The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stiletto secret: How not to fall head over heels

New York, Feb. 11 (Reuters): The gym that brought New Yorkers “Cardio Striptease” has dreamed up “Stiletto Strength”, a workout to get women in shape to wear the highest of heels.

At a recent lunchtime session at Crunch gym near Times Square, dancer Amber Efe demonstrated how to strut like a catwalk model, pivoting on six-inch heels that would challenge even the most ardent follower of shoe king Manolo Blahnik.

“Imagine you’re at the bar, raise one hand high like you’re holding your drink,” she told the class, music pounding as she acted the part of a club-goer working through a crowd.

“Don’t spill the drink,” she told the group, a mix of women who clearly had plenty of experience and others still tottering on shoes that didn’t show much wear.

Crunch’s class list includes “Circus Sports” and “Cycle Karaoke” and national fitness director Donna Cyrus said the most popular non-traditional class in recent years was “Cardio Striptease,” aerobics with a sexy twist.

“Stiletto Strength” was launched in January in response to client griping about getting back into high heels for winter.

“They’re businesswomen and they have to wear heels so they want to understand how to look better in them and feel confident,” Cyrus said.

Participants wear running shoes for the first part of the class, which focuses on strengthening lower body and abdominal muscles and improving balance and posture. The heels come out for the last 15 minutes.

“I came at the beginning just because I was curious,” said Andrea Kussack, 27, who isn’t required to dress up for her job but needs practice wearing “going-out” shoes.

“I recently bought for my boyfriend’s Christmas party these really high heels. I made it through the night but it wasn’t the most enjoyable thing and I haven’t worn them since,” she said.

So what is the secret to walking tall'

“Your abs and don’t look down. Look where you’re going,” said instructor Kafi Pierre. “And your ankle strength, if you have weak ankles you’ll tend to roll inward or outwards.”

Cyrus called in a podiatrist to assess the class, which has been launched in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. “He said ‘You know, the answer is women shouldn’t wear heels,’” Cyrus said.

But she said women will wear them anyway.

“Your feet will probably never recover because it’s not a position you’re meant to be in all day long,” she said. “This class will strengthen your legs and your core, it will make it less painful, but it will never be pain free.”

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