It’s 2018, which means there’s a gluten-free section on every brunch menu and a boutique fitness studio on every other block. Then again, our two main talking points these days are Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy and Oprah Winfrey’s presidency. So like, what a time to be alive. But back to the workout thing, there are actually so many fitness classes you can take, and each one tells you they’ll help you burn calories, get toned, look good, etc. Some of these classes need to be called out on their bullshit, and we’re here to do just that. Here are some workouts that are wasting your time and money.
1. Aerial Yoga
Also known as Anti-Gravity yoga, aerial yoga is a popular choice among 22-year-old girls who want to do something active on a Saturday to get a cute Instagram and make themselves feel better about the liter of tequila they’ll be drinking later. If you’ve never heard of this type of workout, picture Cirque Du Soleil meets Lululemon for $38 per session. The idea is to do traditional yoga poses on a cotton hammock hanging from the ceiling. It sounds pretty bizarre, and that’s because it is. We’re not saying this is a total scam, but unless you’re an experienced yogi with a ton of balance and a legit certification, you’re prob not getting anything out of this class. Like, by the time you finally get the hang of it, the class is over and you didn’t get any of the poses right, so you’re wasting your time. If you want a more legit workout, skip the anti-gravity bullshit and go do regular yoga.
2. Aqua Cycling
Aqua cycling is another one of those fads that draw in a group of girls who “don’t looove spinning, but would def try it in a pool for the experience.” Honestly, find yourself a different experience. Peddling your legs on a bike underwater will obviously give you a workout, but the burn you feel is more intense than the calories you’re actually burning. Like, there’s a reason people don’t run marathons in swimming pools. Because of the laws of physics it’s clearly harder for your body to move in water, but that doesn’t mean your heart rate is any higher than it would be on land. In fact, you’re moving a lot slower, so the calorie burn doesn’t even compare. Plus, let’s not even get started on the amount of germs in that pool. Do you know how many people already sweat in that water before your 7pm class? Pass.
3. The Spin Class Arms Segment
This isn’t a workout class itself, but it’s a v controversial part of every spin class, so it’s time to address it. If you’ve ever taken a cycling class, you may have noticed that about two thirds of the way through the class, the instructor tells you to peddle slower while you take out two one-pound weights and do a few shoulder raises and arm circles. During this time, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “This fucking hurts! I never knew 90 seconds of one-pound weights could actually tone my arms!” That’s because it won’t. Simply put, this arm segment is bullshit, and it’s not doing anything for you. While your arms are burning from the pulsing exercises and you may be sore tomorrow, a short interval of light weights isn’t actually doing much for your arms, and it only feels that hard because your body is already so exhausted from the intense spinning you’ve been doing. But it can fuck up your back pretty easily, so it has that going for it. You’re better off skipping this part and doing a legit arm workout at the gym another day. Sorry.
People might kill us for this, but we’re calling bullshit on most barre classes’ claims. We’re not saying that barre isn’t a good workout at all, but it’s definitely not doing what you think it’s doing. Barre studios promise to create “long, lean muscles” and make your body “toned but not bulky.” If you know anything about the mechanics of the human body, phrases like these are literally nails on a chalkboard. Whether you’re using heavy weights or resistance bands with pulsing movements, your muscles can only do three things: get bigger, get smaller, or stay the same—you can’t make them “longer” or “leaner.” The low-weight, high-volume movements in a barre class can definitely help you get stronger over time, but all the marketing about getting small, pretty muscles is just scientifically impossible. Ballerinas may look that way because of their genetics and restrictive diets, but the barre isn’t giving you that look if you weren’t born with it. Sorry if you already spent $18 on the socks.
5. The Cardio Class At Your Local Gym
I know regular gyms offer classes and not all of them are horrible, but chances are, if you’re attending a class called “Cardio Blast” taught by a 63-year-old woman named Gladys, it’s probably not that intense. If you’re attending cardio classes at your gym that make you dance around, squat in place, and do a few step ups, you could probably be spending your time more wisely and burning more calories. Any workout is better than no workout, but if you think this is really more effective than doing HIIT on the treadmill or the rower, or taking a bootcamp-style HIIT class, you should reconsider. I mean, a couple Equinox classes with celebrity trainers may be the exception, but the rest are probably not worth it. If you need to find a partner halfway through class to hold their feet down while they do a few crunches, look elsewhere.
6. Pole Dancing “Fitness”
I think somebody made a joke one time about pole dancing being a sport and someone took it too seriously. In case you’ve never heard of this sad phenomenon, people are literally signing up for pole dancing classes thinking they’re getting a legit workout. There are so many problems with this, and I’m not even sure which to point out first. Let’s ignore the moral, ethical, and political issues for now and stick with the actual workout. I’ve never taken this class myself, but I can only imagine the workout you’re getting by soberly spinning around a pole and doing a few booty pops is sub-par, at best. Consider that strippers and burlesque dancers might be good at their jobs because they’re strong, not the other way around. Unless you’re Kate Upton, working out isn’t supposed to be sexy, so please save yourself the time and skip this class. And don’t follow the instructors on Instagram either.
Update: After some recent commenters pointed out my misinformation on pole fitness, I’d like to update my claims with a few facts. As I mentioned previously, I’ve never done a pole fitness class, and simply stated my thoughts based on some colleagues’ experiences in the class. However, after doing some research of my own into the science behind the workout, it turns out pole can be a v efficient workout if you go to the right class. Personally, I don’t think I would feel any effects of it until I’ve gone a few times and gotten a hang of the moves, so it may not be the best use of my time and money, but it turns out pole dancing can actually be a killer workout that not only tones and strengthens your body, but also improves your balance, flexibility, and coordination.
Considering you’re only using the pole and your own bodyweight, the amount of core strength you need is insane. Like, all the planking in the world won’t give you this type of ab strength. Plus, it’s super intensive when it comes to both cardio and upper body strength. You’re basically working your arms, shoulders, upper back, and legs in one workout, so it adds up to a legit calorie-burn, too.
Moral of the story: Pole fitness seems like a really intense workout and I feel bad for misjudging based on some misinformation. Anyone wanna take a class with me?