Focus On: Physique 57

I’m really excited about this week’s Focus On post, since I’ve only been able to take 2 live classes and fell instantly in love. Nothing has made my thighs beg for mercy like Physique 57, and even though I’ve been doing the DVDs fairly regularly ish, I still can’t complete a full workout without stopping for a little break. It’s a seriously awesome burn and if I had access to live classes, would be one of my standard weekly workouts.

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My first experience with Physique 57 was in NYC, with Gabriela

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and I also had the opportunity to hit up a class with my friend Sheila in Beverly Hills.

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To keep up with the workouts, the company was so kind to send me the volume 2 DVDs.

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There is an Advanced Express DVD, which is 30 minutes, a classic 57-minute workout and a Thigh and Seat booster (30 minutes). I rotate between the 3 and do maybe one (2 max) DVD(s) each week in addition to my other workouts. They’re also extremely easy to modify for prenatal concerns, which I’m so thankful for- I’ll be able to continue to do the workouts through my pregnancy and after :)

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What I think:

-They’re a great substitute if, like me, you don’t have access to live classes

-They work! My booty has already seen a nice little lift, and I don’t even do the DVDs that often (which makes me wonder what the results would be like if I did it more frequently….)

-The instructors are incredible (Shelly is my favorite- she’s so cute) and the music is upbeat without being annoying. It’s more like background music than the focus of the workout, which I like. The coaching is fantastic, but some of the things they say get kinda cheezy after a while <—a complaint of mine with pretty much all DVDs, I memorize and know what the instructor is going to say before they say it. It drives me crazy.

-You don’t need a ton of equipment. A study chair, a mat, a small ball (I bought mine at Walgreens in the kid’s toy section)- that’s it!

Since I’m destined to do DVDs until my next trip to a Physique 57 studio, I thought I’d enlist some help with the rest of this Focus On post from someone who has access to live classes and attends them regularly. So here’s more info from a P 57 devotee, Sarah :)

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Hola!

My name is Sarah, and I’m a New York City-based food writer and nutrition counselor. (Oh, and I also have a painfully neglected little food blog.) I’m so excited Gina invited me over to give you guys a little rundown on Physique 57. While I’m more commonly known to talk a stranger’s ear off about hummus, cheese or something of the edible nature, these days I’ll tell anyone willing to listen (and probably some who are just being polite) how life changing Physique 57 is.

What is Physique 57?

Straight from the horse’s studio’s mouth:

” Physique 57® is an innovative workout program that combines isometric exercises and orthopedic stretches to systematically lengthen and sculpt your muscles and create a beautiful, lean body.  Our process is similar to interval training, but we’ve taken that concept to the next level to make it even more effective.

Physique 57®’s interval sets use your body’s own weight as resistance, and through dynamic exercises, your muscles are targeted and overloaded to the point of fatigue, then stretched for relief.  We call this groundbreaking process Interval Overload which includes muscle-defining arm exercises, intense thigh and seat sequences, waist-chiseling ab moves and fluid stretches.”

To me, it’s a lovely blend of weight lifting, body-weight resistance training, ballet and Pilates—with generous cardio bursts and stretches thrown in for good measure.

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It’s also the workout Kelly Ripa credits for her ridiculous bod. No big deal.

What to expect:

If you’ve taken other barre classes, the format is relatively similar (arms, thighs & seat, abs). But, compared to others I’ve taken, Physique 57 is faster-paced and more cardio-oriented.

The class begins with a quick warm-up, and then moves right into the arms section. You’ll grab 5-8 lb. dumbbells, and do high-reps of pretty standard arm moves—all while engaging your thighs. The arms portion finishes up with push-ups and tricep dips—and then you get into the heart of the workout: thighs and seat.

Give your lower limbs a little pep talk because they will BURN like they never have before. No matter how many weighted squats, lunges, whatevers you may be accustomed to, the thigh and seat portion (mostly performed at the barre) will have your legs on fire. The good news: though this is the longest, hardest section, it will fly. Because Physique 57 promotes “interval overload,” you perform each move until you think you can’t possibly perform another rep (and consequently start making angry faces at yourself in the mirror)—and then you move onto something else.

The class finishes up with a loco (and often oblique-centric) abs portion that uses props to engage the core in a “these ain’t your average crunches” way. Oh, and then—in a glorious pool of sweat—you stretch. Like, really stretch. The instructors always encourage you to mindfully go deep and reward your muscles for the hard work they just did.

What to wear: lululemon.

Kidding. Sort of. While you will see just as much lulu apparel in a Physique studio as in a lululemon store—any moisture-wicking, form-fitting stretchy clothes will do. I’m partial to Wunder Under crops with a Power Y tank. Wear crops or full length pants so you have a better grip when you do moves with the ball behind your knee—and any medium support tank works fine.

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And splurge on the grippy socks (all the studios sell them for $18). Class is challenging enough as it is—no need to be slipping all over the place ;).

Pros:

-Consistency between DVDs and studio workout: I was probably the last New Yorker to jump on the Physique bandwagon. And, actually, I started doing the DVDs before I stepped foot in the studio. When I’d not yet been to the studio, I wondered whether the at-home version was as challenging as a live class. Good news for non-New Yorkers/Los Angelenos : it is! There are pros to going into the studio. You get personal attention/adjustments from instructors. And the live routines always change. Whenever I come into the studio after a period when I’ve mostly done the DVDs, I get extra sore because the moves are always different.

-It never gets easier: Depending on your outlook, this can be a pro or a con. But in my book, it’s a pro. The worst part about finding a workout you love is hitting the point where it no longer challenges your body in the same way. With Physique, you’ll improve your form and efficiency of the exercises—but they will never get “easy.” AKA—there’s no escaping that burn ;).

-Strength: Regularly doing Physique has made me SO much stronger. And while the Physique classes and DVDs haven’t exactly gotten easier—other activities do! A couple months after getting into Physique, I tried an Insanity workout that I’d previously tried (and nearly died from!). And because of all of that crazy thigh work, all of the plyometric moves felt SO much easier.

-Results: Physique will tone you up, and it’ll do it quickly. I think this is due in large part to the uniqueness of the workout. Interval training combined with moves most of our muscles simply aren’t used to does good things for the bod.

-Tanya Becker: Tanya is the creator of Physique—and I have a legit girl crush on her. While I haven’t taken one of her studio classes, I’ve met her many times during the DVD workouts. If you decide to purchase either volume of the DVDs, Tanya will lead you through the brutal workout and make you laugh at the same time. (She has pretty hilarious one-liners. My fave is: “If you don’t squeeze your bottom, nobody else will!”)

Cons:

-Expensive: Honestly, this is the only con I can think of—but it’s kind of a deal-breaker dependent on what your fitness budget looks like. Classes run $35 each—and while there are rewards programs (like a BFF challenge!) and mildly discounted packages and unlimited options, it’s still a hefty investment.

Have you taken a Physique 57 class before? What was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Love these dvds! I do them almost every 2nd day and am waiting patiently for my volume 2!
    I love that im not the only one who has memorized the commentary…sometimes i feel like i could teach the class along with Tanya!

    Thanks for doing the focus on Physique 57! Love it! Would definitly recommend it to anyone. Ive gotten my manager hooked on it too

  2. Ooph! $35 a class is steep!!

    Sounds like a great workout – I wonder how different it is from Pure Barre?

  3. I live in NYC and actually work in the building in SoHo that houses one of the P57 studios!! The classes are pretty expensive, but they ran a special last summer where building employees could attend for only $15 a class, and I went a handful of times. My coworkers and I loved it – especially the enthusiastic instructors and top 40 tunes.

    It was by far the hardest class of this type (dance/yoga/pilates) I’ve taken, and I always left with my legs a little shaky (in a good way). P57 also helped me get extremely strong, which helped me with my goal of running a 4M last summer. Such a great workout, if you can handle the squats :)

  4. Gillbear says:

    Hmmph….Tempted to buy the DVDs now! More expensive than other DVDs (I got the 30 day shred for 3 pounds ;P ) but it sounds like a great investment.

  5. Definitely going to have to try these DVD’s! I am due in 10 weeks and am starting my “at home” body-after-baby planning. Having danced ballet for a long time I am intrigued by all the barre work :) Thanks for an awesome post!

  6. Charlene says:

    Physique 57 is by far my favorite workout! I did their bridal challenge 2 months before getting married back in 2007 and the results were amazing! My butt went from flat and droopy to lifted and perky. I kept checking my own butt out everytime I passed a mirror :)
    So I’ve been a loyal devotee for quite some time but have done more of it via DVD in the last year or two due to price and the fact that I’ve moved away from NY :( I still feel the DVDs work well but I try to sneak in a class or two everytime I visit NY for work!

  7. I’ve never even heard of Physique 57, but will definitely check it out after this post!

  8. After seeing you mention the Express DVD the other week, I ordered the regular Express 30 minute DVD from Ebay and have done it two or three times. It’s such a good leg/seat workout! I’d like to eventually try the full workout DVD.

  9. I should get this. I have a couple of bar-method-type DVDs at home that I have yet to try just because I’m always in the gym or running outside. But I’ve done the classes and know what they can do. I will DEFINITELY use this if I’m ever preggo.

  10. I had the unique privilege of taking classes from both Tanya Becker and Shelly Knight in the early 2000’s (between 2002 – 2005) when they worked with Carrie Rezabek (now with Pure Barre, http://www.purebarre.com) at a studio in Michigan. I agree with both Gina and Sarah…Tanya and Shelly are both solid girl-crush candidates. Tanya is hilarious and Shelly lights up a room with her adorableness, but both of these ladies will make you HURT SO GOOD. You’ll have burning thighs, a sucked in tummy, your legs might very well feel wobbly and hard-to-walk on for a couple hours, but you’ll see results like you wouldn’t believe. Long and lean, like a ballerina!

    Some clients include Kelly Ripa, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sophia Vergara, and Zooey Deschanel. Not bad indorsements, if you ask me!

  11. If I had a money tree, I’d be doing barre based classes multiple times/week. ALL of them are ridiculously expensive here in NYC. I did Nalini method for a full month (4days/week) when they first opened and were offering donation based classes. I definitely saw the difference. Burns so good :)

  12. I’ve never done Physique 57, but I’ve heard a ton of great things about it. I’m always looking to switch it up, so maybe I should invest in the DVDs!

  13. i love physique 57, and i love you sarah! please come back to the blogworld!!

    • Yes sarah please do!!! Your blog was one of my favorites and I still check it for new posts every few days!!!

  14. Ashley H says:

    Does anyone know the difference between the volume 1 DVD set and volume 2? Or which one you prefer?

    • If you’re new to Physique 57, I’d definitely recommend the Volume 1 set first! Even when I regularly attended studio classes, the Volume 2 set felt VERY advanced to me, which is perfect for progressing, but frustrating if you’re just getting the hang of it…

      And even though I own both, Volume 1 is still my favorite set to workout to! :D

  15. I love Physique 57! I started using the DVD’s when they were first released, and fell in LOVE–> then they opened the Beverly Hills studio! Lucky for me!! I started going every weekend, and was totally hooked. This was the first workout that really re-shaped my legs!

    Unfortunately, my wallet was starting to hate me… so it’s back to the DVD’s for now. But now that they’ve released the second series, at least I have more variety to choose from!

  16. I so want to try this workout. I just haven’t shelled out the money for the dvds though!

  17. Another barre based class I’ve been wanting to try out!! I live in Chicago, and we have a TON of Barre style classes to choose from so from but I’ve been wanting to see how, if any, physique 57 differs.

    • It’s relatively similar to Dailey and the Bar Method, but I like that Physique promotes stretching a little more. Not to mention some of the Bar Method instructors are not very nice!

  18. Haha…laughing at your cheesy quotes comment. No one can be cheesier than Tony Horton and I still love him! The worst is knowing what he is going to say and still laughing when he does it! I’m hopeless…

  19. LOVE Physique 57! You’re right that nothing else can make your thighs burn like it does.

  20. I’m going to have to check out those DVD’s! Who doesn’t want a little booty lift?!!

  21. Odd question…but in that picture of the clothes – what brand is that bra?? it looks comfy and i am looking for a good work out bra.

    Also – thank you for this post. It reinforces my choice for buying the dvds:)…
    Actually…one more question. I bought vol.2 and not vol.1. Was that a bad idea?

    Thanks!
    Sophie

  22. I so wish I had taken advantage of Physique 57 classes while I was still in NYC.. looks like such an amazing workout!

  23. I was so thrilled to see this post! :) I JUST ordered the 3-set of volume one DVD’s on Monday and am anxiously awaiting their arrival! I first heard of Physique 57 on this blog and have been interested ever since.

    Thanks for the recommendation and this great post!

  24. now i really am going to order the dvd’s!

  25. Great post- I have been eyeing these DVDs for awhile and may take the plunge soon…
    Question first- you mention that the moves are easy to adapt for your pregnant self. As someone who is ttc (and have been told to reduce intensity of my workouts and runs :( ), I was wondering if you could give more detail on how you adapt the exercises – i.e. are there instructors that do “less-intense” moves like you sometimes see in the other videos, or are you just modifying the moves/reps yourself?? I just wanted to find out some of this info before I go ahead and order them for myself. Thanks Gina!!

  26. I want to try so badly! Defs going to hit up the dvds

  27. It’s official – I’m getting the dvds.
    Thanks so much for this post!

  28. I unfortunately have not taken an Physique 57 classes but I love barre classes!!! I’ll have to get some DVD’s to try it out!

  29. Laura J. says:

    I’ve been wanting to get these DVDs fooorever, so this might be the push I needed to just buy them already. :)
    Would you recommend the original set for first timers? Or the volume 2?

  30. I’m trying to decide which one to buy….what do you think is better vol. 1 or vol. 2?? I’ve had years of ballet training, so I’m up for the challenge :)

  31. Thank you for this awesome post! :)) Cannot wait to try them myself!

  32. Recently started trying to YouTube the Physique 57 moves but I think after reading this post I’ll be ordering a DVD (Maybe 2). This info was great :) Awesome post!

  33. I wanna try one of these classes so bad! I am considering just ordering the DVD’s cause they look so awesome!

  34. Thank you for this post, I have been on the fence about ordering these DVD’s for weeks. I know they use a ballet like bar in the DVD’s and you can purchase one. Is that extra expense really necessary to complete the workouts?
    Thanks!

  35. I’m biased because I teach barre classes – they are fabulous and will completely change your body. Check them out if you have one in your town, or get a DVD. Physique, Pure Barre, offshoots of Pure Barre, Dailey Method, Bar Method, and others are all based off the same method (Lotte Berk), so they’re all generally similar. Some are more stylized than others.
    And, yes, most people will be wearing lulu in an actual class. But don’t worry if you don’t own lulu…no one will care if you’re not wearing it.

  36. I had never heard of Physique 57 except for here on your blog. I live in a sad, sad city with no such places for interesting classes but it sounds like a blast and I want some DVDs for myself!!

  37. This is unrelated to this post really…I know you drink smoothies from home, but have you ever tried juicing? If so, what kind of juicer did you use? Do you know the benefits? etc. etc. Thanks

  38. Thanks for the awesome and detailed review, Gina.

    No, I have never taken a Physique 57 class. Have heard tons about it, obvi, but have never done it.

    I have the Barre Method DVDs that I reviewed for my blog (never went to an actual class tho) and no Phys 57 classes for me either.

    One day!

    And how fun that you and Gabriela went to a Phys 57 class together. She is such a doll! I’d love to work out with you both one day :)

  39. Just ordered the Physique 57 volume 1 DVDs. So excited! I’ve been rotating Insanity, TRX, and running throughout my regime and I’m ready for a new challenge.

  40. What great timing on this post! I have been debating over the past couple weeks whether or not to buy the DVD’s and this post helped me make my decision! I just purchased the volume 1 set (that includes the ball) on the QVC website for only $53, including tax and shipping! Can’t wait for them to arrive. Thanks Gina!

    • Thanks so much for the heads up on the QVC deal! I got on the website right away and ordered the volume 1 set. I can’t wait to add the videos to my Pure Barre video collection!

  41. my mom just got me the 30 min physique 57 dvd for my bday- and I’m excited to use it! But yeah, that was pricey too. I think each dvd is like $25 and it’s about $35 once they add in tax and shipping. But hopefully it will be worth it!

  42. This looks like a terrific option if you were able to take classes as you wanted, on your own time!

  43. P57 is my workout crush. It is also the workout that crushes ME. I have never finished and not been a total walking wet blanket. But it does hurt so good and somehow I return to it. MUCH less so now that I teach workouts so often, but I have the DVDs at home, which is a comfort, and when I have time I’ll rope an unsuspecting newbie into going to class with me. ;) And bonus: since I go so rarely I actually just got an email from P57 with a “We miss you!” and voucher for 2 free classes. OK!

  44. I haven’t taken a Physique 57 class, but I definitely want to try it out. I have taken Barre3 classes and I really liked those. I am almost done with my Action Hero Babe workout program (by the fabulous Valerie Waters) and may have to try Physique 57 next! Thanks for the post!

  45. What an awesome focus on because I’ve actually been curious about Physique 57 (after seeing Tina post about it), and now that I’m more informed, it’s honestly something I can see in my future! You had me at ‘better bottom!’ haha

  46. What a great post! Thanks for including us in your Focus On feature. Glad you’re enjoying the DVDs and of course we love having Sarah take classes in NY. We are opening up a new studio in NY on the Upper West Side next Tuesday, August 16th. Next time you’re in town we’d love to see you!

    Talk soon,

    Natasha Attal
    Social Media Manager
    Physique 57
    natasha@physique57.com

  47. Di Collins says:

    I am so intrigued..I am a former (aka..retired) Bway dancer and have been out of the loop for a while since having my son. I really haven’t truly worked out or danced at all in three years (I am a single mom and work full time) but am dying to. I have avoided the P90X/Insanity craze because I was afriad it would bulk me up and I want my long, lean dancer body back. I am excited to give this a shot.
    Di

  48. Hi. I’ve been using the DVDs now for a solid 3 weeks. Nice to know they are just as challenging as a class workout since I live nowhere near NYC! Even myself being overweight I find myself noticing tremendous results: muscle definition in my arms, stronger thighs, lifted seat- these DVDs work!!! And my endurance and stamina is getting a lot better. An added and interesting bonus: I get migraine that are triggered in my upper right shoulder- and was in an accident 2 months ago that made the pain worse. I’ve been seeing a massage therapist regularly for years (more so in past 2 months)- my hips are always out of whack and she can visually see this. After 1.5 weeks of P57 recently I had an appointment set up cuz of pain in that shoulder- still modified my workouts hoping that it would help in my muscles. Day of my appointment didn’t really feel pain in my shoulder any more but still went for added relief. My therapist said it was the STRAIGHTEST she’s ever seen my hips- Bc during one of my P57 stretches I thought one hip was higher than the other- so I Asked. She contacted me not long ago Bc another client does barre classes and it helps her back too. I’m so happy to have found a workout that is truely LIFE changing and not only has become the way I’m choosing to become fit but also crucial in my pain managemt!! Anyone even thinking about it should give it a try. Doubt you’ll regret it

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  1. […] a celeb secret!  Want lean, strong legs?  Pull a Carrie Bradshaw!  Sarah Jessica Parker does ballet to reinforce her long, muscular legs.  Drew Barrymore, Eliza Dushku, Ashley Benson and […]

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