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This Workout Will Cure Your Crop Top Phobia

By Wendy Rodewald-Sulz / April 29, 2014

The workout at ChaiseFitness may be the best exercise you can get in a chair. Not that this is an ordinary chair, or that you’ll be doing much sitting down. The classes at the Manhattan studio are a mixture of moves inspired by ballet, Pilates and aerobics, all performed on a piece of equipment called a wunda chair. And despite the lounge-y name, the exercises are anything but easy.
I had the chance to try the studio’s signature Reinvention Chair class recently, and even though my current fitness routine involves things like weighted sandbags and pyramid sets of burpees, I didn’t have an easy time keeping up with the full-body cardio, strength and stretching workout. Luckily, my instructor Catherine was so high-energy and encouraging that I had no opportunity to quit, even as we switched between leg-quivering pliés and pulldowns on the overhead bungee cables that made me feel, at times, like a less than coordinated marionette puppet. Did I mention that literally every movement in the class involves activating the core (hello there, abs!)? The next day, my butt and triceps (a.k.a. my two biggest trouble zones) were definitely sore. I’ll take it as a sign that this method works.
Want to see for yourself? Try these three do-anywhere exercises from Rachel Piskin, the former New York City Ballet dancer who founded ChaiseFitness with her mother Lauren, herself a fitness instructor and former competitive figure skater (clearly this duo knows their stuff). All you need is a medium resistance exercise band.

Banded Plié

Targets the glutes and thighs.

  • Start standing with feet a bit wider than shoulder width, with toes and legs turned out (in second position). With your resistance band folded in half, grab an end with each hand and extend your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height.
  • Bend your knees (plié) as you extend arms overhead, making sure to keep them straight, while keeping resistance in the band. Return to starting position. Do 20 reps, 2 sets. Focus on keeping your shoulders down, core engaged, and lengthening spine. 
Make it harder: Lift the heels once you bend your knees into plié.

Curtsy Arm Extension

Targets the arms, glutes, core and hamstrings.

  • Stand in the middle of the resistance band with your left foot, toe turned out, and hold one end of the band in each hand with your arms down by your sides. Point your right leg out behind you, making sure to stay on the ball of your foot so you are in a curtsy position. 
  • Pull your band and arms up and out to your sides as you slowly bend your knees, lowering into a deep curtsy (as if you are crossing your legs in a chair), working against the resistance of the band. Return to the starting position and repeat for 12-20 reps.  Then switch sides.
Make it harder: Once you are in the low curtsy position, pulse arms and legs 10-20 times to further sculpt and engage your glutes and hamstrings.

Whittle the Waist

Targets the waist and abs. 

  • Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width, toes forward, with each ball of the foot standing on the band. Grab the loose end of the band with both hands in front of your chest, bending the elbows out to the side, making sure that elbows stay slightly below shoulder height.  
  • Rotate upper torso, head, and shoulders to the left, keeping feet in place. Return to starting position, and repeat 20 times. Then switch sides.
Check out ChaiseFitness at 40 East 23rd Street (212-432-6100) or 1395 Lexington Avenue (212-987-6100), New York, NY, or for more information visit chaisefitness.com.