Action Figure (Put Armistice and Weightless and Skinny Mini and Fabulegs into a Vitamix and the giant Lithe smoothie extravaganza that is Action Figure will explode out in a mixture of sweat and tears all over you.)
What you need: No gloves necessary!
Props: Ankle weights, Wrist weights, 8lb weights (no, that’s not a typo. EIGHT pounders)
Clothing Considerations: Long pants (if the velcro weights irritate your skin or rub on the backs of your heels)
Sweat Factor: Get ready to look like this.
My entire childhood, I only owned one action figure: a 4-inch tall She-Ra the Princess of Power doll. She-Ra ruled! She was tough; she was brave; and homegirl knew how to dress. She wore a flattering, white mini dress with a sweetheart neckline, cinched at the waist--a completely flattering silhouette for her buxom body. I don’t think Tom Ford came out and said She-Ra was his inspiration for Gwyneth Paltrow’s cape get-up at the Oscars, but let’s be honest. And her ability to accessorize? Rachel Zoe and her piles of bangles and fingers full of rings would feel under-adorned in her presence. The woman wore a giant gold headdress atop her flowing gold mane, a gold choker (yeah she did), giant gold cuffs, a fab gold belt (also all the rage this year), and knee-high gold boots. In short, She-Ra was my hero.
But, although she was exalted in my eyes, I didn’t play with her all that much. I was usually more of a Barbie girl. (Shocking, I know. Although, my Barbies were gangster. Like who was more cool than SPACE Barbie? She had an amazing fuschia outfit and did space exploration.) She-Ra would only make an appearance from time-to-time, when I was feeling particularly full of mischief, to wreak havoc on my carefully orchestrated Barbie fun. Oh, hello Barbie. Hello, Ken. Sorry to disturb you whilst you are on your date at this 50s style soda fountain, but I will be karate chopping you off these pink stools now. (My She-Ra knew martial arts too.) I’m not sure why She-Ra was so angry with my Barbies. Perhaps she was bitter because He-Man (that was She-Ra’s bf right? Or did I just make that up in my prepubescent mind?)* wasn’t picking her up in pink Corvettes to take her back to Dream House for some action. Perhaps.
So when I sat down on the mat before Action Figure the class, struggling and juggling all my props, I was feeling a little more Barbie than She-Ra, I must admit. I had the feeling in the pit of my stomach that often comes right before a Lithe class that I know is going to do a number on me. I looked over at the girl next to me, and said in my best Ralph Wiggum voice, I’m scared. She looked at me, and said. Really? I’m excited. I love this class.
That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
Lithers don’t just love any classes; they love the ones that are the most brutal. We are a masochistic bunch. The harder and the sweatier, the better. So I sat up straight, dropped the scared bit, and pretended I was fastening beautiful gilded cuffs to my wrists instead of 2lb weights, and golden boots instead of ankle weights and was ready to call on my inner princess of power.
That lasted about 2 minutes.
The first cardio sequence is akin to the one you do at the beginning of Tight End or Weightless-- lots of jacks, double jacks, jump jump plyos, etc. which transition into a little dance sequence. But it’s a whole new ball game with 8 extra lbs attached to your body. It didn’t take long before I was wishing that a winged, talking unicorn would fly through the studio and whisk me away. And it didn’t end there. We went on to do sculpting work, twisting our waists in high v’s and low v’s, a standing lunge series, push-ups, see-saws...all with an 8 extra lbs. Kill.er. Then we went on to deadlift the additional 8 lb dumbells on TOP of the wrist weights in various bicep and tricep moves. NBD. THEN you go to the barre, and do various torturous lunges, sumos etc. while basically carrying a very fat newborn on your person.
But, as always seems to happen the moment a Lithe class is over, I went from feeling like a bit of a weakling to feeling pretty dang strong for having survived. I basically showed up feeling like Space Barbie, dressed up in all the right equipment--with no real action figure ability whatsoever, to sweating my way into full on She-Ra status. By the power of Gray Skull, that’s not bad for 60 minutes!
See you in class!
*update: at press time, I did a little research and realized He-Man and She-Ra were actually twin brother and sister! There goes my sexual frustration theory.
Image of Lithers and Lithe Instructor, Elizabeth Howe in Action Figure via Lauren