New year, new you… That’s right – it’s resolution time! I’m already dreading the gym this month because of all the resolutioners who vow to make exercise a priority this year. For those of us who go year-round, it’s particularly irritating to deal with the overcrowding and parking lot mayhem. Last year, one of my resolutions was to push myself to try new workouts. I’m guilty of doing the same ‘ol fitness classes that I know and love, so it was good to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. Below is a list of workout classes offered by local studios, and my experiences trying them. Note: most studios offer first-timers a free class.
- Orangetheory Fitness has studios in Point Loma, Mission Valley, La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Poway and Encinitas. This 60-minute interval training class is led by a coach and rotates between treadmills, indoor rowing machines and a weight room for resistance training. When you arrive, they’ll strap on a heart-rate monitor below your chest and tell you how to operate the treadmills and rowing machines. Now, I’ve never been much of a treadmill person, but I was willing to give it a try and start out slow to get a feel for the class. My competitive side usually comes out at the gym, but I was still a bit apprehensive when I saw my name on the large TV screens that display everyone’s current heart rate and the percentage of their maximum heart rate. Depending on how hard you’re working, your results on the screen change colors to reflect your effort. So the coaches may want you to be “in the blue/green/orange” during the workout to elevate or slow your heart rate. It began to feel a bit like public shaming when my name wasn’t the right color, which actually ended up demotivating me. Maybe once you’re more experienced with the class it can push you to work harder, but I took off the heart-rate monitor and never looked back.
- Fitwall has studios in La Jolla and Solana Beach. This 40-minute workout is led by a coach and done primarily on vertical equipment against the wall (looks like a ladder), and incorporates floor-based exercises and resistance bands. Each station has a monitor that demonstrates the movement you’re supposed to be doing. I found that the class required a lot of upper body strength (which I don’t have) because you’re climbing up the Fitwall and doing fast footwork that requires the stabilization of your upper body and core. The isometric floor movements were not much easier because of the resistance bands. You start out thinking “eh, I can do ANYthing for 40 minutes,” but by the end, you’re toast. It was painful to lift my arms for days afterward. The palms of my hands were completely blistered from gripping the wall so firmly. This was another “one and done” workout for me.
- Barry’s Bootcamp only has one local studio in Hillcrest. I’ve heard about Barry’s for years, so was particularly curious to see what the hype was about. The 60-minute interval training class is led by a coach and rotates between treadmills and strength training with free weights, resistance bands, medicine balls and other equipment. The targeted muscle group depends on the day of the week, but alternates between arms & abs, butt & legs, chest/back & abs, hard core abs, and full body. Again, I’m not much of a treadmill person, but at least this time my effort (or lack thereof) wasn’t on public display. My main complaint would be the lack of instruction given. I realize most people in the class are probably regulars who have been coming for years, but I was totally confused on how to change the settings on my treadmill as the coach barked out orders. These aren’t just any treadmills, either. They go into “dynamic” mode where you have to literally push the belt with your feet to get it to move. Yes, it’s as hard as it sounds. But I left feeling like I got a good workout, and was motivated to return for additional classes. Unfortunately, the classes are crazy expensive (about $20 each depending on the package) so I can’t always rationalize the cost.
- TRX Suspension Training classes are taught at various gyms throughout San Diego, including GFit in South Park, Fit City in Linda Vista, and the UFC gyms in Mission Valley and Point Loma. Developed by the Navy SEALs, this 60-minute instructor-led class uses your own body weight and straps hanging from a metal frame to do strength, balance, flexibility and core stability exercises. It’s difficult to maintain good form while doing a plank exercise when your feet are in straps suspended in the air, or suspended push-ups with your arms in straps. The class felt more focused on strength, so this cardio junkie left feeling a little underworked.
- Insanity classes are taught at various local gyms (including the 24 Hour Fitness gyms in Hillcrest and Mission Valley), but can also be done at home using DVDs. This 45- to- 60-minute instructor-led class focuses on maximum interval training in three- to- five-minute blocks, with short breaks that allow you to catch your breath. The workout earns its name because some of the moves are full-on crazy, but you only do each exercise three times within a block for 30 seconds each. Even though this class is challenging every.single.time. it’s the only class mentioned above that I still do regularly after a year. It pushes me to work hard, makes me feel strong and kicks my ass every single time.
After a grueling workout of your choice, head to Juice Crafters for a fruit smoothie, cold-pressed juice, green smoothie, acai bowl, meal replacement smoothie or wellness shot. The shop uses fresh, local, organic produce so you won’t feel guilty binging after your workout. My favorites are the Crunchy Monkey and Pacific Love smoothies, and the Brazilian Acai Bowl. Find a Juice Crafters location in Hillcrest, Little Italy, La Jolla, Coronado and Encinitas, although the chain originated in LA where it has a celebrity following.