On Thursday, I caught wind of a fun little event going down on Friday night at Pure Yoga East: Hot Figure 4. My first thought when asked if I’d be interested? Absolutely not: breaking a sweat on a Friday night during the prime of happy hour was the last thing I’d ever want to do, not to mention that Figure 4 was one of the most challenging classes I’d ever taken in NYC, and that was without the heat.
Fast forward 30 seconds, and I had completely shifted my mindset. I thought, what better way is there to kick off a weekend than with a solid, sweaty workout? Happy hour will always be there; a grueling workout among other like-minded ladies – many of them runners – doesn’t come around every day.
Herein, my official Figure 4 recap from my editor-tastic work, and why you should spend happy hour at the barre too. You can read the entire rundown here.
Figure 4 is a barre-inspired class designed to complement the body lengthening and strengthening benefits of yoga. Offered exclusively at Pure Yoga in Manhattan, it’s the brainchild of former professional ballet dancer Kate Albarelli and involves a blissful blend of classic dance training, Pilates, yoga and light free weights – think 1 to 5 pounders, though I stuck to 2’s and 3’s.
If not for the uptown vibes that define Pure’s studios or the promise of a plié-worthy physique, then check out my 10 other reasons to try out Figure 4. After all, what’ve you got to lose besides an hour of your night and inches from your abs, arms, glutes and thighs?
1. Safe strength training. Figure 4 uses your own body as resistance most of the time, building strength without overusing muscle fibers. When weights are used, they’re light – mine didn’t exceed 3 pounds, and often I used 2’s.
2. Props for props. From barre to ball to cushion to mat, there’s never a dull moment during a Figure 4 workout. The fact that you don’t spend too much time lifting, pulling or squatting using any single prop makes the 60-minute class fly by in a breeze.
3. Beauty, not bulk. Planks, push-ups and abdominal and gluteal work help to target, train and stabilize muscles that are lodged deep near the bone rather than the outer muscles. The result? A longer, leaner figure.
4. Top notch instructors. Hands-on help from some of the best instructors in Manhattan ensures an effective workout with tangible results. Kate was energetic and encouraging, motivating and honest, stern yet upbeat all at once. In other words, for serious change, you need serious effort – and she doesn’t let you forget it.
5. Avoid muscle memory. Figure 4 continuously surprises your muscles by constantly changing the pace at which the pulses are performed. Many of the movements follow the beat of the music blaring throughout the room, making the exercises easy (and fun!) to follow.
6. Build strong bones. Women bear a majority of their weight in the hips; for men, the same is true of the back muscles. Figure 4 uses isometric exercises that bolster bone density in the foot, knee, hip and back joints. No sweeping movements here! During some, you can even rest your head on your arm.
7. Toughen Up. Don’t get discouraged if, during your first class, your knees shake incessantly. Mine did – almost embarrassingly so! It’s normal; even gym rats and yogis should plan on working muscles that haven’t gotten this much love and attention in years. As Kate says, the shaking may never stop, but the exercises should become easier with time.
8. What’s in a name? The name “Figure 4″ was playfully derived from a stretch ballerinas use to work muscles in the gluteal region. You’ll do this stretch at the end of class, though runners, cyclists and other athletes may be familiar with the position too. Simply lie on your back, bring your knees toward your chest, and place your right foot on the outside of your left knee. Switch. It feels so, freaking, good.
9. Toning and tunes. Nothing elevates a workout like a solid soundtrack. It’s my favorite part about running and, when it comes to indoor classes, it’s the only thing that keeps me going. Thanks, Kate, for your kick-ass playlist!
10. Yes, it is for you! I have to say, while I find hot yoga to be somewhat tedious and blah, I actually enjoyed the extra sweaty nature of Figure 4 in heat. By the time the class ended, I felt lengthened and stretched, bendy and strong. My pores felt cleansed. My body felt great.
I never thought I’d truly enjoy a post-work activity that didn’t involve a cold glass of Pinot Grigio, but after Friday’s class, I was a convert. Plus, that hour spent at Pure made the cold glass of wine waiting for me afterward that much more delicious.
- Have you ever taken Figure 4? What’d you think?
- Do you like working out on a Friday night, or like me, do you usually try to get your sweat session out of the way early in the morning?
- Have you ever taken a “hot” class before? Love? Hate? Indecisive?