Flying solo with a pricey personal trainer isn’t the only way to drop pounds. Whether it’s competition or camaraderie that keeps you motivated, these new offerings in group fitness will fire up your fat-burning engineBy: Alyssa Wells
Ready to hit the slopes? It’s been three warmer seasons since you last clipped on a pair of skis, so we’d be shocked if you weren’t a little rusty. To help you get your snow legs back, Sports Club/LA offers Aspen Ascent, a total-body workout that enhances your cardiovascular capacity—essential when you work out at higher elevations—while also improving balance, agility, and core strength. The hour-long class is divided into three segments, each featuring exercises engineered to help your body meet the unique demands of snow sports. The first part works on speed and agility using high-intensity intervals, the second improves strength and balance to help you navigate turns and difficult terrain, and the third section focuses on core work and flexibility, which is a must for proper injury prevention. Whether or not there’s a lift ticket in your future, it’s a workout worth tackling. (Search: How to prevent skiing injuries)
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If the word “boot camp” conjures up gritty images of pushups on park benches, you’ll be relieved to know this workout gets you out of the elements and into the luxury of Pure Yoga—but the breaks stop there. The boot camp’s creator, Loren Bassett, discovered yoga after years of training as a competitive athlete and the class is the embodiment of her experience: The innovative 75-minute session combines the rigor of hot Vinyasa yoga with cardio drills, strength-training, and core work to create a challenging program that builds both mental and physical strength. (The explosive plyometric drills, calisthenics, and all-over strength-training are also completed in the same sweltering 95° to 100°F temperature as the yoga components.) “My intention is to empower and inspire students to discover their ‘edge,’ the place where true transformation takes place,” says Bassett.
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The weather may be frosty, but things are starting to sizzle south of the border! Bottom Line, an intense booty-centric workout from Bay Club Marin, a Western Athletic Clubs property, targets everything below the belt, using a barrage of medicine balls, kettlebells, free weights, and gliding disks to attack lower-body problem areas. Bottom Line runs only 45 minutes long, but in this class every second counts. Most exercises incorporated into the program target multiple muscle groups while improving balance, multiplanar movement, and multidirectional movement. (And since the glutes are the largest muscles in the body, you burn serious calories when you move them.) What’s more, Bottom Line provides a great strengthening workout for exercisers that need to rehab a knee or just want to prepare for ski season.
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Getting fit while channeling your inner rock star? We like it! Offered by Crunch, Pound classes transform your workout into a sweaty jam session, combining the cardio of drumming with the sculpting of resistance training. Using weighted drumsticks created by the program’s founders, exercisers move through dancelike routines and Pilates-inspired floor work while creatively keeping the beat. The 1-pound sticks might feel light at the beginning of the class, but what the workout lacks in weight is made up for in repetitions. Don’t mistake Pound for an arms-only workout, though. It challenges every muscle in your body and kicks your coordination skills in the butt.
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Don’t believe you can get an amazing body in barely 30 minutes? Les Mills CXWORX, a high-intensity workout set to chart-topping tunes, will prove you wrong. Offered by 24 Hour Fitness, this hyperefficient class uses a combination of exercises that both isolates and integrates muscle groups. And though your instructor’s six-pack may be enviable, the program digs deeper than your mirror muscles. In addition to tightening your tummy and defining your derriere, CXWORX also builds functional, everyday fitness that improves mobility and aids in injury prevention. What’s more, class-goers burn an average of 230 calories in just half an hour.
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Traditional Figure 4 is getting a hot new makeover at Pure Yoga. For those not familiar with the acclaimed barre class, Figure 4 uses isometric weight-bearing exercise, free weights, classical dance training, Pilates, and yoga to tone your butt, abs, arms, and thighs while also improving posture and self-awareness. (The workout, created by professional dancer, Kate Albarelli gets its name from the traditional ballet stretch done by crossing the ankle over the opposite knee and bending forward, creating a “four” with the legs.) Adding heat not only ups the sweat factor and elevates your heart rate, but also provides class-goers with a deeper stretch and a greater muscle burn during strengthening sections.
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There’s something about shaking and swiveling your way to a slimmer physique that makes getting fit a lot more fun. Whether you’re a Zumba newbie or a seasoned devotee of the popular program, you’ll have no problem tackling this latest workout, Zumba Sentao, which combines high-energy cardio with strength-training. In addition to the fitness program’s sizzling dance moves, Zumba Sentao incorporates a chair that exercisers can use as a support, a step, and a bench, making it possible to fluidly move from a dance combination into a set of triceps dips. Muscle-toning moves like pushups, squats, lunges, and crunches also make their way into the mix. Launching at Crunch gyms on February 1, Zumba Sentao has the same energy and partylike atmosphere that you’d expect from a traditional Zumba class, but the chair adds that extra element to help take your workout to the next level.
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Get ready to toss the excuse that you’re too busy for gym time. True to its name, Express Medball at Elements Fitness in Wareham, MA, gets you in and out in 30 minutes—but don’t expect to sneak by without breaking a sweat. The class slims down your gym session by eliminating the extra time wasted toggling between different types of fitness equipment. Instead, the entire workout is built around versatile Dynamax medicine balls. Dynamax balls are ergonomically correct—a 14-inch diameter saves your shoulders from impingement—and soft, which opens up a whole new world of exercise options compared with a traditional hard medicine ball. (Can you imagine bouncing one of those off your thighs while doing high knees across the gym? Ouch.) But the class’s tour de force is the Ab Wheel, a challenging circuit that runs like a superset on steroids. Class-goers alternate between a “hub” exercise and a predetermined number of “spoke” exercises in rapid progression to attack the core. The class sounds intimidating, but the environment is social and upbeat. (It’s hard not to make a friend when he or she is hurling a med ball your way for half an hour!)
Next Up: Tackle This Total-Body Med Ball Workout
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