Booty Work

Fitness trends have been shifting over time, especially for women. Cardio and calorie counting are being replaced with strength training, weight lifting, and a general embracing of being strong and toned.

The biggest focus of this new trend is probably the booty — more and more women are determined to tone, strengthen, and shape their glutes. The look is in thanks to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé, but it’s also more than a look: Strong glutes are essential to athletic performance and injury prevention for anything from the waist down.

“If you go to physical therapy for almost any injury on the bottom half of your body, they’re going to check to see if your glutes are strong,” said Deborah Voss, one of the fitness instructors at Life Time Athletic in Bellevue. “If they’re not, you’ll be doing exercises like (the ones we do in class) to make them stronger. That’s one of the things that I really love about this class: It’s a great workout, but it’s also really smart, especially for women.”

Voss has worked as a trainer and instructor for the last 12 years and will teach any kind of class, from barre to cycling to high-intensity interval training. Recently she’s been teaching Gluteus Maxout, which focuses on building booty muscle, which, in turn, will make members safer when they train. Gluteus Maxout is one of Life Time’s newest classes — it started being offered in early 2018 — but has quickly become one of the gym’s most popular group fitness options across the country, according to Voss, because “it’s so efficient in training every muscle in your legs.”

To see what all the hype was about, I decided to give Gluteus Maxout a try myself. The class makes for a high-intensity and high-energy workout that keeps it simple: It uses only dumbbells, resistance bands, and a floor mat. But don’t let the simplicity or the small movements fool you: The class will leave your muscles burning in the best way.

“Some guys out there might look in and think that we’re doing nothing because the movements are so small and calculated,” said Voss. “But if they come in and try it, they can’t get through 30 seconds, because it’s so intense.”

There are versions of the class that are shorter (30 minutes) to longer (60 minutes) that include core workout as well. I went for the 45-minute class, which packed a lot of punch — by the end, I was sweating, a little shaky, and way more aware of my leg muscles.

To boot, the group environment was comfortable: Like many group fitness classes, this one caters to all fitness levels by offering alterations to each exercise. I got to choose how heavy I wanted my weights as well as how tight I wanted my resistance bands; these options make the class accessible and less intimidating for those of us who aren’t seasoned gym rats.

The exercises — squats, deadlifts, and standing kickbacks with a resistance band — are as effective as they are approachable. Throw in a warm-up, a cool-down, and some cardio, and you have a great workout that understandably has members coming back again and again.

These moves, which are well-known to be effective for training glute muscles, work well in a class environment, but they can also be used in at-home training. For me, that’s a big plus: I love a good strength session in my living room, where the excuses I can make for myself are fewer than if I have to drag myself to a gym. You miss out on the high-energy environment, the pump-up soundtrack, and the encouraging guidance of the instructor, but it’s nice to know that the journey to a great butt is a simple one that just requires a little equipment and some discipline.

If a gym membership is accessible to you this new year, go for it. Take the classes. All you have to do is show up and sweat. If it’s not in the budget, don’t worry: There don’t have to be any barriers when you’re trying to tone up. Just order some resistance bands and dumbbells. Start squatting — your living room awaits.


is an assistant editor at 425 magazine.
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