Sofia Vergara has done it. Models Karlie Kloss and Nina Agdal too. Even Nick Cannon has raved about the results he gets with sculpting workout FlyBarre, telling Us, “It’s a great ab and leg exercise.”
The class — 60 minutes of infinitesimally tiny toning movements — also works your arms and butt, says master instructor Kara Liotta. “It challenges you to take your muscles to complete exhaustion, which, in turn, reshapes and defines them,” she explains. “It’s an extremely thorough, total body class, but the first places you will likely notice changes are in your arms and waist.”
A smaller waist, tighter arms and all-over toning? Sign Us up. Or, rather, we signed up Us Weekly senior writer Sarah Grossbart to tackle one of the workout company’s challenges. (Prices range from $290 to $530, depending on the region, and include four classes a week and a meal plan, complete with detailed recipes and weekly calls with the dietitians who put together the diet.) For four weeks, she would commit to the hour-long classes and whip up the prescribed recipes. Do it right and she would say hello to a brand new body by 2016. (They take before and after measurements so you get real proof.)
Here’s what happened.
Full disclosure: this isn’t my first time pulsing it out. As a casual fan of the classes (read: once or twice week), I know what to expect. There will be a warm-up, involving a series of somewhat tortuous planks. There will also be three songs of abs work (think crunches of all variations, plus “barre abs,” which involve lying on the floor, hooking your feet under the barre and crunching up from there), three songs of tormenting my thighs (so many lunges and plié-pulses) and three songs to work my arms with three-pound weights that leave them feeling like jelly. And then there are the two long glute songs. (Sample move: from a hands-and-knees position, extend your right leg directly to the side and pulse it. Now do that for a minute.)
A few days in, however, I quickly learn that knowing what to expect and committing to the muscle-quaking moves four times a week were two different things. By the end of the week I’m fairly certain my legs are going to be permanently sore.
The meal plan is also a surprise, a pleasant one. I’ll be consuming roughly 1,600 calories a day (roughly 350 at breakfast, 450 at lunch, 500 at dinner and two 150-calorie snacks), and all I have to do is follow the recipes provided. (They also suggest meals to pick up at the grocery store or various chain restaurants.) Better still: Said recipes include things like bread and cheese, and even chocolate! And we are told we can have one adult beverage a day, as long as we forfeit a snack. I’ve got this.
Things are still a little, well, ow. Especially when I tackle a two-a-day, i.e.. one class in the morning and another at night. The pain abates somewhat when one of my favorite instructors stops me after class and says he’s seen “a big jump” in how I’m taking class. As he compliments my alignment and tells me I look stronger, I mentally pat myself on the back. Totally worth waking up at 6:30 a.m. for this ego boost.
My diet is also going swimmingly. Among the lunch options is a turkey sandwich with one slice of cheddar and tons of veggies — totally delicious and satisfying. And I don’t hate my shrimp and quinoa dinner or the veggie and herb omelet. I was a bit nervous about using sprouted bread in place of my go-to multigrain (mostly because I envision actual bean sprouts coming out of the slice), but as it turns out, my fears were completely baseless. Sprouted bread tastes pretty much exactly the same as regular, save for a few extra grains.
I discover a delicious new breakfast. I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to spread part-skim ricotta cheese mixed with a touch of maple syrup over sprouted grain toast and top it with apples, but I should always be doing it!
Also, I’m starting to think that maybe I keep up this four-class-a-week schedule. While my muscles are still a bit achy and I’m starting to feel like I live at the studio, my clothes are fitting a little looser. I also feel lighter, if that’s possible, but I’m a touch worried that’s one of those wishful thinking things.
I’m starting to feel pretty muscular. Before, the 12 (!) minutes of work on my glutes felt like pure torture, and I’d have to give my aching thighs and butt a quick few-second rest a few times during each song. But I’ve started forcing myself to keep my leg up through all of the pulses. (Oh, so many pulses.)
Meanwhile, my fiancé has started commenting that I look thinner. Of course, he’s somewhat required to dish out compliments, so the true test is when I get measured. I’ve lost just about a half-inch in my waist, but nearly an inch in each thigh. I don’t hate that. Also exciting: a week later I run a 10K and destroy my old time by a few minutes. I have all of the strongs!
The progress inspires me to keep it up, though I scale back to a slightly more manageable three classes a week. Three weeks later, I’ve shed another two inches in my waist. Now, that’s fly!
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