Ready to ramp up your fitness? Our editors tested three new boredom-busting workouts.
Stacey Kennelly associate editor
My typical workout: It’s harder some mornings than others to drag myself out of bed to run or do my plyometric workout video—but most of the time, I suck it up.
Cycle Scape’s fun, tech-savvy cycling facility offers workouts similar to those found at SoulCycle, which originated in New York. The room—filled with 40 bikes and decorated with a sleek wall-sized image of the Bay Bridge—is equipped with windows that frost at the touch of a button, built-in ceiling speakers, and large screens that show everything from montages of wildlife to simulated journeys through Paris.
Where: Walnut Creek.
Best for: Cyclists looking for a technology-driven tweak to their normal rides.
The verdict: An enthusiastic instructor and superfun music—everything from electronic remixes of pop hits to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” during a hill climb—made the 45 minute–long class fly by. Owner William Booth envisioned a facility that was on trend, approachable, and most of all entertaining—and he delivered.
Killer move: Take a small toning bar, and while still pedaling do simple arm exercises such as bicep curls. You’ll get a light arm workout and also keep your heart rate up.
The next day: My thighs hurt a little, but I likely would have felt it a lot more if I wasn’t already a runner. Surprisingly, my abs were a tad sore, probably from the time spent standing and pedaling.
Bonus: Booth aims to offer classes with a high-energy club atmosphere, including a Friday night one that would feature a live DJ mixing tracks while music videos play on the screens. Plans for charity events are also in the works.
Price: Drop-in classes are $27, so you can stop in at any of the 10 daily classes whenever it’s convenient. 1657 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 464-1005, cyclescapefitness.com.
Rachelle Cihonski Assistant editor
My typical workout: I max out at 10 push-ups, unless we’re talking girl push-ups. Then it’s 20. OK, 15. But who’s counting?
Surfset and Sand
A unique blend of cardio, yoga, strength, and abdominal workouts, Surfset and Sand takes place half on and half off a surfboard contraption designed to test your balance. While the instructors like to mix it up from week to week, expect to hop on the surfboard to pump your arms and legs for a “swim,” off for squats and sandbag lifts, and back on for crunches and leg lifts—all to a Hawaii Five-0–approved playlist.
Where: Crunch Gym, Danville.
Best for: Strength trainers who want a full-body workout that tests their balancing skills.
The verdict: Nothing is more motivating than your instructor chanting, “Corona, mai tai, piña colada.” Not to mention, I was so focused on not falling face-first off the surfboard that I didn’t even notice how quickly the class flew by. This was probably one of the most fun workouts I’ve ever done, but now I know why I’ve lived in California my entire life and have never been surfing: It’s totally hard, dude.
Killer move: Center one foot on the board, lift your other leg behind you, grab your ankle, and reach your free hand in front of you as you stretch your suspended foot.
The next day: My upper body was a little sore (back, shoulders, arms), and I could definitely feel the results of my workout in my legs, going up and down the stairs.
Bonus: All classes are included with a Crunch Gym membership, and any first-time nonmember can download a guest pass online. The gym also offers an H2-OM surfboard yoga class.
Price: Drop-in rates are $16 as a guest with a member and $25 without. Crunch membership is $49–$65 per month. 3464 Blackhawk Plaza, Danville, (925) 272-5600, crunch.com.
Kristen Haney managing editor
My typical workout: Does lifting a pint glass count as exercise? Otherwise, I struggle through a boxing or barre class a few times a week.
At Orangetheory Fitness, expect a daily changing combination of treadmill interval training, indoor water rowing, and weight work (dumbbells, TRX straps, and more) while wearing a heart monitor, which tracks your stats on TV monitors. The goal is to keep your heart rate in the target zone, which will increase energy and keep your body torching calories long after the end of your workout.
Where: Walnut Creek, slated to open in February 2015. (Class was tested at the Willow Glen location.)
Best for: Easily bored gymgoers trying to bust through fitness plateaus.
The verdict: Being competitive, I was a little obsessed with getting my heart rate into the calorie-torching orange zone—until the interval workout claimed most of my concentration (and leg strength). I managed to burn more than 600 calories, mostly due to my lack of cardiovascular fitness (score!), and I didn’t find myself checking the clock during my hour-long workout.
Killer move: Face the wall, use TRX straps for balance, and lower into a one-legged squat, with the other leg hovering off the ground. Repeat for eight to 10 reps, and then switch to the opposite leg.
The next day: My thighs hurt so bad after my workout, I avoided going downstairs for an entire week. This is not an exaggeration. I feared stairs.
Bonus: Members can use the heart rate pod and strap ($34.50–$69) outside class to track their heart rate.
Price: Drop-in classes are $30, but monthly memberships ($69–$179) reduce class prices to as low as $10 per session. 1531 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 278-6313, orangetheoryfitness.com.
For more fun workouts, visit scroll down.
AirFit: Mile High Circuit
Airfit involves a fast-paced three-station circuit—cardio (bike), strength (rower), and abdominal floor work—set in a mile-high altitude-simulated environment for 50 minutes.
Where: The Quad, Pleasanton
Best for: Gymgoers who already have a base level of cardiovascular fitness—exercising a mile above sea-level makes every movement seem especially difficult.
The verdict: “If you’ve reached a performance plateau in your weekly workouts or if you want more of a challenge than just running a few miles on the treadmill, this is the class for you. The only thing stopping me from stumbling outside for a gulp of fresh, sea-level air—or scampering home to cower under my comforter and binge-watch Netflix in shame—was convincing myself that if the guy next to me in his mid-fifties could do six minutes of resistance stand-cycling, then I could too. Plus, completing this challenging class felt pretty dang good.”
Killer move: Hover over the bicycle seat and pedal as you shift your weight and hips from back to front, then side to side, and shoulders to handles. Your thighs will hate you.
The next day: “My abdominal muscles and biking muscles were a little sore, but nothing unbearable or too uncomfortable.”
Bonus: Mention this article, and get your first AirFit class free. Childcare is also available.
Price: Drop in classes are $25. With a MIXX unlimited membership: ($189 per month, with $50 off the first month for first-time members) you have access to The Quad (gym) area and unlimited access to all 115-weekly high-intensity classes, including AirFit. 5860 West Las Positas Blvd., Pleasanton, (925) 924-1110, thequadfit.com. —R.C.
This hour-long, cardio-focused class—led by the equivalent of two Energizer bunnies—takes place on individual trampolines and incorporates strength-training movements and bouncing up and down to high-energy tunes. The entire workout can be modified to your comfort level, so you control your level of lift-off from the trampoline.
Where: Studio Dance Art Fit, Livermore
Best for: People who can hold a beat and aren't afraid to get a little air.
The verdict: If you ask me to run for an hour, I'll die of boredom. But ask me to bounce around on a trampoline as part of a "workout," and you're going to have a hard time getting me back off the trampoline. Bounz Fit, which is the only trampoline workout of its kind in the Bay Area, had me scorching serious calories with a smile on my face. The "dueling piano" instructors had such infectious energy that I didn't even feel that silly dropping it low during a breather in our bouncing to a dance version of Genuwine's "Pony." And while doing turns and leaps on the trampoline may seem like all fun and games, it was serious work—I was definitely sweating and breathing hard after each song of the workout.
Killer move: While bouncing to the beat on the trampoline, swing one leg out to the side, raising it higher, higher, higher while the other leg bounces for three beats. Repeat on the other leg, and keep switching legs to the beat until your glutes beg for mercy.
The next day: Since I could feel my abs burning during the class (most of the bouncing involves some sort of core support), I wasn't surprised that my obliques were feeling it the next day. The soreness wasn't unbearable, but Bounz Fit's true strength is its ability to keep participants doing almost non-stop cardio for an entire hour—something my body might not have strongly felt, but my waistline strongly appreciated.
Bonus: In addition to Bounz Fit, Studio Dance Art Fit offers breakdancing, salsa, hip-hop, zumba, and more (including the occasional #twerk class). The studio also offers blended teas from Bombay Nick's Chai Bar in Livermore.
Price: Drop-in classes are $7, and six-class punch cards are available for $36. Bounz Fit is offered five times a week. 7 E. Airway Blvd., Livermore, (925) 475-9605, facebook.com/studiodanceartfit. —K.H.