Here's a fun fall fitness goal for you: learn to "gallop."
It's a term you've probably never heard before in a workout context, since the unique exercise is only utilized at Tone House in New York City, where it was created by Alonzo Wilson, the brains and brawn behind all of the popular studio's killer sports conditioning sequences.
The move looks deceptively simple but requires an unparalleled combination of speed, power, strength, and flexibility (which takes your fitness level up in all all these areas, in addition to being an excellent core workout)—and it often leaves newcomers to the class baffled. "It’s a full-body movement...and you’re traveling while doing it," Wilson explains. "People have trouble because very few exercises you do require you to actually move your body from point A to point B, and then C, and then D."
In recent classes, I observed gallopers' behavior with increasing interest. One female first-timer completed her first lap and then looked up at me like she'd seen a ghost. A ridiculously fit, shirtless regular, sculpted muscles gleaming with sweat, shook his head at the floor in disbelief as he paused in between laps to rest. (There are even Tone House t-shirts that mark the gallop's date of establishment. It's that significant.)
It's arguably the toughest full-body workout move you'll ever try—sorry, burpees.
Ready to add it to your park boot-camp routine to impress your workout buddies? Keep reading to see what the gallop looks like—and get tips on how to try it yourself.
How to do it right
"The best way to think of it is that it’s basically a weight transfer," Wilson says. "So you're moving your weight into your hands and then into your feet." It's literally how a cheetah runs (and also my dog—and maybe yours—when she's really, really zooming), we unfortunately just aren't designed for the motion like the four-legged beasts.
To get galloping, keep your knees bent, your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Reach your hands far out in front of you, moving all of your weight forward into your hands, and then immediately hopping your feet forward, moving the weight into your feet. Then just keep on going.
"You want to first get distance, so you’re traveling with it. Start off slow at first, and then the speed will come."
Things to remember: Wilson says to try to land as softly as possible on both your hands and feet (use that core). "You want to control yourself," he says. And don't be afraid to really reach out far in front of you: "You want to first get distance, so you’re traveling with it. Start off slow at first, and then the speed will come."
The cool part is as you get better and start to pick up speed, the momentum will make the movement much easier, adds Tamara Pridgett, a Tone House coach and the studio's resident cheetah (as you can see in the videos). "Keep your head down," she also advises, to protect your neck and keep your body low and moving forward efficiently. "Everyone's biggest fear is that they're going to fall on their face," she says, but you won't. Your knees or hands will hit the ground first (trust me, it's happened to me many times).
"The majority of people, when they’re doing it for the first time, they have trouble with it," Wilson says, but give them a few weeks, and they're flying down the turf, feet bounding in the air behind them. "It requires you to give it all you’ve got, but it’s really a lot of fun."
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