Burn off the winter pounds with our favorite workouts ranked by sweat levels
There’s nothing like a good schvitz, but it is not an essential element of all workouts. Sometimes you want to unload the toxins and sometimes (maybe on a good hair day) you don’t. We put ourselves through the wringer to identify the respective classes that left us drenched or dry: the beauty is that it doesn’t matter either way. Celebrity trainer Monica Pampell, president of wellness company Pentafit preaches that you can have the sore without the sweat
EARTH TREKS (1235 Clark St., Arlington, Va. $25 day pass; https://www.earthtreksclimbing.com)
Scoop: Miley Cyrus said it best “Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side … It’s the climb.” At this indoor climbing gym, it’s all about core power and agility. Brute arm and leg strength won’t propel you to the top of 35-foot walls, strategy and technique will. Try your hand at a variation of color coded routes ranging from easy to difficult.
Verdict: Experts say opening the car door at the end of a climb proves to be the most painful part. We concur. Sore forearms and fingers are a real thing.
Sweat Level: ^
PURE BARRE (Multiple Locations; 55 minutes; $29; http://purebarre.com/)
Scoop: Small controlled movements have big impacts as you isolate specific muscles to bear your body’s weight, often utilizing the studio’s ballet barre for balance. Shaking is the goal in this class. If you don’t find your muscles trembling, you may not be in proper form.
Verdict: Feeling as sculpted as a Michelangelo masterpiece.
Sweat Level: ^^
XTEND BARRE (2008 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.; 55 minutes; $25; https://www.xtendbarre.com/)
Scoop: A hybrid of choreographed moves, pilates and barre, Xtend classes feel more like high-energy dance parties than standard sweat sessions. Mini movements signature to barre give way to quick transitions and choreographed steps.
Verdict: Expect dance fever.
Sweat Level: ^^^
FLYWHEEL (Multiple locations; 45 or 60 minutes; $28; https://www.flywheelsports.com/)
Scoop: Relying on a more technical process than other spin classes, each Flywheel bike is equipped with a small screen that keeps you in check with regard to your torque (resistance) number and how much power you are exerting (RPM). Encouraging instructors will push you through high intensity races where scores are projected overhead.
Verdict: Motivated to return and make those numbers jump.
Sweat Level: ^^^^
SUFFERFEST (905 U St. NW; 50 minutes; $22; http://offroaddc.com/virtual-rides/)
Scoop: Don’t be deterred by the name. The biggest challenge is waking up to make the 6 a.m. start. The unique premise at Off Road DC’s studio has riders following real video footage from cycling races like the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia as if they were participating. The virtual reality serves as a welcome distraction from burning calves and quads, making that climb along the scenic French countryside more bearable. The licensed videos also feature humorous words of encouragement from cycling coaches following your progress and reminding you to “suffer more.”
Verdict: We probably won’t be qualifying for the Tour de France anytime soon, though we’re all in for role playing.
Sweat Level: ^^^^
BLAST (2311 M St. NW; 60 minutes; $34; http://theblastlife.com/)
Scoop: Customization is at the forefront of this interval training method. First timers start with a 45 minute evaluation to determine their anaerobic heart rate, strength, flexibility and fat index, and end with a workout prescription specific to their body’s needs. Classes offered employ a range of cardio- and strength-training exercises. “You can do anything for two minutes” is a message you will hear from your instructor as the treadmill platform below rises to a 70 degree incline. At the time you may hate to admit that they’re right.
Verdict: Valuable insight into how, when and where your body stops burning sugar and starts burning fat.
Sweat Level: ^^^^
SOLIDCORE (Multiple Locations; 50 minutes; $37; http://solidcore.co/)
Scoop: A favorite of former FLOTUS Michelle Obama and reputed to be the hardest slog around, pre-workout nerves are natural. Classes, built around resistance machines (similar to pilates reformers), offer a not-so- gentle reminder that strength is built when muscles tear and build themselves back up. That means slow, controlled movements that push your muscles to the point of failure.
Verdict: Blaring muscle soreness – for days, but pain is gain.
Sweat Level: ^^^^^
SWEATBOX (1612 U St. NW; 50 minutes; $34; http://sweatboxdc.com/)
Scoop: The state-of-the-art studio opened last year in the lobby of VIDA for fitness aficionados looking to take their workouts to the next level. Classes center on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that will have you alternating between a bike for cardio and mat/weight workouts for strength training. “Sweatbosses” run the classes differently so that no two are ever the same. Strapping on a MyZone heart monitor will help you get acquainted with your personal metrics throughout class (and in the app if you’re serious about it).
Verdict: It lives up to its name.
Sweat Level: ^^^^^
SOULCYCLE (Multiple locations; 45 minutes; $34; https://www.soul-cycle.com/)
Scoop: The cult favorite ride asks you to identify your limits and then push way past them. Wildly energetic instructors beg riders to turn up their resistance as the class progresses. By the time it’s over, your pulse will be dancing at pace with thunderously loud bass – not for the faint of heart.
Verdict: Sweat will pour, serotonin will soar.
Sweat Level: ^^^^^
Monica Pampell is not your average personal trainer, as made clear by an all-star client roster that includes Norah O’Donnell, Geoff Tracy, Margaret Brennan, Jonathan Karl, and Mike Allen. Over her 14 years in the District, she has worked with career-driven Washingtonians who have little time for the gym, big demands at work and a desire for quick aesthetic results. According to Pampell, the unique goals of her individual clients “morphed ‘personal training’ into something vastly different.” In her first few sessions with a new trainee, she takes time to survey their range of motion and body vulnerabilities. Her observations translate into a customized Body Map, from which she is able to train individuals based on their specific needs and goals. During workouts, Pampell is constantly communicating with her clients. She says that it’s not just about doing the workout, but rather “knowing what you’re doing when you’re doing it” that gets real results. Once clients have a detailed understanding and recognition of their bodies, they are well on their way to reaching desired goals. The science behind the phenomenon of simply being body-conscious is shocking.
Research indicates that by merely looking at someone perform an action, we receive 20 percent of the muscle’s activation. Additional studies indicate that just thinking about a muscle will produce 50 percent of the neurological activation as opposed to 100 percent when the muscle is actually in use. In one such study, participants were splinted on their forearm for six weeks. One set was cued, three times a week, to just think about working out the immobile limb for 10 minutes. The other group went about their days normally with no cue. Results showed that the participants who were not cued to think about their splinted muscle had double the loss of strength and mass in that muscle group, drawing on the importance of the mind-body relationship and its role in exercise.
The bright side is that it’s faster and easier than taking time to go to the gym when there may be no time for it. CASE IN POINT: being cognizant of posture at all hours of the day plays a huge role in achieving fitness goals. Awareness, Pampell says, is half the battle and we should constantly be asking ourselves: “How does my body look? How am I standing? Where are my shoulders? What do my feet look like?”
A few minutes of brain power may be all it takes.