NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- Dressed in black yoga pants and a tank top that shows off her enviously toned arms, New Canaan's Cindy Sites doesn’t look like your typical CEO. But don’t let her lack of formality fool you.
This savvy entrepreneur is the founder of Go Figure, a nationwide micro-chain of luxury barre-based exercise studios. From her home in New Canaan, Sites oversees the 10 Go Figure locations that stretch from Fairfield County (she has locations in Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, and Westport) to Palm Beach, Florida, and across the country to Scottsdale, Ariz.
But she hasn’t stopped in the Southwest. Her empire will stretch to the Pacific when her latest licensed studio opens its doors in Carmel, Calif., on March 17.
What drives Sites to devote herself to bringing her unique fitness technique to women across the country? “At Go Figure we pride ourselves in embracing every body type and age group. Regardless of one’s level of flexibility and strength, virtually anyone can benefit from The Figure Method. It’s extremely rewarding to see women of all ages and sizes working side-by-side to achieve healthier, stronger and more graceful bodies,” Sites said.
Sites passion for graceful movement began as a young girl. Having studied classical ballet well into her teens, Sites had contemplated a career in dance. But life had other plans for her. After attending Muhlenberg College and graduating with a degree in psychology and legal studies, Sites worked in the financial industry before marrying and having children.
Like many new moms, Sites wanted to get back into shape after having children, but in an era of step-classes and high-impact aerobics, she struggled to find an exercise method that appealed to her. In 1991, she and her family relocated to Greenwich and Sites discovered the Lotte Berk Method of barre-based exercise.
Developed in Germany by a professional dancer, the Lotte Berk Method is performed at a ballet barre using dancer’s poses. “It really resonated with me because it utilized the classical ballet technique that I loved so much,” Sites said.
The method focuses on intense isometric movements designed to exhaust the muscles followed by periods of deep stretching. This two-step process lengthens the muscles and results in a lean, feminine sculpted body similar to that of a ballet dancer.
Before long, Sites had channeled her enthusiasm for the program into a second career as an instructor at the studio. As a dancer, she was keenly aware of the types of injuries that could occur during intense exercise and she sought to make the movements safer and more effective.
Working with an orthopedic surgeon and chiropractor, Sites refined the technique with a focus on safety and flexibility and tweaked the movements to target women’s typical problem spots – particularly the thighs and derriere. This became the basis of the Figure Method.
When the Lotte Berk studio in Greenwich closed, Sites took a leap of faith and opened her own studio under the Go Figure brand.
In the 12 years since she opened the Greenwich studio, bar based exercise methods have exploded in popularity, but Sites says that her method is unique because of its focus on safety and individualization. “We limit out class sizes so that we can provide an individualized, hands-on experience,” Sites said. “It’s also fun and incredibly effective, women notice the difference after just a few sessions and that is so motivating!”
Although she’s been busy building her empire, Sites still stays active in the arts community, serving on the board of the School of American Ballet and as a trustee at the American Ballet Theater for more than 20 years. She also had the honor of having served on George W. Bush’s President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, working closely with Laura Bush on developing after-school programs for underserved youth.
Sites says with a smile, “Being able to share my passion for ballet and fitness through this effective exercise method has been a life-changing experience. There’s nothing more gratifying than helping others to become healthier, stronger, and more fit. Oh … and there’s that fabulous physique that you’ll develop at Go Figure, but that’s just a bonus!”
Ann Quasarano is a Westport-based freelance writer and the author Fairfieldista.