Get Fit by V-Day

Cupid’s arrow has been known to miss its mark. Better for you to take aim with toned and strengthened sexy parts. Here’s what the experts recommend for toning up.

Love your body
Get fab abs, toned triceps and a firm fanny by Valentine’s Day

Cupid’s arrow has been known to miss its mark. Better for you to take aim with toned and strengthened sexy parts. Here’s what the experts recommend for toning up.


No man can resist a six-pack wrapped in nothing but a bow (and we don’t mean beer). Mix fitness and foreplay for a come-hither core with Cardio Striptease classes. Not only is lap dancing a great tummy trimmer but “boyfriends and husbands definitely don’t mind when you work out in the living room,” says Tammy Morris, owner of Tantra Fitness in Vancouver (and the former exotic dancer who may have been the straw that broke the back of the first Bennifer after Affleck got “a little touchy-feely”).

The sexy strut (hips swaying, shoulders back and stomach in) forces you to engage the abdominals, says Morris, but hip rolls provide the biggest bang for your buck. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, back arched and—without moving your upper body—draw circles with your hips (remember to change directions). Hip rolls define the waist, as opposed to weight-bearing crunches, which add bulk, says Morris. Plus, she adds, “it increases hip flexibility and mobility, which can be useful for many other things.”

Prefer to woo your amour with less exhibitionism? Marjorie O’Connor, a Nike-sponsored athlete and Edmonton-based fitness educator, says you can tone the entire abdominal area with one move: the side plank. Lie on one side with your legs stacked on top of each other. Raise yourself up onto your elbow, forearm and the side of your foot. Place your opposite hand on your hip or extend it toward the ceiling. Keeping your shoulders square and your core contracted, draw your navel toward your spine and squeeze your bum. Hold for 10 seconds on each side. Repeat three times, aiming to hold a few seconds longer each day.

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Thankfully, no bitter end of a long-term relationship is required for this kind of rebounding. Bouncing on a mini-trampoline may look like kids’ stuff, but it’s a killer leg workout, says Shelly McDonald, an Urban Rebounder master trainer in Montreal and the host of Caribbean Workout on Outdoor Life Network.

“Because of the soft surface, your legs have to work that much harder,” she says. And note, it’s low impact, so there’s no harmful jarring. The exercise is less about jumping and more about pushing with your legs, which makes it great for targeting your hips and thighs, says McDonald. A new mom, she also points out that Urban Rebounding not only made short work of losing the baby weight but the instinctive pushing down, combined with the gravitational pull, helped her pelvic floor bounce back post-birth as well. (Think Kegel exercises, only a lot more fun.)

Aerobic-style Urban Rebounder classes are set to high-energy music and include a combination of mogul hopping, cross-country skiing, jumping jacks, squat jumps and jogging in place. Mini-trampolines (available in sporting-goods departments) are also an inexpensive and easy way to jump-start at-home workouts. Make leaps and bounds toward gorgeous gams with half-hour workouts three times a week.

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Though we’re fairly certain your love life wasn’t her motive, maybe Mom was onto something when she told you to stop slouching. A strong back is a sexy back, says Harley Pasternak, who so impressed Halle Berry with how quickly he whipped her into shape that she asked him to relocate to L.A. from Toronto and train her full time. He did, and now he includes Hollywood’s hardest bodies as clients.

“When your shoulder blades are back, it’s a natural boob lift,” says Pasternak (to think, years of nagging could have been avoided with that one sentence). A strong back also inhibits hunched, rounded shoulders, which makes you “look more elegant, longer and leaner.”

Target the rhomboids (which pull the shoulders back) with a reverse incline dumbbell row. Lie chest-down on an incline bench set at a 45-degree angle. Start with your arms hanging down, a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows to perform a rowing motion, drawing the dumbbells up toward the bench and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Tone the lat muscles (which pull shoulders down) with a lat pull down. Sit on a pull-down machine, grasp the bar a little wider than shoulder-width, arch your back slightly and, with chest up, pull the bar down to your collarbone. For each exercise, do four sets of 20 repetitions twice a week.

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Swinging is a fun and liberating way to tone triceps, biceps, shoulders and back. But hold off on inviting the neighbours over for “dinner”—we’re talking pole dancing.Swinging yourself around a pole means you’re using your body weight to strength-train your arms, says Morris, who also teaches pole work at her Vancouver studio and was first runner-up at 2005 Miss Pole Dance World, a clothes-on competition that was held last year in the Netherlands. “You’re creating a long, lean muscle as opposed to a short, bulky muscle and getting a stretch at the same time,” she says. More Angelina and less Arnold, if you will.

Another strategy: turn spaghetti arms into sexy arms at the gym by super-setting, says Rob Williams, owner of Mixx Co-Fitness Studio in Vancouver. This means taking weight workouts up a notch by overloading muscles to see results quickly.

The trick is to perform 2–3 moves without stopping, with only a minute rest before beginning again. “At the end of the first super-set, you’ve got a good burn going on,” says Williams. After the third, you’re on fire.

A trouble spot for many women is the triceps, says Williams. (You know, that underarm slack that keeps on waving goodbye long after you’ve stopped.) He suggests a super-set using the long and short heads of the triceps. (Triceps have three different heads: one long, which spans from the elbow to the shoulder, and two short, which span the elbow joints.)

Start with an overhead extension: sitting down, hold the dumbbells with your arms straight overhead. Bend your elbows and lower the weights to your shoulder blades. Return to start. Repeat 12 times then switch directly to bench dips: seated on the edge of a bench with your feet on the floor, place your hands on the bench beside your hips. Lift your hips out from the bench and, bending your elbows, lower your hips toward the floor. Press up to starting position. Continue until the muscle is fatigued. Rest one minute. Repeat two more times.

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Forget love at first sight. To really leave a lasting impression, buff up your backside. Kickboxing is an incredible butt-kicking workout, says Susan Walker, a Toronto trainer for Fitness Kickboxing Canada. Not only is it entirely possible to sweat your butt off (an average session burns 600–800 calories) but all the lower-body work targets the muscles around your hips (such as the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps).

Controlled kicks that require squeezing the glutes, such as the roundhouse or the back kick, are great for toning the tushie, says Walker. And going the extra mile and substituting squats for the ducks in between punches and kicks—jab, cross, squat, kick—boosts your booty-burning potential. And to really whip your rear into shape in a short amount of time, Walker suggests enrolling in a kickboxing boot camp that includes power drills (think jumping squats and lunges in which the feet leave the floor).

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