Go ahead, try not to smile as you hop onto the hammock for the first time in aerial yoga class and pump your legs to swing like you did as a preschooler.
Try not to giggle as you go from hesitant to confident in a pair of Kangoo Jumps bounce boots.
Try not to laugh as you walk into memories of high school gym (minus the cool kids judging your basketball skills) at Throwback Fitness.
The funny thing is the more fun you have, the more you forget you’re working hard. Here are three classes that make breaking a sweat feel like playtime.
Levitas Studio http://www.levitasstudio.com/
“If you are having fun, the fitness will follow” is a common mantra at Levitas Studio in Seattle, home to Air Play, a class that takes playtime to another level. Literally.
Air Play is an aerial yoga class that takes participants off the mat into suspended fabric hammocks. Once there, yogis can swing, hang upside down or enclose themselves in the fabric for some mindful chill time. The studio offers a variety of aerial yoga classes that focus on strength building or stretching, but Air Play has its own personality.
“We created a class where we stop and play with floats and flips,” co-owner and instructor Samantha Danielle said.
Don’t be mislead, though, Air Play is a good place to work on core, leg and arm strength.
“We do put a lot of emphasis on the feeling of freedom in movement,” Danielle said. “Increasing mobility increases the feeling of freedom and body awareness, which is something I have many students tell me they notice a lot more doing aerial yoga than anything else they’ve done.”
Benefits of aerial yoga include relieving soreness in parts of the body that are difficult to get into, such as between the shoulder blades and hamstrings. It’s also common to leave class standing a little taller than when you entered and that’s not all from the confidence of doing backflips on day 1.
Throwback Fitness = http://throwbackfit.com/
Because nothing is more dreadful than logging long hours on the treadmill or elliptical, Brian Gallagher and Ryan Wilke created Throwback Fitness in New York City.
The class is broken into teams or partners with little games to keep the participants motivated and on the move. Partners are often armed with little squirt guns then given a task such as row 200 meters while your partner does squats. Whoever finishes first gets to squirt their partner. Tell me that’s not motivational!
“We create games that reward people for pushing themselves faster and harder,” Gallagher said. “Those extra reps seem more worthwhile and fun when afterwards you get to take a shot at a goal, answer a trivia question or score a point for your team. When we were kids, staying active was always something we looked forward to because it involved games and competition, and we’re replicating that feeling.”
A nice benefit of the partner and group activities is getting to know your gym squad. This is a great place to try if you’re new to town and want to make fitness-minded friends.
Boing With Kangoo = https://www.crunch.com/classes/class-descriptions/
It only takes a few minutes to find your groove in a pair of Kangoo Jumps. You’ll see new students strapping them on, unsure of how to get onto their feet, but once they do and take a couple tentative bounces, they’re ready to jump, kick and dance their way to a tighter tummy and toned legs.
The class plays right into Crunch gym’s mission to “make fitness fun.” The boots provide a low-resistance workout platform while the instability causes the core to engage while you tone and strengthen.
It’s fun, but don’t think for a second that it isn’t tough. All that bouncing and running and playing is exhausting. It’s not uncommon for the floor to get slick with sweat, so tread carefully and bring a towel.