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Body Shape Workout: Slender-Types

Body+Soul, Volume March 08

Ecotomorphs: Slender (Energetic and Quick)
"Ectomorphs are live wires," says Kries. "Everything about them moves fast. They think quickly, act quickly, digest quickly, and can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time."

Physical Traits
Naturally slender and long-limbed, you boil over with excess energy. Because you're fast on your feet and always flitting to the next activity, you lose weight easily but have difficulty building and maintaining muscle tone. As a result, you've got more initiative than endurance and tend toward inflexibility.

Quick-witted and stimulating to be around, you exude a natural effervescence. Your analytical mind keeps your intellect sharp, but you lose focus easily and tend toward nervousness and anxiety. Your racing thoughts also leave you overstimulated at times. "When a nearby car honks its horn, this type will practically jump out of her shoes," says Barrett.

You Love
Your speedy nature gravitates toward high-energy fitness like power walking, biking, tennis, and jumping rope.

You Avoid
Intense activities with blaring music (spinning), difficult or complex movements (hip-hop dance), or extreme conditions (hot yoga) can overstimulate and overwhelm you.

Your Dosha: Vata
Quite often, the Ayurvedic type called vata falls outside the average in terms of height, being either of short stature or tall and willowy, with translucent skin and a thin frame. Associated with air, vata tends toward dryness, mental agitation, and insomnia when out of balance. "Vatas are inclined to choose a fitness routine that tires them out," says Hemalayaa, a yoga teacher and developer of the Ayurvedic yoga DVD "Dosha Yoga."

Your Plan
Keep doing the cardio you love, but limit the sessions to 30 minutes to honor your naturally shorter endurance. To get toned and build muscle, incorporate activities that focus on form (slow-flowing yoga, a sculpting class, ballet) three times a week. "Ectomorphs are naturally skinny," says Kries. "Pilates and yoga can help create muscular definition while grounding them." Dispel anxiety with meditation, seated stretches, or deep breathing for five minutes a day or 10 minutes three times a week. Incorporating these low-to-the-ground activities will keep your energy from flying off in all directions.

sample week
Half-hour morning walk (outside or on a treadmill)

Flow yoga or Pilates class

20-minute biking session (outdoors or on the stationary bike) and five sets of jump rope (50 to 75 jumps per set)

Ballet or modern dance class

Sculpting class, or working out for 15 minutes with a set of 3- to 5-pound weights

Hour of tennis

10 minutes of gentle stretching on a mat, followed by five minutes in "corpse pose" (lying flat on your back)

Ellen Barrett, Body+Soul's mind-body fitness expert; Jennifer Kries, a Philadelphia-based Pilates instructor and creator of the "Hot Body Cool Mind: The Life Force Power Workout" DVDs.

See more workouts based on body types.

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