When I wrote a Bettie Page fitness article for YouBeauty last year (using my singer-songwriter name) after I’d noticed the clear influence fitness had on Bettie Page, I had no idea that one year later I’d be shooting my own fitness video for the launch of my company Bettie Page Fitness. The concept began with that article, and expanded to a planned series of workout videos inspired by Bettie and created by me. The videos include moves that resemble her poses–many of them obviously fitness-inspired–along with moves that aim to develop the kind of core strength, balance and posture that Bettie had in spades. The 45-minute first release in the series, Bettie Page Fitness: Total Body Strength & Cardio, is the first-ever body-positive workout video encouraging viewers to respect their bodies’ limits and offering variations to make the moves accessible to a variety of fitness levels. Its focus is on helping viewers achieve their own optimal fitness level rather than trying to look like a celebrity. Of course, we can still be inspired by Bettie’s strength and confidence and take cues from her moves to cultivate these qualities into ourselves.
In this sneak peek of the workout, I’ve designed a four-move circuit for you that works your whole body and squeezes in a bit of cardio. Each move here, as all others in the video, is based on a photo of Bettie, whether she’s striking a true fitness pose (like this diagonal crunch) or one that resembles it. Go through the four moves in order, and then repeat for a total of 3 complete circuits of the four moves. As a general rule, aim to stay lifted and keep your core engaged throughout the workout. Really try to bring that Bettie Page energy to it–trust me, it feels really good. But always respect your body’s limits–challenge yourself in a fun way but don’t overdo it. Modify as needed to make it work for you.
*Warm up for 2 minutes by doing 20 jumping jacks, then, using just your body weight, do 10 squats and 10 stationary lunges on each leg.
*For the first two moves, use two dumbbells up to 12 pounds each; no dumbbells for moves 3 & 4
1Move 1–Rear lunge to knee-up and bicep curl:
Standing with feet hip-width apart, and holding a dumbbell in each hand, step back into a lunge with your right leg. Don’t let your left knee come past your toes. As you return to standing, lightly tap your right foot to the floor and then lift the right knee until your thigh is about parallel to the floor (or close to it, higher if you can). As you bring the knee up, do a bicep curl with the left arm. Lower your left arm and bring your right foot down, lightly tapping it on the floor again before lunging back for the second rep. Repeat for a total of 12 reps, then do 12 reps on the other side.
*Make it easier: Take out the knee lift or bicep curl, or do it without dumbbells until you get used to the move
*Make it harder: Take out the taps for fluid movements from lunge to knee lift
2Move 2–Overhead tricep extension:
Start with feet together and knees slightly bent, or in a staggered stance with feet hip-width apart and one foot forward. With the heel of the back foot lifted, hold two dumbbells together and lift arms straight overhead beside your ears, keeping your shoulder rooted into the socket (thinking about bringing shoulder blades back and down often helps with this). This is the starting position.
Next, keeping your biceps as stationary as possible, touching or nearly touching your ears, lower the weight behind your head until your forearms are parallel to the floor, then extend your arms straight up again and contract your core. Repeat for a total of 12 times, staying tall and strong.
*Make it easier: Use one weight instead of two
*Make it harder: Keep one leg lifted and slightly extended in front of you to challenge balance; just switch legs halfway through reps
3Move 3–Diagonal crunch:
With your right foot on your left knee, hands behind your ears or head and elbows out, crunch as far as you can toward the right knee. Focus on aiming your left shoulder (not the elbow) at your right knee. Do a total of 12 reps, then do 12 pulses at the top of the crunch. Repeat on other side.
*Make it easier: Keep one arm down (the one on the side of the lifted foot) with your hand touching the ground.
*Make it harder: At the top of each regular crunch (not the pulses), extend the arm opposite the lifted foot straight out, reaching past your leg.
4Move 4–Spin squat:
Start in slight squat position with your arms up like you’re doing biceps curls (but you’re not actually using weights here). Keeping your face and upper body generally facing forward (they won’t completely), jump to the right into a wide squat, while bringing your left arm back and your right forearm up toward your head. Jump back to center and then squat to the left, bringing your right arm back and left arm up. Repeat for a total of 20 squats–10 to each side.
*Make it easier: Don’t squat as deeply–this is still an effective, high-energy move either way.
*Make it harder: Increase the plyo by quickly bringing your heels toward your butt as you jump into each squat.
Once you’ve finished, cool down for 2 minutes with some gentle stretches while you’re still lying down after the last set of abs.