By R.A. Schuetz The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Caitlin Elby is the creator of "Hell on Heels", a fitness class where clients bring their own heels -- but they start the class barefoot, targeting the muscles they are going to need. Slowly, the class transitions to learning how to stand properly, by pulling up on the pelvic floor, and then they begin walking, then dancing.
Many women know wearing heels can be a pain.
They've experienced throbbing in the balls of their feet, and pinching or cuts by what had seemed a cute, strappy design.
Jay Kleeman, an orthopedic foot specialist at Norwalk Hospital, who has never worn a heel, says heels not only cause fleeting pain, but they can cause long-term foot and back problems.
But, as Lola proclaims in "Kinky Boots," "The sex is in the heel!"
So what's a girl to do?
Caitlin Elby, a Connecticut native and recent Norwalk transplant, believes she can help.
In 2011, Elby received her bachelor's degree in dance and moved to New York to make a career. Almost immediately, she was asked to dance in heels.
"It's one of those not talked-about things. If you watch 'Good Morning America' -- which she has been on a few times -- "or any of those shows, and you see what those girls are wearing, they're wearing heels."
As a dancer, Elby had taken classes in kinesthesiology and anatomy. "So I learned a lot about walking and what muscles you use to walk."
Elby quickly adapted to the heels, and she began offering classes in New York to teach others the same.
Now that she is back in Connecticut, she has brought the fitness class with her -- Hell on Heels, as the class is called, which debuted in Norwalk on Saturday.
In her classes, clients bring their own heels -- but they start the class barefoot, targeting the muscles they are going to need. Slowly, the class transitions to learning how to stand properly, by pulling up on the pelvic floor, and then they begin walking, then dancing.
At the end, clients join Elby in the class's mantra: "I am fearless. I am bold. I am beautiful."
Kolandro Bramble, one of Elby's longtime students in New York, discovered Hell on Heels through a friend.
"She seemed like she was having fun, so I contacted her," Bramble said. Soon, she was attending the class, and she was hooked.
"Because in the class, you basically have to own your self-confidence," she said. "You have to know that you are sexy and beautiful."
After three months in the class, she went out to a club for her birthday and stayed out until 4 a.m. "When I realized I was actually standing in these heels for so long, and I hadn't even noticed, I was like, oh, OK, I think I'll keep doing this class," she said with a laugh.
Of course, heels still have their risks. Kleeman said he treats many dancers as well. In general, he recommends those who wear high heels to do so in moderation and stretch their calves, quads, hamstrings and lower back muscles to counteract the tightness in the muscles being used.
Elby believes her techniques can help. She offers private classes, where her clients include models and transgender women.
Her goal is to spread the class not only throughout Connecticut, but throughout the country. "I really want this to be in every studio, just like Zumba is," she said. "I want this to be a common household name."
Upcoming classes are posted on www.hellonheelsfitness.com. The next one in Connecticut is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday at Double up Dance Studios in Fairfield.