Body Check

Floor Barre

Patrick Swayze, Tommy Tune, and Lar Lubovitch are just a few of the illustrious bodies anatomy guru Zena Rommett has molded and healed over the past 40 years. Considered a modest but magical force in dance rehabilitation, Rommett has aided dancers, figure skaters, and other athletes from all over the world. Eager to return to dance after stress fractures and other chronic injuries, I sought out the legendary healer. Unable to fit her classes into my work schedule, I began by using her video.

Analogous to a ballet barre, a Rommett class follows a logical progression, focusing on one muscle group at a time. All exercises are executed without the pressure of gravity, while lying or sitting on the floor. The class demands control and awareness of alignment. In the video, Rommett outlines the movements clearly and correctly. But it doesn't re-create the rigor of a live class.

At STEPS, instructor Lonne Moretton showers his students with corrections. He asks if I have taken the Rommett floor-barre before and places me in the middle of the room so I'm under his constant surveillance. He resets each student and monitors our every transition. Although the class is anaerobic, I was fatigued after 20 minutes and drenched after 60. Subtle adjustments to the spine and torso allow for an immediate and delightful payoff. Post floor-barre, Moretton gives standing combinations during which I discover a newfound awareness, freedom, and placement. Despite initial shakes and cramps, I find the antigravity approach, within the class setting, most effective in conditioning weak muscles and making a smooth segue back to the real thing— dancing upright. — J.G.

Zena Rommett Floor-Barre Technique® classes: Abizaid Arts of Soho, 107 Grand Street, 941-8480, Monday through Thursday at 10 a.m. with Rommett herself; STEPS, 2121 Broadway at 74th Street, 874-2410, Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.; Monday through Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 10 a.m.; Sunday at 11 a.m.; Ballet Arts, 130 West 56th Street, 582-3350, Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m.; Dance Space, 622 Broadway near Houston Street, 777-8067, Monday though Friday at noon, Sunday at 2 p.m.

Video Classes: The first, 51-minute video, produced in 1991, captures Zena giving a Floor-Barre class, demonstrated by dancer Melinda Jackson. Video II, 71 minutes long, consists of an introduction by Broadway showman Tommy Tune, Floor-Barre, and center work. Both videos are great for maintaining strength or returning from an injury. $53 each including tax and shipping, or as a set for $83. Send check or money order payable to Zena Rommett Dance Association, Ltd., 44 Downing Street, New York, NY 10014. 633-0352.

Fitting In Fitness

"Urban Circuit" is a cross between boot camp and the Mad Hatter's tea party. Its novel design gives you your heart's desire: aerobic, strength training, agility, balance, and flexibility exercises with personal trainers, for 12 bucks. And here's how convenient it is: you can show up any time it's open and literally jump right in.

After warming up, I entered the crimson-lit workout room, where muscles were pulsing to the raucous vocals of Martha Wash. My trainer, Rachel Maki, explained the drill. There are 12 stations in the circuit. You spend one minute at each. Then, whooooie! A whistle blows and you sprint on to the next station. Trainers stay with you station-to-station if you want, or let you do your own thing.

"No 'girl' push-ups," Rachel scolded, when I attempted to use my knees for support. Whooooie! Onward to squats, shoulder press, jump rope and other specialized stops. During the 15 minutes it took to complete one circuit, every muscle group in my body had been worked. Most people go around at least twice. Exercise procrastinators, take note— this low-cost, flexible workout leaves you with no excuses. — Mary Chaffee

Revolution Studio, 104 West 14th Street, 206-8785. Studio open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. "Urban Circuit": Wednesday and Friday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Feed Your Face

Carol Young, a gourmet cook and an energetic redhead "of a certain age," has whipped up a line of skin-care products with ingredients that make my mouth water: almond, avocado, oatmeal, cocoa butter. We're sitting, appropriately enough, in her dining room. My face is dry and the wrinkles are starting to fight the zits for turf. Aaargh! Carol, on the other hand, is absolutely glowing and wrinkle-free— the best advertisement for her products.

Allergies? Age? Hormones? Sex? It seems as if everything affects the skin. Our consultation starts with a detailed questionnaire covering lifestyle and health. Thus armed, Carol looks at my skin and teaches me how to make it all better. I walk away with moisturizer, cleanser, and beauty mask, for a total of $55.50. Note to those who have sensitive skin (and who doesn't?): these products are additive-free, and very, very hypoallergenic. This means almost everything must be kept refrigerated— a minor inconvenience.

After three weeks, my skin feels softer, more like the skin of Carol's celebrity clients, or so I imagine. Try some, I urge a vegetarian friend— if you don't like the way it feels, you can always have it for breakfast. — M.C.

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