Open for Fitness: We Tried Body Balance’s Ass and Abs Class
’Cause it’s all about that base. Andddd six pack. And slimming thighs. And tight waist. You get the point.
Editor’s Note: Stacey and Katrina are at vastly different fitness levels (and ages) but both enjoy working out. We thought it’d be fun for the two of them to try new or interesting workouts together each month. This time they took the Ass and Abs class at Body Balance in Kaka‘ako.
Photos: Katie Kenny
WHAT IT IS
Body Balance is a boutique fitness studio near Ward that offers small classes in barre, Pilates, cycling and more. We opted for the Ass and Abs class—’cause who doesn’t want that J. Lo booty (and body)? Bridges, planks, squats, crunches and a few other exercises are all incorporated into this 45-minute workout. Power workout beats and having the lights down low help get you into beast mode.
HOW WE FELT: BEFORE
Katrina: I like that this is going to be a very targeted class. We haven’t really done anything like it before—most are full-body workouts. Those are great, but I think if we’re just focusing on two muscle groups, they’ll get much stronger much faster. And it’s only 45 minutes, so even if it’s intense, at least it’ll be over soon. I made the mistake of going for a walk yesterday, so my shins and the sides of my butt are already a little sore. Yes, I get sore from walking. I need this class.
Stacey: Excited. As you get older, saggy-ass syndrome kicks in, and no one likes that. Plus, there’s nothing lovely about love handles. They should be called “hate handles” so you get motivated to work the gut.
Our instructor, the lean and fit Noelle Naone, gave us each yoga mats (they’re free, no rental required) and instructed us to grab a block, two sets of weights and a red resistance band. We each grabbed 4 pounds and under and the stretchier, so easier, blue bands.
Stacey: There are a few stretches, but you pretty much go straight into bridge (lying on your back, knees bent and lifting your lower/mid back) exercises. Lift that booty and squeeeeeeze those cheeks.
Katrina: Then we moved into planks and mountain climbers to get our abs warmed up. I don’t know how to do mountain climbers, where you quickly step forward with one foot at a time while in high plank position, without lifting my butt high in the air. I guess I’m supposed to bend my knees more but I just did slow steps instead.
Katrina: We grabbed our first set of weights, then held them near our hips while doing squats—first big, slow movements, then tiny pulses, then holding our position. We did this pattern for pretty much every exercise. Even though squats are supposed to target your glutes, my thighs were BURNING. I kept stopping to massage them and tried to redirect my energy to push through my feet, as Noelle said. It helped, but it felt like I was on the verge of pulling something. Then we kicked up the intensity by tippy-toeing on one foot at a time, lifting our heels as high off the ground as we could. My legs were shaking like mad, which Noelle pointed out—as a good thing!—to the whole class. I tapped out to drink water during deadlift squats, where you pull your weights toward your chest while in a crouched position. Ready for the next exercise, please!
Stacey: I’m in love with ab twists. Swishing from side to side while holding one weight with two hands in front of your chest is one of the easier ways to lose the holiday flat tire—and get back in my skinny jeans. My mom jeans will be happy to get a break.
Katrina: I started to regret this class as we moved into lunges. As a tall girl, I’m especially self-conscious during workouts when everyone seems to be bending lower than I am. It’s like I have to go even farther to get on their level—so not fair. But whenever I looked in the mirror, my angles were correct. I guess it’s harder for me because I’m just not in shape.
Stacey: My 5-foot-3-inch stature is just fine doing lunges—I’m close to the ground. However, when we switched to crunches on the ground with our knees up and blocks between our legs, that was a challenge. You’re working your abs and inner thighs simultaneously. Katrina and I reviewed the video for this exercise aaaaaand no one should ever see it. Just like no one should see someone giving birth—which is kinda what we looked like.
Next: flutter kicks! Lie down on your back, legs up and take turns crossing your legs at the ankle. Doing this is supposed to get rid of lower abdominal fat. Katrina has yet to get the lower belly bulge that comes with age. Bitch.
Katrina: I’m sorry I don’t have a ton of fat there (but not really). But neither does Stacey! I feel like strengthening this area would lessen menstrual cramps, so I’m all about it. Next, Noelle instructed us to grab our blocks and put them under our sacrum. What the hell is a sacrum? I shoved it under my lower back, which felt a little awkward until she came around and moved it beneath my tailbone. I can do a bridge fine, but when she told us to do one with the block under one foot and then lift our other leg toward the ceiling, I bailed. This is probably why my butt muscles weren’t as sore the next day, but I couldn’t even keep my balance or my leg straight so I just held a normal bridge pose. I’ll work up to it.
Stacey: Plank jacks! Yuck. These are basically if planks and jumping jacks hooked up and created an exercise that is TORTURE: holding a plank while your legs are jumping out and in. I did the slow version because of my knee injury. Yep, I used my hall pass.
Katrina: I didn’t jump either, just did plank steps out to the side. And then it was time to use the barre for some final moves. We put our bands around our ankles and practiced keeping our hips still and shoulders upright while kicking out straight, at an angle and rotating one leg at a time.
Stacey: Forty-five minutes came fast!! I’m used to 90-minute workouts, so when we started winding down I was all, “HAAALLELUJAH!” We hit our mats and started stretching our legs with resistance bands. Never did this before, but it felt good.
Katrina: I wish I’d grabbed a red band with more resistance for the final stretches. Lying on my back with my band around one foot pointed straight up, I thought I was going to accidentally let go and shoot it at the ceiling. And when I tried to lower my leg from side to side while keeping my leg straight, I wasn’t really pulling against anything, so my knee stayed bent.
HOW WE FELT: AFTER
Katrina: My thighs were sore immediately, as I knew they would be from the way they shook during class. Kind of a shame though, since my thighs are neither my ass nor my abs … but a workout’s a workout! The next day, I was surprised that my triceps hurt from incorporating weights in the squat exercises. But they weren’t nearly as sore as my abs—lower, upper and back abs, if that’s a thing. It hurt to laugh or bend, but in a good way. I wish I had tried harder on the ass exercises since those muscles didn’t feel as painful. My thighs, on the other hand, burned every time I stood up.
Stacey: Good. I didn’t feel that exhausted or sore since most of my workout classes incorporate those exercises. I did feel my ass perk up a bit and my stomach flatten a smidge. If my goal is to have a physique like Noelle—who’s one plank away from Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider—sign me up for a year of Ass and Abs!
It’s $12 for the first class, then $27 per class. Packages, memberships and bundles are available; find all the options here. Ass and Abs is offered Mondays (with Noelle) and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. See the current schedule online or download the Body Balance Hawai‘i app. You can also take advantage of snacks, a refillable water station and a chilled face towel at the front desk. There’s a small parking lot—park in the yellow stalls only. Come early in case you need to find street parking (bring quarters!) and walk.
1019 Waimanu St., #101, (808) 542-9597, bodybalancehonolulu.com