Photo: BUTI Yoga
I’m automatically jealous of someone who can publicly do burpees in a bra and undies.
That’s the outfit worn by Bizzie Gold in “BUTI Tone,” one of the online workout programs from the female fitness brand that is designed not only to help women lose weight, but to improve their sense of self.
The BUTI workout — part yoga, part tribal dance, part plyometrics — is a result of Gold’s thoughtful meditations on women’s fitness and how it can help them deal with emotional issues. And that revealing outfit is what Gold (who happens to be a gorgeous, artfully tattooed blonde) encourages all of her students to wear. It’s not about showing off, though — the idea is for women to get comfortable moving around in their own skin and to start dealing with any kind of insecurities they may have about their bodies.
Girls Just Wanna Do Yoga: The Philosophy
BUTI isn’t a quirky way to spell gluteus maximus. It’s a Marathi word that means “the cure to something hidden or kept secret.” Gold envisions BUTI as a way for women to release aspects of their inner self they typically suppress: their sexiness, their self-confidence, and their ability to share those qualities with the world.
The workout, launched in 2012, is a product of Gold’s background in various fields of fitness. Growing up, she trained as a gymnast and a competitive skier until she was sidelined by a knee injury, which led her to start teaching yoga. But she found yoga’s movements were too “linear” to make a woman’s body move the way it should. (This is actually pretty plausible: While today’s yoga classes are often dominated by ladies, yoga evolved as a dudes-only practice — specifically as a way for male monks to release excess energy before meditating.)
With BUTI, Gold hopes to stage something of a women’s revolution in the world of down-dog and plank poses. Currently, the ladies-only workout is taught by over 400 instructors in 15 states (and several programs are available online). Gold predicts that in the next decade, BUTI will expand even further, and eventually come to be known as “the female evolution of yoga.”
Fitness for Your Heart: The Workout
Photo: BUTI Yoga
I tried out the online “BUTI Tone” in an empty room at Greatist HQ (though classes are available at certain locations in New York City). The 45-minute class started off with hip circling and mild pelvic thrusting that, at times, made me feel a little like a duck in motion (or at best, like a dad trying to dance with the cool kids at a bar mitzvah). Standard yoga poses such as Child’s Pose, Triangle, and Warriors I and II were interspersed with squatting, bouncing, and jumping to hip hop music, and while there were a few opportunities for rest, I found myself quickly out of breath. Throughout the video, Gold says little to nothing about self-esteem, feeling empowered, or looking sexy. It’s as if her personal philosophy behind the workout is something left for BUTI practitioners to experience — or not — on their own.
In an interview, Gold acknowledged that the idea of boosting self-esteem through a workout might sound corny, but she believes strongly in BUTI’s positive impact on self-image. Watching yourself move in the mirror, she said, “you’re kind of looking, in a cheesy way, right into your soul and all the issues that you’re dealing with.” (Unfortunately, I did the workout sans mirror, left to imagine the face of my personal psychic conflicts.)
The skimpy dress style reinforces that notion; Gold wants women to see, and feel at ease in, their own skin. “Women genuinely want to look at their bodies, connect with them, and get comfortable looking at [them] in a way that maybe they haven’t before.” Many women, she says, “need to be so masculine... in day to day life,” but BUTI lets them tap into their “feminine power.”
For some BUTI newbies, that sudden surge of empowerment is really meaningful. When Alexis J. Mann, a New Yorker and kettlebell aficionado, tried a BUTI video for the first time, she found it enlightening. “I like how I felt trying BUTI,” she wrote in an email. “Strong (well, the parts I could keep up with!) and feminine.”
It wasn’t until about halfway through the class that I started rethinking my assumptions about the way I’d been moving my body. Miley Cyrus twerks at the VMAs and eyes widen in shock; Beyoncé slaps her booty at the Super Bowl and attracts applause from adoring fans. That kind of dancing never seemed like something that suited my body or my personality.
But I shouldn’t limit myself out of fear of shame or embarrassment, and BUTI does a great job of reducing those inhibitions. At some point during the workout I stopped wondering what other people might think of my gyrations, and just enjoyed the freedom to move in new ways. I didn’t suddenly love everything about my body and my physical abilities, but I felt much more at ease with myself than I had in a long time.
Gold and her coworkers have their own language for the way BUTI transforms women’s thoughts about their bodies. “We call it the BUTI bliss feeling. You can see it on their face that they’ve just had an experience that will probably change their life.”
When the 45 minutes were up, Gold instructed viewers to get into a final savasana (“corpse”) pose. I lay on the floor, listening to the sound of my racing heart, and tried to relax. But really, I just wanted to get up and dance — to shake my booty and bop to the beat of the hip-hop remix. My booty might not look like Beyonce’s, but for a second there, I almost ran back into the main room at Greatist HQ and shouted: “Who run the world? GIRLS.”
For more information on Bizzie Gold and BUTI, visit butiyoga.com.
Have you tried a BUTI class? Would you? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.