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From boxing to Gyrotonic, Carly Baillie Krug helps you shape up to fit spring’s wardrobe staples

Spring striptease
From boxing to Gyrotonic, Carly Baillie Krug helps you shape up to fit spring’s wardrobe staples

Strapless dress

The right to bare arms is always a controversial topic, but particularly in the spring. When neither a sudden heat wave nor faulty office air-conditioning can coax six months of pasty underarm sag out from the safety of a twinset, there are only two options: flight (beneath the camouflage of a cardigan) or fight. For the latter, packing a punch is the quickest way to knockout arms.

Just slipping on a pair of boxing gloves is a giant step toward toning up, says Savoy Howe, founder of the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club. Boxers are told to keep their fists up to protect their face; doing so “with 10–16-ounce gloves on your hands is a workout for the whole arm,” she says.

While aeroboxing class is great, making contact (with a bag or a body) provides even more buff for your blow. “Shadowboxing is just a warm-up,” says Howe. When you get to the heavy bag—that added resistance—that’s when muscles really get worked.

Beginners start out hitting a speed or heavy bag but are soon letting fists fly at a trainer’s hand pads or (if they choose) an opponent’s head. And no arm muscle goes unpunished, says Howe. The straight punches (power and jab) work the shoulders and deltoids, with the triceps (the underarm area we love to hate) punctuating both. An uppercut works the biceps. And a hook from the side uses the laterals and forearm.

Put them all together in a combination of left, right, hook, uppercut, slip (a whole-body move that brings you closer to your opponent), right, hook and “you’re going to be pretty proud of your pipes and back,” says Howe. No wonder boxers fling off their capes as soon as they get in the ring. Your cardigan will be down for the count, too.


Strapless dress • Low-rise jeans ShortsHalter top

Low-rise jeans

The winter tires have come off the car—a spare one needn’t remain around your midsection. Especially when losing it is as easy and fun as child’s play.

Hooping (the “hula” has been dropped) has been handed down from recess to rave parties and now, thanks to its ab-strengthening advantages, to the gym. Christa Giles picked up the hoop more as a dance activity than an intentional workout, but she was so impressed that she quit her job as head instructor at the University of British Columbia’s aquatic centre and is now focusing on teaching hoop classes and manufacturing hoops.

A long way from the Wham-O product of the 1950s, today’s hoop is bigger and heavier, which makes it all the more effective for busting bellies. Keeping it spinning “definitely works up a sweat,” says Giles, who notes that hooping has made a difference both in the way her abdominals look and increased their strength (which helps combat lower-back pain, too).

Even when the hoop leaves the waist (experts fluidly twirl it around their neck and knees, above their heads and around each arm), the core stability required to keep it in constant motion will keep the abdominals engaged, says Giles. One word of caution: hooping in one direction is almost always easier, so make sure to mix it up to maintain symmetry throughout the body.


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Whether it was the boots or the booty that did the walking, Jessica Simpson’s Daisy Dukes have two-stepped their way into many men’s fantasies. But, for many women, the thought of donning shorts after a long winter strikes fear in the heart.

Getting back on the gam-wagon is like riding a bike—exactly like it, in fact.

“I don’t know anything that tones the legs better than Spinning. [It’s] the safest way possible, with no impact,” says Micheline Wedderburn, owner of Toronto’s Spinning gym Quad and its Oakville, Ont., counterpart, Quad West.

Wedderburn credits indoor Spinning classes on a stationary bike with helping her shed a stubborn 30 pounds. And when it comes to a lower-body workout, the cardio (one class burns on average 500 calories) combined with the spot training is unbeatable, she says.

Quad’s Spinning classes target even more of the leg due to the use of cycling shoes that clip into the pedals (or running shoes strapped onto the pedals), providing a surface to both push and pull on. “The resistance on the wheel creates more tension,” says Wedderburn, and—from the calves to the quads—you’ll reap the rewards.

It’s not about simulating a three-hour hill or riding the quads all day, she says. Instead, “long, lean leg toning” is achieved through moving through exercises that target a variety of muscle groups. And with proper technique, you can target the hamstrings and glutes, “an area a lot of my clients most want to see results in. Your butt can never be too tight!” says Wedderburn.


Strapless dressLow-rise jeans • Shorts • Halter top

Halter top

A turtleneck will conceal a multitude of sins, but there’s nowhere to hide sloppy posture in a back-baring halter top. To put rounded shoulders or a hunched back on the straight and narrow, head straight for a Gyrotonic workout.

Invented by a Romanian ballet dancer, Gyrotonic uses a wooden jungle gym apparatus of pulleys, harnesses, wheels, weights and a bench to increase mobility, strength and flexibility. “It’s the next evolution up from Pilates,” says Vivian Nickels of Body Matrix in Toronto, one of about 20 certified Gyrotonic studios in Canada (for a complete list, visit

But where Pilates focuses on the core, Gyrotonic targets the whole body in every exercise. “It opens up the whole back line so, immediately, people get off the machine and feel—and look—taller,” says Nickels. And unlike most exercises, which focus on front and back, it works the diagonal and lateral lines of the body. The first time people experience that deep three-dimensional stretch, “their eyes almost bulge out of their head,” she says.

The arches, curls, spinal undulations and twists on the machine, as well as a hamstring series performed during mat work (known as Gyrokinesis), open up the trapezius muscles and those of the hard-to-get-at lower back, which helps clients achieve a natural neutral posture. And since Gyrotonic strengthens through stretch and resistance, it promotes a “really long and lean body with no bulking of the muscle,” says Nickels.

“When you finish a good Gyro session, it feels like somebody’s just taken a big syringe of Perrier and spritzed it all through your body. You feel this lightness,” she says. Which is just the spring in your step required to make that back- and shoulder-baring halter look stunning.


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