Like a lot Manhattan instructors, Mahri Relin, the founder of Body Conceptions, brought her brand of fitness to the East End this summer. Initially, we weren't sure what to expect from her class, which is currently at the FITiST Collective at 5 Railroad Road Avenue in East Hampton on weekends. After a few seconds, we quickly realized that her infectious smile and positive energy are more than enough to carry anybody through a workout. She combines muscle-fatiguing exercises with dynamic movement. Translation: there is a lot of dancing! Most notably, she works your entire body with a feel-good mantra that is as much about cardio as it is about toning. This guru of movement talked to us about toning up, planking, and her deep love of peanut butter chocolate yogurt.
What made you decide to partner up with the FITiST Collective in the Hamptons this summer?
I have a long and great history with FITiST, and they know my teaching style. Previously, they had done more things with online booking, and we're so excited to be connected with their physical studio in the Hamptons!
There are a lot of new fitness trends right now. What makes Body Conceptions special?
We're part of the dance/fitness genre, so we're dancing around and it's really fun. But, we also focus on extensive body sculpting along with barre method principles. This type of working out comes uniquely from my past. I was a dancer for many years in the city-
I was just about to ask you about that. Will someone who isn't terribly rhythmic feel uncomfortable in your class?
Even though Body Conceptions is grouped in with this pool of new dance workouts that's happening, we focus on posture, positions, and the way that we engage our muscles. We want to lengthen and sculpt the muscles, but you can walk into our class without being a dancer. You don't even have to feel like you are that coordinated. I respect the other fitness methods that focus on intense choreography, but that's not what I'm doing. We've chosen to build on very simple units of movement. You can walk in without any dance in your background, because we focus on technique. We make sure everyone has their posture and alignment correct.
What's some of your best advice for leaning out the body?
We work in elongated positions that exhaust the muscles. For example, small pulses in a deep lunge position are painful, but they work! Our focus is in integrated movement that requires thought and connection to the core. I'm also very interested in this cardio interval idea. We might do cardio, then sculpting, and cardio again. I think it's important to move the heart rate up and down. This type of working out really helps burn fat and calories at the same time. And, it's more fun!
What about the idea of muscle confusion- do you integrate that into your class?
Speaking to muscle confusion, you really have to change things up. So, I'm a huge fan of not having the same class every time. We have a method and a structure, but every class has improvisational elements. You will never have the same thing twice. When you are doing things that you aren't expecting, muscle confusion comes in. Our students use their balance and their minds while integrating the upper and lower body. This makes you stronger and prevents plateauing.
What's your favorite exercise for toning up at home?
My very favorite exercise is the plank.
Why the plank?
It's truly full body. You are engaging the arms and the back with the front part of your body with the abdominals and even the front part of your legs. And, there are so many different versions of planking that you can do. You can combine them with pushups, leg lifts, or yoga. Or, you can just hold it, and that's so great for firming up the body.
That's good advice. So, what's your favorite recovery drink- when you've really given it your all?
Okay, I have a huge sweet tooth, and my favorite drink is chocolate coconut water. I think coconut water is wonderful! After you've worked out hard, it's important to have electrolytes and potassium.
And what's your guilty pleasure?
There's this peanut butter chocolate yogurt in Sag Harbor that I love!
Wait, yogurt is your guilty pleasure?
[Laughs] Well, I guess it is healthier than regular ice cream. But, I know that I'm fooling myself, because it's got those big chunks of peanut butter. It's so good!