It’s already March, and I’m proud to say that I’m getting the most out of the New Year’s resolution I set for myself. Unlike past years, when my goal was to drink a protein smoothie every single day and do at least 30 minutes on the elliptical every other day, I picked a resolution that didn’t make me roll my eyes at the thought of drinking, eating or moving my legs to the tune of boring and blah.
My 2017 goal wasn’t just to work out more (I have to do something to counteract how many slices of pizza I eat on a weekly basis) but to have fun at the same time. Since I’ve been a member of three different gyms in the past five years of living in New York and have probably gone to all of them fewer than 30 times collectively, I decided in 2017 to drop my gym membership and instead scour the city for the weirdest, coolest and at times terrifying workout classes to take.
Here are the six outside-the-box classes I’ve taken so far this year where I’ve sweated my butt off and laughed out loud at how ridiculously fun they were along the way.
1. Recess games with a grown-up twist
I decided to kick my classes off with a class in NYC called Throwback Fitness. They describe themselves on their website as “old school fitness — summer camp with an adult twist.” I liked the sound of that and figured doing recess-like games wouldn’t be hard, right?
I was wrong. The workout combines different high-intensity movements like burpees, push-ups, squats, lunges, a rowing machine and kettle bells with games like trivia, tic-tac-toe and capture the flag.
I left sweaty but also feeling like I had just done a workout with a group of strangers-turned-teammates and was eager to go back.
2. Climbing with no support
Since I know I’ll never make it to climb Mt. Everest (I can’t even climb up the 26 flights of stairs in my apartment building without stopping 10 times and chugging two bottles of water), I wondered what it would be like to do rock climbing indoors with plastic-like rocks that won’t cut my fingers or damage my running shoes too much.
I went to an indoor rock-climbing gym called Steep Rock Bouldering and decided to smear some chalk on my hands, put on a pair of their climbing shoes and climb up a wall as high as I could go without being harnessed in.
If I slipped or my arms got tired, I fell down on the mat below, which wasn’t scary and didn’t hurt much at all.
As I tried to climb the wall over and over, I found myself getting better, though my nails were cracking one by one as I used them to grip the plastic stones, which may have been the only downside to this workout.
3. Yoga to Beyoncé
I have never been one to enjoy yoga class. I can’t touch my toes and my workout class ritual is to leave before the end of the class when the workout is over and the stretching is just beginning. I’m not very patient and I like to do more boot camp-style classes.
But I decided to give in to yoga and try a class that offered a unique spin on the workout I usually roll my eyes at. I took a hip-hop hot yoga class at Y7 Studios.
It’s 80 degrees in the room, which I didn’t mind since the weather outside was 30 degrees and the class isn’t set to a Zen soundtrack that puts people to sleep. The songs that you do your yoga flow to are hip-hop songs, in the case of this class, Beyoncé songs.
The combination of it being so hot inside and the music being so amazing made me forget about my lack of flexibility and I walked out of the class enjoying myself — and being really sweaty too.
4. Balancing on a surfboard
I saw a class on Shark Tank a few years ago called SurfSet, where people work out on top of a stationary surfboard that wiggles a little bit. I decided to try it out and learned within the first 30 seconds that to take this class, you have to be really good at balancing and even better at not letting your ego hit the floor when your body does.
The class felt like a mixture of a high-intensity workout and a yoga workout, which was a nice balance, even though I spent most of my time trying to balance.
The best part was that it was held indoors on a very cold day in NYC, but I forgot about that temporarily and instead watched the projections of a beach and of waves playing in front of me as I pretended for 45 minutes that I was surfing in an ocean far, far away.
5. Flying while doing yoga
Here we are again with another yoga class, aerial yoga, which I tried because the pictures I saw of the class made me feel like I was in Cirque du Soleil.
The class was shockingly hard, but relaxing. It was fun getting to wrap yourself in an extended piece of silk that’s fastened to the ceiling and do all kind kinds of different moves that have you feeling like you are flying on a swing set.
6. Training like an NBA star
After spending the first few weeks of the month taking fun classes, I decided to research what the toughest class in New York City is — and sign up for that. That’s when I found myself taking a class at Tone House, where their website says they believe every individual has the capacity to be the like the athletes they admire and to train like them.
Before going, I thought of the athletes that I admire most and all I could think of were the people who do competitive food eating. They are considered athletes, right? I wish there was a class I could take to train like them.
But I arrived and immediately felt like I was getting ready to enter some type of Hunger Games situation. The lights in the room were dimmed with hints of neon spotlights and the music was what you would expect to hear if you were about to enter a battle for your life. I was terrified.
The workout was what I remembered conditioning to be like when I spent a total of one day as a basketball player for my high school team. Lots of burpees, bear crawls and the workout that made me cry — when we had to push a sled with giant sandbags on top of it.
I cried like a baby as I pushed, pushed, pushed it across the finish line. But when that was over and the class was over, I laid on the turf floor of the workout room and laughed because for once in my life, I felt less like a couch potato and more like an athlete.
So if you’re looking to jump on your New Year’s resolution of staying fit and healthy, perhaps put a pause on trying to go to the gym and instead try to take some fun and unique workout classes that will make you laugh, cry, sweat and just have fun for an hour or two a day.