I was a little nervous when I signed up for my beginner intro month at Physique 57. I had heard how tough the class was, and I hadn't worked out in months. I was right to be nervous, because that first class was TOUGH, but the instructors were great, and enthusiastic. Physique has several levels of class - beginner, intermediate, advanced, and open which is for everyone. I loved this approach as it allowed me to graduate through the classes. After a month, I was at intermediate level - go me!!!
The classes each had a very set structure - quick warm-up, 5 or so minutes of arm work, stretch, a horrible period of thigh burning work, stretch, butt, stretch, abs, stretch and cool-down. However, the exercises are pretty much unlike anything you have ever come across before in your life, and the emphasis is on small, controlled movements that sculpt your body. Try this technique and you will never realise how much pain "up and inch, down an inch" can really be! As the technique is novel, and requires good form, the instructors are supposed to walk around making corrections, rather like a yoga class. This varies from instructor, to be honest. All of the instructors are amazing at energizing the class and keeping you motivated, although when I did an early morning class I found an inner voice saying "and up, and down" for hours afterward! They also, of course, all have amazingly hot bodies and incredible flexibility. The music in the classes was also consistently really good.
Does it work? Yes - after 5 weeks I have a much tighter butt, defined abs, more arm tone, and more leg tone. I walk taller, and my posture is better. I feel stronger, happier, and encouraged to keep up the hard work.
The studios are gorgeous - bright, clean, carpeted, wall to wall mirrors (great for checking form), and the changing rooms, although I never used them, were clean with everything you could ever wish for. There are 2 in NYC - Soho and Columbus Circle. The class choice was also amazing - there are 3 early morning (6 or 7am classes) each day, and dozens of classes throughout the day and evening of varying levels. This to me is a huge plus - exercise is hard enough to work into your schedule, and giving me a huge choice of classes makes it more likely I'm actually going to make it.
Physique 57 isn't perfect though. For a start, for all these amazing facilities, there is a hefty price tag: $250 introductory month, or $440 per month after that for unlimited classes. Each class is $35, or you can buy bundles of 5, 10, or 20.
Secondly, the instructors varied in terms of ability to troubleshoot and correct, which, if you are consistently doing something wrong over time, could lead to problems. I also thought that the thigh sections were too long, and too hard, risking both bulking on my thighs, and knee problems. This might not be an issue for other people, but legs have a tendency to bulk up.
To sum up:
- effective body sculpting
- fun classes with great cheerleading instructors
- amazing facilities
- flexible schedule
- too much thigh work
- instructor skills vary
For those who want to work out at home, Physique 57 also sell a range of DVDs through their website which will show you how to carve your butt out in your living room - nice!