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Why intensive fitness programs are more popular than ever


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Intensive fitness programs are having a moment—as anyone who kicked off January with a 30-day bootcamp-plus-diet-overhaul knows. Whether it’s a chain like Equinox or a boutique studio like Barry’s Bootcamp or Barre3, fitness brands are going beyond the fleeting experience of a la carte classes and offering clients the chance to participate in a full-on lifestyle program for a few focused weeks.

And it’s not just for January anymore. Barry’s Bootcamp hosts its “academies” throughout the year (a month of attending the same class five times per week)—and Anna Kaiser’s AKTransform and InTensive programs (with measurements, nutrition advice or meal delivery, plus almost daily workouts), have expanded beyond resolution season. Kaiser says that’s because while lots of fitness classes are good for you, and certainly fun, sticking to one thing is where you most often see results.

Read on for the five big reasons many people (maybe you?!) will be starting—and completing—intensive fitness programs this year…

(Photo: Larkin Clark for Well+Good/Barry’s Bootcamp)

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1. You’ll work out way more often than you would on your own.

Knowing it’s only for a short time span (challenges typically last from four to eight weeks) can give you the motivation you need to bump up your number of workouts. “If you attend four or five times a week, you will absolutely, without a doubt, see a difference within a matter of weeks,” says Barry’s Bootcamp CEO Joey Gonzalez.

(Photo: Larkin Clark for Well+Good/Barry’s Bootcamp)

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2. Your diet gets an overhaul, too. 

There’s a famous saying in the fitness world that abs are made in the kitchen. Translation: No amount of working out can undo an unhealthy diet. “Exercise is just one part of the equation,” says Sadie Lincoln, founder of Barre3, which has in-studio and online intensives or challenges. That’s why many fitness studios add nutrition counseling and eating plans into their intensive programs. Barre3’s nutrition philosophy, for example, is all about embracing whole foods and including a balance of healthy fats, lots of veggies, whole grains and protein in every meal and snack, Lincoln explains.

(Photo: Instagram/barre3farmingtonvalley)

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3. If you stick it out ’til the end, you are basically guaranteed results.

Celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser, founder of AKT, says, “One of the main questions I was getting is, ‘There are so many options in the fitness space right now and I have tried all of them. Nothing gets me the results that I’m looking for. What do I need to do?’” Kaiser personally sees to it that her private clients like Kelly Ripa and Shakira train often enough, hard enough, and eat a certain way in order to achieve their goals, but she can’t do the same for all of the clients in her group classes. That’s how the idea for AKTransform came to be—to take the guesswork out of trying to figure out the path to your ideal body. “It may be tough to navigate through the options alone and figure out what will work best for you,” she says.

(Photo: AKT)

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4. You’ll make friends and gain the support of a tight-knit community.

“Equinox is a large community and we wanted to create something unique, special and intimate,” explains Angela Leigh, Equinox’s national training camp manager. “Everyone is working for something they want—and to sweat, move and celebrate with each other is deeply gratifying.”

Of course, working out together on a regular basis fosters friendship outside of the gym, too—especially if you’re in a tropical location together, like Brooklyn Bridge Bootcamp’s Mexico intensive earlier this year (pictured). In addition to the benefits for your body and mind, you’ll likely walk away with a new friend (or three) as a result of the challenge. Barre3’s Lincoln adds, “It’s been amazing for me to notice how our clients take care of each other.”

(Photo: Instagram/arianehundt)

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5. You’ll gain a serious sense of pride and accomplishment.

“The learning doesn’t stop at the coaching meetings, form workshops, or nutrition plans, either,” says Adam Wasserman, Flywheel instructor and lead NYC trainer for the Flywheel Challenge. “It’s in the discovery of strength you didn’t know you had, in the new determination you found in yourself to keep going once you started seeing the results, and, probably best of all, the pride and confidence you developed.” And if your newfound confidence prompts you to finally sashay into that center spot in dance cardio class? We say, you’ve totally earned it. —Marissa Gold

Need some coaching before your first class? Learn a few moves before your first dance cardio workout and here’s how to start lifting weights

(Photo: Larkin Clark for Well+Good)