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Class Action: CLAY Ball at CLAY Health Club + Spa

Medicine balls to turn up the intensity of almost every move at CLAY Ball. (Photo: Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good)


Short workouts are in right now, and swanky boutique gym CLAY’s newest class is delivering on the trend with this new 30-minute metabolic training class that uses all kinds of fitness balls—from medicine balls to Pilates balls and the playground-sized ones used at the barre—to seriously work your core.

Designed by trainer Beth Lewis, the class includes a standing sequence, plank-based floor intervals, and a Pilates-style mat section to finish you off. The actual exercises you do (and which ball you use) will vary day to day.

During my session, we gripped medicine balls to turn up the intensity of almost every move. Think squats and side lunges while pushing the ball overhead interspersed with quick cardio bursts like high knees and jumping jacks, ball included. On the floor, the ball acted as a destabilizing force during planks, push-ups, and burpees, forcing us to activate our cores like crazy in order to not roll off. And on the mat, we did Pilates roll-ups and oblique twists with the ball in hand before finally putting it down to work our glutes with hip bridges and pulsing.

While it’s over quick, the class is a lot tougher than I expected, and I was grateful for the Top 40 playlist and for Lewis’ boundless energy and encouragement. (She’s a professional dancer from Georgia, who yells things like “Your back should be super duper duper duper straight!” with a Southern twang.)

And because of its focus on core strength, agility, and mobility on different planes, it would be an amazing easy-to-fit-in complement to race training for a marathoner or triathlete. —Lisa Elaine Held

Who’s it for: Treadmill junkies who need some resistance training, marathoners and triathletes

25 W. 14th St., Union Square, free for members,