the spine, including the back and sides of the core while avoiding the wrong load on the back. This workout adapts the Stott-Pilates exercises to the quick tempo of Physique 57 style.
“So you think you’re strong in Pilates? Take this so your abs can take even more of a workout. The pace is faster, the music is more energetic and it’s more motivational. Yet, you’re still grounded and keeping a calm center. It’s fun like having a party with hip shakes,” said Vicario.
The classes start with the students lying on the floor, establishing the neutral position of the spine and pelvis. Then it proceeds with exercises known to people who have taken Stott-Pilates: bending the legs to a tabletop position; the Hundred (a curl-up with pumping arms and coordinated breathing); the classic Pilates abdominal series with weight resistance; arm exercises with Barbie dumbbells; pushups, planks and leg exercises to work out the heart and lungs. All throughout, the fitness buffs pull in their navels and keep them activated.
“It’s a whole body workout. As we do the exercises, we think of how the abs are supporting throughout the entire class,” Vicario said.
She also introduced an advanced cardiovascular workout which is low-impact and joint-friendly.
A hybrid asanas class melds basic Physique 57 exercises with yoga. “You learn to balance strength and ease. It’s not about building strength that creates tightness. But you are finding grace and flow,” said Vicario.
Despite her first pregnancy, Vicario has been active. “You can do these throughout your pregnancy because it is low-impact. You are working with your body as resistance for strength. Many of our exercises are focused on the abs, the gluteal muscles and pelvis—these are the same muscles you will use when you deliver. My friends have done these workouts all throughout their pregnancy. They had only 30-minute labor which was what they needed to push.
“I haven’t had to modify in my first trimester. The only difference is that I don’t do crunches. I focus on my thighs, glutes and arms, obviously because I’ll be carrying around extra weight in six months.”
As the belly grows, it is common for women to sink in their lower back.
Pregnant women have pain in the lower back because the belly is expanding. Staying active and healthy makes everything easier. Pregnant or not, the stronger you are, the easier it is to feel good in the world.
Thanks to regular exercise, she didn’t experience any morning sickness. When she feels lethargic, Vicario works out and feels energized. “It’s helping me through pregnancy to feel good.”
Vicario cited two reasons people keep coming back to the studio. On a personal level, the workouts challenge your concentration and determination. “If you do something which you thought you couldn’t, you feel empowered.”
Then there’s the sense of community. “Yes, you are getting a nice butt, and your body is getting leaner, longer and stronger. But what drives people to come back is a supportive community. You feel it when you walk inside. We have clients who say, ‘This is my happy place. I come and leave feeling happier.’ That is about the environment. You leave happier knowing you get stronger. We work hard to create that community. That is something that Physique 57 and Plana Forma share,” said Vicario.
Actress Nikki Valdes swears by the Plana Forma exercises which are based on Physique 57 and the studio’s Zumba classes.
“People have been telling me I’m more toned. The Forma classes give you the cuts you need. I take the Ab and Arm express and the Forma Stretch, while Zumba is my cardiovascular workout. Since I’ve been working out here, I’ve been eating healthier. I reduced my carbs. If you want to feel good and dress good, Plana Forma is a good practice,” she said.
Plana Forma is at 6/F Jecoprime Building, 20th Drive, McKinley Business Park, BGC, Taguig. Call tel. nos. 5530870 and 0917-8094392; and at 2G-21 G/F Centris Walk, Edsa cor. Quezon Ave., QC. Call tel. nos. 7099174 and 0917-5838022. E-mail [email protected]