If you’re like a lot of guys, your idea of group fitness is casually one-upping the dudes on the weight benches next to you. And when your ladyfriend meets up with you after her sweat session raving about how hard her instructor drilled them, you think, “That’s nice, Honey,” and go back to plotting out your next pyramid set. Not so fast. While it may seem like many classes are tailored to female fitness desires, all sorts of important manly skills can be honed in them, too, from agility and flexibility to (yes) strength and power. All that, plus major girlfriend brownie points (and some in-class eye candy)? Taking classes like these is a no-brainer.
There doesn’t have to be contact in order for a workout to really beat you up. Cardio kickbox classes combine movements taken from the traditional disciplines of boxing and martial arts then have you do them nonstop. For 45 minutes. Nonstop. Some will also throw in some jump rope and bodyweight moves, such as pushups and squats.
One to try: Life Time Fitness’ STRIKE! In addition to kickboxing combos, it features a weighted bar for extra butt-kicking oomph.
Whether the instructor is more drill sergeant or camp counselor, there’s no doubt you’ll be told (or asked) to drop and give ‘em 20 at some point during class. These circuit-style workouts typically include climbing, jumping, throwing, and lifting with little rest. After taking a few of these, you’ll be primed to tackle a military-style obstacle race—or the zombie apocalypse.
One to try: NYC’s Drill Fitness Drill Body Fit. In a word: Intense. Equipment such as steps, sand bells, and suspension trainers up the ante. Oh, and your heart rate is tracked throughout class, too.
Indoor Cycling Plus
No, the bonus here is not a five-minute set of arm circles holding two-pound weights. Pedal power goes high tech in this latest iteration of indoor cycling, which wires the bikes to a digital leaderboard, fostering some healthy competition into an already killer workout.
One to try: The Pursuit at Equinox. It’s available in two “flavors”: Build, for endurance and speed, and Burn, for metabolic benefits.
This fitness trend is so on point because the science supports it: Going hard then resting in regular, short bursts has a host of body benefits, from improved aerobic capacity to the now-famous after-burn effect, in which your body continues to torch calories for hours after you’re showered and on with your day.
One to try: Tabata at Gold’s Gym. The granddaddy (from way back in 1996) of HIIT is Tabata, a training scheme developed initially to train speed skaters, in which 20 seconds of fast-paced anaerobic exercise is followed by 10 seconds of recovery, repeated for eight cycles (four minutes). It seems so short when you read the words...
This buzzy term refers to exercises that use movement patterns you use in life. Think: multijoint, full-body, and really exhausting. You’ll be pushing sleds, launching medicine balls, sprinting, and burpeeing with the best of ‘em. Oh, and getting stronger and more powerful to boot.
One to try: UFC gyms’ DUT (Daily Ultimate Training). Combining all the equipment above and more, no two classes are the same—except in their intensity.
“But I’m not flexible.” “It’s too slow a workout.” “I don’t need a nap now, thanks.” You can leave all those excuses at the door of a power yoga class. Fast-paced and strength-focused, your muscles will quake and you'll break a serious sweat. Many classes use just bodyweight, while some integrate both yoga and resistance-training props.
One to try: Crunch’s Buff Yoga. Yoga + dumbbells = a nonstop flowing workout that improves strength, flexibility, and muscle tone.
It’s no secret that running is a phenomenal cardio activity. It’s also no secret that the treadmill is boring as sh*t. Not so in these circuit-style classes that include intervals of sprinting, footwork drills, and charging up “hills,” plus resistance training work off the ‘mill entirely.
One to try: Barry’s Bootcamp. Their signature classes split time between treadmills and the workout floor, with the body-strengthening focus changing day to day, from arms and abs to butt and legs (and everything in between).
A quick history lesson: The discipline of Pilates was designed by a dude, a former boxer, and is based in part on Ancient Greek and Roman methods of bodybuilding. It became popular with dancers because of its focus on strengthening the core muscles, but really, who doesn't want to hone a six-pack?
One to try: POP Pilates at 24 Hour Fitness. The exercises flow from one to the next thanks to a pumping music soundtrack, which also drowns out groans as your ab muscles are lit on fire.