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Fitness According to the Zodiac

Body+Soul, April/May 2007

Many turn to horoscopes for guidance on love and work. But exercise? Even if you subscribe to the idea that planets can inform earthly decisions, their influence over fitness may seem far-fetched.

But using your horoscope can actually bring a fresh perspective to working out, one that uses your sign to guide you, says Barrie Dolnick, astrologer and best-selling author, and Ellen Barrett, a mind/body fitness expert. "Astrology can provide insight into your basic nature," says Dolnick, whose book with Barrett, "Zodiaction." came out in May of 2007. "When you know your likes, dislikes, and natural abilities, you can choose a fitness regimen because it suits you, not because an expert says it's healthy or because everyone else is doing it."

According to astrological theory, each sign has its own strengths and tendencies; individual signs also correspond with specific body parts. In practice, knowing your fitness horoscope can enliven your workout habits, especially if you're bored with your current routine.

"When you work out in a way that suits you," says Barrett, "it feels a little more like play and a little less like work. You're able to enjoy exercise -- and that's how you get fit."

Aries
Defining Trait
Ambitious

Body Part
Head

Ideal Workout
High-intensity cardio, total body sculpt, stretching. Energetic and goal-oriented, Aries thrives on competition -- and results. Since you tend to be hot-headed, exercise should also help you blow off steam. "Kickboxing is fun for an Aries because she likes to compete and strategize," Dolnick says. "But anything fairly intense will do."

Leo
Defining Trait
Regal

Body Part
Heart

Ideal Workout
Power yoga and toning that targets the belly, buns, and thighs. Sunny Leos love to be admired. "They like the gym -- the more mirrors the better," Dolnick says. "But they also like uplifting atmospheres, so the gym can't be a stinky weight room." Power yoga will appeal to this sun sign's love of heat, and toning will keep your body at its best.

Virgo
Defining Trait
Keen

Body Part
Digestive tract

Ideal Workout
Power walking, ab work. Exacting Virgos tend to be finicky. "They hate dirty gyms and love any exercise that promotes detoxing," says Barrett. Long, brisk walks boost your metabolism and promote clear thinking. Abdominal exercises -- such as Bharadvajasana I or other yoga twists -- are believed to encourage the release of toxins and improve digestion.

Libra
Defining Trait
Harmonious

Body Part
Back

Ideal Workout
Jumping rope, Pilates. "Libras don't usually need to lose weight; they tend to keep themselves balanced," says Dolnick. Steer clear of jarring exercise that threatens your delicate equilibrium -- such as gym classes that move at a hectic or frenzied pace. Exercise like Pilates, which helps you care for your back, suits you best. Or try dancing with a partner, which appeals to your cooperative, harmonious nature.

Scorpio
Defining Trait
Intense

Body Part
Reproductive organs

Ideal Workout
A circuit of several different challenging exercises. "Scorpios crave strong sensation -- they don't feel a workout is complete unless they break a sweat," says Barrett. Boot-camp workouts, power yoga, and circuit training will give you the endorphin high you love. Private Scorpios also like to be protected, so work with a trusted personal trainer or instructor to perfect your form and test your limits.

Sagittarius
Defining Trait
Adventurous

Body Part
Thighs

Ideal Workout
Outdoor exercise, boot-camp fitness. Sagittarius has great stores of energy and loves the outdoors. Hiking, rock climbing, surfing, and skiing all satisfy your senses and let you take advantage of your natural athleticism (and strong thighs). When outdoor sports aren't an option, the intensity of a full-body workout, such as a boot-camp fitness class, will do the trick.

Capricorn
Defining Trait
Accomplished

Body Part
Knees

Ideal Workout
Stair climbing, yogalates. Patient Capricorns understand that persistence pays off. You love to cover a lot of ground, so go for consistent cardio, like the stair climber. Try yogalates, a blend of hatha yoga and Pilates that emphasizes precision and moderate reps. This will keep the muscles around your knees strong enough for more adventurous pursuits, such as skiing and rock climbing.

Aquarius
Defining Trait
Visionary

Body Part
Shins

Ideal Workout
Anything out of the ordinary. Aquarius hates being told what to do. You need options. "Aquarians are eccentric. If they decide they're going to hop on one foot for exercise, they'll hop on one foot -- unless they start a hopping trend. Then they'll move on to something else," says Dolnick. Also, steer clear of overcrowded classes. Be sure to warm up the legs and ankles (and avoid excessive pounding) to prevent shin splints.

Pisces
Defining Trait
Idealistic

Body Part
Feet

Ideal Workout
Alternate nostril breathing, swimming, gentle yoga. Intuitive, dreamy Pisces needs a serene workout environment without clocks, drill sergeants, or cumbersome equipment. The fish sign loves water, so seek out health facilities with a swimming pool. Alternate nostril breathing quiets your mind, while seated yoga postures keep your body supple and your tender feet rested.

Taurus
Defining Trait
Steady

Body Part
Neck

Ideal Workout
Low-key cardio, simple strength building, stretching. Taurus loves to be comfortable, which is why you tend to shy away from complex routines and fancy equipment, opting instead to keep it simple and straightforward. A brisk walk, some push-ups, and a few standing stretches, such as Triangle pose, invigorate you. Tension usually shows up first in your neck, so be careful not to strain this sensitive area.

Gemini
Defining Trait
Curious

Body Part
Lungs

Ideal Workout
Cardio that engages the mind, meditation. With a wandering focus and an active mind, Gemini needs oodles of stimulation. Walking and talking with friends satisfies your social nature (and works your highlighted body part, the lungs). Or run on the treadmill while listening to your iPod to keep your busy brain occupied. Don't skip the cool-down, though. "With their frazzled nature," says Barrett, "chilling out is vital."

Cancer
Defining Trait
Sensitive

Body Part
Stomach

Ideal Workout
Fluid, repetitive cardio; Pilates. Cancer is a sensitive, selective sign that prefers soothing workouts. Opt for swimming or riding the stationary bike in a quiet, well-appointed gym. Cancer rules the stomach, so do plenty of core stretches and strengtheners, such as those found in Pilates, to feel your best.