The Body Lab: Get a Hollywood workout in Phoenix

I’ve walked by The Body Lab in Arcadia a dozen times and I always get sucked in by the spectacle: Picture 11 svelte figures performing complicated dancer-like moves in unison on what looks like tricked out Pilates Reformers. What jumped out at each pass was the intimate and interactive environment (classes cap at 11), the group camaraderie (Yes, you’re working solo but there’s definitely a synergy about it) and the Hollywood-like vibe of it all… in that I could totally see Nicole Kidman or Gwen Stefani doing it. I put it on my list of must-try classes, but kept putting it off… mostly because I knew it was going to kick my butt. Turns out I was right on all of the above.

No surprise, The Body Lab started in California. The workout was created by former bodybuilder and Pilates instructor Sebastien Lagree who wanted to combine the fat-burning of cardio with the strength-training of Pilates – all in 50 compact minutes. Genius! The two local studios – one in Arcadia, the other in North Scottsdale – were opened by Rachel Forman and Jenny Cushing, both die-hard fans of Lagree.

I arrived for my first class excited but nervous; the unexpected can be intimidating. But my nerves were settled as soon as I walked into the white, bright studio. Instructor Scott Skinner’s calm demeanor and Brad Pitt-like voice immediately put me at ease, plus there was another newbie taking the class which took some of the pressure off.

Scott started by introducing me to my class partner: the Megaformer. The “bed,” as it’s commonly called, comes complete with pulleys, platforms and props to target every trouble spot. The device allows for hundreds of different moves, so not only will class participants never get bored, your body (and mind) will continuously be challenged. Plus you can easily modify the moves and adjust it depending on your fitness level.

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For the next 50 minutes we lifted, we lunged, we spooned (a Body Lab move that puts a whole new spin on crunches). Scott talked us through each movement, offering up pointers and personalized attention, so never did I feel lost. Nor was I panting, but boy did my core… and hips… and arms… and legs… and butt get a workout! Movements are slow and controlled which means no cheating, although I did drop a few reps when the burn got too much. But for the most part I pressed through, inspired by my strong, steadfast classmates and the can-do energy bouncing off the walls.

Even though there’s a Hollywood vibe to it all, there was no pretense whatsoever. Scott couldn’t have been more helpful and encouraging (no yelling, just positive prompting) and my fellow Body Lab-ers, most veterans, were welcoming. One gal even offered to give me her spot in the full class because I messed up my online registration.

Yes, I was sore the next day… and the day after that. But the unique mix of moves—all gentle on the joints—have transformed me into a Body Lab fan after just one class. No wonder it’s a “Best Of Our Valley” winner!

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