How one ELLE Canada staffer learned to love her butt
Hint: it took a lot of squats.
A good butt has always been in style. Just ask Sir Mix-a-Lot. But for the past few years, our behinds have moved to the forefront of pop culture. Every day, it seems, there’s a new ode to this spherical muse. (Thank you Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Iggy Azalea, Meghan Trainor et al).
Despite this, I hadn’t been feeling all that inspired about my own gluteus maximus. So, I headed to Equinox fitness club to try out four sessions of their Best Butt Ever class. Could this be the impetus to change my relationship with my butt? Could we (my butt and I) have the same close-knit relationship that Kim Kardashian has with her gorgeous glutes? It was time to give my butt the attention it deserves.
I first needed to understand what constitutes the best butt ever. Aesthetically, that was easy to answer (big, round, firm). But Equinox group fitness manager Mark Hendricks explained that a good bum is more than that; it sets the tone for a good body. “Glutes are the seat – no pun intended – of your whole body’s strength. Strong glutes equals strong body.”
Building this is not as easy as performing non-stop squats or lunges. Yes, you’ll need to do these (while holding weights) to build definition and strength. But you’ll also have to do smaller exercises to fire up muscles as well as plyometrics (jumping intervals that raise the heart rate and burn fat) to build power.
These combinations will help to work the three parts of your seat – the gluteus maximus and the harder-to-tone gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. One of my favourite workouts in class was using the exercise bands, which focuses in the latter two. We wrapped these just above our ankles and extended legs to the side; at a 45-degree angle; and straight back. “By changing planes you change the main muscle being used,” says Hendricks.
As the reps continued to mount, I was often too busy to complaining how much it hurt to count. But Hendricks says the fastest way to condition and strengthen muscle is to work to failure. That occurs “when you have exhausted all the muscle fibres and they just don’t have any more to give.” Aka you feel like you’re ready to fall to the ground.
Week-by-week, I found I could push myself more. By the end of the month, when it came time for the end-of-class plyometric challenge, it was almost fun. My butt feels higher and less jiggly, too.
Now when I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, I pause for a moment of appreciation whilst singing “Hot in Herre” by Nelly. My butt and I may never have BFF status, but at least now we have an understanding – what we put into this relationship (read: hard work) is what we get out of it – and that’s my best butt ever.