I first decided to take the Lithe Method plunge when the weather started warming up and I realized I was not (in any way, shape or form) shorts-, skirt- or bikini-ready. I was interested in trying the Immersion series, a boot camp-like foray into the World of Lithe with two introductory classes a week for three weeks. It would be intense, of course, but I hoped it would be just the shock-to-the-system my body desperately needed.
For the uninitiated, the Lithe Method is an only-in-Philly (for now!) workout designed by former college cheerleader Lauren Boggi. Story goes she tore her rotator cuff and was rehabbing with Pilates when she realized it just wasn’t cutting it. She decided to create a cheerleading-inspired workout that be more challenging and offer better results. And so the Lithe Method was born, a barre/Pilates hybrid that mixes things up with good doses of cardio and some killer resistance training. The result is a workout unlike any you’ve ever done. Lithe addicts say it’s a total body-changer.
Toward the end of my final semester of college—a period that entailed a lot of stress-eating and late-night procrastinating as I juggled two internships and an editor position at my university newspaper—I recognized that my body was suffering. Regular exercise didn’t fit on my overstuffed calendar. As a former competitive dancer I know what it feels like to be in shape; as a twenty-something vegetarian whose meals mainly consist of carbs and cheese, I also know what it feels like to NOT be in shape. Weight loss wasn’t my goal, per se, and I certainly didn’t expect to fit into the size-24 True Religions hanging in the back of my closet, either. But while I reconciled myself with the fact that those jeans would never look awesome on my butt six years after purchasing them (let’s be real, no one retains the body of a 19-year-old for very long), I also didn’t want to rely on Lululemon’s awesome-butt pants in order to feel comfortable leaving my apartment all summer. I needed to tone. I needed to tighten.
So I signed up for the Lithe Method. Here’s what happened.
Oh. My. Glutes. I can say that learning the ins and outs of Lithe definitely helped keep my focus off of the strenuous activity I wasn’t used to—at least while I was in class. We sweated; we panted; we practiced “Lithe breathing.” I had to stop a few times during the ballet barre series in order to not vomit all over the chick next to me on the first night. One thing is for sure: If you’re looking for a total-body overhaul, Lithe is for you. The second class was slightly more manageable than the first, but the real pain came in the aftermath. Mind you, I was working muscles I hadn’t in YEARS and I did experience that feel-good exhaustion exercisers crave, but it was hard.
I finally felt like I was getting the hang of things by the third class. The floor work was starting to become easier on my abs, and I could do minimal-movement push-ups without collapsing. But every time I felt like I knew what to expect, congratulating myself for finally completing an exercise I previously failed, WHAM! The Lithe goddesses added something new. Think you can handle one set of ten Liberties, and then Sumos? (Lithers, you know what I’m talking about.) How about three sets? And then let’s add some Curtsies! The Lithe Method practically has its own language so I’ll leave it to the pros to suss it out for you, but suffice it to say that these exercises are butt-slimmers and thigh-reducers—and difficult ones at that. By the fourth class I was having a much easier time getting through the sets without stopping for air, but the challenge was still intense. As tired as I was, I couldn’t wait to go back for more.
More basics were introduced (I told you there was a lot to learn in this program), but this week I was actually able to walk down the stairs without falling or groaning. My shoulders and arms, however, took the brunt of it. We did more with Lithe’s suspended Higher Power Band System for added arm resistance. On a note of improvement, I was able to squeeze the exercise ball between my knees into the shape of an oval during the entire Method Abs series without reminding myself I was supposed to be doing so. But my back hurt, the muscles between my shoulder blades (whatever they are) were sore, and I kept catching my abdominal muscles tightening as if expecting another set of toe-taps. Overall, I felt pretty awesome.
My friends who are already addicted Lithers told me to expect visible results after about a month. I definitely recommend completing the Immersion series rather than jumping straight into a Lithe 101 class. There’s far more to learn by way of technique than I expected, and if you’re coming off a laziness binge (like I was) you’ll appreciate the ease-into-it workload. Now more than ever I know that my half-hearted gym sessions will never going to turn me into any kind of hottie. But I have a feeling Lithe will—which is why I’m signing up for the post-Immersion New Lither package.
Doing Lithe once a day for 30 days sounds ridiculously ambitious—but so does getting my butt to look awesome in a bikini.
The Lithe Method has studios in Rittenhouse, Old City and Northern Liberties and on the Main Line. Classes are $20 each; the Immersion Series costs $150. Learn more here.