Testing Out the Fitness Trends, by Kristen Schmidt

Earlier this year, we were thrilled with the arrival of baby #3. I’m counting my lucky stars that she is by far my most cooperative baby – she sleeps well, is easy-going and even with daycare and two germy older siblings, she has yet to get sick. So while our transition to three has been better than we could have hoped, this third pregnancy was not so cooperative on my body. It’s been difficult to shed the last 10 pounds, my energy level is low and I need to do some serious core strengthening after my abdominal muscles have been stretched for the third time. I’ve been needing some motivation to jumpstart an exercise routine, so I decided to test out some of the newer fitness classes to see what could work for me.

As with most “new” moms, it can be challenging to find time to squeeze in a workout and intimidating to try something new. Will they notice I can barely touch my toes? Am I going to feel like I have to come with a full face of makeup (because that’s definitely not going to happen!)? Is it too advanced for a beginner? I know if I’m going to stick with a class, it has to be fun, yet challenging, convenient, and not break the bank or my now wider hips. With that in mind, I tried out the classes below and graded each on the following criteria: cost, time, ease of scheduling, intimidation factor, and workout intensity.

PureBarrePure Barre: Barre combines small Pilates and ballet-type movements to build lean muscle without bulk. It enhances flexibility while improving balance. There are over 400 locations nationwide.

  • Cost: C – each class is $22 and a month unlimited is $199 – while they offer one other cardio type class, that’s a lot for such a limited offering
  • Time: A – each class is 50 minutes, which I felt was enough time to get a good workout but didn’t eat up too much of my day
  • Ease of Scheduling: A – online scheduling and multiple offerings throughout the week and weekends
  • Intimidation Factor: C – the instructors are fantastic but some of the stretches were intimidating for a beginner (i.e. the split stretch)
  • Workout Intensity: B – I loved that I left without being sweaty but was really sore the next day. It definitely targets your core, which is exactly what I’m looking for in a class. With that said, I still feel like would need to add cardio into my routine for a well-rounded fitness regimen

TitleBoxingTitle Boxing: Interval training that includes stretching; calisthenics (lunges, squats, the dreaded burpees, etc.); and punching or kicking a 100 lb. bag. There are 180 locations nationwide.

  • Cost: B – the first class is free; subsequent options include: $24 per class; 12-month membership commitment – $109 per month for unlimited classes; month to month – $129 per month for unlimited classes
  • Time: A – while I took the 60-minute class, which felt a little long, they also offer 30, 45, and 75-minute options. Godspeed to those that take the 75-minute class!
  • Ease of Scheduling: A – online scheduling and multiple offerings throughout the week and weekends
  • Intimidation Factor: B – there is a learning curve with the different punches (uppercut, jab, etc.) and I think it would take a few classes to feel comfortable with the language and keep up with the pace
  • Workout Intensity: A – while this is definitely a total body workout, it focuses the most on arms and core. My heart rate was elevated throughout the entire class and I was ridiculously sore the next few days. This was a great workout.

OrangeTheoryOrange Theory: Sessions are split into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. You wear a heart rate monitor to track intensity and maximize metabolic burn. Cardiovascular work includes treadmill and rowing; strength training includes dumbbell work, planks, TRX suspension trainers, etc. There are over 800 locations nationwide.

  • Cost: B – the first class is free; subsequent options include: $28 a session, $99 for 8 classes p/month; or $159 for unlimited classes
  • Time: B – each class is an hour – this felt REALLY long, especially since it is an intense hour
  • Ease of Scheduling: A – online scheduling and multiple offerings throughout the week and weekends
  • Intimidation Factor: A – this class was HARD, but the instructor did a great job explaining everything in advance. You also control the intensity of your workout and there was a wide range of participants. Some were in fantastic shape and sprinted on the treadmill, while others were power-walking
  • Workout Intensity: A – this was a total body workout and I felt like Jell-O when I left. I loved how my heart rate was monitored and shown throughout the class; it forced me to push myself harder than I normally would, and I left knowing I had a great workout. They email your results to you as well so you can track your progress.

ExerciseCoachThe Exercise Coach:  The concept is a 20-minute workout just two times a week. They use computerized machines that calibrate your body’s needs. A trainer can watch your workout or analyze it later, noting exactly where you’re maxing out or you’ve hit a plateau, and intensify, soften, or modify your workout accordingly. There are 43 locations nationwide.

  • Cost: D – the first two classes are free; subsequent options range from $259-$335 a month, depending on the length of commitment, which covers 2 personal training session p/week. This seems REALLY high, even with the one-on-one interaction
  • Time: B – the session only lasts 20 minutes, which makes it very easy to fit into your schedule; however, I didn’t feel like 20 minutes was enough time for a full workout, especially only going twice a week
  • Ease of Scheduling: A – online scheduling and multiple offerings throughout the week and weekends
  • Intimidation Factor: B – the trainer had a science background and brought me in for a consultation before the workout – he used language I wasn’t familiar with, which didn’t create a great initial connection. The gym is small and it looks like they only have a couple of sessions going at once, so it is quiet and calm
  • Workout Intensity: C – I pushed myself on each machine, but I still felt like I had more left in the tank at the end of the session

The winner: Orange Theory Fitness and Pure Barre On Demand

In my opinion, Orange Theory Fitness provided the best workout and value for money. I’m continuing to complete drop-in classes at Orange Theory and would consider a membership in the future once I know I can commit to going at least twice a week. I’ve also found Pure Barre online classes. I love this option because it costs less and I can take the classes at any time from home. It follows the same format as the studio classes but there are options for the length of class – from as little as 5 minutes up to 60. This has been a great addition to my workouts and I can’t use the time excuse. Now if I can only address that ice cream habit!

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