Fitness Guide: Exercising Your Mind Over Matter
Get going—and out of your head—by challenging yourself, beating boredom, or pushing past a plateau.
Don’t let a mental block keep you from reaping the benefits of being in great shape. Try out these motivation-jumping activities to get in the swing of things.
Simplify Sculpting: TRX
Bodyweight resistance training has hit the fitness world hard, with many trainers favoring the use of one’s own weight to sculpt muscles as opposed to rep after rep of dumbbells. “You’re carrying your own bodyweight all day long,” says Chris Duro, head trainer at Crunch Gym in White Plains (914-328-3311; www.crunch.com). “With bodyweight resistance, there’s no additional load on the body,” making it ideal for people with injuries.
To that end, meet TRX, a deceptively simple total-body workout system comprising two sturdy straps attached your gym’s wall. TRX, otherwise known as suspension training, originated in the Navy SEAL program, and consists of exercises performed while hanging onto the straps and angling your body toward or away from the ground to increase resistance (and therefore difficulty). So, rather than curl a dumbbell toward your body, you pull your body toward the strap. For lower-body exercises, assume a plank position, with your feet in the loops at the end of the straps.
“Anybody can do [TRX],” says Duro, who sees members up to age 85 on the straps. Start at whatever angle you feel most comfortable, and then, as class progresses, increase the angle incrementally (we’re talking inches here) for more resistance. Crunch offers a half-hour “Bodyweb with TRX” class (free with the $19.95/month Peak Membership) during lunchtime—perfect for a quick sweat (and you will sweat) before heading back to the office.
And every TRX class is different. At Club Fit in Briarcliff Manor (914-762-3444; www.clubfit.com/briarcliff), TRX class is surprisingly small, given the size of the gym and its 5,000 members, which allows trainers to aid with balance and getting into and out of the straps. At the Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco (914-241-0797; www.sawmillclub.com), Group Exercise Director Kathleen Goldring conducts a class of TRX and mini-trampoline intervals, which add a killer cardio boost—and a rather exhilarating daredevil element—to your body-sculpting.
Bounce fOR Balance: BOSU
Chances are, if you’ve ever done any personal training or taken a boot-camp class, you’ve spent a good many minutes planking or doing very shaky squats on a BOSU ball—those large, blue, squishy domes—sweating and silently cursing your trainer. Balance is the name of the game with BOSU, whether you’re incorporating planks, tricep dips, or lunges on to or off of one. As your body’s stabilizers kick in, you’re strengthening key core and lower-body muscles. As part of its Peak Membership ($19.95/month), Crunch Gym offers a lunch-hour BOSU Boot Camp, which includes core, upper-, and lower-body work, (you’ll even be lifting the BOSU platform for some extra arm and chest work) and a gauntlet run on top of the BOSUs (yes, it’s terrifying at first, but then get ready to giggle as you bounce from one bubble to the next). “BOSU Bodysculpt” is also offered at the Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco.
Switch It Up: Tread-X
Spin your normal fitness routine on its head with Tread-X at bodyfit in Scarsdale (914-725-9400; www.bodyfitstudio.com). These unique hour-long classes include treadmill time, along with cardio-based floor work, and suspension training (think TRX). This trifecta of high-intensity cardio, lifting, and body-weight exercises packs a huge punch that blasts calories and leaves you high on endorphins. One of the major benefits is you don’t have to self-motivate once you get there; just show up—no reading material required.
Do It Together: Aerial Yoga
What better way to get yourself out the door than by trying an unconventional class with a group of friends? We’re fans of the aerial yoga classes at Tarrytown’s Riverstone Yoga (914-322-9642; www.riverstoneyoga.com) that utilize hammocks to more evenly distribute body weight. Whilst suspended above the ground, students use gravity to further relax into poses. The private nature of the class allows the instructor to cater to participants, meaning more personal attention when you need it.
Get Inspired: INdian Dance & Jazz
When computer scientist Gargi Bagchi founded her White Plains-based Asavari dance and music school (914-948-8969; www.asavari.org) 16 years ago, it provided the perfect outlet for her boundless creativity. Bagchi’s classes focus on Kathak, a North Indian form of traditional dance, and include classical, ethnic, and Bollywood dances.
“Each dance requires full energy. It’s performed very gracefully with a lot of eye expression,” she says. Those elements, together with delicate hand movements, swirling skirts, sounds produced from bare feet, and live music on the Harmonium or traditional Indian tabla drums, or pre-recorded CDs, all contribute to the telling of the story behind the dance.
“I try to teach through storytelling to make the dance interesting and fun,” Bagchi explains. “I translate the Indian into English, so students of any age and culture can enjoy.”
Zumba is everywhere nowadays, but, if your style is less Latin and more Broadway, there’s “Dance-ol-ogy” at Club Fit in Briarcliff Manor. Conducted in nine-week sessions, each course consists of choreographed jazz-based dances designed to get your heart rate up. Instructors for this perennially popular class are all former professional dancers, and, for those of us who are more, er, rhythmically challenged, the choreography for the dances (which are all set to fun pop songs) is put online for home practice. After week three, the focus is less on learning the moves and more about shaking it in this non-stop cardio bonanza.