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Drill Instructor: Work Out Like a Porn Star - By - January 28, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Drill Instructor: Work Out Like a Porn Star

My instructor has the body and attitude of a retired ballet pro — tight, militaristic, and without mercy, just how I like it. There are very few smiles; mostly grimaces and the occasional whimper accompany commands of, “Up an inch, down an inch, up an inch, down an inch,” as the class lifts and tucks their pelvises while standing on tip-toe and pulsing their arms at a 90-degree angle. It's exactly how Barbie would work out if she could move on her own.

I got lost on the way to my first Pop Physique class after mistaking the studio for an American Apparel boutique. I almost walked in anyway to shop for leggings and T-shirt dresses instead of working out, but I curbed my retail urges and continued down Mission Street until I realized my mistake.

When I finally found my way inside, I was still not convinced that I wasn't in an American Apparel store that had started offering fitness classes (the studio shares the company's basement-porn-meets-'80s-workout aesthetic). Inside is a dance studio with bamboo flooring, mirrors, and a ballet barre. Students are instructed to grab yoga mats, small exercise balls, and light weights, all in a palette of Barbie pinks and purples. Then the lights are lowered, the beat drops, and the pain begins. I thought maybe the workout would be like Zumba or that aerobics-video meme set to Taylor Swift's “Shake it Off.” But no, the hourlong class is an intense, no-nonsense sculpting chamber devoted to the pursuit of flat abs and a perky booty.

Former ballerina Jennifer Williams, whose career included roles at the San Francisco Ballet, developed Pop Physique in 2008 in Los Angeles, and it now has 17 locations. In August, the trendy workout popped up in the Mission. Williams has put her own spin on the Lotte Berk fitness technique developed in London in the 1950s, which sculpted the tushes of Hollywood icons like Barbra Streisand and Joan Collins. Williams' version of the classic hour of stretching and gut-sucking adds an indie/hip-hop playlist, club lighting, branded merchandise, and sex appeal. And instead of straitlaced Hollywood brand ambassadors, Pop Physique is endorsed by Porn Valley's finest.

“It really seems to help out during sex, specifically when I shoot a sex scene,” says Wicked Pictures contract star Jessica Drake. “I did Pop for almost three months straight before I shot Underworld, because I really wanted to get in shape for this movie where I was going to be naked the whole time.” Drake attributes her killer reverse cowgirl to this weird Barbie workout. And she isn't alone; porn stars Dana DeArmond, Sovereign Syre, and Maggie Mayhem are all Pop addicts as well. And I may be adding my name to that list.

I was a dance major in college, so I've spent a lot of time staring at the leotarded butts of girls I had crushes on, and I've made more than one ballet-themed porno. Ballet and sex have always kept pretty close company in my subconscious, so it's no surprise that I've bought into the hip brand of sexy ballet fitness.

Pop Physique claims to improve your sex life and give you the butt of a porn star, but there's also a generous dose of sex appeal to the workout itself. About 25 percent of the class is devoted to humping the air and squeezing your abs, butt, and subsequently, your pelvic floor. It's an incredible combination of ballerina domination, Pilates, yoga, and Kegels.

Classes aren't cheap, though: $20 a pop, and a yearlong VIP membership will set you back a whopping $1,700, which doesn't include all the cute apparel that will tug at your retail heartstrings.

That includes $45 tank tops with “J'adore Barre” and “Barre so hard” emblazoned across the chest, not to mention the $14 Pop thong, which the website claims is “the sexiest way to show off your Pop Physique results,” specifically on social media through the #popthong hashtag.

In my shaky-legged fervor after class, I bought two pairs of $12 socks that say “Type A” and “Barre Whore” on the bottom, and I made my way to the well-lit selfie station to take pictures of my butt. All my porn muscles felt worked in a way they simply hadn't been before, aside from after a shoot, and even as I write this, I'm planning when I can fit in my next class.

The workout, as well as the branding, are as addictive as porn, as adorable as Barbie, and as sexy as Jessica Drake. I hate to say it, but I'm hooked.