The Soul of a New Routine
Photographed by Charlotte Wales
“Exercise teaches you the pleasure of discipline,” advised Jane Fonda in her 1981 best seller, Jane Fonda’s Workout Book, which illustrated targeted fitness routines with black-and-white instructional photos and suggested musical accompaniment dominated by disco hits. Thirty-five years later, Fonda’s words—and high-energy playlists—are as relevant as ever, especially during the back half of January, when waning post-holiday resolve makes hibernation appear far more pleasurable than discipline. Here are five ways to reinvent your wintertime workout, come snow or shine.
Start with strength training.
“Most of us want to be strong,” noted Fonda, “but we are not.” Free weights are one of the most effective tools for building lean muscle and improving coordination. Dumbbell exercises make it possible to work several muscle groups in one move and unlike weight training machines, force you to control the weight, recruiting smaller muscles to maintain stability. Start with lighter weights and over time, add weight and speed rather than reps. More of a yoga type? Adding free weights to your practice can not only enhance lean muscle mass but also increase flexibility.
Focus on the full range of motion.
To maintain and control resistance through every part of the motion, alternate free weights with resistance bands. Inexpensive and easily portable, these travel-friendly tools can improve strength and balance while easing the burden on joints. Dumbbell exercises such as bicep curls, overhead presses, and bentover rows adapt easily to being performed with a band. The difference is in the constant tension they provide on the muscle, making it possible to focus on both the lifting and lowering portions of the movement.
Add a mat routine.
Mat exercises—from push-ups and planks to crunches and leg lifts—can provide a total-body workout that improves muscle strength and boosts endurance. To avoid associations with the sweaty drudgery of gym class, look to modern approaches such as that of Tracy Anderson. One pillar of her eponymous method, which keeps bodies guessing by changing up routines every ten days, is “muscular structure”: mat exercises designed to activate smaller “accessory muscles” rather than targeting major muscle groups, which when overtaxed can add bulk. Her sculpting moves work small, supporting muscles deeply and from a variety of angles. The goal, according to Anderson, is “strategic muscle exhaustion”—or, as Fonda would say, “Go for the burn!”
The glow and energy of the healthy woman is the ultimate beauty—the only beauty that will last. Jane Fonda
Step up to the barre.
Aspire to the strength, grace, and elegance of a ballerina but don’t know a plié from a pas de bourrée? Rather than simply binge-watching Flesh and Bone, consider Ballet Beautiful, a workout developed by professional ballerina Mary Helen Bowers. “Grace matched with strength is the essence of ballet and the inspiration for this program,” says Bowers, who danced for a decade with the New York City Ballet. Offered through her Manhattan studios and online at balletbeautiful.com, the workouts target and exhaust key “ballet muscles” through low-impact exercises and stretches designed to reshape the body so that it becomes slender, long, and lean.
Challenge your body, quiet your mind.
Another standout in the sea of fitness classes is the class, a lower-cased, high-powered affair developed by Taryn Toomey. The mother of two left behind a career as a fashion executive and channeled years of experience as a yoga instructor—as well as some shaman-assisted soul-searching in Peru—into what she describes as “a seventy-five-minute cathartic mind-body experience” that shakes, pulses, bounces, and shouts away stress, tension, and negative emotions. Held daily at Toomey’s Tribeca studio, the class is ideal for those who want to balance affirmations and breath work with the ultimate in physical exertion, from cardio blasts to intense dance sequences.
Styling Vanessa Traina
Hair Bok-Hee at Streeters
Makeup Daniel Martin at The Wall Group
Model Odette Pavlova