Trendy Fitness Classes: Worth it or Nah?

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Bikram Yoga. SoulCycle. Pure Barre. CrossFit. Orangetheory.

Chances are – if you’ve met someone who does any of those workout programs, you damn well know about it. (Ya know, kinda like that “old” joke: “How can you tell if someone’s a vegan? Oh, don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”)

When did we all get so obsessed with trendy fitness classes and wearing Lululemon like it’s Marc Jacobs’ new collection fresh off the runway?

What is so appealing about these expensive classes? What is it about them that draws millennials in?

Falling Down the Hole

I looked to research for the first answer. A September 2015 study from wellness company TechnoGym found that 77% of millennials want their workout routines to be as interactive as possible. Well, that answers one thing. People are super into workout classes because they involve other people.

But what about the money? I looked into starting SoulCycle in NYC, and it was hella expensive [about $32 per class]. I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money to ride a bike FOR ONE HOUR that would take me absolutely nowhere. My friend Lucy has been into SoulCycle for a while now, so I asked her to help me understand the cult-like following that surrounds this company; and why people don’t mind paying big bucks for these classes.

Here’s what she had to say: “Honestly, I’d heard about it, and I wasn’t bought in because I hated spinning. … My BFF told me, ‘I think you’ll like this,” so I went. I wasn’t hooked right away, but I liked the positivity, and the energy of working out was a good byproduct. For me, it became less about working out and more about the feeling that you get when you’re in the room. Music is a big part of my life, and SoulCycle is like a big dance party. … Before I knew it, I was in a deep SoulCycle hole.”

[Right on, Lucy. That TechnoGym survey I said about also reported that 77% of millennial gym goers want to be able to listen to music while they do their thing. ]

Feeling the Soul love, thanks @SoulCycle #BRPK ? #addictedtothetapback #SoulCycle

A photo posted by Lucy Xu (@xulucy) on

It is kind of cult-ish, Lucy admits. “The beauty of it is that you’re challenging yourself, and working off other people’s energies,” she said. “The person next to you affects your work, even if there are no numbers involved.”

Working it Out for Myself

After seeing Lucy’s love for SoulCycle, and after my good friend Ally from college told me all about a class she takes called Orangetheory, I decided to give one of these group classes a shot. I wanted to feel super millennial and empowered. [Also, I really wanna lose three pounds.]

So, I woke up at 7 a.m. this last Sunday morning, and hauled my ass to my local Orangetheory gym for a free tryout class. I was a little intimidated being a newbie to the group workout dynamic.

IMG_0569
This is what I look like when I’m scared.

The fear mostly stemmed from the fact they post everyone’s results up on a board as they work. You’re really not supposed to compare yourself to other people, but how can you not – when you can actively see if you’re one of the few in the class pushing yourself to get to the “orange zone,” or if you’re lagging behind in the blue?

Within the first 10 minutes of class, I felt kinda, sorta blah about the whole thing. I was sweating profusely on a treadmill next to a bunch of strangers, and the music was way too loud for my liking.

That is – until, I heard my wayyyy-cute instructor Zach encouraging me to go “all out.” THEN, Rihanna’s sweet, sweet voice came on, and naturally, I pushed myself to work harder because Rih-Rih is everything.




By the end of class, I was exhausted, but … I wanted to do it again. I wanted to listen to more Rihanna while running and having Zach push me to be the best Stephanie I can be while I hold my 5-lb dumbbells. Most of all, I want to go back because Lucy is right: Being in a room full of other people who were giving it their all, made me want to push myself.

After that hour, I felt accomplished, and I want to feel like that all of the time. Needless to say, I signed up for a basic package [at $59/month], and I’ll go back later this week.

Dooooo it!

So, yeah, I gave in to the group fitness craze, and honestly? I think you should, too, if you have the extra cash to spare.

If you’re on a budget, fear not – try these alternatives:

  • Yoga To The People. If you’re in NY or SF, you can score hot yoga classes for $5 to $10.
  • ClassPass. They charge $40 per month for 5 group classes, if you’re in cities like Kansas City, Tampa, Nashville, Orlando, Seattle, etc. [Sorry, NYC.]
  • Good ol’ Groupon and LivingSocial. You could pull a super-saver move, and buy cheap packages to different gyms every month.
  • Totally free: Blast some good music in the background, while watching this HIIT workout video on mute.

There you have it. Work out, be strong, feel empowered! I’ll certainly try. However, if you ever catch me shelling out $100 for a pair of Lululemon yoga pants and wearing them out to bars unironically, that’s your sign that hell has frozen over.

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