Good Morning, Abs!: A 10-Minute Workout

Say hello to Niv. Niv, as you can see, has abs. He is also a Barry’s Bootcamp instructor, former army fitness trainer, accomplished basketball player, and now, your very own personal trainer (via the internet). He knows that crunches can be boring, so he devised an ab series that keeps the mind engaged in addition to whatever musculature makes up the mythic thing we call “core.” As in the beginning looks a bit like the 50 Shades of Gray trailer. So wake up with Niv—and proceed to do a really effective core workout.

And should you require more assistance, you can contact Niv here.

Cardio For People Who Hate Running

I. can’t. stand. running. Maybe it was the untreated childhood asthma, maybe it was the rat-in-a-wheel feeling of being forced onto a treadmill by overenthusiastic workout buddies in college, or maybe it was just being naturally contrarian! Whatever triggered my intense, soul-deep hatred for all manner of “jogging” (ugh), consequences will never be the same.

ann-perkins-jogging

It’s not that I’m afraid of hard work or cardio; it’s just that running is the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the world. And there are exercise options that do a body just as good without all the boringness and noooooo and joint damage. Ann Perkins and I say these are all much better options:

Workout 1: Rock Climbing
Pros: I personally am a big proponent of rock climbing. It’s great because you are hanging off a cliff and probably about to fall into a crevasse, and there are just tiny, slippy nubbins to hang onto—so it’s hard to be bored! Plus, it’s a total body workout. All that swinging and pushing and gripping definitely engages your muscles without really making you think about it. No time to consider triceps when a piece of plastic rope that looks like the handle on a knockoff J.Crew beach tote is all that’s between you and certain death.

Also (and perhaps most importantly), climbing gyms are full of hot dudes who have delightfully questionable hygiene. Feeling gross? PERFECT—the rock hunks like things dirty. Perhaps the only exercise/life experience outside a club named “The Power Exchange” or “Mass Pleasures” where being sweaty, rope-burned, and covered head to toe in crusty old chalk dust is a turn-on for everyone around you.

Cons: It can be really expensive if you don’t just outright buy a climbing gym membership. Plus, you have to wear a harness that gives you major camel toe (unless you’re into that!) and the shoes get really, really smelly after a while, which is hard to explain to romantic partners who aren’t also climbers (unless they’re into that!).

Workout 2: Trampolining
Pros: Fun as hell, especially if you love jumping and tumbling and maybe yelling things while you bounce up and down. And yes, I was a cheerleader! Why ever do you ask? A great leg workout, especially for those who, like myself, are on an eternal quest to further increase their BRF (Booty Roundness Factor). You can do this one alone or with friends, it’s low-impact, and the humorous Insta video possibilities are endless.

Cons: If there isn’t a tramp gym in your neighborhood, trampoline obtainment is a nuanced and delicate process involving ordering one off Amazon, trying to get people to let you turn their living room into a trampoline, then not listening when they say no. You could buy one of those tiny rebounders instead, but they are scientifically proven to be 1000.8% less fun and also lame.com.

Workout 3: Drunk Dancing
Pros: Social activity + hook up-portunity + shopping excuse = ideal workout? Additionally, mojitos are full of electrolytes and liquid motivation! Just don’t get sidetracked by hotties; making out can wait ’til the end of the night. When you’re on the floor, you need to be both getting low and dropping it like it is plasma levels of hot to maximize your cardio.

Note: You do not actually need to be drunk for this workout. In fact, if you are sober and still shaking it like a Polaroid picture, you get an internet high five!

Cons: Step one: forget to drink enough water. Step two: get dehydrated from dance sweat. Step three: Success (just kidding, step 3 is actually “go to the hospital because you can’t even keep down liquids and you have alcohol poisoning for reals, and oh god there are so many pictures from last night”). Don’t be me, kids—drink two glasses of non-booze for every cocktail, wear reasonable heels so you don’t break your ankles, and remember that underwear isn’t necessarily just a tool of the patriarchy.

Workout 4: Swimming
Pros: It’s like re-living the most fun parts of your childhood summers every time you exercise, it’s great for lean muscle mass and overall fitness, and you get your heart rate up without ever feeling sweaty. There are swimsuits involved (and who doesn’t want/need more granny-style one pieces?), and all manner of lifeguard to flirt with/be saved by in the event of accidental almost-drowning.

Cons: Can make your shoulders disproportionately large, pools are full of stranger child urine, and chlorine is terrible for you, actually.

Honorable Mentions:
Cleaning your house, which is something I also hate doing, but understand is both healthy and an excellent calorie burner if you really get in there and scrub things!

Having a baby, because dear god have you seen this commercial? It seems like reproducing is a great way to either stay in shape or have a breakdown that will render you a near-lifeless husk of your former self. I think I’m supposed to feel grateful or something when I watch it, but instead I just want to apologize to my parents for EVERYTHING, and my uterus is slowly receding into my abdominal cavity like it’s hoping I won’t notice it leaving.

—Lacey Gattis

P.S. I am responding to all comments with amusing anti-running gifs internet searched especially for each of you individually!

The Christy Turlington Workout

Tourists in New York hoping for a celebrity sighting can skip Serendipity, Dash, and the NBC tour. To catch a star in his/her natural habitat, go to a gym. Want tickets to Jake Gyllenhaal’s gun show? Try Aerobox on a Saturday morning. Jonseing to see Karlie Kloss, Hugh Jackman, and Will Ferrell sweating on the treadmill? Equinox on Greenwich Ave. But there’s fun for the whole family late Friday mornings at NoLIta’s no-nonsense SoHo Strength Lab, where and when I found myself raising a wheatgrass shot to the latest Juice Press opening. Tossing one back, I side-eyed hometown hero and Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira pumping iron, who was happier than expected to be pounced on by a member of the press mid-workout. In my shock and excitement, I never actually pressed “record” during our conversation. What I can tell you from memory is that he loves the smell of Brut aftershave, and there was mention of hot tubs.

But the sighting that rendered me entirely speechless and immobile was none other than Christy Turlington. I tried my best “be cool” tactic: completely ignoring her. And, with my back to her, I got the sense that she wanted to trade Vitamix recipes and “Men—can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em” woes, but I was working and she was working out—pushing a sled, pulling a band, and beating ropes to be exact. Making use of the gym’s strategically placed mirrors, I took mental notes on what exactly the model does to maintain the industry’s least photo-retouched body (that’s actually a fact). When she’s not running marathons or namaste-ing herself into a human pretzel, she’s sweating at SSL with trainer slash model, Andrew Speer. And I discretely booked an appointment with that national treasure for as soon as humanly possible.

Because Andy is a professional and, above all, a gentleman, he would not confirm that what I’m about to tell you is Christy’s workout. (I, too, think that privacy has it’s place.) So let’s just say that this is exactly how Andy would train you if you were 5′ 10″ and had a Calvin Klein billboard to prep for.

The Warm Up: Foam Rolling, Spider Complex, and Down Dog/Up Dog.
Foam Rolling: Loosen up your soft tissue and open up your chest by rolling up and down with a foam roller on your back, quads, glutes, and IT bands [1-2]. Do five to ten sweeps up and down for each body part, depending on how tight you are.
Spider Complex: To stretch your hips, hamstrings, and upper back, start in a pushup position, bring the left foot up to meet to your left hand, and open in a lunge to the right, reaching your right arm up to the ceiling. This rotation helps to loosen your chest and shoulders. Switch legs, opening to the left side. Repeat five times on each leg.
Down Dog/Up Dog: Start in Downward Dog position with your hips up, pushing down to the floor through your hands and feet. Try to keep both your legs and torso as straight as you can. From here, push your hips down, and open your chest into an Upward Dog pose. Repeat five times.

First Circuit: Turkish Get Up and Standing Band Row. Repeat the circuit three times.
Turkish Get Up: For this stability exercise you’ll need a five-pound dumbbell. Lay supine on the floor, extending your left leg and arm at 45-degree angles from your body. Bend your right knee, placing your right foot flat on the floor twelve to eighteen inches in front of your body. With the dumbbell in your right hand, extend your right arm straight in the air—it will remain here for the entire exercise. Then, push off of your right heel (not toes), rolling up onto your left elbow and driving your chest off of the floor. Next, pushing your left hand into the ground, extend your left arm straight. Drive your hips up into a bridge, using your left arm as a kick stand. This is the top of the motion (it should look like this). Come back down to your left elbow, then flat on the ground, in the reverse sequence you used to get up. Do this eight times on each side. You will feel it in your obliques, which will strengthen and eventually improve your standing and walking posture.
Standing Band Row: To warm up the pulling muscles and the backs of the arms, loop a light band around anything sturdy you can find overhead. The band should not have too much resistance. Standing with one foot in front of the other, with your weight on your back foot, start with your arms down at your sides, shoulder blades pressed together [3]. Bring your arms to a 90-degree angle, and repeat 15 times.

Second Circuit: Split Squat, Shoulder Press, and TRX Rows. Repeat the circuit three times.
Split Squat: This is a modified version of a squat that is safer for people with longer spines, but just as effective as a full squat. Beginners should start with a mat, pad, or towel on the ground. Start with your right foot in front of you with your right knee directly above your right ankle, and your left foot behind you with your left knee directly under your hips, legs bent at 90-degree angles. Push straight up out of the hole until your legs are extended. Come back down and lightly touch your knee to the floor for each rep, doing ten reps on each side. Once you can get through three rounds of ten reps on your own bodyweight, add five- to eight-pound dumbbells in each hand with your arms at your sides.
Shoulder Press: Start in the same position as you did for the Split Squat, squeezing your abs and the glute on the side of your down knee. Using one ten- to fifteen-pound dumbbell, press the dumbbell up from your shoulder [4] until your arm is completely vertical. Do eight reps on each side. According to Andy, this is great for people with longer bodies, because they tend to not have inherent upper-body strength. It will add less bulk than a classic chest press, and it challenges the core by having a dumbbell on only one side.
TRX Rows: If you don’t have a machine with pulls, you can use a bar with any kind of rope strong enough to hold your body weight. Holding onto the rope, lean your body back at a 45-degree angle, keeping your entire body tight like a plank (abs and glutes included), with your arms extended in front of you. Pull your body up until your thumbs are in your armpits [5]. Be mindful not to shrug your shoulders, but instead pull your shoulder blades together. Extend your arms again. Do twelve reps. This is a back exercise for your pulling muscles. It will improve your posture by supporting your whole body in the air.

Third Circuit: Bar Push Ups and Band Pull Apart. Repeat the circuit three times.
Bar Push Ups: Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on a bar, or a bench at the gym, tighten your abs, and lower yourself down to the bar/bench, keeping your elbows close to your sides [6]. Push up. Do this for eight reps.
Band Pull Apart: Standing with your feet hips-distance apart, hold the same light band between your hands, directly in front of you, arms shoulder-width apart. Pull your arms apart until you are in an iron cross position. Be careful to not shrug your shoulders. Repeat twelve times.

Fourth Circuit: Ropes, Sled Pushing, and Plank. Repeat circuit four to five times.
Ropes: To ramp up the fat-burning aspect of this workout, Andy, set up battle ropes [7]. This is one large rope about 2-inches wide, anchored to a bench in the gym. Set your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, slightly bent over with your hips behind you, beat the ropes as if you were beating a drum as fast as you can for twenty seconds. ***If you don’t have ropes, you can actually use a bath towel. Hold opposite corners and wave the towel up and down as fast as you can for twenty seconds. Take ten seconds of rest, then
Plank: Holding a plank position with your legs spread a little farther than hips-width distance apart, raise one arm vertically in the air [8], then bring back down to the ground, and repeat with the other arm. Do that for twenty seconds. Rest for ten seconds, then
Sled Pushing: This is Andy’s favorite full-body conditioning tool, because it combines leg work, abs, and cardio in “one big push.” Keeping your abs straight and your hips in line, sprint about 100 feet as fast as you can with 120-160 pounds on the sled [7]. ***If you don’t have a sled, you can do a treadmill push. With the treadmill off, place your hands on the front handles, lean forward, and push the track with your legs as fast as you can for ten seconds. Rest for thirty to sixty seconds, and repeat the circuit.

Suffice it to say, Ms. Turlington earns her body. This is a serious athlete’s workout if I’ve ever experienced one. There is no dance component, there are no games, and Andy never reminds me to smile (though I do [1, 7], if only because I can’t believe I’m pushing a sled down AstroTurf like I’m Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights). In Andy’s words, “You’re not just going to sit on a stationary bike; we don’t do stuck-in-one place New York City workouts. We want to get people running, jumping, climbing, and throwing things, seeing the human body do what it was designed to do.” He did tell me that if you want to look as good as Christy, you should do this workout twice a week as a strength-training component to a five-day-a-week workout regimen involving running, yoga, or other classes. Then, for the other two days of the week, try low-intensity recovery training, which I’ve loosely interpreted as mouse clicking, channel changing, and orange-juice-carton shaking. But the most important aspect to getting and keeping a body like that is eating well. “If you don’t nourish properly, you’re not going to see a difference.” *Puts down bacon, egg, and cheese*

—Mackenzie Wagoner

Photos by Mathea Millman.

I Hate Working Out (But It Feels So Good)

It’s a bit of a running joke around the office that there are two women I am in love with/who turn me into a gawky teenage boy: the model Constance Jablonski (she is a living, breathing angel) and Caroline de Maigret, who, in case you are unaware, is a music producer and model in Paris. She is also super fucking cool, and the quintessential Parisian woman in that she eats butter and croissants, stays out “too late” sometimes, smokes cigarettes sometimes, wears practically zero makeup—especially none to hide her under-eye circles; they’re ‘life badges’!—and doesn’t own a hair brush, and yet somehow manages to look as if she’s stepped out of an Isabel Marant campaign 100% of the time. Anyway, I say all of this to set the scene: coffee at the Bowery Hotel a few weeks ago, this exemplar of French cool—fringe covering tired eyes, dressed in a slouchy white sweater and jeans—telling me she recently hired a personal trainer. That’s like Christy Turlington saying she’s just ‘over’ working out. “It was time,” de Maigret explained. “But I still hate it!” She promised to write me a postcard about her new fitness regimen when she got back to Paris. Here it is.

—Nick Axelrod

I hate sport. I don’t like watching it, I don’t like doing it. Yes, I like to swim in the sea in the summer or play tennis with friends during my holidays. But that’s not “sport.” That’s leisure once a year, for an hour. See, I’ve had this great chance in life of being born with good genes. I was born tall, with a pretty face (not to everyone’s taste, I concede), and a thin body.

What I mean by “thin” is that whatever I would eat until the age of 30 had no effect on my weight. I could do whatever I want; I’d stay in shape without dieting or exercising. By the age of 31, my man and I decided to have a baby. One year later, Anton was born and I had gained 53 pounds. (Believe me, it’s not easy to have nine months straight of chili con carne cravings!) I lost the weight very fast, and the last few pounds were finally gone nine months later. All fine.

One morning, I’d say around my 37th birthday, I saw myself in the mirror and was stunned: my body had changed! I had not seen, at all, the evolution happen, but it was there. That body, with more curves around the waist, the belly, the hips, and thighs. The skin not as toned as it used to be: I had aged.

It wasn’t the easiest thing to accept, and it brought other life anxieties along the way. But once it was finally digested and understood, it was OK, and life went on. It goes on because I feel like a teenager in an adult body. I breathe young.

So here I was, having to face my new reality. I had to start exercising. (I am not going to tell you about the different membership gym cards I went through—the ones I never attended and cost me a fortune.) I hated it. Hate hate hate. “What do I care what my body looks like?”; “I’m not a Barbie doll”; “I’d rather be reading books anyway than wasting time at the gym” were going through my mind…

I then realized I was not being honest with myself. I could do both: nurture my mind and take care of my body! I just needed someone to push me because obviously I was not able to do it alone. So I met Bruno, a coach who now comes to my house twice a week. (It’s a big luxury, believe me, I realize every day how lucky I am in life—this is Bruno, by the way). And it all changed. Exercising is hard, but it makes me feel so right. My mind feels so alive and sharp; my body feels toned.

That’s all I’m asking for: to feel good about myself. I don’t feel tired anymore although my schedule is crazy. I wake up better, I climb up stairs faster, I have less anxieties. It’s quite magical, really, how good it is for the soul to feel OK in your body. (Oh please, what a cliché! But I had never guessed it was so true.)

I still pray the night before our session that Bruno’s gonna call in sick in the morning, and I still have adrenaline rushes when he’s five minutes late, thinking that, by chance, he might not show up. But I’m so happy at the end of the hour, to have worked so hard and to feel so good.

—Caroline de Maigret

Caroline de Maigret is a Paris-based music producer and model. Photos courtesy of the author. Read her Top Shelf here. Want to work out in Paris? Contact Caroline’s trainer, Bruno, at [email protected].

Naked Yoga Gets Artistic

Naked yoga has been around a while, but we never found it appealing—that is, until The Gentlewoman worked its usual magic and made it seem like maybe Lululemon was on to something with those see-through pants. We’re still probably not ready to hit up the delightful co-ed, no-clothes, gluten-free hot Ashtanga classes we keep hearing about, but doing The Plow au naturel in the comfort of your hardwood-floored, polar-bear-skin rug-appointed, Danish Modern apartment does seem a lot more “ahhhhhhhhh!” than “AUGH!”

Would you try naked yoga? Have you tried naked yoga (if so, do tell!)? Does this editorial also sorta-kinda make you want to do it… or maybe just move to Copenhagen?

Photos by Lena C. Emery for The Gentlewoman