Skinny out, Athletic in for Legs 11!

When it comes to the sexiest look for legs this summer, skinny is out and athletic is definitely in, says fitness instructor Leigh Shaw.

Shaw, founder of the women-only Booty Camp franchise, predicts 2011 will be "the year of the killer pins."And the good news is that matchstick legs are about as dated as Twiggy.

"What we're finding girls are really wanting at the moment is the athletic look - we're not talking about skinny pins, it's really about definition - right from your glutes and booty to your ankles and your calves," Shaw says.

The boot-camp instructor rates former beauty queen Jennifer Hawkins as having the best pins.

"All those hours on a surfboard balancing - you see it in her legs. She has stunning legs," she says. "There so athletic ... it's not skinny, it's not undernourished - they are just healthy strong Aussie legs and she looks amazing in a swimsuit and a short skirt."

With hemlines rising this summer, Shaw says the look women should be aiming for is firm and toned. But that doesn't mean "muscular tree trunks."

"Legs are increasingly becoming the body part girls are talking to us about," she says. "The maxi dress is going out and these cute little skirts that stop above the knees, and these little shorts are coming back into fashion. Girls are suddenly saying I've been hiding my legs for two years I need to start toning them!"

Shaw says many women don't realise it's easy to change the shape of their legs through targeted exercises.

"In terms of your natural shape getting muscle definition and tone is something anyone can do, and to make your legs more toned and athletic all you have to do is use them," she says."It only takes three to four weeks of doing regular exercise in your legs to see a difference."

The best exercises to tone legs are combined squats, calf raises involving lifting up and down on your toes and slow, controlled leg raises with a supine body. "Anything where you hold your leg muscles very taut will start to tone your leg muscles," she says.

Sydney student Elsa Koleth says she is happy with her legs but understands why many women aspire to have great pins to show off in a swimsuit.

"It's very important because they don't see the light of day through most the year," the 26-year old says."They're quite central - in fact they're probably the main thing you think about in summer."

Koleth says coming out of winter hibernation means confronting and reappraising the parts of her body that were hidden under layers of clothing during the colder months.

"In the winter it doesn't matter because you're all covered up and it doesn't matter what you look like underneath," she says."But in summer you want to look like a human being, recognisably... you don't want them to look flabby.

Koleth thinks the increasing focus on legs could signal a cultural shift among the opposite sex.

"I've heard more than one guy say they find legs the most captivating part of a women's body and I've always found that odd," she says. "I think culturally things have changed over the last sixty years or so - in a way to me the fact of legs becoming the focus makes people more androgynous."

By Sarah Malik, AAP

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