What's Your Perfect Workout?
Take your pick of these monthlong plans that help you tone up, trim down, and strengthen all around
By Nicole Catanese
YOUR BEST FRIEND CAN HIT THE BARRE and look long and lean, while your boss swears she was born to run. Haven't figured out your winning formula yet? Neither have we. So MC teamed up with FITiST the online service that creates and schedules custom exercise routines to help four of our editors reach their personal body goals. Here, the sweat sessions and diet tweaks that will truly deliver results and why. And if you've got similar goals, we've got the DIY moves to keep you inspired at home and on the go.
1) The Cardio Junkie: "I need to exercise close to home or the office."
NAME: Lauren Williams, 26, editorial assistant
GOAL: Tone up everywhere, especially her waist.
CURRENT ROUTINE: Runs a three-mile course outside three times a week before heading to work. "I need to exercise close to home or the office," says Williams.
FITIST FORMULA: Four classes per week
- Two 60-minute core or Pilates classes, such as the Nalini Method, a combo of Pilates, yoga, and barre. (At home, train with Nalini creator Rupa Mehta's podcasts, $60 for eight; nalinimethod.com.)
- One 45-minute Flywheel Spin class. (DIY: Jump on a bike at the gym and race the person next to you.)
- One 60-minute cross-training class like Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp. (Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp: The Workout DVD, $25; brooklynbridgebootcamp.com.)
WHY IT WORKS: "A boot-camp class that combines upper- and lower-body moves--like walking lunges and push-ups--gets the heart rate up quickly, burning fat and calories and toning muscles in a time-efficient way," says David Kirsch, a personal trainer in New York City who works with Anne Hathaway and Kerry Washington. Turning up the resistance on a bike, in combination with sprints, will rev calorie burn and tighten the core, challenging her muscles more than her slow and steady jogs. For a flat belly, "she needs to target the muscles that run down the front and sides of the body as well as the lower back," says Kirsch. Translation: If she opts for a run or cycle session, she needs to squeeze in a 15-minute ab class first or do planks instead of hitting the couch at night.
DIET DERAILER: "I snack a lot and have several glasses of white wine most nights--I probably eat about 2,800 calories a day," says Williams. (Approximately 2,000 calories are recommended for the average 135-pound woman to maintain weight.)
SMART SUBSTITUTE: "Eat breakfast to prevent starving by mid-morning," says Sharon Richter, a registered dietician in New York City. She recommends a whole wheat English muffin with two scrambled eggs or whole grain cereal with plain, low-fat almond milk. "Plan snacks ahead of time and switch to red wine; it contains good-for-you resveratrol." Richter says.
2) The Newbie Mom: "I used to be a runner, but now I have no time."
NAME: Sophia Banay Moura, 31, features editor
GOAL: Shed the last 5 post-pregnancy pounds.
CURRENT ROUTINE: Hits the treadmill three times a week for four to five miles. "I used to be a runner, but now I have no time," says Moura.
FITIST FORMULA: Three classes per week, plus one or two runs per week
- Two 60-minute cross-training performance classes such as Barry's Bootcamp. (At home, try Barry's Bootcamp 5 Day Academy DVDs, $40 for set; barrysbootcamp.com.)
- One 60-minute core-centric class like Core Pilates NYC Core 30/30. (Also try Ramona Braganza 3-2-1 Baby Bulge Be Gone 12-Week Postnatal Workout Plan DVD, $57; ramonabraganza.com.)
- One or two treadmill runs for 40 to 60 minutes, doing intervals with pace and incline. Try 30-second sprints followed by 60 seconds at normal speed.
WHY IT WORKS: A combination of multi-platform workouts targets the stomach and hips--the areas where most post-pregnancy weight lingers. "She might look at her belly and think she needs to lose 5 pounds, but it's more about regaining muscle tone," says Ramona Braganza, a personal trainer in Los Angeles who keeps Jessica Alba and Halle Berry in shape. "Just because something used to work for her--like running--doesn't mean it's always going to work, especially after a major life and body change."
DIET DERAILER: A daily late-night ice cream habit. "I can't end the evening without it--and have a full bowl every time," she says. Plus, the weekend is a food and drink free-for-all. "I have several cocktails on Saturday nights and enjoy a big brunch--with fries!--and pasta with Bolognese sauce on Sundays."
SMART SUBSTITUTE: "Rice-based, non-dairy 'ice cream' or fruit sorbet will let her keep her nighttime ritual but has way less fat and sugar," says Oz Garcia, a nutritionist in New York City. Try Rice Dream Cocoa Marble Fudge Frozen Dessert (tastethedream.com). And ditch the junky carbs with fat, like french fries or pasta with meat sauce. "Having heavy carbs every three days can cause dramatic weight gain--make it once a week max," advises Garcia. Try pasta made from quinoa, corn, or rice to minimize bloating.