Shake up your winter workout with these alternative fitness classes
You don’t want to stop working out. But maybe you don’t want to be restricted to the treadmill/elliptical/weight-lifting routine. So we tried out six different fitness classes around the area at varying levels of athletic ability and price ranges, for men and women and everything in between.
And don’t feel overwhelmed: We don’t claim to be the most fit people in the world, and each of these workouts left us sufficiently exhausted and sore, but not enough to be deterred. If you want a new, interesting, and full-body workout to add to your normal routine or to reboot your exercise schedule in general, there’s bound to be something on this list that fits your fancy and your fitness level.
THE CIRCUS WORKOUT
Femme Fatale Fitness
4045 N. Marshall Road, Kettering
$10 for drop-in. Schedule varies; check website for seasonal schedules.
You won’t even realize you’re working out in Femme Fatale’s classes. From Dance Fuzion’s cardio-pumping workout, to circus-style aerial hoops and silks, to saucy pole dancing and burlesque, you can get a little fun and wild while giving your muscles an intense workout. Try out a couple of open drop-in classes like Dance Fuzion or Fat Burner for $5-10; if you like it, take the next step and enroll in one of the five-week classes for $99. If you really get the bug for Femme Fatale, become a member for $150/month to enjoy any and all classes you want.
VM: This drop-in class also serves as a very basic intro to Femme Fatale’s Aerial Silk and Hoop courses, but at its core, it’s a strength training course that works your arms, core and legs with basic moves in not-so-basic ways. One such move: suspending your feet off the ground using the silks, then rotating between a plank and a downward dog yoga position for a minute. Yes, your arms and abs will be burning. The next day, I was sore in muscles I didn’t even know existed! But playing with silks and trapeze bars makes the course more of a puzzle to solve than just a straight workout — plus, great photo ops.
AC: We spent what felt like a huge portion of time at the beginning of the class stretching (in comparison with the other classes). Afterwards, I understand why. My arms hurt in places and in ways I could have never imagined. The instructor takes moves that you might be familiar with, such as the plank, mountain climbers and arm press, then modifies them to be a little more challenging, working with the silks and trapeze bar to increase your range in motion.
Femme Fatale Fitness
$5 for drop-in, schedule varies; check website for seasonal schedules.
Vivienne Machi: I honestly didn’t even feel like I was working out here. My heart was pounding and sweat was pouring down my face, to be sure, but our instructor, Femme Fatale owner Cassandra Guard, kept it fun while making sure the beat didn’t slow down for the full 45 minutes. With some past dance experience under my belt, it was awesome to pick out bits of ballet, modern, tango, hip-hop, and more in the routines set to danceable pop hits. For $5, this class is a total steal of a workout.
Allegra Czerwinski: Super intense but also really fun! The class ends up going by quickly because of it. As someone who is severely out of shape (and has no rhythm), it was a little intimidating, but by the end I felt like I was finally getting the hang of it. The dances utilize techniques from ballet and yoga. This was a good class to get started with, and a great option if you’re looking to work out your whole body while having a good time.
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
976 Senate Drive, Washington Twp.
Take a look at their calendar here.
$10 for Sky Robics class, $12-$22 for open jump sessions.
Remember jumping on your neighbor’s trampoline as a child? Get nostalgic AND fit jumping around Sky Zone’s plethora of indoor trampolines. Choose to free jump around for a length of time, or grab some friends and play ultimate dodgeball while leaping off walls. For a low-impact and low-cost workout, try Sky Robics, where you can burn between 800 and 1,000 calories in an hour session.
VM: Definitely felt like a kid again bouncing around on a trampoline for an hour, but can’t remember sweating so much 10 years ago? As someone with an old knee injury, I was a little nervous about jumping around, but I was all right by making sure to land equally on both feet and wearing a knee brace. Doing sit ups and mountain-climbers definitely is harder when you’re not on solid ground! But ending the class with a round of relay races up the walls and some quality dodge ball was a great way to let off some steam. Bonus: the cost includes warm, sole-sticky socks.
AC: This is the workout where I sweat the most, but the time seemed to go by the fastest. This class was as fun as it was challenging. I felt lucky that there were built-in water breaks every 10-15 minutes because jumping on a trampoline is seriously tiring!
BOXING AT DRAKE'S
111 E. Fifth St.
Check out the class schedule and open gym hours via Facebook.
Drake’s Downtown Gym is a gritty, no-frills gym in the heart of downtown Dayton. If you’re looking for a gym where you can channel your inner Rocky, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spot. Owner John Drake runs workouts that push you to your limits, and make you realize that your limits are more than what you thought they were. Boost your skills in the hits and mitts classes, or supplement your training in the open gym or boot camp courses. Drop in any class for $10, or enjoy unlimited classes for $65/month.
VM: I never thought I’d get into boxing; but Drake’s proved me wrong. It can’t be overstated how satisfying it is to let loose with some punches after a long day at the office. The price point to level of workout I got (based on how sore I was for the next few days) can’t be beat, either. You should expect to really push yourself on the number of squats, burpees, and ab work you do from Day One, but the encouragement you get from Day One from the instructors and your classmates will help you burn through the pain. If you don't have wraps and gloves, you can use some of Drakes', but if you decide to continue with boxing, they also sell both at the gym.
AC: You’re really in for it in this workout. Between squats, burpees, laps, crunches and push-ups, you are constantly moving. It’s a full-body workout that will leave you feeling sore for days, but in a good way. There’s a really great sense of community at Drake’s. The other classmates are encouraging of each other, and especially newcomers. The class offers modifications if you are unable to complete certain tasks, but the group mentality also pushes you to try your personal best.
PURE BARRE DAYTON
62 W. Franklin St., Centerville.
Check out their schedule here.
Don’t be put off by the “barre” aspect. Yes, you’re using a ballet barre, but you don’t need to know how to do a pirouette to burn your calories. Pure Barre claims to be "fastest most effective way to change your body," and we have to say, we kinda believed it after just one class. This total body workout has you performing small isometric movements to work, tone and sculpt your muscles you may not have ever actively worked before. No running, jumping or high-flying required. Try one class for $21, or choose from a variety of numbered class packages for a discount. New clients can try one month of unlimited classes for $99.
VM: Who knew that tiny ankle rotations could burn so much? For those with old athletic injuries, Pure Barre was the lowest impact of all of the workouts we tried, while also being one of the most tiresome. Besides the eponymous barre, you also use small athletic balls, weights and resistance bands to work your muscles in small but powerful movements that tone and shape while working up a hard sweat. I felt stronger (though exhausted) as soon as I walked out the door. Bonus: more sole-sticky socks included in the cost!
AC: Pure Barre surprised me be because it was very vigorous, but required little movement. It’s the perfect workout if you want to get in shape fast, but need something low-impact. It takes a little adjusting to get each movement down, but if you’re doing it correctly it targets (and seriously works) a very small area very thoroughly.
ROCK CLIMBING AT URBAN KRAG
125 Clay St.
Check hours and schedule here.
Whether you’ve never climbed before or the weather’s just too precarious outside to climb in nature, working up over 8,000 square feet of rocky terrain in an historic cold church is a pretty fantastic experience. You must be belay certified by one of the Krag’s instructors before climbing any of their walls, but once you’ve passed the test, you’re free to come once, twice or every day if you like. Smack dab in the heart of the Oregon, Urban Krag will build up your appetite for a great meal or cold beer down the street afterward. Drop in for a day for $12, or choose from a variety of pre-paid options. Or, become a yearly member for $35/month.
VM: Urban Krag is great for beginner and advanced rock climbers alike, with a great variety of “problems” (specific placements for where you can put your hands and feet to move up the wall) that they change regularly so you don’t get bored, no matter how many times you visit. This is the true definition of a full-body workout, too — you’ll get strength training in your fingers and toes. Though it’s always fun to go with a friend, there’s usually plenty of people around who will belay you, which is a great excuse to meet new friends as well. Learn the basics in the winter; then once the weather warms up again, take your new skills outdoors to John Bryan State Park (Urban Krag even does seasonal climbs out there) or into the Great Beyond.
AC: As someone who is very afraid of heights, if I’m going to go rock climbing, this is definitely the way to do it. The specialists double and triple check your harness before you begin, and there’s a spotter who makes sure you’re safe the entire time. Even though it’s completely safe, the adrenaline from my fear alone is what pushes me to get through this workout. It hardly feels like a workout to me, in that regard, because I’m less focused on the pain in my muscles and more focused on how to get to the top and back down again without slipping or falling.
What are your favorite local fitness classes? Let us know on Facebook.