MOVE IT MONDAY: BARRE BUTT WITH JENNIFER WILLIAMS

With barre classes opening left and right, it’s difficult to tell which workouts actually deliver that enviable dancer bod. We think the key to knowing is by testing and one studio on our list is Pop Physique–a method founded in 2008 in LA by Jennifer Williams. Her addicting classes have caught on, so much so that she has now opened her first location on the east coast in NYC’s Nomad district. Her cult following includes the likes of Diane Kruger, HAIM, Brie Larson and Vanessa Hudgens–so if their toned tushies are any indication of how her method works–sign us up!

We caught up with Jennifer on how she got her start in pilates, what inspired her to open Pop Physique and the benefits on the butt specifically, below. We also asked her to share 5 major moves for a sculpted tush that you can all do at home!

You got your start in ballet at the School for Creative and Performing Arts—was dancing always your workout of choice? When did you start? Yes, I started dancing when I was very young.  More seriously by the time I was 9.  I did gymnastics competitively as well before my mom made me choose one.  

Tell us about dancing professionally at the Cincinnati Ballet—what was that experience like? How long did you dance there? I danced in several ballet companies in Ohio from the time I was 15-19.  Dancing with a professional company is a lot of work.  You devote all of your time to it and when you are home, it is spent icing your limbs or soaking your feet.  But, overall extremely rewarding.  There is nothing like being on stage.   

Tell us about the transition from Cincinnati to San Francisco, how did you end up there? I moved to a couple different companies and then ended up dancing in San Francisco when I was 20.  As a dancer, you are always trying to find the right company with the right repertoire.  

What made you start doing pilates? I have done Pilates since I was about 12.  There was a woman that was part of Cincinnati Ballet and had been injured and then founded their Pilates therapy division.  She trained us when we were very young to be preventative by doing Pilates.  It got me through many tough muscle issues and was great for toning my body.  I formally took courses when I lived in San Francisco and after I had stopped dancing.   

Tell us about the evolution of Pop Physique (PP)? The company started as one studio in my neighborhood in Los Angeles (Silverlake) to be for myself!  I wanted a stylish place to workout in a dance technique with good music.  I created it and hoped that it would be popular.   We had sold out classes the first week.  We are now on a mission to bring Pop to our favorite cities.  So, expanding to NY is part of that!  I am very hands on.  I do the interior design, consult on the graphic designs and lead photo shoots and marketing campaigns as well as teacher training.  

What sets PP apart? The style.  It’s so many aspects of what it feels like in the experience of the class.  But, I was a dancer and the influences of that are numerous.  The design, the branding, the music and the choreography are what sets it apart.  

Tell us about Barre Butt-what is it and more importantly, how do we get it?? It’s lifted up and rounded and tight and strong.  Come to class!  Or do these moves at home and squeeze super hard.  Always engage your butt, is a good thing to try!  Even if you are just walking up stairs or hiking.  Squeeze your cheeks! 😉

What other body parts does barre target and how often should we be doing it? Total body!  The upper body is worked very well throughout class.  Not only with light weighs but, also with the way we use the arms and shoulders in the rest of the class.  3-4x a week is super solid!  I have seen great results for people with that.  Although, warning it is addictive!  You like the way it feels so much that you will want to come in daily!   

You just opened a pop up in NYC-do you see expansion to other cities? Yes!  We are looking at all major urban markets right now as our next stops as well as more in NY!

What’s next for you + PP? Well, we have been choreographing a lot of new parts to the class recently.  And just working on expanding the locations.  We have a fitness fashion line coming out in mid January!

AT HOME WORKOUT–Pop Physique: The Perfectly Sculpted Derrière: These 5 exercises will warm up the body, burn out the seat, and simultaneously work your abs, arms, and thighs. The moves target different areas of the glutes and hamstrings, resulting in a toned, tight and lifted seat.

*We recommend doing exercises 3, 4, and 5 on a yoga mat.

Turned Out Squats Stand with your feet a little wider than hips distance. Turn out your feet slightly. Bring your arms straight behind you. Take a deep bend in your knees, reaching your arms straight, exhaling your abs in deeply (your back should get flat as you come down). Stand up to straight legs. Repeat the squat movement 8-10 times.

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Lifts in Arabesque: Step your left foot forward and your right foot behind you, slightly turned out (your feet should be about 3ft apart). You will have a deep bend in the front knee, back knee is completely straight. Rest your left hand on your thigh and hinge your chest forward, flat back. Reach your right arm straight behind you, shoulders square. Point your right toes, lift the right leg off the floor several inches. Start squeezing your right leg up and up. The squeeze to lift the leg comes from the base of your seat. Repeat 10 times. Reach your left arm straight to add challenge. Keep lifting 10 times to finish. Come down. Repeat on the left side.

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All Fours – Pt 1: Come down to all fours, palms under shoulders and knees under hips. Tuck your pelvis, squeeze your seat and pull your abs in. Straighten your right leg and point your toes. Without arching the back, try and squeeze the leg up to hip height. Do tiny lifts of the leg, up and up, while keeping the pelvis tucked and seat squeezed. Lift 16 times. Re-tuck your pelvis. Flex the foot, toes pointing down towards the floor. Take a micro bend in the knee, lengthen. Repeat, 12 times.

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All Fours – Pt 2: Lower the right leg, coming back to your knees on all fours. Walk down onto your forearms, elbows under shoulders. Tuck your pelvis, squeeze your seat and pull your abs in. Bring your right leg up behind you, bent in half at 90 degrees. Squeeze the seat to press the leg up and up. Repeat 10 times. Open your hips. Stack them. Extend Your leg straight. Bring your hand to your hip., pulling the abs in. Press the straight leg up and up and up. Repeat 8-10 times. Bend the leg, pointing foot to the wall behind you. “Wrap” the leg back and back, 8-10 times. Then do tiny lifts up and up. Repeat 8-10 times to finish.

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Back Dancing: Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet hip width in parallel. Bend your arms, digging your elbows into the ground. Tuck your pelvis and hover it off the ground while squeezing your glutes together. Extend your right leg straight up in the air. Tuck your pelvis, up and up and up, squeezing both cheeks together, keeping the top leg straight. Repeat for 30 seconds. Come up on the toes of the left foot (relevè). Lower the right leg to 45 degrees, squeezing your knees and inner thighs tightly together. Tuck up and up and up to finish, about 30 seconds. Roll down and repeat on the other side

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Text by: Ava Donaldson

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