Make this the year you love your booty.

How pop cul­ture’s fix­a­tion with big bot­toms helped Noah Le­hava em­brace her own.

Elle (Canada) - - #Storyboard - By Noah Le­hava

I n the ’90s, wai­flike boy­ish sil­hou­ettes were cel­e­brated as the phys­i­cal ideal. I was in my late teens and con­sumed with a de­sire to fit into that mould. I wanted to wear high-waist skinny jeans and look like Kate Moss. But there was a hitch: My volup­tuous der­rière, ex­er­cise-free life­style and propen­sity for de­vour­ing sim­ple sug­ars cre­ated cer­tain fash­ion chal­lenges.

I al­ways felt that a tush like mine had to be tamed, but times have changed. Today, the butt is hav­ing a pop-cul­ture mo­ment. Case in point: Jen Sel­ter. This squat-lov­ing fit­ness guru has be­come In­sta-fa­mous with her steady stream of pho­tos that show­case her perky back­side. She even scored a spread in Van­ity Fair and an ar­ti­cle in The New York Times. The queen of celebrity cheek, how­ever, is Bey­oncé. She earned that ti­tle dur­ing her On the Run tour with Jay-Z when she wore an “ass­less” body­suit. Other mu­si­cal love let­ters to bo­da­cious be­hinds came from Nicki Mi­naj in her “Ana­conda” video (and much-cen­sored al­bum cover), not to men­tion the twerk-off be­tween Jen­nifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea in their “Booty” video. And then there’s Kim Kar­dashian. Her post- baby #belfie seems tame in com­par­i­son to her oiled-up, break-the-In­ter­net bare-bot­tom ex­posé in Pa­per mag­a­zine.

It seems that we have en­tered the “Ass Age,” so to speak, so I de­cided it’s time to make mine a pri­or­ity. First stop: Toronto’s

tony 3,252-square-me­tre Equinox gym to meet Stephen Salz­mann. (My new fit­ness guru is the gym’s man­ager and a “Tier 3+” ex­pert— the brand’s top level of train­ers in Canada.)

“I want to have a back­side like Ri­hanna,” I re­ply, when Salz­mann asks me what my goal is. “The key to a toned butt is los­ing weight from head to toe and build­ing lean body mass,” he says. “We’ll re­place fat with mus­cle while main­tain­ing your nat­u­ral curves. You’re go­ing to have to work harder than you ever have, and you’ll be sore. Of­ten.” I’m ready.

Les­son one: I’ll be work­ing out three hours a week for the next three months, but that doesn’t mean I can dine on mac­arons. “You can’t out-train a bad diet,” Salz­mann gen­tly but firmly re­minds me af­ter my first weekly weigh-in. He hands me a menu plan with pro­tein- and veg­gie-filled sug­ges­tions. Re­fined sug­ars and pro­cessed foods are a no go, and I’m to swap my beloved glass of Mal­bec for a vodka soda. “Ideally, I en­cour­age my clients to cut out al­co­hol al­to­gether, but that’s not re­al­is­tic,” he says. “It’s more about teach­ing them to make smart de­ci­sions that suit their life­style.”

The first few ses­sions are hum­bling. Turns out my tech­nique is faulty: I lean too far for­ward when I do squats be­cause the crunches I’ve been do­ing have caused ten­sion in my hips and re­duced their flex­i­bil­ity. I also spend too much time on the tread­mill. “If all you’re do­ing is car­dio, you’re not build­ing up your mus­cles,” Salz­mann ex­plains af­ter one par­tic­u­larly pun­ish­ing glute-bust­ing work­out. “You need to build up your mus­cles by lift­ing heavy weights and fin­ish each work­out with short bursts of car­dio to trim away ex­cess fat. That’s the only way to re­veal your hard­earned re­sults.” We wrap each ses­sion with one of these “fin­ish­ers,” and ev­ery sin­gle one leaves me feel­ing queasy.

On the days that I’m not sweat­ing with Salz­mann, he tells me to do 20-minute in­ter­val sprints: Run as fast as pos­si­ble un­til I’m ex­hausted, rest for one minute and then go at it again full throt­tle. My best time is 15 min­utes. This spe­cial kind of tor­ture is called “high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing,” which Salz­mann says burns be­tween 260 and 325 calo­ries in 20 min­utes and also in­creases my rest­ing meta­bolic rate for 24 to 36 hours af­ter work­ing out.

By the time I com­plete my fifth week of train­ing, I’m dead­lift­ing more than the men around me. My core feels tighter, and my clothes fit bet­ter—but the shape of my behind hasn’t changed. “There is no way to pin­point weight loss in one area—it’s a myth,” Salz­mann ex­plains to me. “Lift­ing your back­side isn’t only about squats; it’s about los­ing weight all over. And that takes time.”

He’s right. Go­ing into the last month, I no­tice a sig­nif­i­cant “trunk” change; there is now a sculpted curve to my pro­file. When my co-work­ers start com­pli­ment­ing my tiny waist and lifted behind, I de­cide to toss the shapewear. Those skinny jeans hang­ing in my closet? They now drape from my hips, in a re­laxed boyfriend fit.

Be­fore Salz­mann (“B.S.,” as I like to call it), I thought the se­cret to a pert behind was toil­ing on the tread­mill and do­ing a 30-day squat chal­lenge a few times a year. Now I know it in­volves a 360-de­gree ap­proach: a ro­tat­ing buf­fet of ket­tle­bell swings, dead lifts, lunges and bar­bell hip thrusts, with some nau­se­at­ing sprint ses­sions thrown in for good mea­sure.

At my last Equinox work­out with Salz­mann, we run the num­bers. I’ve lost 12 inches and 12.6 pounds of body fat and in­creased my lean body mass by 3.5 pounds. I’ve slimmed down, but I’ve re­tained my hour­glass sil­hou­ette. And now, with smaller thighs and a cinched-in waist, my back­side ri­vals Iggy’s. I feel stronger than ever be­fore, and I can’t go two days with­out crav­ing a work­out. I have good rea­son to look over my shoul­der. n

To learn how to get a sculpted pos­te­rior,

visit ellecanada. com/liv­ing.

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