What We Tried: The Lacey Stone Booty Camp, an outdoor boot camp class that doesn't require any equipment except your own body.
Where: Pan Pacific Park, 7600 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, Calif.
For How Long: About one hour, more if you stayed after class to stretch.
How'd It Feel: Exhilarating! On the day I went to Lacey's boot camp class, everyone was dressed up in spooky, silly costumes. Of course, they were dressed up to celebrate Halloween, but there's nothing better than wearing a full-body pleather cat suit to remind students you know what you're talking about. That's exactly what Lacey wore that day, partly, I suspect, because you can see her abs through the suit.
A photo of the class after the workout.
Lacey's class focuses a lot on teamwork and competition. I was either competing with a partner, against a partner or just against my own personal best. The competitive pressure is a motivator, sure, but combined with fun moves like crab walking and bear crawling, I realized that the class felt familiar.
During the relay races (in which we sprinted through sprinklers), it hits me: This feels exactly like school recess. Remember when you were a kid and thought nothing of being in full sprint mode for hours during an intense game of tag? Or basketball practice, when one teammate's missed free throw meant laps for all? That was the vibe at Lacey's class, complete with whistle commands, except instead of having a mean or shaming coach, you now had a fun, challenging one. If you were a pretty active kid, Lacey's class will make you feel nostalgic.
What It Helps With: The high-intensity intervals help to build cardiovascular capacity and burn fat. Because we didn't have any equipment, most of the exercises we did could be described as calisthenics: lunges, crunches, triceps dips, push ups, squats and planks. For cardio, we both jogged around the park and sprinted up and down little hills.
What Fitness Level Is Required: The roughly dozen people who showed up to class ranged from super-fit soap opera actors to overweight exercisers with bum knees. While the pace is fast, no one is pushed beyond their own limits. At the end of the class, my Polar heart rate monitor told me I had burned 560 calories, which was comparable to the amount I burn during my usual treadmill boot camp class but lots more fun.
What It Costs: $20 per class, and packages are sold on a monthly basis. For more information about the boot camp and other classes Lacey teaches around town, check out laceystonefitness.com.
Would We Go Back: Yes! I admit that getting my treadmill-only sneakers grassy and muddy was slightly annoying at first. I also hesitated when it came time to lie on the wet ground for sit ups and push ups.
But by the end of the class, I was amazed at what my heart rate monitor was telling me -- especially since I felt I had spent a lot of time just listening to the rules of the next challenge or cheering my teammates on.
The final segment of the class, which required us to string a bunch of exercises together and ended with a sprint up the hill, ended with a hug and motivational speech from Lacey, who challenged us to "have the best fucking life ever." Not a bad way to start the day.
For more from our We Tried It series, click here.
For more fun ways to get fit, check out the slideshow below.
Constantly on the go? "Stick it in your bag," says Patel. "It's something you can do anywhere you are." A solo jump-rope workout, like this 10-minute sculpting routine from Fitness magazine, can burn over 100 calories, and tone the shoulders, chest arms and legs. Some gyms even offer jump-rope fitness classes. Or, if a less structured jump sounds more like your thing, grab some friends for some Double Dutch. Flickr photo by adwriter
While she's recently taken to jumping jacks, First Lady Michelle Obama is a big proponent of hula hooping as a fun way to get active. In 2009, she performed 142 "swivels" before dropping her hoop at a healthy kids fair at the White House, the AP reported. But it's not just for kids! And now, with weighted hoops, hula hooping can produce even more dramatic results. It helped Jen Moore lose 140 pounds. "It's something you can do in front of the TV," says Patel, "rain or shine!" Flickr photo by stringberd
"You may be surprised how much you actually work your arms and abs while on the swings," National Academy of Sports Medicine instructor Rick Richey told Seventeen.com. You'll work leg muscles climbing the stairs up to the slide and arms and abs from swinging from the monkey bars, he added. Flickr photo by colorblindPICASO
There's a reason so many celebs have slimmed down during stints on reality TV show "Dancing With The Stars." Dancing is a serious cardio workout -- but can feel more like a party. "Dance, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to get in shape, as you're working multiple muscle groups all at the same time that in turn keeps your body constantly challenged," fitness expert Tracey Mallett told HuffPost in April. Try a class like Zumba, or burn calories more surreptitiously with salsa lessons or a night on the town! Flickr photo by John Bollwitt
Ice skating, one of our favorite winter workouts, can burn up to 500 calories an hour. Inline skating can burn over 400 calories in just 30 minutes, according to Health.com, thanks to the side-to-side movement in your lower body, plus the way your core engages to keep you balanced. You'll also seriously work the smaller lower-body muscles that play key roles in keeping you upright. Flickr photo by kcolwell
Who can forget this classic '80s fitness fad? The ankle hoop counted rotations as the user swung the attached ball around and around and around. TIME named the Skip-It one of the 100 greatest toys of all time. Not only is it a cardio workout similar to jump-roping, you'll also engage the core and lower-body muscles used for balance. Flickr photo by zingersb
Think outside the sidewalk-chalk box! You can mix up traditional hopscotch jumps by moving side to side as if hitting each corner of a square, as shown in this Exercise.com video or by focusing on balancing on one foot, according to FitBie. Think of hopscotch as essentially a plyometrics workout, which has been shown to improve running performance. You can even hop indoors with masking tape, suggests popular fitness blogger MizFit. Flickr photo by Brandon Koger
While it will undoubtedly take some practice to work up to 10 minutes of jumping on a pogo stick at a time, it can be a fun cardio workout, burning 20 to 40 calories in those 10 minutes. Pogo stick company Vurtego claims celebrity fans such as Matthew McConaughey and Allison Hannigan. Just make sure to practice on a flat, open area and consider wearing some protective gear in case there are tumbles! Flickr photo by sean dreilinger
The "anti-gravity" shoes popular in the '80s just may be the precursor to today's Kangoo Jumps, running boots of a sort with springs on the soles, used in classes at various gyms and by solo adventurous fitness fans. But that bounce isn't only playful, it's also an easier workout on your joints than running or jumping. Kangoo Jumps absorb up to 80 percent of the shock, Beth Kruper, a Kangoo Jumps rep, told ABC. And they may up the calorie burn, too. "When you run in them you're using more muscles than you would in sneakers," Kruper said. "So if you usually burn 100 calories in a mile, you'll burn 130 to 140." Flickr photo by magnificent momma
Take group fitness to a competitive level with an outing to a nearby paintball or laser tag arena. While it's tough to estimate the number of calories you'll burn, it'll definitely have you running, jumping, squatting and crawling, all in the name of the game, with some bursts of anaerobic sprinting to boot. Flickr photo by Greg Boege
Follow Anna Almendrala on Twitter: www.twitter.com/annaalmendrala