November 27, 2004

Star Power: Strike a Pose

While fitness fads come and go, one seemingly consistent one for famous bodies is yoga, known for its ability to strengthen muscles, build endurance and improve flexibility. These days there's a virtual Hollywood who's who making yoga part of their weekly workout routines. Willowy beauty Michelle Pfeiffer, curvaceous Jamie Lee Curtis and longtime yoga devotees Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid have all been known to take instruction at Yoga Zone in the West Los Angeles area. Musician and environmental activist Sting and big-screen hunk Mel Gibson also practice regularly, as does the newest detective on NYPD Blue, Rick Schroder, who-lest we forget-needs to keep himself in butt-baring shape for his role on that show.

Saeeda Hafiz, director of health and wellness for the YWCA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and certified yoga instructor and natural food chef who lectures on living well, healthy eating and yoga as a lifestyle, says celebrities with hectic schedules are probably drawn to yoga because "they're so stressed and their lives are so fast-paced, and yoga provides a way to unwind, muscle by muscle and cell by cell. Yoga is the only exercise that works on your endocrine system, thyroid, and adrenal glands," she believes.

Latin singing sensation Ricky Martin reportedly spends part of each morning doing yoga, which keeps him more than flexible enough to swivel his hips for hours on end, as he's wont to do during performances. Screen siren Catherine Zeta-Jones says it helps her focus her energy, and actor Woody Harrelson is such a believer that he even teaches classes.

Still Spinning

For most women, the legs and derriere are typically the most difficult body parts to get in shape and keep that way. In Los Angeles, where people are actually paid to have great gams, Spinning (the stationary bike workout that involves cycling at rapid rpms with varying degrees of weight intensity) is the prescription of choice. Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt devotes four days a week to the low-impact, high-octane exercise, and Christina Applegate, star of NBC's Jesse, says she's "way into Spinning" these days.

Celebrity personal trainer Kathy Kaehler, who's worked with the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Samuel L. Jackson, says she was late to become a convert but now understands the workout's appeal. "Spinning guarantees that you'll break a sweat within five minutes and burn 500 to 1,000 calories per session," she says, "and it completely tones and strengthens your entire lower half." Meanwhile, Aniston herself isn't into Spinning; Kaehler helps her stay fit by having her stick to a running program. Judging from the current state of Aniston's body, it's well worth the effort.