I tried the new Pop Physique studio in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park and felt the burn in style.
On its crazy hip website, Pop Physique promises to "create the escape," and create it they do. From the moment you walk in to their Highland Park studio (1 of 18 locations), you can stop thinking for yourself. It's just not necessary. Pop Physique will provide you with everything you need. It's like handing your life over to your more organized, more confident, more beautiful, and so so so much cooler little sister.
Former ballerina, Jennifer Williams, and her husband, Deric, opened the first Pop Physique studio in Silver Lake in 2008. Its mission is to tone and sculpt your body while helping you feel super sexy and cool. Pop Physique's not trying to be coy. Their self-described aesthetic influence is "Silver Lake #yupster diaspora," and there's something appealing in their honesty about how important marketing and consumerism is to their business.
The sleek Highland Park studio provides mats and props for every class (and antibacterial spray and towels with which to clean them). You can buy special grippy-socks and bottled water, and the bathrooms are immaculate. If you arrive while another class is in session, you are welcomed warmly, and you can sit on a neat orange couch in the small lobby. When you're allowed to enter the studio, there are adorable cubbies to stash your everyday clothes, which look terrible and depressing housed in such bright and hip lodging.
When the class begins you stand on your clean and wonderfully squishy mat, surrounded by the unbelievably tiny weights. The weights weigh one to five pounds each and look like what toddlers would lift should they want to gun their lats after nap time. "This will be easy!" you think. And then you find yourself artfully hunched in the posture of a startled cat. You will remain this way for one long hour. If you think this sounds like no big deal, try rounding your back out and tensing your stomach as if preparing for a blow from a giant. Now hold it. Now do a bunch of other torturous tiny movements. It makes getting out of bed the next day as complicated and painful as asking your dad for help on your taxes.
You know how during a normal exercise class you have to fish out your sweat-stained props from an old plastic bin? At Pop Physique the instructor passes out clean and brightly-colored equipment and takes it away when you're done. She dims and brightens the lights, everything perfectly choreographed with the swelling and decrescendo of the clubby music. All the while she's talking on and on, telling you exactly how to move, how not to move, advising you to squeeze your abs, to squeeze your "seat" (Pop does not use "glutes," "bum," "tush," or any other butt term), to round your back, and to tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck. So much tucking.
The workout is a combination of ballet barre exercises and pilates, which means that there's not a ton of moving around, core work galore, and a lot of excellent stretching. You mostly stay in one spot: holding, pulsing, and stretching your trembling limbs through a haze of lactic acid anguish.
Although it was a tough workout, I left class feeling invigorated by the release it provided me from my day-to-day concerns. I was pleasantly tired and relaxed, having devoted so much of the hour to stretching. These classes are a great addition to your regular cardio and strength routines. Use them as a tool to work your smaller muscle groups, strengthen your core, and increase your flexibility. The well-oiled machine of Pop Physique is an impressive one, and provides a fun pilates/barre workout that challenges you to move your body in ways you had never imagined possible.
Find Sarah at thisfitmom.com
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