As the temperature rises, fashion calls for bare arms and draws attention to perky butts and curvy thighs.
Plana Forma fitness studio says it’s time to get F.I.T., the acronym for Focused Interval Training, a workout designed by Physique 57 founder Tanya Becker.
F.I.T. is based on the principle of high-intensity interval training, which consists of vigorous phases of exercise with short recovery periods. This pattern of hard work to the point of fatigue, with a brief rest in between, enables you to exercise at your best without slackening your form.
Even after the workout, the body’s metabolism continues to burn fat.
Becker points out that while many studio workouts focus on abs and thighs, her F.I.T. program zeroes in on common trouble spots such as flappy arms and droopy bottoms.
“It’s my answer to interval training, but finding the muscles and working them in a set pattern, and working them over and over again,” she says.
As in Becker’s Physique 57 (the local equivalent is the Plana Forma workout), F.I.T. involves warming up with big movements, a sequence of exercises for the biceps, triceps, butt, thighs and the core with the use of the ballet barre, an exercise ball, and dumbbells. The playground ball is used to squeeze the thighs for resistance. The straps are sometimes used for abdominal work and curl-ups.
F.I.T. exercises are meant to sculpt the arms and derriere, but the leg lifts aim to keep the heart and lungs working. The changing positions of the body are accompanied by the rounding and lengthening of the spine.
“I change the pattern every 30 seconds. Then I keep changing the direction of the spine. If you don’t change the direction, it hurts. There is a formula to our classes. We keep them safe, though tough,” says Becker.
Overload or stimulating muscle development by pushing the muscle to its limits is one of the principles of Physique 57 that has been adopted by Plana Forma.
“Intensity is what changes the body. Most people don’t want to get that intense. They think they’re working out, but the muscle never changes. If you don’t overload the muscles, they don’t firm up. It’s a science,” she says.
While doing the exercises, one has to keep the core muscles working. “You’ve got to pull in and pull up. Your core is working 80 percent of the time. Each client is sculpting the body,” says Becker.
The workout entails light weights, since studio workouts aim for a dancer’s graceful build, not a weightlifter’s bulk. “We want slim and elongated muscles, and beautiful moves,” she says.
Becker’s journey to fitness started at three years old. Wearing a brace to support an unstable hip, she took up dance upon doctor’s orders.
As a teenager, she pursued jazz dance and performed overseas. At 23, she saw an ad looking for dancers to teach the Lotte Berk method. Berk was a German dancer who developed a rehabilitation workout for her injury based on ballet barre exercises and yoga.
Inspired by a challenging class, Becker saw its potential. Back in the 1990s, there were only two types of studio workouts, with Lotte Berk Method as one of them.
Berk’s method had more isometric moves (holding a contracted position or movement to build strength for a certain length of time) that can fatigue the muscle. It will work,” she says.
Although the program was effective, Becker found the exercises too one-dimensional. “We used to hold a squat on tiptoes. After two minutes, you start to shake. It can get boring. My vision was to add some choreography. Why not combine cardio, strength training and stretching? We have those full-range movements. You feel your heart is working as well. That is the difference between us and versions out there.”
With business partner Jennifer Maavi, Becker established Physique 57 in New York. In the late 2000s, entrepreneur Tina Lagdameo took up classes to lose her post-natal weight. Impressed with the results, she told the founders that she wanted to bring Physique 57 to the Philippines.
“We were quite young then and weren’t into international licensing,” recalls Becker. Nonetheless, the Filipino instructors were trained by Becker and the studio was called Plana Forma. Every year, a representative from Physique 57 visits Manila to provide continuous education.
Becker is proud that the teachers are dancers. “The classes are highly choreographed. There are many positions, and you need to be hands-on as well. If you don’t have a good eye to check on the clients, musicality or creativity, the class can get boring. We just don’t hire anybody. Our teachers are the product. That is what makes us different from other classes out there,” she says.
Over the past 20 years of teaching, Becker has never received a complaint about knee injuries, which happen in other programs. “There’s no jumping or jarring movements. Teachers make sure the knees are in the right alignment. Physical therapists send their clients to us to make their knees stronger. The movements are easy on the joints.”
Becker praises the Plana Forma instructors as the best in the world. “They teach from their hearts. Aside from being great dancers, they’ve got high energy and good musicality. They get the hands-on training and the choreography. It’s not easy to find teachers as good as them. I’ve taught all over the world; it’s hard to teach people energy. Many teachers I’ve trained are very pulled in. They don’t give, they don’t allow clients to let go. It’s hard to teach that.”
More than improved muscle tone and weight loss, devoted clients have lauded the workouts for improving their well-being. Becker says she’s had cancer survivors who got through their chemotherapy with the exercises, as well as women facing divorce or death in the family.
“There is something inside of you that happens when you strengthen your body,” says Becker. “It never gets easier, but you get stronger.”
For details call Plana Forma BGC, tel. 5530870; Q.C. Plana Forma Centris, tel. 7099174