Sure, heaving weights and powering through push-ups while your drillmaster trainer ratchets up the reps can whip you into shape, but after a day of waging battle from your cubicle, wouldn’t it be nice to exercise your girlie side—that is, without a pole to shimmy around? Here are three core-focused workouts that promise to add a little fun femininity to your day—not to mention curvy, graceful results.
GOAL: A libido-revving routine
TRY: Kama Aerobics
WHAT IS IT? While we’ve been focused on strengthening our cores for overall health, where did all the sensuality go? Let’s just say Kama Aerobics will help cast you in Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” video. Ambient, rhythmic music sets the pace and flow of the class, from warm-up to hip-rolling gyrations. Fusion belly dance combined with yoga and Pilates-like moves and stretching is on the menu here. “Pilates works on the core. Kama Aerobics works on the sexual core,” explains trained dancer Halyna Skrypnyk, who developed the workout, now available at The Yorkville Club and Extreme Fitness in Toronto. “It’s like doing Kegels. But we do them in a sensual, fun way. Meanwhile, you’re toning your core, your buns and your inner and outer thighs all at once.” Why try it? A half-hour of this fluid workout, and you won’t just be glowing but reaching for that towel and water bottle. “You’ll definitely sweat,” says Skrypnyk, “but our power lies in not trying to compete with men, but in trying to embrace our sensuality and sexuality and be confident in that.” From pelvic thrusts to hip swivels, it’s all designed to engage and hone the muscles we use in childbirth and in achieving orgasm.
GOAL: A fun fat-burner
TRY: Hula hooping
WHAT IS IT? Take one hoop, move your hips forward and back (not round and round as most of us tried as kids), add a sense of play, laugh and voilà!—you’re burning calories. “Anyone can learn how to hula hoop with the right hoop,” says Sadie Yancey, a hooping instructor based in Toronto. But make no mistake: these aren’t the hoops we rattled around with in our youth. The adult versions are heavier and larger—about 42 inches in diameter—and made of irrigation tubing. It’s the weight that ensures more control and ultimately more fun. “We start with waist hula hoping and graduate to tricks such as gradually taking the hoop above your head and twirling it around your arm,” Yancey says. Once you’ve got waist-hooping down to a science, you learn to walk around, move your arms and can even, with practice, add a hoop onto your regular aerobic workout. As for Yancey’s classes, “Part of it is sweating, and part of it is relearning how to play.” Why try it? Unlike, say, an ab machine, there are no bad associations with the hula hoop. “When people see you with one, they see fun,” says Yancey. Add to that the way a hoop can free your hips: “A lot of women hold physical and emotional tension in their pelvis,” Yancey says. Having to keep a hoop spinning not only strengthens and tones but loosens that whole zone in our bodies. Bonus: you can hula hoop anywhere—in a park, in your living room or with the growing number of enthusiasts around the world.
GOAL: A Ballerina Bod
TRY: The Dailey Method
WHAT IS IT? You’ve done your fair share of core work, you know the ballet barre, and you’re no stranger to aerobics set to peppy beats. What you don’t have is a lot of time. That’s where body-sculpting workouts like The Dailey Method save the day. The dance inspired workouts take the micromovements of Pilates that target your core, spine and pelvis, combine them with the muscle-burning and elongating techniques that transform mere dancers into prima ballerinas, then set it all to the pop cheerfulness of, say, the Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry. Aside from helping you look graceful in class and beyond (instructors are constantly correcting your alignment), these workouts kick butt. Just try holding a ballet plié and moving your pelvis mere inches as you work your arms with light weights—all the while maintaining perfect posture. Why try it? “I’ve done a lot of marathons, kickboxing, yoga and Pilates in my life,” says Jey Wyder, the first certified master instructor of The Dailey Method in Canada, who partnered with her sister Karen to bring the California-born workout to Vancouver. “But I’ve never experienced anything like this in terms of seeing the changes in my body—the lengthening out, the sculpting of my arms, the slimming through my hips, the shrinking of my waist. Basically everything every woman wants.”