Let me first start off by saying I’m not one of those people who believes in a particular workout like a religion despite exercising religiously—for instance, I have no patience for yoga and certainly don’t believe those small movements and soft sayings are going to yield the six pack I’ve been chasing since high school. I kid you not when I say I’ve tried every workout under the sun: yoga, HIIT, barre, pilates, boxing, spinning in every form they’re offered in NYC. I’ve done Fhitting Room, Barry’s Bootcamp, SoulCycle—I literally could go on and on. When it comes to working out, the only thing I believe in are results.
With that said, I was looking for a class that would complement my personal training sessions in anticipation of my upcoming wedding. And while it took me a good half of my adulthood to find what I was looking for, praise be that I actually found it in the shape of a reformer machine named . No, I’m not talking about that thing you see in introductory pilates classes, I’m talking the real thing that makes you curse under your breath and has your limbs shaking for almost an hour. My goal was to find a low impact full body workout that would get me toned, fast.
Enter , a torture chamber class that will challenge your body as much as your mind (if not more). What goes down in this room is some sh*t I have never experienced, and I truly don’t know if there is anything that I hate and love more than this type of class. While this is hands down the hardest workout I’ve ever done, it is also one of the easiest on your joints since there is little to no impact. So, for all my other cardio haters, rejoice, because there’s no jumping or running during any part and your knees won’t hurt.
You spend the entire duration of the class on the machine, which is broken up into three different parts: a back platform and a front platform on either end, and a middle part, referred to as the carriage, which moves in either direction. How difficult it is to move the carriage depends on how many or how little springs you have on (see image above). There are various weights of spring load which can be adjusted throughout the entire class. There are specific moves that target different areas: think moving lunges for thighs, twisted v-ups for obliques, and kneeling shoulder presses for arms.
The core tenet for this workout is time under tension. During class, you do a series of exercises based off of planks, squats, and lunges with lots of variety to break down your muscle fibers all the way to second stage muscle failure, specifically, your slow twitch muscle fibers. This creates micro tears/trauma, which is why the workout hurts so f*cking much. But unlike most fitness classes, you will never once wonder to yourself, “is this sh*t actually working?” like I do every 30 seconds in a Pure Barre class. After class, your body will go into repair mode to heal the muscles, so they grow back stronger. During this time, your metabolism is heightened for the next 24-48 hours.
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The workout challenges you to stop focusing on calories, and to focus instead on the development of muscles you’re creating. You are literally making yourself stronger, but I feel like the fact that you can endure this type of tension for 50 minutes straight will challenge your mind more than your body. Your brain will quit working out before your body actually will, so during these extreme moments of tension, you will need to mentally fight against yourself, something that you can take with you outside the classroom that will help you way past the 24-48 hours the workout will take you.
You don’t need to take a million classes to see results either. “If you can only do 2 times per week, we guarantee you will see and feel changes in your body. In fact, I don’t even take class every single day,” explains Senior Master Coach Jacob Griffin who has been working for since their first studio opened in Washington, DC. “If you choose to show up and work hard for the 50 minutes you choose to be here, you’re set.” P.S. Jacob used to teach Michelle Obama, and we all know what her arms look like so…
Images: solidcore / Instagram