THE BLOG
04/21/2014 11:20 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Putting the Gym in Gymnastics: A New Fitness Trend

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You may not have heard of it yet, but a new fitness trend has recently emerged that threatens to steal the thunder of other popular phenomenons that have you throwing around weights and throwing out your back. Instead of encouraging cult-like mentalities among the competitive elite, this brand of exercise promotes the type of environment that will have everyone feeling strong, no matter where they are in their fitness journey.

Awaken Fitness, a Gymnastics Bodies affiliate, is located in Denver and is one of the first of its kind. This hybrid style of exercise focuses on the use of body weight, balance and functional movement by combining yoga practices and traditional gymnastics techniques. The use of functional play has been increasing in popularity in gyms across the globe for a while now, but Awaken takes this method of fitness one giant step further. Instead of just infusing this type of exercise into your normal routine, members of Awaken are privy to a slew of classes including acrobatic yoga, gymnastics training classes and muscle rehab sessions.

The gym runs on a 28-day cycle, so members of this gym never get bored with the same routine and are continually challenged to push their physical and mental abilities.

Orench Lagman, the founder of Awaken, sees this new style of training as a way of incorporating mobile play, strength training and healing motions as a holistic approach to fitness.

On a recent trip to Denver, I was able to experience gymnastics-inspired fitness firsthand. I am a former gymnast, but years of heavy weight training and severe neglect of stretching has left my body with more than a few wears and tears. Several other fitness trends (cough, CrossFit, cough) were fun for a while and were great for my short-term body-image goals. However, they left me with several minor injuries that now have me seeing a chiropractor once a week and doing less in the gym than I did before I started. Now in my 30s, I have been looking for news ways to stay in shape that also provided a restorative element to my joints and muscles.

After talking to Lagman about his philosophy of Awaken, I was excited to find a place that incorporated restorative movements into strength training and was ready to see just how rusty my gymnastics skills were.

From the extensive stretching to the sweat-drenched handstand planks, this was as challenging as some of the weight classes I had taken without leaving me feeling like I had been beaten with a crowbar. The movements tested my balance and exhausted my muscles, but my joints felt stronger as well. Working with my partner, we laughed in between bouts of various handstand poses and helped each other on the skills that were more troublesome. And even though I had felt like I achieved a sufficient workout at Awaken, it came without the agony and clock-watching duress that I was used to in the gym.

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There are some workouts that are kind of fun in the "fitness-high" sense, and then there is actually having fun that just so happens to be exercise. This usually comes in the form of a kayak on the beach or some recreational sports activity, but Awaken manages to achieve this feet all within a gym setting, taking the dread out of going to the gym.

The only downside to Awaken Fitness is that there isn't one where I live. But if you happen to be a resident of Denver or you are traveling to the mile-high city anytime soon, make sure you do not miss this great opportunity to try out just what gymnastics inspired fitness is all about.