"It’s all about the butt," says Erika Rayman, founder of the recently launched glutes-focused exercise machine The DB Method. No truer words have been said in relation to the fitness obsession du jour (or, you know, in life in general) in the last few years. Seemingly overnight, entire workouts dedicated to the backside and booties (we're looking at you, Jen Selter) appeared everywhere. The term "belfie"—a selfie of, erm, your tush—has even become a thing. It's one we might not personally endorse, but it's definitely a thing. "The butt is an ancient attraction cue, that’s become a part of popular culture through celebrities and influencers from J. Lo to the Kardashians, that has made people aspire to sculpt the booty," Rayman adds.
Rayman should know. She has, after all, created a machine to achieve a perfect derriere—DB literally stands for dream butt—even though she did it before we all became full-on obsessed with butt stuff. "Prior to developing the machine, I struggled to find exercises that really targeted my butt and I was intimidated by the squat rack at the gym," says Rayman, who was in business development at the time. "I was inspired after working with a trainer who taught me how to target my tush effectively and efficiently by doing a modified squat. This exercise changed my body, and I was determined to create a device that would replicate the exercise and be your at-home trainer." So much so that she spent two years working with her factory to develop the perfect squat machine, going through several rounds of design and extensive safety testing, after conceptualizing the device and even consulting with Thighmaster's Peter Bieler who helped her find the factory.
In making the device, safety was one of Rayman's main priorities; after blowing out her knees from running when she was young and rehabbing them for several years, she wanted to come up with a "safe squat" for people with knee issues. "The biggest risk of injury with regular squats is overextending the knees over the toes, which with one wrong move can lead to a bad injury," she says. The DB Method is foolproof in its setup to avoid that from happening, ensuring that the user maintains a good posture throughout while activating the muscles and isolating the glutes for a "maximum workout in the minimum amount of time [10 minutes]." She explains further: "It works by setting your weight back so that your body is in exactly the right position to target the glutes and tone, tighten, and lift your butt."
And while this is a machine designed for the booty, it also works to strengthen and tone the lower body and core by using the user's bodyweight. "It's possible to get a full-body workout using The DB Method Machine," says Rayman. "The squat is the widely considered the best exercise for the lower body in general, so there’s that, and then there’s the triceps pushdown and abdominal and oblique crunches that are all possible using the same equipment."
Having always disliked doing squats in the middle of the gym, definitely not having the motivation to do them myself at home without supervision, and always wondering whether my knees were extending over my toes, I was intrigued. Especially after I saw it in person; when I think of a "workout machine," it always brings to mind the giant system that my dad set up "temporarily" in the living room and which never left. Unlike the bulky apparatuses of the '90s, the DB Method is sleek and foldable—in fact, it can easily fit into a closet and doesn't look much bigger than an ironing board to an untrained (see, what we did there?) eye. Having never done squats consistently, I also wasn't sure how my body would react to 10 minutes of consecutive squatting. "It’s a device for all fitness levels, great for those that are super fit to accompany your existing routine and for those who are new to fitness and/or want an at-home device to use at their convenience," Rayman assured me beforehand. If you are using this as an add-on to your fitness routine, you can use on the days that you can't get to the gym or a class or after a run.
When I first sat on the DB Method machine, it felt unstable—like I might fall mid-squat—which, as Rayman told me, is the point and is what engages the muscles and core. After a few test tries and adjustments based on the photos featured on the website, I placed my butt on the seat, the front of my feet on the foot ramps, and my heels firmly on the floor. Next, I gripped the handrails (there for balance), pulled my shoulders back, squeezed my glutes, and lowered my body by pushing my butt down on the seat through the heels. After warming my body with small pushes and getting used to the machine (convincing myself that I won't fall), I proceeded to get lower, bringing my body back to the starting position by continuing to squeeze my glutes and pushing through the heels. It is that squeezing throughout the entire 10 minutes that strengthens the glute muscles and shapes a belfie-worthy butt. Surprisingly for a machine that, on first glance, appears to do everything for you, you still break a sweat during the 10-minute workout. And it's during those sweat-inducing moments, where you feel the burn—like, really feel the burn—that change happens.
Form is key in order to allow the machine "to do the work" of perfecting a squat for you—as is, of course, consistency. "As with any exercise routine, you get what you put into it," says Rayman. She recommends at least 10 minutes a day, three to four times a week, even though it's safe for everyday use if you are more of a fitness regular or want a faster result. For the most effective workout, Rayman recommends the following routine:
- 1 minute high-zone pulses (to warm up and activate the glutes)
- 1 minute mid- to high-zone pulses (go down to the midpoint and rise up slowly and smoothly—don’t let the machine hit the highest point and disengage your control of the exercise)
- 1 minute low- to high-zone pulses (full squat, pictured above)
- 1 minute low-zone pulses (feel the burn here—really contract the glutes and don’t let the work go into the quads)
- 1 minute mid-zone pulses (you should be really feeling it here and push yourself through the finish)
- Rest for a minute and then repeat all of the above at least once, preferably twice
And as gimmicky as a workout machine might sound in our day and age, it's really hard to argue with the results. After a consistent month of use, I noticed that my backside has become more toned, tight, and, well, lifted. I surprisingly also have come to enjoy the add-on oblique and tricep dips, which you can do by pushing on the seat with your arms, which have left some visible results and even lines on my, I'll be first to admit, very nonexistent arm muscles (they are slender, okay?). And while my bootie still needs at least a few more months of consistent sessions to get to peach emoji level, it doesn't seem as daunting as, say, two months of squat-heavy bootcamp or cycling and, more importantly, seems actually achievable. It also helps that I can use the machine entirely on my time, that it involves only 10 minutes (we ALL can find 10 minutes in our day), and that by the time I am done with an episode of a TV show, I could do five sets. (Full disclosure: I've never gotten past three sets, and even that was a one-off on a particularly ambitious day).
So yeah, I'll be continuing to use the machine and watch Big Little Lies while at it.
The DB Method Machine, $189, available at The DB Method.