I can’t dance. I always caveat that sentence with “but I have rhythm.” I can totally boogie with the best of them in a nightclub (can you tell from that sentence that I’m no longer down with the kids?). So I have rhythm, but I can’t, however hard I try, remember dance routines. It’s like my brain isn’t hardwired that way. Taking ballet and tap and modern as a young child was pretty stress-inducing (way before I realised that was thing), so when Third Space, London’s luxury gym, invited me to a Body by Simone class, I hesitantly RSVP’d. You see, Simone De La Rue is expanding her classes to the UK: Once each month, the dance trainer to the stars will be hosting sessions at Third Space, so you can train with the woman who hones the bodies of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Reese Witherspoon and Chrissy Teigen.
We caught up with De La Rue to talk all things dancing and wellness—keep scrolling to find out how you can get a dancer’s body and her favourite booty-boosting exercise.
Simone De La Rue is what you could quite rightly describe as a whirlwind—she’s a bundle of energy. She’s also tiny; her body is so incredibly toned yet lean in that typical dancer way. It’s pretty much the body type most of us strive for.
“My method is dance-based, and it’s a mix of dance and Pilates, but the idea is that, you know, everyone wants the figure of a dancer, and how do you get a dancer’s body? You dance,” she tells Byrdie UK. It was when she was training an actress for a film, in which the star had to convincingly portray a dancer, that she realised it was a valid way that anyone could get fit—and have fun at the same time.
A lot of women don’t want to be stuck lifting weights in a gym, and De La Rue’s incredibly successful $2 million business empire is proof of that. “A lot of women nowadays are steering clear of cardio and doing yoga, Pilates, barre, but you need to get your heart rate up and you need to be in a calorie-burning state, sprint-level cardio to burn the fat,” explains De La Rue.
When it came to the class itself, De La Rue was prepared for us reserved Brits in the room. “I don’t want you all to be British about this—let’s have fun!” she quipped before blasting Britney Spears out of the stereo in the corner of the studio. The class started with a fairly simple warmup, but before I knew it, De La Rue was counting in fours and demonstrating sequences of dance moves that were beyond me.
Immediately I had flashbacks to my modern dance classes as a kid, where I would struggle with the first few steps, turning left when everyone else was going right. But De La Rue repeated the moves over and over, so by the end, I had mastered not one dance routine, but two. “The beauty about my class is I try to distract you; I teach coordination and keep you moving. You probably wouldn’t run on the treadmill at that pace for that long, but if you do 45 minutes of dance, you’re burning 400 to 500 calories without even realising it,” says De La Rue.
And she has a point: It didn’t feel like a workout; I had fun. Admittedly I still took a few wrong turns, and if I’m going to be truly honest, I did, at times, resemble Monica from Friends in the tap class, but not once did I feel like anyone was judging me, such is the positive vibe De La Rue gives off. Plus, it really is a great way to get fit.
"A lot of women nowadays are steering clear of cardio and doing yoga, Pilates, barre, but you need to get your heart rate up … to burn the fat."
So how exactly does dance create that lean body shape, I asked? “You’re using your own bodyweight, which creates a lean shape. Everything in your body is constantly moving; you’re not sat on a bike just using your lower body, for example. You’re also working in all different directions or different planes of motion to constantly challenge your body,” she explains.
“There’s a phase now in the U.S. and the UK too, where everyone wants the shapely booty. In dance, you can achieve this by going back to ballet days and doing an arabesque—just lifting the leg, but firing from the glute. One of my favourite exercises for the glutes is in my book The 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan (£18): I call it The Frog. You’re lying prone (on your belly with your head down), and you make a diamond shape with your legs, essentially a plié with your feet flexed. You then drive your heels up towards the ceiling, and you have to fire from your glutes to hold that contraction. The beauty about the exercise is there is no way to cheat; there is nowhere to go as you’re lying flat, so it forces you to fire from the glutes to make them perky.”
For anyone, like me, wary of dance classes, De La Rue makes a valid point, “In my studios, we offer a beginner’s class so you can move slower, but it’s like with anything, like learning a language or a skill: You have to keep doing it. We’re so used to instant gratification now, but you have to constantly work at something to get better at it. Like yesterday, I was working on my double unders [Ed note: a boxer’s way of jumping rope]; it’s taken me months to do that. You just have to keep coming back and don’t give up. I try to create a warm environment where we can laugh at ourselves. Next time you come, you’ll get it a little more, each time it becomes easier and then it’s something you’ve achieved, which is great!”
It’s not just the sense of achievement. If De La Rue’s body is anything to go by, the physical changes from dancing are pretty incredible. But it’s not all dance, she tells me. “Women have to realise the calories they’re taking in need to be burnt off. It’s really important: It’s 80% diet and 20% exercise. You have to burn those calories to see a change.”
In De La Rue’s book, she shares the 14-day cleanse that she puts all her clients on. “It eliminates sugar, alcohol, dairy, caffeine, gluten, sodium and fun,” she laughs. “It’s just 14 days and it’s just to detox the system, cleanse your gut and in the process you drop weight as well.”
“I try to eat whole real food,” she continues. “An hour before your workout, eat a meal with protein and carbohydrate so you have fuel and energy; then within the hour after working out, have a protein smoothie to repair the muscles. Eating healthy is about making wise choices, but look, I eat chocolate for breakfast sometimes—I’m terrible!”
De La Rue is hot-footing it back to Heathrow airport for her flight to L.A., but I couldn’t let her leave before finding out what beauty products are always in her gym bag, “Klorane dry shampoo—I can’t leave the house without that, and the Caudalie Beauty Elixir: It’s like a spray from baby Jesus! I don’t wear deodorant. I’ve just never had to wear it, but I always have some water in there. Oh, and facial wipes and a rose mist.”
And with that, De La Rue is off. She’ll be back next month, though, and I highly recommend you book into a class.
Want to find out more? Check out Body by Simone classes at Third Space in London.
Next up, see how I transformed my body in seven days with Gigi Hadid's favourite workout.