When my friend Brynn Jinnett told me she was going to open her own exercise studio, I was excited! In fact, Brynn was my very first foray into the Lotte Berk method (from which Core Fusion is derived). I took Brynn’s Transfigure class at my old gym a couple of years ago. I fell in love with this style of exercise and after I quit that gym I took Brynn’s Core Fusion class, which was amazing and one of the more difficult classes. She even donated an hour of personal training at my charity auction and my friend Kristine loved her hour with Brynn!
I went in to class not feeling great and I left class feeling rejuvenated and happy. I felt so great and started tweeting to everyone to tell them to try Refine!
I think it would be better for you to learn all about the Refine Method from Brynn herself. She graciously agreed to let me interview her. I am sure you will be as impressed with Brynn’s responses as I am.
Interview with Brynn Jinnett, creator of Refine Method
Hi Brynn! What is your fitness background?
I spent many years as a professional ballet dancer, dancing with the New York City Ballet and various companies abroad. I began teaching fitness when I returned to dancing after college. I was introduced to barre classes based on the Lotte Berk Method and spent 5 years teaching versions of the method at Physique 57, Exhale Spa, the Sports Club/LA and a handful of smaller studios while continuing to dance.
Why did you decide to develop the Refine Method?
While I enjoyed the boutique studio atmosphere, I saw many women at these studios working so hard, but still not achieving the results they wanted because of faulty information about exercise. After I retired from dancing and began to think about fitness as a long-term career, I decided to learn more about the body from those at the top so I could really separate fact from fiction. I started a two year period of research into exercise physiology and nutrition which entailed lots of reading and mentorships with some of the top athletic trainers, physiology professors and fitness business owners across the country. My research took me from time with the most successful collegiate strength coach, watching him work with players training for the NFL, to work with the top exercise physiology professor USC, who is studying how muscles grow. In creating the Refine Method, I tried to apply the incredible knowledge of these top exercise science professionals to the specific aesthetic demands of the thousands of clients I have taught at NYC‘s top boutique fitness studios.
When I took a Refine class, we used a Pulley System to work our upper and lower bodies. For upper body exercises specifically, I am very used to free weights. What made you decide to use the Pulley System rather than free weights?
Free weights are great, but the progressive elastic resistance featured in our Pulley System offers many benefits not enjoyed by free weights:
- The resistance increases in proportion to your strength: When your muscle is fully extended it has the least amount of leverage and therefore is weaker–this is where you want the least amount of resistance. Yet when using free weights to perform a bicep curl, for example, the resistance will stay the same from when your arm is straight until your arm is bent, so the weight does not match your strength. This is not the same with elastic resistance. With elastic resistance, the resistance increases as you bend your arm, so, you will be placing more stress on your muscle as your strength demands it. Working with optimal resistance levels encourages safety and discourages muscle overdevelopment because your muscles are challenged exactly in proportion to your strength.
- You can move in 3 dimensions: The ability to move in 3 dimensions allows us to explore an endless variety of functional movement patterns and to move safely with speed, which produces a cardiovascular effect.
- You are always matched with appropriate resistance: While I enjoy free weights, I find that many women tend to use very light weights and perform hundreds of repetitions. This type of light weight training will not burn very many calories while you are doing it and might not build the lean muscle mass necessary to boost your metabolism in the long run. Besides being inefficient, performing any movement over and over again can lead to overuse injuries. With our Pulley System, women do not need to worry that a specific size weight will make them bulky because they are getting the exact amount of resistance necessary to challenge the muscle and elevate their heart rate without being limited by the number on a weight.
How is Refine Method different from bar classes like Physique 57, Core Fusion and The Bar Method?
I think the central similarity between the Refine Method and bar classes is that we also use a ballet barre as a balance aid. Beyond that, I think we are largely different.
Refine incorporates some isometric movements (small pulsing movements performed through a small range of motion) as a tool to encourage muscle activation and to build strength in parts of a movement pattern that are weak, but the majority of our class focuses on full range of motion exercises. Your muscles perform in full range of motion in life and we feel it is important to strengthen your muscles in a way that is functional. We also believe that training full movements rather than pieces of the muscle will encourage even muscle development and a visually proportional physique.
In bar classes, each body part is worked one time during the class. Our structure is very different. The three building blocks of our class framework are:
- Circuits: Upper body, lower body and core exercises are paired together and performed in a seamless series. This flow allows each muscle group time to recover before being challenged again, maximizing the effect of each set, and it ensures that your heart-rate remains elevated throughout the class, amplifying the calorie burn.
- Sets: Each circuit is repeated at least twice, which is scientifically proven to be necessary to produce significant results above the beginner level. The first time through each circuit, your body learns the movement pattern, and then in additional sets the muscles begin to really change shape.
- Intervals: The Refine Method focuses on intervals, or short, intense bursts of activity, so the joints are not taxed and the body and brain are always challenged.
While the overall structure of the class remains the same, the exercises within the structure are always different and evolving as exercise science progresses. This offers clients the perfect balance of familiarity and variety.
Does every class follow the same basic structure?
Yes, all classes follow the same basic structure:
- We begin with foam-rolling and a dynamic warm-up designed to improve your mobility so your body can get the most out of each exercise
- Next we move to our circuit section where we focus on large movements, stoking the metabolism and stripping the fat
- Then we move to targeted “finishers” to activate and attack the smaller problem areas, leaving an attractive, balanced physique
- We finish with a period of stretching and relaxation
Is Refine considered cardio or strength training?
Both! We use resistance exercises to produce a cardio burn, the antidote to traditional repetitive cardio and the most efficient way to change your shape. Cardio is a generic term used to describe any exercise that targets the cardiovascular system. We tend to think of cardio as exercises related to the equipment in the cardio section at the gym: treadmill, bike, stair stepper, rowing machine, etc. Users perform the same movement repeatedly, often at a steady pace for long distances. Yet, cardio does not have to be repetitive or lengthy! Traditional “strength” exercises if performed with sufficient speed and intensity can also train the heart just like traditional cardio, burn calories and build muscle, an advantage not offered by the treadmill. This type of training, which we call Metabolic Resistance Training at Refine, also offers more variety of movements which prevents the body (and the brain!) from growing bored and plateauing.
Before class you taught me how to stretch with a foam roller. Do you encourage students to do this before every class? Why?
Foam rolling is the poor man’s massage! You lie on the roller and use your bodyweight to target various points where the muscle tissue is denser. These areas of tissue density are sometimes called “trigger points” or “knots” and the foam roller helps to reduce the density, like a massage therapist’s fingers. Many classes use static stretches to improve clients’ flexibility, as do we, but we believe it is also important to improve tissue quality through rolling and joint range of motion through mobility exercises (dynamic exercises to improve movement around your joints) in order to make real gains in flexibility. Ultimately, muscle tension is usually a sign of muscles weakness elsewhere, so any gains in mobility and flexibility must be supported by improvements in strength. All increases in mobility must be matched by increases in stability in or else the muscle tension will likely return.
Is Refine Method a good class for men? Do you find that men and women have different exercise needs?
Absolutely! I think both men and women can benefit greatly from a class like Refine that strips fat, develops lean muscle tissue, challenges the heart and improves flexibility. One of the great things about our Pulley System is that clients of varying strength, be it men and women or beginners and advanced clients, can perform the same exercises but with resistance levels adjusted to match their abilities. All clients can benefit from the essential movement patterns that we use in our circuits because these patterns develop both functional strength (strength that is transferable to daily life) and develop your muscles in a way that is visually proportional, and therefore pleasing.
How many teachers are trained in the Refine Method? What is the teacher training process like?
Currently 2 other teachers are trained in the Refine Method. Both come from strong exercise backgrounds, both as professional dancers and accomplished teachers. They went through a multi-month training process prior to our opening which entailed exercise physiology study, taking classes in the Refine Method as well as other disciplines and teaching and team-teaching practice classes. Unlike other teacher training programs, however, our training continues even after new teachers are introduced to the schedule. We work weekly as a team to design the classes for the week, go over client progress and discuss any advances in exercise science or new ideas that we may want to incorporate into the program. Most fitness studios have part-time teachers who are pursuing careers outside, but it was very important to me to create an environment where the vision for the method is consistent and the learning continues even when the training process is complete.
Will you be adding more classes to the schedule as the Refine Method grows?
Absolutely! I have added new classes to the schedule as clients have requested them and we continue to work on adjusting the timing and programming to best serve our clients’ needs. I would welcome any scheduling suggestions (or comments at all!) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thank you to Brynn for such comprehensive responses! As I said, the Refine Method class I took was wonderful. I felt muscles working in ways they never have before and was shocked by how sweaty I got and how invigorated I felt afterwards. And clearly, Brynn knows her stuff.
I’d like to invite you to feel invigorated and sweaty too! Brynn has generously agreed to hold a free class for Dori’s Shiny Blog readers!
FREE DSB Refine Method Class
Date: Thursday, December 2
Time: 7:35 pm
Place: Refine Method, 340 East 71st Street, New York, NY
Please comment on this post or email me. The studio is small and spots are first come first served. There will be a waiting list in case anyone cancels. I am really excited for this because I know you will love it!