Plana FORMA: No two words have ever struck quite this level of anxiety and excitement in me. Ever since I heard of it from Cosmo’s Regina Belmonte I decided to give the much-buzzed-about workout a try, in the hopes it would jumpstart my body in time for a fitter 2013. Although a staunch advocate of Pilates in my 20s—I’ve been practicing since ’03—I thought it was the perfect time and decided to give in to this particular workout, which is said to be a highly addictive mix of yoga, Pilates, and dance, with a healthy, kick-ass dose of cardio (a.k.a. my sworn enemy).
I was registered under a month-long program, and though not a morning person by any standards, was determined to stick it out. My prior yogalates background made me comfy with the poses and stretches I encountered during my first class, but my body died with all the cardio and toning, my legs shaking in resistance to pulse and “sprint to the change.” Needless to say I was one of their “special” students—namechecked every so often, sob—and right after my first class was glad I literally lived through it to tell the tale. And don’t ask me how sore I was the next day.
And here it is: Plana FORMA is a full-body, 55-minute workout by certified dancer and N.Y.-trained instructor Julie Alagde-Carretas that both stretches and contracts muscles to—and this is their favorite phrase—the point of exhaustion. Then you do it all over again, burning calories and melting fat as you go. Thighs, abs, butt, legs, saddlebags, arms, shoulders, waist—all get several minutes of intense, intense focus, which includes muscle sprints, stretches, dance movements (hip thrusts to Shakira!), lots of foot flexing and pointing, bridge poses, etc. You have props like a black band to aid in stretching and core work, and the very-inaccurately-named playground ball, a supplement to the infamous, dreaded Flat Back Chair and Water Ski thigh portions, where you pulse your seat up and down with your heels up. Clubby anthems urge you to push further, instructors are vigilant yet encouraging, and the almost-100%-female classes made me more confident to finish strong—yes, you feel you’re all in this hell together. There’s a reason they call FORMA students “thigh warriors.”
Eight sessions in and FORMA’s Tina Lagdameo suggested I go for the Mixed classes next (they usually require a minimum of 10 Beginners before advancing). A faster pace and more challenging modifications actually switched things up and made it more enjoyable.
Apart from a Pavlovian reaction to clubby anthems when I now hear them outside of class, the only bad thing I can say about FORMA is that classes are now harder and harder to book. Yup, more women have gotten caught by the FORMA bug, and this is honestly because the hype is true: It’s as addictive yet feminine a no-nonsense workout as they come, and as a complete gymphobe (and former cardiophobe), I can say it’s one of the best lifestyle changes I’ve taken on yet.
Plana FORMA studio, 6F Jecoprime Building, 20th Drive, McKinley Business Park, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig; GF ETON Centris Walk, EDSA cor. Quezon Ave., Q.C. Tel. no. 553 0870. Cel. No. 0917 809 4392. www.forma-asia.com