We rounded up the top local and national fitness trends and put the best to the test. Find out which workout wonders lived up to the hype. —Angela Bobo
Equinox Fitness, Tysons Corner; equinox.com
The Promise: Tone your body and burn fat with a quick workout using only six targeted moves. The name of the class explains the overall concept: Begin with one move that is repeated for 30 seconds, then repeat the move and add another one for another 30 seconds after. The exercises are repeated by starting from the beginning and ‘stacking’ on another move until you have completed a circuit with all six moves. Class instructor Angela Akl believes that this method is effective because “it combines high-intensity interval training with multi-functional movements to get maximum results. Students can also see the countdown clock which pushes you to be more effective within the time.”
The Verdict: During the 45-minute class, we actually went through two circuits of six stacked moves. Every class is different, but for this session we completed circuits with dumbbells, weighted sand bags and calisthenics including burpees, starbusts (sort of like exploding jumping jacks) and squats. At first the exercises seemed relatively simple, but after repeating them multiple times we really began to feel a burn. The class was fast paced and any time slacking off or slowing down came to mind the instructor was there to motivate. Knowing that you only have a short amount of time definitely pushes you to be more mindful of the fact that you get out of the class what you put in.
doyogawithme.com; dirtyyogaco.com; yogaglo.com
The Promise: Yoga studios are available in the NoVA area, but busy schedules and the thought of inevitable traffic makes the thought of booking it to a class after work less than desirable. Enter online yoga, with a variety of sites that promise variety in styles, length and experience level to help you find ‘om’ in your home. Out of the endless options available we narrowed it down to three popular sites that take completely different approaches to the practice: yogaglo.com ($18/month), dirtyyogaco.com ($20/month) and doyogawithme.com (free).
The Verdict: Yogaglo is a great option for those that crave a studio environment, as all of the videos are shot during actual classes. We appreciate the detailed instructions from the teachers and the ability to view the adjustments made on other students to help adjust yourself in the poses accordingly. Dirtyyogaco is for people that want to forego the spiritual nature of yoga and get straight to the point. No class is longer than 40 minutes and every class is filmed against a white background and taught by the same instructor. While we appreciate the time crunch, we miss the flowing mind/body connectivity of traditional yoga. Doyogawithme is a go-to for those nights when you want to unwind. All of the classes are set against soothing scenic backgrounds, and with an extensive selection for free this is definitely something a dedicated yogi can rely on.
OrangeTheory Fitness, Fairfax (Arlington opening Spring/Summer 2014); organgetheoryfitness.com
The Promise: The Orange 60 workout aims to increase energy and burn up to 900 calories a session through heart-rate based interval training, indoor rowing and weight training blocks. The class is also built around group fitness and the idea that camaraderie and accountability will drive you to work your hardest during every session. Head trainer Reginald Williams Jr. relies on this workout because it “caters towards all different types of fitness in one room, utilizing the coach to make sure you are completing the moves correctly and the technology so that you are getting the proper dose of exercise and not overtraining or undertraining.”
The Verdict: We attended the class with the mindset that we probably were going to work harder in this one-hour class than all week long. Before the class began we were all given heart-rate monitors that displayed our activity on a screen in front of us. It seemed a tad intimidating at first, but once we got into the swing of things it was really comforting to look up and see the validation of all of our hard work being displayed. The exercises were challenging, but small groups rotated frequently between cardio, strength and power to prevent us from dwelling on any moves to the point where they felt unbearable. At the end of the hour we burned almost 500 calories and were extremely energized and eager to come back and one-up the numbers.
Barre Tech, Alexandria and
The Promise: This one hour class draws on the foundation of building strength and lean muscles the same way that a dancer would. The method blends the ballet barre, pilates and yoga in intervals of working and stretching. Each exercise uses isometrics, or small controlled movements, to effectively work and tire out even the smallest muscles. Barre Tech is unique because owner Amy Barnes has created a formula that syncs movements with specific music to facilitate a better performance. “You find yourself working harder, lasting longer and getting better at the technique. My combination has a unique series of reps. People find it more challenging than other barre scenes,” she says. Barre is a great option for those who want a low-impact workout that delivers maximum results. With consistent attendance, increased stamina and endurance can be seen in as little as two weeks, with physical changes becoming present around four weeks.
The Verdict: We have to admit, we assumed this class would be easy because of the description. We were wrong. The barre method is quite deceptive and under the guise of graceful ballet movements is serious strength and effort. Within the first three minutes of the warm-up (which included a plank series), we were drenched in sweat and seriously considering if we could finish the class. But with Barnes’ encouragement and by zoning out to the beat of the music, we were able to work through the thigh wobbling and muscle burning with a feeling of success and accomplishment at the end. Despite feeling like our muscles were exhausted during class, recovery was quite smooth and we felt minimal soreness.