Studio City Sun / January 2006

Studio City Sun – Fitness Guru Offers New Twist

Fitness Guru Offers New Twist on Exercise 
Studio City home to popular CARDIO BARRE®, By Amy Lyons

Studio City fitness expert Richard Giorla has created a new way for exercise enthusiasts to get that long, lean look often associated with dancers and those who “ab-crunch and leg-lift” their way through mat-based workouts. Giorla’s program marries the graceful plies of ballet with Pilates-inspired torso-twists and firmly held stances culled from yoga. The Giorla difference, however, is that his program includes lively music and the sweat-inducing, heart-rate increasing moves of cardiovascular activity, hence the name of his game: CARDIO BARRE®. The routine is clearly laid out with humor and an at-home appeal in Giorla’s new book Raise the Barre, a Harper Collins publication released at the end of last year.

The book spends a great deal of time warming up readers to the actual CARDIO BARRE® routine. Pictures demonstrate each move with excellent form and the book includes eight weeks worth of variations in Giorla’s prescribed course of physical study. Increased degrees of time commitment and difficulty seem entirely appropriate and do-able. Interspersed with the eight sections on bending, squatting, reaching and grooving are success stories from CARDIO BARRE® clients. When put into the context of Giorla’s own story, these items – complete with before and after photos – are particularly inspiring.

Giorla spent twenty years of his life as a professional dancer, working with the likes of Michael Jackson and performing in a show at Universal Studios. A debilitating groin muscle pull – the same injury that recently forced U.S. figure skater and Olympic gold-medal hopeful Michelle Kwan to withdraw from the Torino games (and also rendered pairs skater Randy Gardner unable to compete in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics) – ended Giorla’s professional dance career.

The one-time Chippendale dancer suffered for two years, went through physical therapy and decided to teach a ballet barre class in Studio City. “I liked it, but I felt I needed cardio too,” said Giorla, who went on to buy the space where he took the barre class and convert it into his own CARDIO BARRE® studio, adding lively moves to the stretching and lengthening moves that helped him heal.

My routine is high energy/low impact–it has never been done before. What is out there now is either high energy/high impact or low energy/low impact,” said Giorla, who teaches CARDIO BARRE® seven days a week at his Riverside Drive studio. Neither a stranger to the neighborhood nor to the intricacies and challenges of business ownership, Giorla used to helm The Boom Boom Room, a Studio City coffee shop.

If you want to do CARDIO BARRE® at home, the book offers guidance and support. The ending section has a practical and comforting at-home application of all of Giorla’s moves (models are pictured doing CARDIO BARRE® while vacuuming the floor, brushing their teeth and laundering clothes. I, for one, got a charge out of this section and have been using it religiously). If you are more prone to exercising in a group, check out Giorla’s studio, where you just may run into Jennie Garth or Amy Smart, both of whom have raised their barre with Giorla’s program.