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Behind Body Conceptions

Mahri Relin, founder of the dance-inspired fitness regimen, offers her advice for an optimal workout

New York-based trainer Mahri Relin‘s life-long love of dance and music all started when her parents took her to see the ballet. “Watching ‘The Nutcracker’ made me want to move so beautifully,” she told DuJour.

Now, she has made the surprising transition from professional dancer to fitness expert. “I honestly didn’t become exposed to fitness until I needed to warm up for shows to strengthen my muscles,” she says. After landing several notable gigs—first as a Tracy Anderson Method trainer , and then as a creative director for FlyBarre at Flywheel in Manhattan—Relin then broke out on her own with Body Conceptions, a 90-minute music-driven workout regimen, which incorporates high reps and exhaustive dance-inspired moves. “Body Conceptions came out of lots of research,” she explains of the minimalist—props include just a mat and a pair of free weights—workout. During a recent visit, her arm lifts especially proved just how little equipment is needed to feel a good burn. And if Relin’s sculpted, toned figure is any indication of the kind of results women can achieve, it may just be worth the “pain.”

Relin’s method targets the entire body, from arms and thighs to the abs, back, and seat. “I tell people that I’m creating a dancer’s body, even though you don’t have to be a dancer at all to do it,” she says. Her genuine desire to help women in all stages is made apparent in class, as she constantly checks on form and offers modified moves. “It’s important to get on the same wavelength in each session,” she says. Like the tunes on her playlist, she changes up her routine each week to exercise new muscles and prevent clients from plateauing.

Here Relin shares her top five workout tips in achieving incredible results:

1) Focus on form. Pay attention to the cues and corrections your instructor gives you. Incorrect form can lead to injury, and you won’t see the results you expected from your workout.

2) Hydrate. As the weather gets warmer, drinking enough water becomes more and more important. Drink regularly, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty.

3) Eat. You may be trying an amazing new diet, but you cannot get enough out of your workouts if you don’t have enough fuel and energy. A small snack of carbs or protein right before class can be enough to give you the boost you need to be fully present when you exercise.

4) Listen to your body. There are different kinds of pain. You can work through normal tightness and soreness (and your workout might even make you feel better) but sharp or acute pain is NOT good. Stop exercising immediately and pay attention to where and how you injured yourself. Rest, elevation, ice, and compression may be needed. It can be hard to stop exercising when you’re on a roll, but know that exercising through an injury can sideline you for a long time.

5) Be nice to yourself. If it’s been a tough day, be grateful that you showed up to exercise at all.