Push your body to its absolute limit with muscle-building, calorie-scorching, brutally hard workouts offered around the country
The Toughest Fitness Classes Around
1 of 7All photos
If you're putting in the time to workout, you want it to be worth it. We're talking about a clothes-soaking, calorie-scorching, fat-torching sweat session. We took to the streets to find the fitness classes that leave people feeling absolutely crushed but also like they totally crushed it. These are workouts that break you in order to build you even better. So if you're looking to get down to business when it comes to your physique, here are some of the toughest fitness classes out there. (Can’t make it to the gym? Try these Free Fitness Classes You Can Take On Periscope.)
Photo: Corbis Images
2 of 7All photos
Tony Horton created P90X to help change at-home fitness for those who maybe don't want to (or can't) workout in the gym. The program has targeted training phases of quick workouts consisting of body-weight training, cardio, martial arts, and yoga. But the plyometrics workout is the one that has users moaning in accomplished agony. This explosive training technique involves exercises like jump squats, swing kicks, and squat-reach-jumps to help you increase speed and power. If you give it your all, your hamstrings will feel it the next day!
Photo: Tony Horton
3 of 7All photos
It's hard to describe a workout that's forever changing. CrossFit by definition is constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements. The exercises are considered to be functional because they recruit many different motor recruitment patterns which can improve the way you function in daily life. However, that doesn't mean that snatching 100-plus pounds is going to be easy. CrossFit WODs, or workouts of the day, involve everything from rowing to jumping to burpees to pull-ups to Olympic lifts—each with a timing component that helps spike your heart rate and hit PRs.
Photo: Instagram/Lindsey Valenzuela
Ropes and Rowers
4 of 7All photos
Water rowers plus battle ropes plus a bit of strength training makes this one killer fitness class. Equinox created this circuit workout in a way that perfectly combines strength and cardio, HIIT training, and endurance training—plus equipment you might not use every day—to take your training to the next level. A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research even shows that battle ropes work not only your cardio and arms, but also your waist (who knew!).
"Both the ropes and the rowers are low-impact, cardiovascular modalities that are safe yet super effective," says Justin Rubin, group fitness manager at Equinox in LA. There's an individual and team component during the 45-minute session, and it's up to you not to let yourself or others down by rowing quick, getting through your dumbbell weighted section, and slamming and running with the ropes as fast as you can. (Think this is the only intense class that Equinox offers? Try this At-Home MetCon3 Workout that’s inspired by another popular class.)
5 of 7All photos
Alpha Training is the most intense type of training offered at national gym chain Life Time Fitness. These workout are time efficient, focusing on strength, power, endurance, speed, agility, coordination, balance and flexibility.
Oh, and did we mention you have to be accepted into the program? You have to try out and show you have the fundamentals down (including form) before you can begin. Club staff refer to the classes as a more intense form of CrossFit. Classes only have two to six people in each session.
Photo: Lifetime Fitness
6 of 7All photos
Looking to combine strength training with cardio in order to get the best workout possible? You'll know whether you are or not as you track yourself, thanks to the heart rate monitor you're assigned at the beginning of class at one of Orangetheory Fitness' nationwide studios. It will show you what zone you're working in, with orange being the area you're looking to spend 12 to 20 minutes in. Expect to do everything from sprint repeats, to rowing for time, to abdominal work, TRX push-ups and planks, to burpees with overhead press using dumbbells. If you don't leave this class drenched in sweat, something went wrong.
Keep in mind,your target "orange zone" is based off of your own statistics, so you're only competing against yourself, though it's fun to try to "out-train" the others. If you find yourself in the "red zone," it's time to scale back, though hitting it isn't a rarity during these classes. (Psst: Orangetheory Fitness is one of the 5 Up-and-Coming Fitness Studios.)
Photo: Orangetheory Fitness
7 of 7All photos
Ever since Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver made history graduating from the Army's elite Ranger School this month, we've been wondering what their training was like—and if we could do it. SEALFIT—an Encinitas, CA-based fitness complex and online training program—helps you find out as you test not only your physical training but also mental toughness. Think going full force for long measures of time without a known end in sight, carrying heavy loads, and working on core strength in a team setting. The program was created by a retired SEAL to help individuals reach their fullest potential in their day-to-day lives.