I learned about Plana FORMA two years ago when a friend asked if I taught it. I heard that KC Concepcion credited her toned physique to the classes she took at their Fort Bonifacio branch, and a couple of other friends forsook their regular exercise routine for this fusion workout created by co-founder and director of training Julie Alagde-Carretas. Now, Plana FORMA has expanded northward with a branch in Quezon City to serve its avid “thigh warriors”.
Plana FORMA tones your thighs, lifts your butt, tones your arms and strengthens your abdominals using isometric exercises and orthopedic stretches adapted from Physique 57, based on the Lotte Berk Method, which was a movement technique created by dancer Lotte Berk as she was recuperating from injury. Julie used her training in Physique 57, combined with her expertise in dance, yoga, Pilates and sports to create Plana FORMA.
Last February, I tried out a beginner class taught by Mae Evangelista at their Fort branch.
Kikay Runner w/ Ms. Tina Lagdameo of Plana FORMA
Here I am with Ms. Tina Lagdameo, one of the instrumental people behind Plana FORMA. She was at the studio that day to attend a Zumba class (aside from FORMA, they also offer Zumba, Zumba Toning, FORMA Stretch, and an Arms and Abs class).
Plana FORMA classes are rated on level of difficulty and complexity. Intro classes are slow-paced, meant for participants to learn the basic terms and “shapes” or positions used in every FORMA class. Beginner classes offer a full-body interval workout using a mix of muscle “sprints” and stretches from yoga, dance and Pilates to isolate and fatigue muscles. Mixed or open classes ramp up the cardio with added variations and more movements. Intermediate classes are even more fast-paced with longer sprints and new shapes. (Whew! I’m glad I started with a beginner class!)
The warm-up involved push-ups and bicep curls with dumbbells. Instead of big full curls, May made us pulse the dumbbells quite fast within a small range of motion. My arms fatigued really quickly.
We then went to squats and other thigh- and butt-firming exercises while holding onto the barre for support. May’s eagle eyes saw me cheating on the squats, so with a few light taps on my lower back and thighs she adjusted my form and got me back to work. She said working the thighs — the largest muscle group in the body — burns plenty of calories.
As I did plies and stretches and drew small circles with my toes while keeping my leg lifted (this sounds easier than it is), I took a look around at my fellow participants. There were a few of us who were new; the rest were regulars who would consistently take the more advanced options when May offered them. I was already dying with the basic options!
There were also more exercises done with “fun balls” (a small air-inflated ball), bands and thick foam mats. Plana FORMA isolated the small muscles neglected by my usual exercises. This makes it perfect for cross-training.
Judging by the participants I’ve encountered, it’s also a great standalone fitness regimen. I haven’t been able to fit it between my triathlon training sessions (juggling three disciplines is tough!), but if you’re a pure runner, this is worth trying out.