A month ago, if someone were to say I didn’t exercise, it would be a gross understatement.
Gyms scare me (too many fit people), I hate organised sports (I’m not competitive), running has never been my forte and, frankly, there’s too much good TV on Netflix to warrant leaving the house.
So when I was asked to try a pass providing unlimited monthly access to a variety of different exercise studios and classes, my initial instinct was to say no.
Then I saw the latest Seafolly swimwear campaign. Beach season was upon me and I couldn’t fight it any longer.
So I said yes and decided to go for classes I’d never heard of, with names that sent shivers down my spine. Hip hop yoga, ballet and yoga in 37 degrees Celsius. Bring it on.
Here’s how I made it through my trial period and became an exercise class devotee.
For my first session, I arrive in a chic, light-filled studio and immediately feel at ease. Pink exercise balls can’t be that threatening, right?
My neighbour one mat over tells me this class is easy. My neighbour is a liar.
What follows is one of the most excruciating workouts I’ve ever done. Seemingly manageable micro-movements elicit the kind of pain I imagine only women who’ve experienced childbirth can understand.
Half an hour in I am so exhausted I can barely summon the strength to lift a rubber exercise ball, my knees are quivering and I’m drenched in sweat.
Afterwards, however, I feel fantastic. I hardly moved from one spot for the whole hour yet I feel as though I’ve run a marathon.
The elation was short lived. Two days after the class I can barely walk. Stairs are a no-go zone and getting up from my chair is next to impossible.
For whatever reason – despite the pain and sweat – I book in to return. This is a workout that feels like it’s working, and for that I can endure some shaky knees and a two-day limp.
Rating: 7/10 – Challenging but rewarding. Factor in at least two days for muscle recovery.
The phrases “hip hop” and “yoga” don’t exactly go together like peanut butter and chocolate (can you tell I’m finding this health kick challenging?).
Of course, I had to try this bizarre combination immediately. Would I be Shavasana-ing to Snoop Dogg? Only time would tell.
I arrive to a colourful studio with pineapple motifs everywhere and a giant portrait of Biggie Smalls.
The founder of the studio, Instagram celebrity Sammy Veall, enters the studio in technicolor leggings and turns on a Nelly track.
This isn’t a regular yoga class – the practice is a series of continuous movements set to old school hip hop and it’s darn challenging.
A fellow class member does point out that the music distracts you from the more strenuous moves and she’s right. I can ignore some of the pain thanks to 2Pac.
Afterwards, Veall informs me that it’s designed for people who are relatively experienced. Those who regularly practice would love it because it ups the ante of a regular class and works some cardio in.
For now, though, I might just stick to saluting to the sun without the sick beats.
Rating: 5/10 – Excellent for yoga devotees but a little challenging for beginners.
I’m typically a fan of any exercise you can do while being stationary, so this class wins my heart and loyalty about five minutes in.
Taking place on what look like terrifying torture machines, reformer pilates is actually a lot easier than it looks.
We begin the class (which is designed to accommodate beginners) by adjusting the springs on the board to alter the difficulty level – the more springs, the harder the movements are.
What follows is a selection of strengthening exercises like leg lifts, arm presses and leg extensions, both aided and enhanced by the machine.
At the end of the class, I’m sweaty and my muscles are aching but I’m not exhausted. I could easily do this on my lunch break.
Hurrah for exercising while horizontal!
Rating: 10/10 – The dream workout for lazy people. The difficulty level can easily be increased.
Confession: while I suck at organised sport and detest anything involving a ball, I’m quite adept at yoga in high temperatures.
Thus, I brought along an unbiased friend to this class to help me reach a fair verdict. The class is heated to 37 degrees Celsius, meaning it’s not as hot as Bikram but a lot warmer than regular yoga.
Those who struggle in hot weather might find this a living hell, but I find it soothing and comforting.
The heat warms up your muscles and joints and is supposed to make everything a little easier. It also makes you supremely sweaty and slippery about 10 minutes in.
The poses require focus but the practice itself is medium-level difficulty with plenty of floor action to circumvent the inevitable dizziness.
I end the class feeling more relaxed than I’ve felt in weeks and comfortably exhausted. Namaste.
Rating: 8.5/10 – Tricky for those who aren’t good with heat but worth it.
I am someone who feels uncool and uncoordinated on the best of days. I’m five-foot-eleven with very little control of my body and two left feet. So put me in a room full of fit, confident, seriously skilled dancers and I’m feeling downright lame from the get-go.
Unfortunately for me and the friend I dragged along to this crash course in public humiliation, the lesson we choose to attend is an end-of-year wrap class. This means most people in attendance have at least some concept of what they’re doing. We, on the other hand, do not.
It starts with a high-energy warm up that sees us mimicking the instructor’s dance moves for about five minutes. It’s outrageously fun and I find myself wishing this was the whole class.
Unfortunately, the rest of the session involves learning complex choreography which we then must compile into one long routine to be performed at the end of the class.
The mental challenge involved is nearly as hard as the physical one.
I leave exhausted and self-conscious, but thinking that I’d like to go back at the start of next year and start from scratch.
Rating: 6.5/10 – A little full on for a novice dancer, but a lot of fun once you ditch those inhibitions.
All classes were undertaken as part of a month’s trial membership courtesy of Bodypass. To find out more, click here.