Want a sculpted back like that of fitness instructor Angel Stone of Eshe Body Center? You've got to work for it.
Want a sculpted back like that of fitness instructor Angel Stone of Eshe Body Center? You've got to work for it.
By J Carrier For The Washington Post

Got Back?

By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 12, 2006

Why should Justin Timberlake be the only one bringing sexy back?

Just because you sit hunched over a keyboard all day and slump on the couch watching "Lost" on TiVo all night doesn't mean that you can't get your own sexy back -- and we mean that literally.

We're talking vertebrae here. Proper posture gives you a sleek silhouette that will make your friends think you've been drinking the same water as Madonna. Strong back muscles will help reverse the rounded shoulders that foreshadow golden years spent channeling the Hunchback of Notre Dame. And a little exfoliation goes a long way toward preventing embarrassing "back-ne." Even though you can't see it, we can.

Trust us.

The arrival of cold weather makes now the perfect time to get cracking on your back. The road is not easy. But by the time spring's flirty florals blossom, you'll be ready to wow the masses -- even from behind. As personal trainer Angel Stone of Eshe Body Center ( http://www.eshebodycenter.com/ ) puts it: "You want to look good coming and going."

It's not magic. A sexy back just won't happen if you've also got a not-so-sexy beer belly. Assistant Fitness Manager Alison Scimeca of Washington's the Sports Club/L.A. (1170 22nd St. NW, 202-974-6600) cautions that the first step to a sexy back is actually a cardio program that will help you shed extra pounds everywhere else. In other words, start up front, and the back will follow.

Get it tight. Many people forget to target their backs during a workout and concentrate instead on "mirror muscles" such as abs and biceps. Stone recommends focusing on the muscles surrounding your shoulders -- such as the trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids and latissimus dorsi, if you want to get technical -- to strengthen the back. If you belong to a gym, she suggests trying three sets of 12 repetitions on the assisted pull-up machine using the outer grip, making sure to keep your back and chin in a neutral position. At home, you can do the "Superman": Lie with your stomach on the floor or on a stability ball, feet against the wall. You'll feel more like a dead fish gasping for its last breath than a comic book hero, but bear with us. Put your hands behind your head, elbows out and lift. If you're on a ball, lift only until your back is neutral, and resist the urge to arch.

Straight up. Good posture not only can make you look slimmer by stretching out your midsection, it also exudes confidence, which is the sexiest attribute of all. But all too often, we succumb to the slouch. According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the second most common reason after colds for seeing a doctor. Simply maintaining good posture can help alleviate the problem. When sitting, keep your feet on the floor and don't cross your legs. Your shoulders should be relaxed (i.e., not cradling a phone to your ear) and your forearms parallel to the ground. When you stand up, don't lock your knees, and keep your weight in the balls of your feet. Your shoulders should be pulled back, and your tush tucked.

Banish "back-ne". The downside of working out is breaking out -- all over. That's when it's time for a "backial," a facial for your back. Bliss spa in New York helped popularize the treatment almost a decade ago, and it's now one of the spa's top five services. In the District, swanky men's salon Grooming Lounge (1745 L St. NW, 202-466-8900; Tysons Galleria, 1732 International Dr., McLean, 703-288-0355) offers a cleansing back treatment for $70. Waxing is an extra $70 for a full back or $40 for half of your back. For ladies, downtown spa Celadon (1180 F St. NW, 202-347-3333) offers a 50-minute exfoliation treatment for your back complete with massage and back mask for $90.

Looking for an at-home remedy? Last month, Bliss launched Steep Clean Body Polish ($42 for a five-ounce bottle, http://www.blissworld.com/ ), which claims to give you spa-quality exfoliation in about 10 minutes. Marla Malcolm Beck, founder of Bluemercury (3059 M St. NW, 202-965-1300; 1619 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-462-1300) recommends the MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Body Peel, which acts like a chemical peel for your back; a 30-day treatment will set you back $78. Beck suggests finding someone to help you swipe the pads drenched in alpha hydroxy and glycolic acids across your back.

"You'll need help," she said. "It's hard to do it on your own."

Justin, are you free?

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