Remember when "power walking" and rollerblading were considered exercise? How about step aerobics and the Bowflex?
Now, the concept of 'going to the gym' has been increasingly overshadowed by niche fitness classes. All of them promising to be the best workout you will ever get on planet earth.
It's enticing. The idea of having someone else take control of your workout regiment; guaranteeing to put you in the best shape of your life.
These classes also come with pretty package incentives, which are absurdly overpriced and can hardly be considered motivation to join.
You can get 6 classes and one BONUS class for only $249 if you sign up in the next 15 seconds! Or, take advantage of our summer special: just $465 for a 10-class package plus a free guest pass (that's a 1% savings on each individual class and you get to sucker a friend into coming with you one time!). And, get ready for the holidays with an unlimited class pass for the low cost of taking out a second mortgage!
We don't care. We'll do anything to pay for our fix. Here's my credit card ... now shrink my ass!
What's my point?
Well, like most of the general adult population, I have very little time. I prefer an intense pre-determined workout that can be scheduled. And, through trial and error, I have endured an assortment of fitness classes that have intrigued, challenged and frightened me to my core.
So, to save the rest of you time, money and possible heart failure, I will sum up what to expect inside the walls of these exercise crack dens.
SLT (Strengthen Lengthen Tone)
This studio comes equipped with rows of pilates megaformer machines. Also believed to be modernized medieval torture devices. If you would like to injure yourself in places you never knew existed, look no further.
Multi-taskers in particular will enjoy this class, as you will perform both leg and arm training exercises, while maintaining a plank position for an excruciating amount of time. And just when you think you can't take it anymore, it's time to switch sides!
If you enjoy hating yourself and everyone around you for 45 minutes, then SLT was made for you.
Ranking: 3rd favorite workout
Don't be fooled by the bright lights, ballet bar and wide-eyed instructor who seemingly never blinks; this ain't your mama's jazzercise class. And, no matter what your fitness level, this class will surely leave your physique hurting in 57 places.
Mentally prepare yourself to be unable to walk with ease for the next few days.
Why, you ask? Well ... about ten minutes into the class, you will be in a squatting position with a ball between your legs, squeezing the living crap out of it with your thighs. It's like doing kegel exercises ... if you are The Hulk.
Then, there is the ab portion. You will crunch and crunch until you feel like you've torn at least one crucial organ. It burns deep. So very, very deep.
Don't be discouraged by the one or two people in your class who never seem to tire. They are androids, sent to earth by the corporate workout gods to make you feel inadequate ... and to subconsciously manipulate you into signing up for more classes.
Ranking: 2nd favorite workout
Otherwise referred to as "hot yoga." Or as I like to call it, "instant regret."
Correct me if I'm wrong but, isn't yoga supposed to guide you toward your inner zen? This class had the opposite effect for me. All I could focus on was how my skin felt like it was going to burst into flames. Actual flames.
Picture yourself in a sauna. Now picture yourself doing group exercises in that sauna, for a full hour and a half.
Does this sound pleasurable to you?
If your answer is 'yes' ... then all you, bro. All. You.
Ranking: Just kill me.
If you would like to know what it's like to travel at mach speed, sign up for SoulCycle today! Your legs will move so fast they will no longer feel like they are attached to your body. It's the only place on earth where you can travel over 30 miles and go absolutely nowhere.
Spin has always been my least favorite workout but, if you like it, take this class. It puts all other spin classes to shame.
(For a more in-depth look inside a SoulCycle studio, check out my blog SoulPsycho)
Ranking: Great sweat fest, but I'm not springing out of bed for this one.
This is the mother of all masochistic workouts.
You alternate between hellish speeds and inclines on the treadmill and militant strength training positions on the floor. Both are equally terrifying.
A good portion of the trainers will scream and single out anyone who they think isn't pushing his/her hardest. I think they believe that it's an actual bootcamp. (Spoiler: It's not).
It is a cardio and mental endurance nightmare. I have witnessed people walk out. But, truth be told, I'm obsessed with this one. It is a hate-hate relationship that I just can't quit.
Barry's Bootcamp is, hands down, my number one pick for the class that everyone should take. You will be amazingly horrified yet, immediately addicted.
Ranking: Can't live without.
And, that about does it. Good luck finding the class that best suits your fitness personality!