By Melinda Fulmer, Special to the Los Angeles Times
June 16, 2012
If the thought of another grueling boot camp class has you yawning and dragging your feet, why not try a workout that makes fitness feel like a party?
Whether you like to dance, spin or just channel your inner rock god or goddess, there's a class out there that will fit the bill, and still burn fat and build muscle.
The L.A. Times scoured Los Angeles gyms to come up with three total-body workout classes that bring the music and fun from the clubs into the studio. Think of these as alcohol-free happy hours or your time to release stress while keeping your fitness goals on track.
Prices vary, depending on whether you belong to the gym where the class is offered or buy packages of classes. Some sites offer discounts for the first class. Single classes cost around $20 to $25.
(Multiple locations. Classes can be found at http://www.butifitness.com.)
Buti Yoga, developed by yoga and fitness expert Bizzie Gold, is a sexy hybrid of Miami Booty Dance, yoga and CrossFit-type plyometric moves (explosive moves to build power).
Set to loud Afro-Brazilian funk, hip-hop and reggae music, Buti's intense 60- to 90-minute workouts will have you swiveling your hips during warrior one pose and shaking your bum during deep prayer squats.
The suggestive moves are enough to make some first-timers blush or giggle, but Gold believes that Buti's sexy stance is good at building self-esteem and body awareness.
Buti (pronounced booty, not beauty) also amps up the calorie burn. Plank jumping jacks, squats and mountain climbers keep your heart rate elevated between longer poses or vinyasa. And many classic static yoga moves, such as triangle pose, have been transformed into dynamic exercises to help participants stay in a cardio zone.
"It's more strenuous than other yoga classes," says Candy Sylvasy, taking a Buti class at Yoga Blue in Pasadena. "At the end of it, I feel I have totally improved my body. "
With its abundance of plyometric jumps, this hot pants yoga mash-up is probably not suited for novice exercisers or those with bad knees. And those who want to hear the instructor's cues to follow along might have trouble doing so because of the booming bass.But for intermediate exercisers, it's a great way to burn calories and increase your peace without making trips to both the yoga studio and the gym.
(Crunch Gym, 220 Fitness and Mansion Fitness, http://www.poundfit.com)
"There's one very important rule in this class," shouts Cristina Peerenboom as she and her partner, Kirsten Potenza, start their cardio drumming class in Burbank. "And that's, make noise!"
Within minutes, a packed class clutching weighted neon green drumsticks, dubbed Ripstix "because they get you ripped," is drumming on the floor, in the air and hitting the sticks together to tap out the beat as they run through a series of exercises.
It's loud, it's proud and it's Pound, a cardio interval class designed to burn fat and build muscle.
Peerenboom and Portenza, both drummers in their spare time, developed the 30- to 45-minute workouts because they were bored with traditional strength routines and noticed that when they didn't have a stool, they got a really good workout behind their drum kits. With the addition of two quarter-pound sticks, the workout got even better.
But Pound's real appeal is in its ability to distract exercisers from the hard work they're doing.
When you're tattooing a beat on the floor to Rihanna, it's hard to remember how many squats and lunges you have done. Even the floor work, composed of bridges and boat poses, incorporates drumming.
It's hard not to smile when the whole class is in sync, twisting side to side and drumming to the beat.
The moves get your heart rate up but don't require much in the way of choreography. And they aren't so challenging that a beginner couldn't do a modified version, such as a higher squat or lunge.
As with other music-focused workouts, it can be hard to hear cues over the pumping bass, but the instructors do give a brief instruction on form before each interval and some advice on easier modifications.
(8750 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood)
At 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, it's hard to find a party, even in Los Angeles. But there's one going on at SoulCycle.
Inside its glossy new West Hollywood studio, a youngish crowd of fitness buffs lines up for this New York transplant's brand of spinning that incorporates hand weights and movement to give riders a total body workout with a house party feel.
Once the music starts and riders are clipped in, the lights go down — save for a handful of candles and a few lights over the instructor. Loud music and tight spacing between the bikes gives the small studio a club-like atmosphere with cyclists moving up and back in unison, save for the occasional whoop or fist pump from the regulars.
The studio's team of model/actor-type instructors, such as Ben B. (Bruker), are part DJ and part coach, dishing out motivation and the latest unreleased song from Usher as they take the packed class through an intense 45-minute ride that includes double-time tricep pushups on the handlebars and too many up-and-down sprint reps out of the seat to count. And if that weren't enough, there's a short weight segment with biceps, triceps and shoulder exercises, before a final cardio push.
It's a high-intensity class from the get-go. It's not easy on the knees, it's hard to keep proper form doing the upper-body weights and abdominal twisting while pedaling, and it can be hard to hear the coaching on form over the music.
Indeed, some in the fitness business have raised questions about the safety and efficacy of SoulCycle's multi-tasking workout. However, SoulCycle says its workout was developed in part by exercise physiologists and its instructors are indoor cycling certified, in addition to completing SoulCycle's 12-week accreditation course.
For its die-hard fans, there is no substitute. It's about as close as you can get to a party on a bike — if you can keep up.
Clip-on shoes are mandatory and are available for rent at the front desk.
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