Feeling sluggish after indulging in one too many conference happy hours? Your normal gym workout not really doing it for you (or you not really doing the workout)? Try something new with a group exercise class: part workout, part experience.
PILATES REFORMER CLASSES
You know the torture device in The Princess Bride? A pilates reformer is basically that torture device, but specifically designed to torture your abs and inner thighs! Essentially, a reformer is a piece of exercise equipment that includes a wheeled platform. You can push/pull the platform back and forth; you can make it harder to push/pull by adding springs that keep it in place. Another variant is called a pilates mat, and it takes place on the mat (like yoga), rather than on the reformer.
Good if you: are looking to develop core strength, flexibility, and body awareness or are trying to recover from injuries. Pilates mat is also a great yoga alternative if yoga poses aren’t your thing/don’t work for you (for instance, down dog is uncomfortable for me because I can’t put much weight on my wrists).
Where to find it: I really like Boston Body Pilates on Newbury street; they have fantastic classes and instructors for both reformer and mat. Strengthen Lengthen Tone (SLT) recently opened a Boston location, also on Newbury, they offer classes on a megaformer (potayto, potahto), which are similar, but slightly more cardio-focused.
BOOTCAMP STYLE CLASSES
If you find yourself falling asleep in between bench press sets, or otherwise lack motivation when exercising on your own, you might want to try a bootcamp-style class! These classes come complete with an energetic instructor who has carefully designed a workout for you to do (no thinking required!), and who will enthusiastically yell/coach/encourage/weedle you to do it (no need to bring your own motivation!). Often there will be bright lights, music, and people who are way more ripped than you are!
Good if you: want a mix of cardio and weight training; want group exercise classes that are co-ed; enjoy ogling people while exercising.
Where to find it: Try Barry’s Bootcamp for the classic macho bootcamp workout that feels like exercising in a dance club; there is a conveniently located Barry’s on Chauncy St near the Downtown Crossing redline stop. I would also recommend the ONE Nation Fitness in Allston for Crossfit; less conveniently located, but a good workout and very inexpensive.
In the olden days, charismatic, energetic people with a penchant for delivering deep philosophical insights would become street preachers, or perhaps cult leaders. Now, they become spin instructors. Marvel at the spectacle by attending a spin class, where you’ll work out on a stationary bike in a darkened room, accompanied by music, mood lighting, and 20 other sweaty people.
Good if you: love working out with music! Want a great cardio workout.
Where to find it: My favorite is Flywheel at the Prudential center, where all the bikes are networked and so you compete on a leaderboard with everyone else in the class. Closer by, right next to the Friendly Toast in Kendall, is Turnstyle: same idea but without the leader board. If you want to splurge, go to Soulcycle, the first of the modern spin classes.
Barre workouts are composed mostly of bodyweight movements that are good for toning and improving flexibility. The workout is inspired by ballet, but don’t worry - all you need to know about dancing is that you can hold the bar bolted into the wall (called a “ballet barre”) for balance.
Good if you: want to go to a class that’s 90% female, where instructions are given relative to your ‘bra strap’ as if it’s a body part (*eyeroll*). Are interested in rapidly improving your flexibility and strength with a very tough workout.
All of the classes listed above except for Soulcycle and MIT group fitness can be booked through Classpass for less than directly through the studio. Classpass usually has excellent new-account promotions; currently you can get a month of classes for $9, so it’s a great way to try something fun and new with no commitment! Get out there and work.