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We thought we?d seen it all when it comes to exercise crazes: cycling in a pool, a workout that involves napping. Then we had our arms and legs strung up like a marionette?s and did some grand pliés.

It?s called the Informed Technique, and it was developed by Bay Area dancer and Pilates instructor Jill Harris. The 55-minute class combines Pilates and ballet techniques, using a custom suspension system to create resistance.

Sound a little intimidating? Um, yeah. But once Harris started rattling off the benefits, we were on board: The workout strengthens and tones your muscles without bulking them up, because you don?t do a gazillion repetitions. And the suspension system takes pressure off of your joints, so you?re less likely to have aches afterward.

Emboldened, we put our legs and arms in the straps. It immediately felt as though our butt had been lifted. Harris patiently led us through a series of leg, arm and core exercises that were challenging but never exhausting. Though some of the combinations--like alternately lifting our heels while twisting our shoulders--required some serious coordination.

We recommend taking the 30-minute "Introduction to the Structure" classes ($75 for three sessions) first. And definitely wear socks with grips, like these, so you don?t slip on the wood floor.

389 Grove St.; 415-626-1111 or

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