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This Workout Will Take You From Zero to Ballet Hero in an Hour

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Informed Technique uses founder Jill Harris' custom-built suspension system; photo by <a href="">Amanda Kershaw</a>
Informed Technique uses founder Jill Harris' custom-built suspension system; photo by Amanda Kershaw

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You may remember seeing Informed Technique in last week's roundup of SF's one-of-a-kind workouts. And it made the list for good reason: founder Jill Harris created her own suspension system to bring to life the workout that originally only existed in her dreams. Harris has taught—and continues to teach—Pilates on the more traditional reformer systems for the past 20+ years (13 of those at her current location in Hayes Valley). But she believed the reformer workout required a different apparatus to fill in the gaps (namely for cardio and for targeted shaping of the abs, hips, and upper thighs). Curious to road test this new system, I strapped in and worked through Harris' routine. I emerged from the studio a wee bit wobbly from working muscles that I may never have moved before.

When I first entered the Informed Body studio, next door to one of my all-time favorite SF boutiques, MAC, I felt intimidated by the apparatus. And then even more so when Harris explained that the workout was very ballet-based (meaning pliés in the various positions, etc.). I had to dig deep to find my third-grade self that took basic ballet lessons. But quickly into the session, I realized the springs and the straps were my friends, lifting me higher and making all sorts of leaps and leans possible—I felt like the ballerina that I could have been if only I had stuck with it. The system also forced me to keep my core tight and my legs turned out (to engage the inner thigh muscles).

The abs portion of the class actually emerged as the most challenging, making me aware that my core is currently quite weak (despite my daily regimen of floor crunches). Using the springs and the arms in conjunction with the Pilates V-ups works the ab muscles to a degree that I've never felt before. And, to my surprise, I was frustrated by these sit-up movements far greater than I was with any of the dance-related ones. Harris said that it would take at least three classes before my muscles would feel stronger. But the day after class, I could already feel my abs and upper thighs growing tighter (and my calves still shaking).

Harris teaches group classes on the Informed Technique system throughout the week, offering 1-3 time slots per day (at various levels). She also incorporates movements on the new apparatus into her private training sessions on the reformer. From her extensive testing on new users in the past few months, the results are beginning to show. One client has lost two inches in her waist, one and a half inches her in her hips, and two inches in her thighs in three months of two classes per week. To sign up for a 30-minute intro ($60) with Harris or one of her instructors, or to dive right into a full-length class (3-pack for $75), click here.
· Six of San Francisco's Craziest, Most Unique Workouts [Racked SF]
· Informed Technique [Official Site]
· All Esther Tested posts [Racked SF]

Informed Technique

389 Grove Street,