Suzanne Bowen is an AFAA certified Group Fitness & Pilates instructor, classically trained at The Lotte Berk and is the creator of BarreAmped, BarreAmped Advanced, and BarreAmped Boot Camp. She has also created and starred in numerous fitness DVDs including Gorgeous Core and several 10 Minute Solution workouts. Recently, Suzanne launched weeklydownloadable workouts available at her site Suzanne Bowen Fitness.
Belles: Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in the fitness industry?
Suzanne: I have lived and breathed fitness since I was in my mid 20s. As a flight attendant for United Airlines living in Manhattan, I literally paid for nothing but my rent ($600 a month in Greenwich Village), food, and Crunch membership. I spent hours working out beside trainers and picking their brains while studying fitness. I still have my collage of exercises I had put together in a notebook that I would take to the gym with me. When I lost my job after 9/11, I found myself at a crossroads. I decided to take the plunge and look for a job in fitness. I was willing to work as a receptionist just to get my foot in the door. I applied at a very unknown (at least to me) and elite Upper East Side studio called Lotte Berk Method. I didn’t get hired as a receptionist but as an apprentice teacher after several auditions (it’s NYC, remember?). All my hard work and studies of fitness had paid off because I instantly fell into my dream job. And when United called to tell me I could fly again, I laughed. My dream, and my intense and sometimes exhausting education in fitness, had come true.
Belles: Recently we were fortunate enough to have a question an answer session with Dr Michele Olson. She emphasized the importance of strengthening the core. Would you like to add your thoughts?
Suzanne:You get more out of your workout mentally and physically when you learn to engage your core. You stay safe through movement or exercise when attention is brought to the core. Eg., think about a long arm plank. This full body exercise could be brilliant for the core and the rest of the body IF the core is activated. The lowest part of the core (pelvic floor and abdominal wall) should be lifted/contracted. This activation should take the arch out of the back (thus taking pressure off the lower/lumbar spine). Instead of only the upper body (arms, chest, neck) and lower back carrying the load, the whole body becomes engaged when the “powerhouse” is used.
Belles: With core obviously being the first, what is your favorite body part to train?
Suzanne: Legs. For sure! But even when I work the legs, I always activate my core!
Belles: What is your weekly workout routine and how do you fit it all in (Pilates, cardio, strength, yoga, core, etc).
Suzanne: Besides teaching 15 plus BarreAmped classes a week, I walk with my family. Since it’s work, I fit it in. It’s one of the perks of teaching fitness!
Belles: We all know that a proper nutrition plan is 80% of weight loss success and maintenance. Do you have a healthy eating plan or strategy (ie cooking meals in advance, treating yourself occasionally, etc)
Suzanne: I try to eat less food in general so that I can afford to have a treat occasionally. I don’t believe in denying myself a food group or a treat here and there. But overall, I think for women, we eat too much. (And we eat when we’re bored). And when my jeans are fitting tighter, I back off on my overall food intake and up my exercise. So it’s pretty simple. I stick to about 1600-1800 calories a day when I am maintaining.
Belles: Not too long ago you launched your newest project, downloadable workouts. Do you think this is the wave of the exercise future and DVDs will see their demise in much the same way as VHS?
Suzanne: Yes, I do. I cannot wait to see where we end up in five years. Because I shot the Lotte Berk Method workouts nine years ago and they were released originally on VHS. In just nine years, VHS is completely obsolete. I had a conversation with my director about three years ago about “digital downloads” and she thought it was too soon to really invest time and effort into online workouts but in those three short years, look at where we are! The time is now and I think we’ll see more and more streamed and downloadable workouts available.
Belles: You are also the founder of BarreAmped. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Are there any BarreAmped workouts (DVDs or downloadable) in our future?
Suzanne: BarreAmped is an energized, results proven barre class. Over the last 10 years, I have developed a fresh, effective training system that relies more heavily on an activated core rather than the outdated tuck of the pelvis of typical barre techniques. It’s about 40% at the barre, 40% on the floor and 20% stretching. It’s 100% amazing. It is probably the hardest workout I have ever done. But it’s absolutely addictive.
While the online workouts have tastes of BarreAmped in them, the complete BarreAmped Method is going to be filmed this year. For now,that is all I can say.