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Lauren Hefez Leads Exclusive 'Figure 4' Classes at Equinox

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Welcome to Fitness Week: five days of workout coverage, so that you can start your New Year's resolutions off right.

Photo by Jesus Chapa Malacara
Equinox's new Chestnut Hill club has had the 'burbs buzzing since it announced plans to open, and with good reason—there are a lot of "firsts" happening out on Route 9, including a lap pool and an exclusive offshoot class from the PURE Yoga studios in New York. Titled Figure 4, the dance-inspired class makes use of the luxury gym chain's new barre studio.

Lauren Hefez is a familiar face to anyone who frequents an Equinox club, as she teaches classes at all three Boston-area locations. We caught up with her on her latest endeavor, teaching Figure 4 specifically in Chestnut Hill.

Where did you hear about Figure 4? How was your interest sparked?
Figure 4 started at Pure Yoga in New York, and Equinox has taken it on at Chestnut Hill, which is super exciting for everyone at Chestnut Hill, Equinox, and Figure 4 also because they never really branched out. It's a huge deal. I had to audition to get trained in the program. I knew I wanted to do it because anything with a dance feel to it I like it. I teach the Equinox barre class, Barre Burn, which is moving over to Figure 4. That's how I got started.

How long have you been dancing?
I started dancing at age five and danced all through elementary, middle, and high school into college and then even when I got a job out of school I was still teaching dancing. I wasn't doing it full time as I am now, but I got laid off from my casting job assisting a casting director, so it was almost a blessing in disguise. I was able to take my career in fitness and dance and transform it into a full time job.

Are all the Equinox classes you teach dance-related?
Yeah, I teach Long and Lean, a lot of which is body weight resistance, low weight with a lot a reps, using the magic circle, yoga blocks, and resistance bands. It definitely has a dancer feel. We'll start the class with a cardio, dance feel and everything on the mat is core, glute, and arm work. It's very controlled but also high energy and really fun. People feel like they're doing their pliés.

Is Figure 4 specifically a bit more of a dance feel than a typical barre class? Walk us through a class.
Kate Albarelli, the creator, was a professional dancer. We start with a nice cardio warm up and then we go right to the barre to start with thigh work. The whole mentality here is that thighs are the largest muscle in your body, working them from the beginning gets your metabolism revved up and heart rate up, which will carry through for the whole class. Then we go into arms, where we incorporate pliés for compound muscle movement, keeping you aware of body alignment and form. Figure 4 teachers are very hands-on, which I love about this class, to get you the results you want in a safe way.

After the arms sequence we go into core work, one of my favorite parts. We use a cushion behind your low-back to give you a good amount of support to get deep into those ab muscles without using your back. Then we go back to the bar to do glute work. The reason for doing core before so that the muscles are engaged during it. Then we go to the floor for butt work and abs. Only three times during the class do you stop. It's high energy and fast paced.

What would you say is your teaching style?
I definitely have a dancer feel. I'm very high energy, encouraging, responsive. Very hands-on and touchy. I love to teach and get people to understand their bodies. Definitely a fun time.

What kind of music is playing in class?
The coolest thing about Figure 4 is you pick your own playlist. We have to stick to a certain beats-per-minute but can pick anything from ABBA to Beyonce as long as it fits. We all have fun with that.

And it's based on kinesiology. Can you describe the term briefly for people unfamiliar with the concept?
Kinesiology is the study of body movement and also awareness of your body while you're moving in space. So, to relate back to Figure 4, understanding the movement of what you're doing and what muscles you're using as you're moving.

Finally, tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I laugh in my sleep a lot. My husband has told me, and actually when I was at my Figure 4 training I had a roommate and she told me so. I guess I'm just a really happy sleeper!
· Equinox Chestnut Hill [Official Site]
· Lauren Hefez [Official Site]
· All Fitness Week 2014 posts [Racked Boston]