Valley / January 2005

Valley – Finding Your Fitness Style

Finding Your Fitness Style

by Margie Allman

If variety is the spice of life, then mixing up your exercise routine may be the key to staying on track. Take a look at three workout options that will help you keep from getting bored as you work up a sweat.

There’s no longer any excuse for getting stuck in a fitness rut. The variety of workout regimes (and combinations thereof) has come a long way from the days of aerobics and Step classes. Whether your goal is to lose a few pounds, put on some muscle or improve your cardiovascular strength, the resources for getting (and staying) in shape are at your very fingertips here in the San Fernando Valley.

In addition to mind/body fitness, some common themes among today’s hottest workout trends are precision, control, safety and intelligence. “Train smarter, not harder” may be Lance Armstrong’s matra – as he keeps outdoing himself and wowing the world year after year – but obviously that philosophy is working its way into the masses.

While I couldn’t possibly review each and every gym, trainer and technique in the Valley that’s really cool, I’ve tried to single out a few that I believe are well worth checking out. Read on for the latest roundup of smart workouts in the Valley.

Dreaming of Acquiring a Dancer’s Body?
It’s no surprise that Richard Giorla’s CARDIO BARRE® workout has made it onto prime time television (Fox-TV’s “The OC”) after having been around for a mere three years. In Giorla’s words, it’s “high energy, no impact… it will change your entire body.” After just one class, I was convinced that this was one of the best of the newbies.

Equal parts precision and pace, this powerful workout is done at a ballet barre. It requires concentration and control, as each movement is performed at a staccato tempo, while keeping the core (the abdominal muscles and you behind) contracted tightly. The dance-inspired moves require squeezing each and every muscle in the leg – deeper than you ever thought possible – to find the necessary control.

Lengthen that leg further, make those muscles longer.” says instructor Renee Larsen over the fast music mixes. We did this while standing on the balls of our feet, sometimes lowering and lifting our heels to that fast beat. As my tired leg wanted to drop, I had to find deeper muscles to hold it up. You know that fatty area of your waistline that begins to travel around to your back as the years go by? There’s actually a muscle under there. As I pulled in deeper to hold my leg up, that’s the muscle that kicked in. Finally, I thought, something to take care of back fat!

The entire regime is the unique brainchild of former dancer-turned-fitness guru Richard Giorla. It really is no impact. The pace is what increases the heart rate, creating the cardio effect. There are few repetitions of each move, so the routine never gets boring, and it’s not so complicated that it’s difficult to follow, even the very first time for a dork like me.

Giorla says that each class follows the same format. So while instructors can choose specific moves for each body part, you can take a class from any instructor, and it will be a familiar routine. He recommends CARDIO BARRE® three times a week, but adds that it’s important to have additional, different workouts in your weekly  routine to balance your body.