On a mild night in mid-December, a handful of people (including yours truly) shuffle into an exercise studio at New York Sports Club. It’s a typical Manhattanite bunch—mostly young, mostly fit—and we’d be pretty nondescript, except for one quirk: Everyone is holding a lightsaber.
We’re here for the Star Wars: Awaken Your Inner Force workout, a sweat-inducing mashup of cardio and strength moves created by New York Sports Clubs in collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm. Besides the plastic saber (I got a blue one, thereby assigning myself to the “Light Side” of the class), the only other equipment is a set of sliders.
Front and center at the studio is Amira Lamb, C.P.T. She’s wearing fitness gear instead of a Jedi’s robes, but for all intents and purposes, she’s the master of the class. And as we launch into the first circuit of Star Wars-themed lunges and pushups, it soon becomes clear that the Force—or at least supreme cardio-and-lightsaber skill—is strong with her.
The workout incorporates martial arts, calisthenics, and bodyweight moves (hello, burpees) that wiped out all but the fittest people—Jedi masters, one might say—in the studio. If the Force was flowing through me, it was at a trickle. (Then again, that may have been the sweat running down my face.)
Scoff at the nerd factor, if you must. But know that this is a demanding workout, especially for guys who don’t dedicate much gym time to cardio or conditioning. It takes discipline to control your breathing and balance, especially during martial arts moves like the kicks.
Ready to try it on your own? Read on for the full workout and specific exercises. And remember: Do or do not—there is no try.