Find your fit: New classes to whip that body back into shape

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Our calendar is cruel. It tempts us to indulge for a month and a half at the close of every year, and we oblige. Then, like a swift backhand to the face at the dawn of the New Year, the calendar orders us to take inventory of all of our bad habits. 

 

For those of us feeling the sting, winter is a bleak season. But January is a jackpot for the clever folks who are in the business of whipping people like us back into shape.

 

It seems there’s a new fitness trend being trumpeted every day, usually originating from places like California and Miami. If they outlive “fad” status, eventually these techniques make their way to the Midwest. There are so many ways to sweat and so little time. 

 

Like a fitness guinea pig, I took a tour of classes offered by five different metro-area fitness facilities. I was looking for several factors in each class: their potential effectiveness, how tough each class would be for a newcomer and whether the workout was fun enough to forget that it’s a workout. The following opinions are backed up by some seriously sore glutes.

 

Pole Dance Fitness

The Pole Parlor

600 W. 103rd St., Suite 106, Kansas City, Mo. 

816.872.8774 • thepoleparlor.com 

 

Your Instructor: Chica Green. She opened the studio eight months ago, after taking a pole dancing class herself and discovering that she was a natural. “I’ve always had good upper-body strength,” she says, “and I was always good in school. No. 1 in track and No. 1 on field day. And I took gymnastics as a kid, so it was a piece of cake for me.” 

 

The Workout: Green’s “stiletto studio,” as she calls it, has five poles and it’s strictly women-only. The s-word — stripper — doesn’t come up in Green’s studio. “Curious About Pole” is her cheeky name for the introductory level class. It starts with stretches and strength-building exercises, but quickly advances to real spinning moves. I signed up with a friend, but solo newbies will find that an almost instant camaraderie forms among the women in these small classes. After the first class, attendees will find that their upper arms and shoulders are satisfyingly sore. It’s a no-joke wake-up call to core ab muscles. And who knew there were so many ways to make pulling yourself up off the floor look sexy?

“If you’re a person who wants to let loose, and you want to slim your waistline and tone your entire body, there is no better way to do it than pole dancing,” says Green, whose lithe figure speaks louder than words. “If you’re loving it, and I’m giving you 100 percent every time, you’ll keep coming back and you’ll recommend it to someone else.” 

 

Intro to Silks

Voler Aerial Academy

1331 Union Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

816.668.6292 • thievesofflight.com 

 

Your Instructor: Rachel McMeachin has been the proud owner of professional-grade aerial silks since 2007. She teaches the technique, which, according to her website, is “a type of performance where artists wrap, suspend, fall, swing and spiral their bodies into and out of various positions on a suspended fabric without the use of safety lines.” She’s also a performer with Thieves of Flight, a troupe of aerial athletes. 

 

The Workout: McMeachin’s home-slash-studio features four bolts of voluminous fabric, cascading from their moorings in the 15-foot ceiling. Classes are limited to eight people. In Intro to Silks, students start out on yoga mats to become familiar with the muscles that will be called upon for hauling yourself around in the air. The shoulder and back muscles used in aerial fabrics are ones that seldom have much purpose in daily life. “The learning curve is steep at first,” McMeachin says, “but ascends very quickly.”

 

Students are introduced to the fabric by simply grabbing hold and lifting their feet off the ground to get used to the feeling. From there, things get more complicated as McMeachin introduces “leg locks,” which are ways of twisting and folding the fabric to cradle and support your weight in the air. It’s not easy at first, but thankfully, McMeachin exudes the serenity of a Buddhist monk with patience to match. 

 

After an hour, your arms shake with exhaustion. Your abs burn from lifting your knees to your chest. And you can’t get this stupid smile off your face, because the once-absurd idea of reaching the ceiling suddenly seems very close at hand.

 

The Bar Method

5215 W. 116th Place, Leawood, Kan., Park Place Shopping Center

913.339.9348 • leawood.barmethod.com

 

Your Instructor: Hoddy Potter discovered The Bar Method, a trademarked workout technique, while she was in law school in San Francisco. She and her husband decided to move back to Kansas, his birthplace, and Potter opened her studio Nov. 5.

 

The Workout: I was relieved to learn that the “bar” in The Bar Method has nothing to do with ballet, because I was born grace-deficient. There is a long bar affixed to three of the four walls inside the carpeted workout space, but aside from using the bar for balance it wasn’t really a factor. The bulk of class time is made up of little squats, little arm raises with weights, little thigh squeezes and core-clenching exercises reminiscent of Pilates.

 

Some of these exercises involved scampering to an equipment wall, taking a squishy ball or a padded mat from a bin, and scampering back in place. Newbies like me are expected to dive right in and do their best to keep up.

 

The Bar Method is “a one-hour, non-impact, very intense interval training workout,” Potter says. “We work a muscle group until it shakes with exhaustion, then stretch it out immediately afterwards and move on to the next. The combination wraps the muscle closer to the bone for a long, lean, sexy-like-a-dancer body.”

 

Project Poolside

Scott Fitness

200 Wyandotte St., Kansas City, Mo.

816.960.0502 • scottfitness.com

Classes are available to members only

 

Your Instructor: Amy Leap is a tiny, white-blonde ball of energy. She’s been a personal trainer at Scott Fitness for eight years and has taught her version of Project Poolside for two. The class and its name were coined by the gym’s owner, Jonetta Stewart.

 

The Workout: Jumping jacks. Squats. Lunges. Bicep curls with hand weights. Jumping in place. Lunges. Squats, squats and more squats. Leap’s class consists of intervals of strength training mixed with short bursts of cardio. But the workout is never exactly the same. “Anytime you change your workout, you get more out of it, Leap says. “And if I’m taking a class and I know what’s coming, I’ll start dreading it.” 

 

Leap doesn’t count reps of anything aloud, you just follow her lead. She doesn’t expect anyone to match her hamster-on-caffeine pace, but rather, she encourages everyone to go their own speed and she doesn’t care what size weights you’re using. Also, it’s a very laid-back atmosphere, with plenty of room in back for shy newcomers. “I’m always amazed by the range of age differences,” Leap says. Older people like it because they know she’s not going to point them out for altering her workout to fit their physical capabilities. 

 

Zumba

Body and Soul KC

649 E. 59th St., Kansas City, Mo. 

816.363.8282 • bodyandsoulkc.com 

 

Your Instructor: Barbara Anderson claims that she was one of the first two aerobics instructors to begin teaching classes in Kansas City in the 1980s. You could try to verify this or you could just take her word for it like I did. 

 

The Workout: Zumba, at Body and Soul KC, means plugging in a boom box and following along with some very basic steps to the music. I didn’t break a sweat until after the first 20 minutes, but I did break a sweat. Anderson says that she decided to teach Zumba for herself, mostly, to mix in at least one hour a week of heart-rate-raising aerobics.

 

It wouldn’t be fair to judge Anderson’s class against the other, more “serious” Zumba classes I’ve seen around the metro. Anderson explained that she’s Zumba-certified, but Body and Soul KC is more dedicated to its yoga and pilates offerings than the dance-based workout craze. This is a crunchy little hive of very low-impact fitness for new-age-y, graying Brooksiders. As Anderson says of Zumba, “This is play for us.”

 

 

Comments

Some of these workouts engaged scampering to an devices walls, getting a soft football or a cushioned mat from a bin, and scampering back again. Beginners like me are required to jump right in and do their best to keep up.

Crystal Lake Personal Trainer

Our lives today revolve around our demanding jobs causing our body and mind to be filled with stress, pressure and tensions. One of the excellent way to relieve these negative elements by practicing yoga for shape shifting. It has been proven that practicing yoga can improve productivity in a workplace.

Lance Findlay's picture

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
Garage Door Rollers

There are many ways and just as many fitness centers where people go to work on their body shape. Still, why is everyone focusing on their looks, what about their soul? The sanskrit mantras are believed to have some sort of power over us and those who mediate daily, can back this up. We are in complete balance only when our body and soul are balanced, then we say that we found peace.

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