Hollywood's New Weight Loss Secret
By: Lee Nelson
"How did she do it?"
That's the question you hear every time a Hollywood star appears on the red carpet debuting a newly toned, sleek physique. Since it is every celebrity's business to look fit and fabulous, they usually get the skinny on new fitness methods long before the general public. And if it's working for them, their fans want to know the secret and are fast to follow.
The hottest new weight loss secret sweeping Hollywood (and the world) is the ballet-inspired, 55-minute workout called Xtend Barre. Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore & Ginnifer Goodwin are just a few of the celebs who have become devotees of the workout, which burns between 400-700 calories per session as it sculpts and tones elongated muscles.
“We are bringing out a woman’s hidden ballerina,” says founder and creator Andrea Rogers of Boca Raton, Fla. “But men are doing the program, too. Most of them are professional athletes, and they know what their bodies need.”
Xtend Barre is a fast-paced, full body workout targeting all major muscle groups. It uses a ballet barre to blend dance with Pilates, sculpting exercises and stretching. By using the sturdy ballet barre for concentrated movements that target small muscle groups, participants build a strong, dancer-like body – without unwanted bulk -- along with increasing stamina and flexibility. Resistance bands, weights, stretch bands and other props are used to keep the men and women strength training, stretching and burning calories.
Other barre-type workouts have been created over the years, usually aimed at a very specific, exclusive user group. But Rogers designed her workout for all body types, ages and both genders. Participants don't need any dance experience to benefit from the Xtend Barre workout. Nor do they have to be young and fit, or even particularly coordinated. The stability of the ballet barre gives people of all levels of fitness and skill the support and confidence to challenge themselves. It also allows those with knee pain, balance issues or other ailments to perform most of the workout.
“Women feel graceful doing the workout. They stand taller and look in the mirror at the barre to watch their bodies react to the workout. The clients never get bored.”
At first, says Rogers, most men scoff because the workout involves using only 1-3 pound weights during a portion of the class. “But just because we are working with light weights doesn’t mean it’s not going to burn. Within five seconds, those one pound weights feel a lot heavier, and your legs are shaking. We are using our own bodies as resistance.”
Rogers has been a dancer and choreographer since the age of 18. Included on her resume are performances with many celebrities and recording artists such as Enrique Iglesias and Aaron Carter. She also worked as a principal dancer for Walt Disney World and traveled the country with several professional dance companies.
To keep in shape after her dancing days had ended, Rogers became certified as a classical Pilates instructor. She came up with the idea for the Xtend workout in 2006 as she was teaching private Pilates classes, which sometimes seemed too routine and lacked the creativity of her former profession. “I missed dancing. I missed the music. I missed the dance world,” Rogers admits. So, she went back to her choreographer's roots to develop moves and exercises that would help spark her clients’ routines.
“I started with simple movements, especially for my clients who were having trouble doing floor exercises. I brought it up to a dancing position,” she says. “My clients started feeling the difference in their bodies in a few sessions. So, I approached the studio owner about creating a class.”
It didn't take long for word to spread. A waiting list of eager beginners filled the studio within the first few weeks of the new class.
“One of the best things about this workout is that it is efficient,” Rogers says. “I’m a working mom, too, and my time is limited. These women are spending time away from their work and family, and they are spending their hard-earned money to get in shape. They want something that will work and provide results.”
Rogers now has Xtend Barre studio franchises in 70 cities in the U.S. and more than 30 international studios in places such as Dubai, Paris, London, Brazil, Canada and Australia. Studio owners say they have packed exercise rooms and waiting lists of clients. “It is humbling to see how fast this is all growing," says Rogers. Just last year Rogers started offering her workout on DVD: Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled with Andrea Rogers. Obviously, not too many people's homes are equipped with a ballet barre, so the program substitutes the back of a sturdy chair or couch.
"I’m just in the process of determining what next steps to take for new DVDs and the rest of the business. It’s just all very exciting. The best part is that most of these franchises are female-owned studios, and there are incredible business women that I have met,” she says..
And with the very public results the Xtend Barre workout is showing on some of Hollywood's hottest celebrities, the cat's out of the bag. We're predicting Andrea's future is nothing short of dazzling.
Lee Nelson spent 21 years as an award-winning reporter in Iowa, and now freelance writes for magazines and websites out of her home in Chicagoland.