New workout to shape your core: SHIFT

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For many years, Los Angeles trainer Dana Perri has been on my radar. I used to take her classes at boutique gyms across the city. No matter where she was, or what kind of workout she was teaching, her classes were completely packed. These days, at a gym in North Hollywood, Perri has created one of the most dynamic and effective fitness methods I’ve seen in a long time: SHIFT by Dana Perri. It’s quickly becoming one of LA’s hottest workout classes. 

SHIFT classes take place on a padded, springy floor used by martial artists; this makes the workout easier and softer on the joints, but also requires the core to work harder for stabilization. It’s a high energy, low-impact, full-body interval workout that uses bands, light hand weights, and a medicine ball. Each exercise flows into the next, keeping the intensity high and targeting every muscle in the body. Perri, a former dancer and choreographer for Cirque Du Soleil, infuses creativity into her workouts, keeping each class fresh.

I was so inspired by Perri that I asked her to share some of her favorite core exercises (look at her abs!) with Beautylish readers. Read on to learn more about her and to try out SHIFT!

Tell me more about SHIFT.

SHIFT combines aerobic (cardiovascular training) and anaerobic exercises (resistance movement training). Not only will you get a great workout, but you’ll also target fat loss, build muscle, and improve your heart-lung fitness. 

What flaws do you see in other workout programs?

Most focus on only one area of fitness, whether it’s cardio, strength training, flexibility, or endurance. I think classes should be well-rounded, with a little of everything. Also, the instructor or trainer must motivate and educate you in a safe and fun environment, which can be hard to find. 

How did you get started as a trainer?

When I was touring as an acrobat and dancer, intense and arduous lifestyle inspired me to learn more about keeping a healthy mind and body. Personal training and fitness instruction seemed like a natural transition as I’d been coaching, training, and teaching since I was 15 years old. I quickly realized how helping people change their lives was changing mine as well.

What is a quote you live by? Explain why.

“When you discover it's your choice and your attitude, things start to happen!” Everything starts with an intention. We often blame others for our misfortunes, but really the true answers lie within us. The goal is to decide what you want in life, have realistic expectations, and start the journey. Take one step at a time. Know that everything is a process. Be patient. Risk a change. Overcome fear and live the life you imagined.

What is the best way to blast fat, especially around the stomach?

It’s very difficult to “spot train”, but the most effective way to lose weight and tone muscle in the stomach area is a combination of diet and exercise.  Be moderate with alcohol and foods that are salty, sugary, or high in fat. The stomach acts as a wastebasket. Incorporate cardio and strength training in every workout, 4–5 times a week. It’s also extremely important to maintain your sleep and stress levels. Consistency is the key to success! 

What are your nutrition tips for a flatter stomach?

Subtract sodium. Sodium makes you retain water, and puffs up your belly. Most of us eat more than twice the amount of sodium we should, topping 3,400 mg per day, rather than the recommended 1,500 mg per day.

Subtract sugar alcohols. We don't completely digest these low-cal sweeteners (found in flavored waters and low-carb, diabetic, and sugar-free foods). Bacteria in the large intestine ferment them, causing gas and even diarrhea. Check food labels and avoid them if possible—common ones are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and lacitol.

Subtract candy and soda.  Once air from any source reaches your digestive system, you experience it as gas and a distended belly. Eating or drinking quickly, sipping through a straw, sucking on hard candy, and chewing gum can make you swallow air. Trade carbonated drinks for flat ones, such as juice or water, and lose the gum and candies.

What motivates you to work out?

The way that I feel after I’m done. I’m more energized. I feel invigorated, strong, and healthy.  Working out is such an emotional and physical experience. Some days are easier than others, but once I make the decision to do it, the reward is priceless. The endorphin rush I get after a run or an amazing class reminds me of the natural state the body wants to be in. 

Dana Perri’s fave SHIFT core moves!

Perform these moves back-to-back, with quick transitions, and then do it all over again on the other side. 

1 minute, fast tempo

Stand with your feet wider than your hips. Bend your knees slightly. Lift your arms up and bend them with your hands by your shoulders. Keeping your hips still, isolate in your torso by twisting your torso left to right. Keep your core engaged and stand tall. It’s very important to keep your hips still and work only through the midsection. 

1 minute, fast tempo

Standing tall, extend your left leg out to the side and bend slightly in your right standing leg. Now, reach your arms up and over your head to the right. Bring your left knee and elbows in front of your body, toward each other. Then extend the leg and arms back out to the side in opposite directions. Continue like this at a fast pace. Remember to engage your core.

1 minute, fast tempo

Turn to your side, bend into your right knee, and extend your left leg straight behind you. Bring your arms straight, reaching forward. Tuck and pull the left knee in toward your stomach as your arms push back behind you. Then reach your arms forward as your left leg extends back. Repeat at a fast pace. Keep your core engaged.

16 push-ups

Come into a plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and shoulder-width apart. Keep your legs straight and strong. Begin by bending your elbows out to the side lowering your body to the floor into a push-up position. Now bring your left knee forward and to the outside of the left elbow.

Hold and then push yourself back up and return back to the starting position.

Repeat all four moves again on the other side. If you’re still up for more, try using light hand weights or a weighted ball!

Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.