We Tried It: Figure 4
Dance, yoga, and free weights. Nope, we’re not playing One of These Things, that’s the formula for Figure 4, a barre-based class held at Pure Yoga’s New York City locations.
Developed by Kate Albarelli, a dancer, Figure 4 works your glutes, thighs, abs, and arms. The class starts with barre work, going through a series of plies and squats at both full range and the usual pulses and holds barre classes are known for—and that set your glutes on fire!
Next you move to the floor and grab light weights for arms exercises before hitting the mats for pushups and then an abs circuit, my fave part. Albarelli works you hard, but she’s always mindful of form, having you do just enough reps to feel it and then giving you a short rest to check that your body is still in the proper alignment. And if she notices that you need to curl up higher or relax your shoulders or make any tiny adjustment, she says something or comes over right away.
After a series of leg extensions, it was back to the bar for leg lifts that you feel in both your working leg and your standing leg’s thigh. Talk about effective. One last bit of abs work on the floor at the bar, and it’s already stretch time. With so many parts to the class, working almost every part of your body, the hour barely seems like 30 minutes.
RELATED: Get in on the ballet-inspired fitness trend (and its benefits) with our at-home barre workout.
I left feeling the way I like my gym sessions to end: knowing I got a great workout and challenged myself with some moves, plus feeling it in certain parts but not being sore. (Though I don’t recommend doing Figure 4 followed by a total-body weights workout the next day and a spin class that night. Unless you want your hamstrings to scream.)
While you may not be able to attend a Figure 4 class, Albarelli shared a core circuit similar to what we did in class. “Completing this series from start to finish will take less than 10 minutes and leave you feeling rejuvenated, strong, and chiseled,” she says. Although Pure Yoga uses a foam cushion for the first two moves, a 2 1/2-inch firm pillow works just as well.
|C-Curve with Pillow|
Move pillow to high waist right below ribcage. Lie high waist on edge of pillow and curve spine to create a C shape. (Only waist presses into cushion.) Bend knees, place feet flat on the floor, and hold legs behind knees, keeping elbows soft. (Belly button should be lowest part of body.) Keeping a rounded C-shape in the back, reach straight arms in front like Superman and make a fist with each hand. Tap fists in front 20 times. Keep arms extended and crunch 20 times, then grab thighs for a break. Complete 3 sets total.
Lie on back with legs extended straight to ceiling and head an inch away from a couch (a steady chair also works). Extend arms overhead and curl fingers underneath couch, pointing elbows to ceiling. Curl tailbone up and lift hips off floor up to waist; lower. Make sure legs do not go in front of face, but rather straight up and down. Perform 20 reps, then rest. Complete 3 sets total.
In a forearm plank with fingers clasped, bend both knees an inch above the floor (as shown) and straighten 20 times. Rest in child’s pose. Complete 3 sets total.
Lie on side with knees bent 90 degrees and toes behind body. Bend right arm 90 degrees with elbow underneath shoulder and extend left arm toward ceiling, keeping shoulders stacked. Lift upper body so weight is supported by legs and right arm. Push hips toward ceiling, then down to floor while keeping body in a straight line as if it were between two panes of glass. Lift and lower 20 times on each side.
|Hinge Back Abs|
Sit on tailbone and bring legs to a bent diamond shape in front of body. Place hands on hips, hinge back, and criss-cross ankles 20 times (as shown). Then place feet flat on floor, knees bent, and tap knees together 20 times, keeping hands on hips. Complete 3 sets of both parts of the move total.