If you’re among the 92 million Americans who made a New Year’s resolution this January, statistics indicate you might be on the verge of breaking it (if you haven’t already). And if you’re in the majority, your annual goal is centered on weight loss, health and fitness. Whether you’re hoping to shed a few pounds, get toned or simply stay in shape, we want this year to be a success for you. All across town, there are gyms, boot camps and yoga studios at the ready, but if your workout routine needs a little refreshing or if you’re simply looking for an unconventional way to burn some calories, try one of these crazy fun fitness classes. Each one is tried and tested by the Nfocus staff, and we’ve got the scrapes, bumps and bruises to prove it. From hula hooping to sword fighting, we’re bucking the treadmill tradition for something a little out of the ordinary, and we invite you to join us.
The Basics: Take a trip down memory lane and get a fun, low impact workout by learning the art of hula hooping from Hoopnotica certified instructors
Know before you go: Hula hoops are provided, but wear comfortable sneakers and fitted workout clothes. No negative self-talk allowed, so be prepared to encourage yourself and others.
What to expect: Get to know your fellow “hoopers” in a quick share session before practicing the basics of waist hooping and several off-body skills. Each session ends with a hoop jam, allowing participants to strut their stuff and show off their new skills to music!
How we fared: Owner/instructor Kristin immediately established a welcoming atmosphere, assuaging our anxiety about attempting an activity we haven’t tried since grade school. As a result, we laughed and cheered for the duration of the hour-long class, nearly forgetting we were getting a pretty decent workout in the process.
For more info: Happy Hoops, happyhoops.us
The Basics: Train in the art of Israeli self-defense and gain the practical knowledge of fighting stance, combatives and various defenses against attack Know before you go: Arrive 15 minutes early for a tour of the facility, an overview of the class and a chance to meet your instructor. Come prepared for a very physical, full-body workout. Dress comfortably, wear sturdy sneakers and bring water. Punching pads and gloves provided.
What to expect: A hardcore, heart-pounding warm-up session will have you sweating within minutes before pairing off with a classmate and practicing various punches, kicks and escapes.
How we fared: Slightly intimidated at first by the knowledge that most of our classmates could probably kill us with their bare hands, we eventually overcame our fear and embraced the challenging—and slightly therapeutic—nature of the workout. After punching and kicking each other for the better part of an hour, we walked out of class feeling far less stressed and more empowered than when we arrived.
For more info: Nashville Krav Maga, nashville-krav-maga.com
The Basics: Grab a pair of weighted drumsticks and embark on a full-body workout that fuses Pilates, yoga, cardio and drumming Know before you go: No drumming skills necessary, but it helps if you have a basic sense of rhythm. Shoes are optional.
What to expect: The fast-paced 30-minute workout—set to an upbeat “Poundtrack” of current rock, rap, dubstep and pop hits—combines easy to follow cardio moves, strength training and basic drumming into an intense routine that targets every major muscle group.
How we fared: We hid in the back of the studio, afraid that we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the drumming cardio moves needed for the routine, but quickly found ourselves falling right in rhythm with our fellow Pound-ers.
For more info: Organic Fitness Factory, organicfitnessfactory.com
The Basics: Burn 1,000 calories in an hour with a fun, nonstop cardio session on a giant trampoline Know before you go: No sneakers allowed on the trampolines so bring grip socks or be prepared to jump barefoot. Classes are held in a warehouse, so internal temperatures are directly impacted by the weather. Dress accordingly. All classes are first come, first serve.
What to expect: Far more than simply jumping, this class gives you a full-body workout that’s both amusing and exhausting. Cardio intervals and upper-body strength training are interspersed with more fun challenges, like relay races and games of four square.
How we fared: Right off the bat, jumping on a trampoline made this workout class much more enjoyable than traditional exercise, until about three minutes in when we remembered how exhausting jumping on a trampoline can be. Fortunately, the variety of the routine offered plenty of opportunities to catch our breath. Insider tip: trying to run across a court of trampolines will undoubtedly result in face planting.
For more info: Sky High Sports, nas.jumpskyhigh.com
Soulshine SUP Yoga
The Basics: Combine the balance benefits of stand up paddleboarding with the meditative and strengthening practices of yoga for a tough workout in a serene setting Know before you go: Students should be able to swim and should wear a bathing suit or athletic gear that can get wet since falling/jumping into the lake is a strong possibility. Bring sunscreen, a towel and a water bottle.
What to expect: The 90-minute class begins with land instruction before paddling to a quiet spot on the lake. Students work through power yoga poses at their own pace, performing at the level they feel comfortable.
How we fared: To avoid the risk of frostbite, our team had to try this class out last summer. Poses that are easy on dry land take much more concentration on a paddleboard, and we ended up in the water far more often than others. Fortunately, hoisting ourselves back onto the paddleboard is a good workout in its own right.
For more info: Soulshine SUP, soulshinesup.com
The Basics: Master the beauty and grace of ballet under the tutelage of Nashville Ballet’s trained dancers and choreographers Know before you go: Classes are for students age 13 and up. No prior experience necessary. Ballet slippers required for intermediate and advanced classes; socks are acceptable for beginner classes.
What to expect: The first half of the 90-minute class is spent working at the barre, honing basic techniques, stance and positions. Students get more of a cardio workout during the second half of the class in the center, working on traveling and jumping. All classes include live accompaniment from a pianist.
How we fared: Standing and stretching at the barre gave us flashbacks to being five years old, but when it came time to leap across the room, we realized that we’re far more self-conscious (and less graceful) than we were as children. A great way to work on flexibility, it also gave us a great excuse to wear a tutu as an adult.
For more info: Nashville Ballet Community Division, nashvilleballet.com
The Basics: Learn ancient samurai sword techniques in a creative fitness environment Know before you go: Dress comfortably and prepare to have fun! Swords (three-foot wooden bokkens) are supplied, and the class is non-contact so all maneuvers are made against imaginary opponents.
What to expect: After a short warm-up to music, students practice a series of strikes and movements from a prearranged kata. Breaking into small groups, classmates build on the kata, crafting their own story and killing their make-believe foes.
How we fared: As it turns out, some of us are more graceful when killing imaginary opponents than others. Regardless of our ability to handle the three-foot sword and slay make-believe warriors and dragons, everyone felt encouraged and lighthearted during the course thanks to the motivation of our much more skillful classmates.
For more info: Vanderbilt Dayani Center, dayanicenter.org
The Basics: Strengthen, lengthen and tone the entire body through a series of slow, controlled movements performed on a Megaformer machine Know before you go: Arrive early for your first class for an overview of the equipment. Class sizes are limited so registration is required, and all participants must wear grip socks (available for purchase at the studio).
What to expect: Every class is different, but each 50-minute workout targets the main muscle groups every time, engaging your entire body. Although the spring and pulley mechanisms on the machine can seem intimidating at first, instructors are eager to assist to ensure that you’re confident throughout the entire routine.
How we fared: Planks and lunges are hard enough as it is, but when coupled with an unfamiliar machine that moves and slides at will, it’s a wonder we survived. Thanks to Studio Novo’s patient instructors, we soon (sort of) mastered the movements, quivering muscles and all. The next day, however, we struggled to move at all without wincing in pain.
For more info: Studio Novo, novonashville.com
—Nancy Floyd, Photographs by Michael W. Bunch and Eric England