You know that friend who always gives the best fashion advice? Spoiler alert: it’s not me. However, when it comes to workouts—especially group fitness classes in New York City—I’m often fielding questions from my inner circle. “What’s a good exercise to get a bigger butt?” “Did you like that Pilates studio you wrote about?” “How many minutes and miles do you run in so-and-so’s treadmill class?”
I gladly respond to these questions, because the truth is: As a fitness writer, I’ve taken a lot of exercise classes. The time I’ve dedicated to sweating, squatting, sprinting, and stretching add up to no small sum. As far as personal preferences go: I typically find a workout I really like, and I stick to it for a given period of time (like 30 days, for instance) to see how it changes my body, mood, and lifestyle. At the end of my month-long journey—and after accomplishing my goals—I find something else that excites me, and I move on.
But instead of dedicating myself in the way that I usually do, I decided to shake things up for a month. Utilizing New York City fitness studios, online instructional videos, exercise apps, and gym and living room space, I challenged myself to try 20 different workouts within a 30-day period to see if switching up my workout would change how I felt about sweating it out. Keep scrolling for what I tried and how it went.
The 20-class plan I tackled over 30 days
Before starting my random routine, I was worried that so many variations of exercise might work against me. I asked Jeff Brannigan, the program director of Stretch*d, if an inconsistent regimen would be problematic. Would my performances suffer?
“Variability is one of the most important things you can incorporate into your training routine. By implementing different kinds of workouts and types of activity into your schedule, you can improve both performance and recovery. Engaging in the same activity day in and day out will put certain areas of the body under constant stress and increase the likelihood of injury,” he said. “Workout variability—along with consistent recovery—will allow you to maintain an active lifestyle while keeping the chance of injury at a minimum.”
1. 305 Fitness Cardio: a 55-minute energetic dance-cardio class, equipped with a live DJ
2. 305 Fitness Flex: a 55-minute flexibility class that’s kind of like if yoga and physical therapy had a baby
3. SoulCycle: a 45-minute cycling class in a dark room, with high energy tunes, an arm series, and magical mantras
4. FitHouse Hot Yoga Sculpt: a 45-minute flow in 80 to 90 degree temperatures, with circuits of strength training
5. FitHouse Sculpt: a 50-minute full-body toning class with light weights, mini exercise balls, and sliders
6. FitHouse Barre: a 50-minute class of pulsing routines at the barre and on a mat with light weights and resistance bands
7. FitHouse HIIT: a 50-minute high intensity interval training class (as the name suggests) involving weights, kettlebells, SkiErgs, ropes, and more
8. Flywheel: a 45-minute indoor cycling class with popular music, an arm series, and scoreboard
9. SLT: a 50-minute class combining cardio, strength training, and Pilates, on a megaformer, in a small group setting
10. Rumble: a 45-minute boxing class with 10 rounds—half of which are spent pounding bags and the other half are spent doing strength and bodyweight conditioning exercises
11. Barry’s Bootcamp: a 50-minute HIIT class: half treadmill, half floor (strength training) with bands, hand weights, and steps
13. Strava App: Running outside for a five mile, 50 min. run wearing Brooks sneakers. I used the app to track time, distance, splits and the course
14. Pure Barre: a 50-minute low impact workout involving pulsing, using bar, bands, a ball, ankle weights, and body weight
15. CorePower Yoga’s Core Power Yoga 2: a 60-minute yoga class in 93 to 100 degree temperatures, with chill music and mantras
16. CorePower Yoga Core Power Sculpt: a 60-minute yoga class in 85 to 95 degree temperatures with added weight training and cardio, equipped with lively music and mantras
17. New York Health & Racquet Club: I went to lift 10 to 25 pound weights on my own, and this impromptu 60-minute session involved triceps, biceps, and ab exercises
19. FitOn App: Cassey Ho’s Booty Builder Class is a 21-minute session requiring me to circle, lift, and pulse for a better back side—no equipment needed
20. FitOn App: Caroline Pearce’s fighting fit class is a 10-minute session combining strength-fight conditioning and cardio moves; there are 10 exercises for 45 seconds each, performed once through—no equipment needed
How it went
Executing a workout can seem like the easy part after mapping out your schedule—remember, most of my 20 sweat sessions were completed during the work week. While pop-ins and fly-bys are appealing, it’s necessary to book classes days in advance because many of them fill up. By the end of my 30 day stint: I had downloaded new apps on my phone and surfed the MINDBODY site for new activities. Hot tip: If you’re a class hopper, setting up an account with a booking company like MINDBODY can save you loads of time.
After all was said and done, it felt great to reach the finish line (after all, that was the goal). But, I didn’t feel nearly as satisfied as I had in the past. “If you’re taking on a challenge, try and ask yourself why you’re really doing it: if it’s for ego or to create a better routine,” says Nike Master Trainer Kirsty Godso. “You need to do workouts consistently enough to see the benefits of them. You want to make sure you’re not painting an erratic picture with your workout schedule and trying to do one of everything.”
I couldn’t have agreed more. Godso’s feedback truly struck a chord. The purpose of my challenge was to try everything, but, to me, I didn’t feel the gains that come with sticking with one workout for a longer period of time. I had a lot of fun doing different things every day, but toward the end of my month-long stint, I missed routine (and TBH, rolling out of bed without having to think about what was ahead for the day).
Having tried 20 different workouts, I can confidently say that I loved some and loathed others, but the beauty in switching things up is that you don’t have to be too precious with any given workout. If you don’t like a workout, don’t go back (or at least, maybe try it again once for good measure), and if you love it, soak up the awesomeness that sweat sesh brings. It’s great to try new things now and then, and you can keep-on-keeping-on with what works and write off what doesn’t. After all, tomorrow’s a new day.
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