Maintenance

The Last-Minute Fitness Classes To Get You In Shape For The Beach

Five gym workouts for guaranteed results – while you still have time

  • Photograph courtesy of Equinox

It used to be that you joined a gym and – if you went – never did classes. Now you likely frequent one or more boutique studios that resemble nightclubs in ambience and exclusivity. And you pay what was the cost of a month’s membership for a single workout.

The boom in boutique studios has been partly driven by their enhanced “experience”, from heated, scented towels to upmarket grooming products – hardly essential, but welcome, and helpful for getting you in the door. In the company of other people, plus a headset-wearing trainer, you invariably push yourself harder than you would have at the gym (again, if you even went). Afterwards, you’re high on endorphins and smell terrific. Worth it.

Well, sometimes. The fitness class phenomenon, driven by social media – not to mention healthier profits – has also precipitated the unfortunate portmanteau “entertrainment”. In other words, style over substance, or experience over effectiveness. While a class may claim to be the best workout in the world, or napalm 1,000 calories in an hour, one swallow (or sweat, in this case) does not make a summer body. Incremental improvements over time, with attention to proper form and injury prevention, while less sexy, are the key to kicking hibernation heaviness.

Done well, fitness classes integrate camaraderie, motivation and even enjoyment with intelligent protocols, so that you’re willing and able to keep coming back and making “gains”. They also attend to muscle-building resistance and fat-burning cardio: both key to being – an unfortunate phrase – beach-ready. So with the critical term before the summer holidays upon us, here are five to enrol in now.

Rumble

(Various locations, US)

This expanding group of “hitster” boxing studios admittedly skews more towards entertainment. (A Peloton-style at-home service in partnership with heavyweight talent manager Mr Scooter Braun is in the works.) But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “One of the greatest factors in the efficacy of a workout is just consistently showing up to put in the work,” says Rumble’s frequently shirtless co-founder Mr Noah Neiman. “It has to be fun.” And that Rumble is an efficacious workout is undisputed: it combines boxing’s aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular benefits with those of strength training. The class itself consists of five rounds of whaling on the water-filled punch bags (easier on hands and wrists) alternated with five rounds of exercises on a bench next to you (handily stocked with a range of weights). A projection system, as well as an instructor, guides you throughout. It’s not exactly spit-and-sawdust authenticity, but neither is it as intimidating as a bona fide fight gym – getting punched is not everybody’s idea of fun.

Warrior Tribe by Evolve Fitness

(London)

Your magazine after-photo dreams can come true. “The Warrior Tribe classes are based on the same training that you’d get if you enlisted a top PT or body-transformation specialist,” says Evolve’s founder Mr Tim Walker, who is just that. Unlike most fitness classes where you do random stuff quickly and, likely, incorrectly in the hope of improvement, Warrior Tribe is built around structured progression. Your body composition is monitored throughout, as are your lifts, so you actually get stronger, fitter and leaner. Classes are capped at 12 members to ensure adequate attention from trainers, who can be contacted 24/7 with any questions, say, about your individualised diet plan (included in the price). And whereas drop-in classes are all too easy to drop out of again, Warrior Tribe insists on upfront commitment for four, eight or 12 weeks, and attendance at a minimum of three sessions a week. “We’re the only gym that will cancel your membership,” warns Mr Walker.

Strong And Lean by Soho Strength Lab

(New York)

In contrast to the frenetic, ad hoc nature of Hiit-and-hope classes, the approach at Soho Strength Lab, known for its proven, exhaustively researched methods, is rather more scientific. The circuits in its Strong And Lean class incorporate all three types of muscular effort: concentric (lifting), isometric (holding) and eccentric (lowering – more gainful than you might think). In short, the “Strong” part is covered. “We also keep the circuits timed perfectly to get the class to move at a good pace but keeping the heart rate in an aerobic zone,” says co-founder and head coach Mr Ryan Hopkins. “The increase in aerobic health leads an overall increase in your body’s capacity for fat oxidation – the ‘Lean’ part.” It also means that the intensity isn’t so high that you’re floored afterwards. “The class is always challenging, but leaves you with something in the tank so that you’ll be able to train with us again in a timely fashion,” continues Mr Hopkins. “This is not fatigue for the sake of fatigue.” Which gets tiring pretty quickly.

Full-Body Strength by Peloton Digital

(Anywhere in US, UK and Canada)

Heralded as the industry’s next seismic shift, tech company Peloton, which streams live and on-demand instructor-led classes, was born because founder Mr John Foley struggled to fit studio trips around work and kids. Now you don’t have to fork out nearly £2,000 for the sleek carbon-steel bike – a sizeable initial investment, although at under £40 a month thereafter for unlimited classes, you’ll soon save on studio trips. For just shy of £20, (free with the bike), the Webby Award-nominated Peloton Digital app gives you access to strength, bootcamp, yoga and running classes as well as cycling, designed for indoor and out, and little or no gear. “My Full-Body Strength classes are typically made up of mobility drills followed by resistance exercises, core work and a cardio finisher,” says instructor Mr Oliver Lee. “They’re great to pair with a 20-minute run or ride, but effective on their own. Also, you can do them wherever you are, as they don’t require any equipment.” As the saying goes, the best workout is the one you do.

Master of One by Equinox

  • Photograph courtesy of Equinox

(Various locations, US and UK)

The new offering from the transatlantic health club combines cardio and strength, but deducts the bells and whistles with which fitness classes often lure punters – well, apart from a solitary kettlebell. Indeed, Master of One’s unique selling point is that you employ a single piece of equipment for the whole 45-minute class. Less paraphernalia is more beneficial, and not just because you don’t have to frantically stagger to the next station mid-session, or squint to read the numbers on weights in the atmospheric lighting. “There’s an awesome simplicity to using one weight,” says Ms Loi Jordon, group fitness manager of Equinox UK. “Plus, it allows you to correct muscular imbalances.” Most of us have a dominant side that takes over on conventional “bilateral” (two-sided) exercises, and thus one slightly bigger arm and leg, which is not great for health or aesthetics. Performing “unilateral” moves such as single-leg deadlifts evens you out, plus challenges your core strength, balance, coordination and concentration: “It’s a surprisingly mindful workout.”

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