These innovative workouts mix up traditional training methods to deliver sweat-inducing sessions, amazing results, and fitness that’s fun again
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We spoke with Carol Scott, founder and president of ECA World Fitness, to get the inside scoop on the latest workouts heating up the fitness scene.
Co-founders and former drummers Cristina Peerenboom and Kirsten Potenza combined their passions for music and fitness to create Pound, a full-body cardio workout that uses lightly weighted “drumsticks” called Ripstix. Each class fuses Pilates, isometric movements, and plyometrics with constant simulated drumming to sculpt muscle and torch up to 900 calories in 45 minutes. If you’re not exactly musically inclined, don’t worry—the routines are simple to follow and set to calibrated songs so you can get the rhythm down easily.
Find it: At Crunch gyms, other select gyms, and on DVD
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Designed by Mike Fitch in partnership with Equinox, Animal Flow taps into your primal instincts to get you moving your body in ways you’ve never imagined before. You’ll go through a series of functional bodyweight movements that fuse gymnastics, acrobatics, Parkour, capoeira, and breakdancing, all while staying low to the ground and engaging many muscles at once (think of the way a lion stealthily stalks his prey). But don’t be fooled by the playful element—this creature-inspired class is a serious, drench-you-with-sweat workout.
Find it: At Equinox gyms and on DVD
Photo: Philip Haynes
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Build muscle, burn calories, and bond with teammates at one of the new competition-based classes. These workouts rely on the sense of camaraderie, excitement, and accomplishment of teamwork to motivate clients, make fitness fun, and produce results. Throwback Fitness, a new boutique studio in New York City, divides participants into teams to complete “workouts” based on games like tag, capture the flag, and flip cup.
For a more individualized approach, Swerve, another New York City studio, is the first team-inspired indoor cycling workout, where classes are divided into three groups competing for the highest overall energy output. But if you’re having an off day, don’t worry—only the teams’ average scores are shown on scoreboards in class, while you can track your own personal stats on your bike.
Find it: At independent studios
Photo: Swerve Photo by Lisa Russman
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A pole can provide more than a tantalizing striptease—experts say pole classes are sweat-inducing, super-effective workouts, with the added benefits of learning how to flaunt your curves and celebrate your body. Classes like Ann Saldi’s Hip to Strip and New York City studio Body & Pole’s Pole enhance flexibility, tone your body, and build strength as well as confidence. Plus there’s nothing like having a few laughs along the way!
Find it: At individual studios
Photo: Body & Pole
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If you love to dance for exercise but hate trying to mimic intricate movements, say hello to your new favorite class. Created by dancer Misty Tripoli, Groove is a revolutionary dance workout that combines powerful music with simple moves. Instead of following prescribed steps, students are encouraged to move freely to the beat in whatever way they feel like. “Since every body is unique, there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits all workout either,” Tripoli says. The dynamic class still delivers plenty of cardio—there’s no way you’ll be standing still—so just get out there and shake your thing. There is no “wrong” way in Groove!
Find it: At select gyms and on DVD
Ropes Gone Wild
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Waving a rope up and down sounds simple—until you try doing so with the Art of Strength’s signature weighted ropes. Ropes Gone Wild relies on the “art of undulation,” or creating a wave-like pattern in the rope with your body. You’ll work every muscle, especially your core, while reaping cardiovascular benefits, improving coordination, and increasing metabolic endurance. Plus, this highly effective workout is low impact, so it’s safe for anyone from newbies and injured athletes to decided gym-goers.
Find it: At select gyms, CrossFit boxes, and on DVD
Photo: Art of Strength
Barre + Cardio Fusion Classes
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A new style of barre is amping up the traditional ballet-inspired workout by adding a major cardio component. In these barre-cardio fusion classes, you’ll sculpt lean muscle, slim down, and get your heart pumping by moving through high-intensity moves followed by brief moments of active recovery. They’re certainly not your old-fashioned ballet class anymore: As instructor Bergen Wheeler of the new Core Fusion Extreme class says, “You’ll experience a fast-paced, full-body workout designed around simple and functional movements, and take your fitness to a level you never thought possible.”
Find it: At Exhale spas, barre studios, and on DVD
Photo: Exhale/Core Fusion
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Personal trainer and The People’s Bootcamp founder Adam Rosante first designed this workout for friends who are professional surfers and paddleboarders. After seeing how effective it was, he decided to put it online for people to enjoy for free. WaveShape is 45-minute, equipment-free workout that draws on the multidimensional movement patterns of surfing and other board sports to build explosive strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. The result? A tight, toned body ready to excel in the waves—or just look hot standing on the sand.
Find it: Online and on DVD
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Swiss fitness expert Robert Steinbacher combined his experiences as a dancer and a therapist for special-needs children to create this dynamic bodyweight workout that’s already a hit in Europe. Steinbacher realized that many therapeutic exercises could be just as beneficial for people without physical limitations, and BodyArt was born. Dubbing itself an “extraordinary training concept for a new awareness,” the program integrates functional training, physiotherapy, dance, Tai Chi, and yoga positions for a tough yet restorative workout.
Find it: At Equinox clubs, select gyms, and on DVD
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This fast-paced DVD program from celebrity trainer Paul Katami is based on the science of one-minute burst intervals. You’ll repeat reps of each move—one high-intensity cardio, one lower body, one upper body, and one core—for one minute, then take 30 seconds of active recovery before repeating the round four more times. The exercises are basic (think pushups, lunges, and burpees) to ensure optimal effort and results, but this workout is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Find it: On DVD
Photo: Paul Katami
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The rowing craze is quickly catching on around the nation, with some even calling it the “new spinning.” And while the rower may not replace your indoor bike completely, there’s good reason people are starting to gravitate toward this full-body workout that hits about 85 percent of your muscles when done correctly. “Rowing is high intensity yet low impact, so it’s safe and smart for your body,” says Helaine Knapp, founder and CEO of New York City’s CityRow, where intervals on an WaterRower are broken up with strength exercises on a mat. “Plus, anyone can do it—people are surprised at how quickly they get in the groove in their first class.”
Find it: At gyms, independent studios, and some CrossFit boxes
Photo: City Row
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While you already know your ABCs (we hope!), that’s not all it takes to make it through this dance class craze based on the alphabet. In Bokwa, you’ll “draw” letters and numbers with your feet while performing a calorie-torching cardio routine. In this nontraditional class, participants can make up their own dance moves by simply moving to the beat of the music. Bokwa’s origins trace the map from an L.A.-based instructor who used elements of South African dance to bring the steps to fans in Europe, where it is already all the rage.
Find it: At NYSC, other select gyms, and independent studios
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Even if you’re already a Zumba fan, after trying this brand-new routine you may never look at cardio the same way again. Zumba Step combines the dance-party atmosphere of Zumba with heart-thumping cardio from an aerobic step routine. “With Zumba Step, we’re delivering a workout that’s very enjoyable but that also challenges you to literally step up your cardiovascular workout,” says Alberto Perlman, CEO of Zumba Fitness. You’ll say sayonara to tons of calories and strengthen your legs and glutes while moving to the addicting rhythms of Latin music.
Find it: At gyms, independent studios, or on DVD
Photo: Zumba Step
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This futuristic-looking tool seems like something from outer space and, fittingly, promises to deliver an out-of-this-world workout. Using vibration training, the Bodyblade targets specific muscle groups by varying the positions of the body or direction of the flexing blade. The blade rapidly changes directions at a rhythm of 4.5 cycles per second, which means your body has to move 270 times per minute to resist the forces of it moving back and forth. According to the website, it promises to deliver benefits such as enhanced coordination, flexibility, posture, efficiency of muscle function, and muscle definition.
Find it: At select gyms and on DVD
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Two years of research went into developing the deceivingly simple-looking Ugi ball, which combines the squish of a beanbag with the bounce of a stress ball. Using the 15-inch prop, you’ll complete a 30-minute routine that involves strength, cardio, and core training for a full-body workout that’s both functional and fun. The versatile tool, along with its accompanying at-home DVD system, provides everything you need to stick to your workouts, get results, and achieve your fitness goals.
Find it: On DVD