I’m currently in the best shape of my life, which is not to say that I can do anything particularly impressive, just that I have come a long way from hating being in the gym and wishing I were invisible, to not caring so much what others think and reaping the benefits of those endorphins I’d been hearing so much about. With my newfound ability to actually go to a bootcamp class and make it through the pilates 100 without so much as one internal scream, I’ve found that I’ve gotten…kind of bored. I’ve also gotten a little cocky (see previous sentences for reference), which goes against my Midwestern need to avoid burdening others with a strong sense of self, so it became readily apparent that I needed to shake a few things up.
Luckily for me, New York City is chock-full of the kinds of exercise classes of which Broad City plots are made, so all I had to do was look as far as my local Google to find four fitness classes that filled me with the kind of dread and terror I missed. I went, I worked, I wept.
I was kind of dreading this one but I think it was because I was expecting some sort of forced whimsy, and whimsy there was not. Just 45 minutes of some very hard but shockingly fun exercise. I spent far too much time looking at the people around me and wondering, “How are you so good at this???” because it felt like a workout that was also a very specific set of skills.
Have you been on a trampoline as an adult? I discovered that, as is the case with so many things from childhood, jumping up and down repeatedly has shifted from feeling like the pinnacle of fun to feeling like work. But in this class you do so much more than jump! You do some really hard leg exercises against an upturned trampoline!
My goal for this class was to avoid bouncing off the trampoline and onto the floor or another classmate. I achieved it, but there were some very close calls. To my complete and utter surprise, I think I’ll go back again. It was for real hard but legitimately low impact (for the joints, not the boobs, something to keep in mind), which is hard to come by. The class is pretty dark, which is one way to curry my favor. Also, complimentary tampons!!!!!!
Have you ever met someone and thought Oh yesssssssss and Oh NO at the same time? Shook their hand and muttered, “I can’t wait for this person to ruin my life for a couple of months?” That’s how I felt at AQUA. When I first read about it I had a full blown exercise crush, but then I saw the price and decided it was too needlessly fancy for me, my own aquatic Mr. Darcy if you will. But much like in love, sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance but also use writing a story as cover in case you get hurt.
I took the Blend class, which is described as follows: “By integrating the three class styles — Power, Interval and Restorative — with detailed explanations of body positioning and bike functionality, this class is a perfect foundational class for anyone new to AQUA.”
It was legit 90 degrees the day of my class so I’ve never looked forward to working out more. When you walk in they hand you water shoes, which, why did I ever stop wearing those? So practical, so nice! The class itself is also super hard but really exhilarating. It’s like a spin class with a refreshing twist. I was a little self-conscious about being in a bathing suit but you’re all so busy and working so hard that no one notices. This class is kind of a dream because it is spin but NO ONE CAN TELL THAT YOU’RE SWEATING!!!
My goal for this class was to not drown. Success. And once again, free tampons!!!!! I suppose one could truly get what one pays for in these classes with a healthy handful of take home Tampaxes, not that that’s an endorsement. In true rom-com fashion, turns out Aqua Studio is on my ClassPass (which I recognize is not cheap, but is an investment I decided to make for myself at the top of the year and have budgeted accordingly): the fitness version of being right in front of my face this whole time! This class has bewitched me, body and soul and I love..I love..I love it.
“SURFSET is all about getting away from the traditional static workout and challenging your body in new ways. Every exercise on the board is designed to engage your core & stabilizer muscles and shock the system to create real change inside & out.” I know this whole article is about shocking my system, but just going to level with you here, I was the least excited about this one. I have HORRIBLE balance and a deep, deep fear of open water so even pretending to surf feels like I’m tempting fate and now I’m cursed to die at the hands of a shark that finds its way onto the streets of lower Manhattan.
The class is a core workout for SURE and I was too busy clinging to survival to ever get bored or feel super self-conscious. There’s a video playing in the background of a beach and like, a fun surfer hang, so the class was nothing if not atmospheric. It was essentially HIIT training with a little bit of pilates mixed in, but all on a surfboard which I managed to keep at a 45 degree tilt the whole time.
I didn’t have any goals for this class other than survival, as I would on the real ocean. I was bad at this class. The experience was humbling but also, what a relief that I didn’t discover a secret talent for surfing that I would then have to gift to the world despite my serious belief that octopuses are going to rise from the sea and take over the world, and we will all act surprised even though the signs have been there this entire time.
I rowed crew for approximately two months ten years ago, so I went into this class with an unearned amount of confidence. Despite them telling me to “get ready for an invigorating full-body cardio burn, infused with high-energy music, rowing, dynamic stretches and body weight calisthenics on and off the erg,” I was not really ready at all. It has the same vibe as a spin class, loud music and an instructor who both yells at and supports you, just on erg machines. It’s an intense core workout disguised as a leg and arm workout, which is not the kind of surprise I like but ugh fine, thanks for making me stronger.
My goal for this class was to actually do well and push myself, which I did until we had to get off the erg and do a lot of core and arm work. I hated it while it was happening but it did teach me some new moves for those times I decide I want to be ambitious and plank while watching some sort of true crime documentary. I would say that out of any of the classes I tried, this is the most attainable for someone looking for a little variety but isn’t ready to commit to indoor trampoline jumping or riding a stationary bike in water.
Almost every time I push myself out of my comfort zone, fitness-wise, I enjoy it. That new class fear is always going to be there and it is nice to go to a class often enough that you can track your progress, but trying something for the fun of it just keeps the whole thing from feeling like a chore.
What classes are you taking that you love? Are you secretly embarrassed by their seemingly ridiculous premise but love how they make you feel? I’m also down to share embarrassing gym class stories because I think there’s a direct line between getting hit in the head with a volleyball in 7th grade and feeling the need to write this story.
Feature photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images.