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Fitness star Holly Rilinger’s new workout is about muscle—and meditation


Holly Rilinger
(Photo: Abbey Drucker)

What happens when you take a Flywheel superstar off the bike and let her get into your head?

If the beloved instructor in question is Holly Rilinger, you get Lifted—her new workout class at Bandier’s Studio B in Manhattan that, as she recently explained to the women eagerly packed into the space, will get you “lifted in mind, body, and spirit.”

No, this isn’t another story about sweating while stoned; instead, Rilinger is following in the footsteps of many of her co-stars on Bravo’s Work Out New York and creating her own method that’s a pure reflection of the current wellness zeitgeist. In this case, think intense interval training melded with meditation to make you sweat, breathe, and feel centered within the same hour.

“We should train our minds as well as our bodies—with discipline and consistency,” she explains.

Holly Rilinger's Lifted class
Photo: Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good

Calm and Cardio

Rilinger says she’s been wanting to apply the spiritual, positive feel of her Flywheel class to another discipline for a long time. “I always asked myself, How can I take the essence of that out of the spin room? As I travel and do other things, I can’t have 50 bikes with me everywhere I go.”

Then, a year ago, she started meditating and was blown away by its effects on her life. “I get to witness the different thoughts in my head, and it’s given me this beautiful middle ground, this calmness in the midst of all the craziness and excitement and everything that’s going on in my life,” she says.

So, she decided to bring that calm to the people who were already coming to her for cardio—especially those who found meditation intimidating or were so busy they felt they had to choose between getting in a workout or a meditation class on a given day.

Getting Lifted

The class—which Rilinger is currently teaching at Studio B on Monday nights—kicks off with a five-minute guided meditation and then launches into cardio and strength training intervals using bodyweight and dumbbells. During each song you alternate between two exercises while moving to the beat of the booming music (to maximize mindfulness, Rilinger notes). We did everything from weighted rows to lunges, shadowboxing combos to plank variations. Then, a little more than halfway through, you stop and sit for another five-minute meditation. “Because just like life, nothing’s linear,” the trainer explains. After that, there are a few more songs filled with intense movement, followed by a final savasana.

The back-and-forth between max effort and sitting still may feel a little jarring at first, like going between a hot tub and an ice bath, but I actually enjoyed the contrast. I felt laser-focused on the exercises during the intervals, and meditating while my heart was still pounding made for an intense body connection that helped me truly be present in the moment.

And Rilinger’s fitness fans will have no problem adjusting to her as spiritual guide, too, since her approach is super accessible (and she happens to have the perfect soothing voice). “My hope,” she says, “is that people get those five minutes of meditation in their workout—and then they take it into their life and it becomes a regular practice for them.”

Exercise helps you age well, but did you know regular meditation keep your brain young? You could also always add Holly Rilinger’s favorite ingredient (which she swears keeps her skin glowing) to your smoothie.