Let’s Get Physical, and Not the Fun Kind

It seems like every month there is a new fitness fad gracing the golden city (I don’t think anyone calls Los Angeles this, but I do…now), and I actually give most of these a whirl. I’m not a natural fit fanatic, so I try just about anything to keep myself moving and remotely interested. So, at 6:45am each morning I drag myself out of my bed, chug down my warm lemon water, eat a half an apple, and get to sweatin’.

PILATES (REFORMER)

I’ve found I work best in a group atmosphere; the shame of quitting too soon or looking like a loser is enough to keep me hustling. I also appreciate being told what to do before my brain has kicked into gear. For the past six months I’ve been taking Pilates classes (on the reformer) and grew to really like it. Maybe it’s the sassy instructors at my studio, the elongated muscles, or the fun slidey beds, but I don’t hate it.

Pros: Elongated muscles, great for toning, fun sliding bed, adjustable weights as you progress, you don’t have to wear shoes or a high-powered sports bra, great core workout

Cons: Not a cardio workout, expensive (cheaper in group classes than private), takes time to learn the moves and form, special equipment (toe socks $15)

Average Price: $30 class, cheaper with a package of classes or a monthly-unlimited membership (monthlies are usually around $200). I think I ended up paying around $15 a class in the end.

 

SPINNING

My Pilates studio also offers spinning, and wanting to pack in a nice calorie burn, I started taking a few classes a week. Once I got through the first miserable few classes, I actually became one of those people that likes spinning. I’ve always hated those enthusiastic blondes who rave about their endorphin high, and while I don’t try to reveal this side of myself often, I like it too. If you’re going to stick with the bike, I recommend buying spinning shoes. Also, if you can find a Real Ryder bike, it’s an ever better workout, especially for the core.

Pros: Great cardio sweat, burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time, quick classes (usually 45 mins), spinning classes are easy to find, great lower body workout.

Cons: You are not fit for public consumption afterwards – shower ASAP, very dependent on instructor and music, it’s a hateful exercise in the beginning, I advise everyone to suffer through at least 6 classes before abandoning ship, special equipment (not necessary, but the shoes are easier)

Average Price: $15 class in a private studio, or included in your gym membership

 

PILOXING

Thanks to Groupon and other copy sites, I’ve also experimented with a couple other workouts, most recently Piloxing. Piloxing is actually a fun class, and made more fun with a larger class. The weighted gloves give you a nice arm workout, and so far my instructors have all been very energetic which is helpful to get me moving the wee hours of the morning.

Pros: Nice balance of cardio and toning, fun and easy to catch on, you don’t have to wear shoes but I prefer to

Cons: Not easy to find classes, specialty equipment (weighted gloves, but they often have some you can use for the first few classes)

Average Price:  $15 class

 

 

 

THE BAR METHOD

I’ve had a lot of friends really enjoy the Bar Method – I personally hate it. I find it awkward and boring. I purchased a monthly-unlimited membership, and could only bring myself to go to three classes. This isn’t to say it’s not great for toning, but I couldn’t stand those 60 minutes personally. Perhaps if I really committed I might grow to love it (like spinning), but I was over it.

Pros: Nice toning exercises, slower pace, becoming more popular so more locations are popping up.

Cons: Boring, awkward, expensive, not a cardio burn, lots of form details that take some time to really learn

Average Price: $20 class

 

 

POP PHYSIQUE

Another Groupon purchase which I was bound to try eventually – mainly because of their great print campaign plastered around Los Angeles is Pop Physique. What I didn’t realize is how similar it is to Bar Method, I mean, nearly identical. I like it a hair more, but for a reason I can’t articulate. I definitely get a nice toning workout, but some of the moves feel awkward and remind me of 90s calisthenics. There are lots of Pop Physique enthusiasts out there, but it’s not a workout I’ll be sticking with past my 3 Groupon classes.

Pros: You don’t have to wear shoes, nice toning workout

Cons: Some awkward moves, expensive, not a big cardio burn

Average Price: $20 class

 

 

YOGA

I’ve done yoga on a off for years, and depending on my mood, I can really get a lot out of it both physically and personally. I prefer Power Yoga, it keeps me more interested and also gives me a better workout. Whenever I have an event that I have to bare my arms and back, I always kick up the Power Yoga to get them in fighting shape.

Pros: Great arm and back workout, elongated muscles, great sweat  (depending on the type of class), dependent on instructor and music, great for flexibility, works different muscles than a lot of workouts, don’t have to wear shoes, focuses on mental and emotional health as well

Cons: Can be boring in a bad or slow class, takes time to learn proper form and poses, special equipment (yoga mat), most classes are 80-90 minutes so it can be more of a time commitment.

Average Price: $15-$20 class

 

PERSONAL TRAINING

I recently inherited some personal training sessions and wanted to give it a shot. I don’t like the one on one attention as much, because there is this awkward need to have some sort of conversation with your trainer, but it’s been nice to have one person really analyze my form and make little tweaks. The trainer I got is a chatty Cathy though, I’m not looking for that much dialogue at 6:30am.

Pros: One on one attention to form and personal fitness needs, learn about fitness and exercise

Cons: Expensive, it can be hard to find a trainer you like, lots of “gym” exercises that aren’t as fun or interesting

Average price: There really is no average price, it depends on the scale of gym you’re going to.

 

RUNNING

I’ve forced myself to run on and off for years. Every gym has a treadmill, and it’s not something that takes a lot of training, granted proper form can really help you avoid injuries, but it’s something you can pick up on your own and do anywhere. If I’m ever just trying to fit in a workout and don’t have a class that works well, I just hit the pavement with my favorite playlist.

Pros: Good cardio workout, great for legs and butt, you can do it anywhere

Cons: Redundant, can lead to injuries without proper form, mostly lower body workout

Average Price: Free! Or your standard gym fee for a treadmill

 

 

 

COOL DOWN

With my mixed bag of failed and successful fit attempts, I’ve learned that you really do have to try lots of exercises and find what works for you and keeps you moving.  What works for one body may not work for another, but you will find something you like. It’s also important to incorporate multiple types of workouts. If you’re doing a lot of cardio, balance it out with a toning and strength building a few times a week.

Like any workout, you have to mix it up every 6 weeks. Whether you’re changing your resistance, incline or the pattern of your workout, your body needs to constantly be guessing or else you’ll plateau.

With a lot of fitness studios, there are often new client specials that make it easy and economical to try something new. Location has also proved to be a huge factor for me. The Pilates/spinning studio I go to is literally across the street from me. Without this convenient locale, I doubt I would be working out the five or six days a week I am.

 

CLASSES I WANT TO TRY:

Barry’s Boot Camp – I’ve wanted to try this for years, but I feel like I need to really get into top gear before I can survive a class. I’ve been trying to convince myself to start it next month – and I will, right?

Crossfit – I hear it’s very effective, but can also bulk up some women’s upper body, which I’m not aiming to do.

Zumba – It sounds fun!

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