Thought the novel was racy Wait until you try the Fifty SHAPES of Grey workoutFit in the City columnist Ruby Warrington tries a seductive workout
22:00 GMT, 26 January 2013
22:15 GMT, 26 January 2013
It was about a year ago when New York personal trainer Kristen James first noticed the whispers. From her private clients to women in her group sessions, everybody was reading Fifty Shades Of Grey.
‘People weren’t talking about what the lead characters Anastasia and Christian were getting up to, but how they were doing it. All I would hear was, “Are you kidding me How did she bend over like that!” ’
And so Kristen’s 50 Shapes workout, inspired by the racy, bestselling novels, was born.
Fifty shapes: Kristen James' Sexy Scissors move from her '50 Shapes of Grey' workout
With names such as the Lusty Lunge, the Seductive Squat and the Dirty Diamond, the moves are all designed to improve strength and flexibility in the bedroom.
I tried it – purely for journalistic reasons, I hasten to add. But I quickly discovered it was a pretty fantastic all-over workout.
‘It’s training for the sport of sex,’ says Kristen as I attempt the Bend-Over-Better, a devious variation on the back-strengthening deadlift, made harder by having to do it on tiptoes (‘Imagine you’re in a pair of sexy high heels,’ Kristen urges).
A rather uninhibited and buxom blonde mother of two, Kristen also throws in plenty of Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. ‘Women all know about Kegels, but who’s really doing them The pelvic floor is a muscle like any other but because we can’t see it, it often gets ignored.’ However, if you work on this area, Kristen says ‘not only will you not wet yourself when you sneeze, you will have much better orgasms during sex’.
The link between being fit and having better sex might seem obvious – healthier arteries mean increased blood flow, leading to heightened arousal and more stamina.
However, some research has also shown that people of above-average fitness see themselves as better in the bedroom, while one Finnish study found that women aged between 42 and 46 who worked out regularly and strenuously had more orgasms.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who exercise vigorously for about 30 minutes a day were 30 per cent less likely to report erectile dysfunction.
Kristen is clearly in the right place: the New York singles scene is notoriously lively, with most unattached friends of mine weighing up their options and seeing several potential partners at once. Could this be because they think they’re in good enough shape not to have to settle for second best
Certainly, standards are high. I’ve often winced at overheard brunch-time conversations by both sexes in which the previous night’s conquest has been ruthlessly judged.
Of course, the British are far less obsessed by the cult of the body beautiful. We often love our partners more because of their imperfections – and I can’t think of anything worse than being with a man who would rather gaze at his abs in a gym mirror than spend time with me.
Yet it’s shocking to think that half of women in the UK avoid sex with their partner due to lack of confidence in their body shape, according to one survey.
Meanwhile, 13 per cent said they would only have sex with the lights turned off because they are embarrassed about being seen naked.
I can be as bashful as the next girl (as I rediscovered on meeting Kristen) – but, with our tenth wedding anniversary coming up this summer, it doesn’t hurt that since my NYC fitness rebirth my husband keeps telling me how ‘hot’ (an American phrase I’m happy to embrace) I look when dressed… and not. And there’s always room for improvement.
‘Let’s face it, most of us work out to look better naked. I thought why not put two and two together’ says Kristen, whose 50 Shapes workout is already popular with bachelorette (the US term for hen) parties as well as her one-on-one clients.
Exercises are set to seductive tracks such as George Michael’s I Want Your Sex. ‘We have a lot of fun,’ says Kristen, insisting that as well as leaving clients ‘feeling sexy and empowered, this is a real workout too’.
When we head into her studio to try out some of the moves, I’m amazed at how tough they are. I feel mildly ridiculous thrusting and wriggling my hips while we get into some of the harder positions, but I soon forget to be embarrassed as the burning in my leg muscles kicks in.
And the best bit You can try it for yourself in the comfort of your own living room by downloading the workout. Let me know how you get on, using the hashtag #fitinthecity.
lThe 50 Shapes workout can be downloaded at kristenjamesfitness.com.