Health & Grooming | Chronicles of a Spa Junkie

Spa Junkie in… Los Angeles

Our covert reporter is stretched to the limit by a hot new workout

Spa Junkie in… Los Angeles

Image: Jay Yeo

August 26 2011
Spa Junkie

Part: 1 | 2 | 3

Spa Junkie is in Los Angeles, where she is being put through her paces in a fast-growing new workout at Physique 57.

About eight of us stand in front of the barre, feet in a V position, heels lifted and the soft ball placed between our thighs.

“Ladies, bend your knees and squeeze the ball – go down an inch, newbie, that’s it – and pulse, pulse, pulse!” We perform non-stop pliés as the burn sets in; just when I feel I can’t go on, the set ends and a welcome stretch routine follows. Physique 57 focuses on four body parts — arms, abdomen, gluteal muscles and thighs — with small, highly targeted movements designed to tone without adding mass.

The class is not even half over, and we are all grimacing in pain. With almost 60 repetitions on each movement, even the regulars are buckling at the hip. My legs are shaking. I am wondering how they will get me out of here.

“Engage your core, not your necks, ladies – this is a core class! Suck in your stomachs and tuck your seats, girls – c’mon!”

The cheerful instructor, looking very pleased with himself, takes no notice of our cries and continues shouting out commands, until finally the set is over, and the group sighs with relief in unison.

My muscles feel like rubber bands being pulled and released an inch before they snap. It’s this continued assault-and-stretch that makes for the svelte-not-bulky “black swan body”.

The sequences follow one another quickly; this fast pace increases the heart rate, but as the movements are low-impact and interspersed with stretching, one never gets too hot and sweaty – which is great if you’re straight back to the office or straight out to dinner. It’s very blow-dry friendly.

The choreography includes some dance moves, which give a few moments’ reprieve; but I am astounded at the damage this no-fuss, no-machine workout is doing.

Finally, the end; and we are all limping out of class.


“So, newbie, what do you think – you totally love it, right?”

“Love” is not precisely the term I would use for this torture; but yes, if that incredible burn means muscle fatigue – which means that it’s working – then this is seriously effective.

I get talked into buying the three-set DVD, ball and pump travel kit.

The idea that my perfect total-body workout is just the press of a “start” button away, anywhere in the world, has meant that the DVD has clocked up some serious air miles over the past few weeks. Maybe one day I’ll take it out of its packaging.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.