The FQ team trialled new and out-of-the-box exercise options that put the fun into fitness
VIMANA AERIAL YOGA
Casual class: $25
Although I’m an avid yogi, it was my first time attending an aerial yoga class and I was unsure of what to expect. It sounded a bit ‘off the wall’ – or off the floor, in this case. Doubts were quickly set aside with the relaxing introduction to the session – you lie on your back, eyes closed, feet resting in the handles of the circus hammock and cocooned by its fabric. As you hang weightless, suspended in mid-air, the calming words of Connie, Vimana Aerial Yoga’s founder, help you relax mind and body. I felt myself slowly drifting off into a relaxed state of contentment. After a long period of stillness, I emerged from my cocoon and began stretching and strengthening my body through traditional yoga poses modified for the hammock, which offers support for your back, core and limbs. Connie explained that the hammock acts as a supporting tool in order to enhance flexibility, length and strength. “Something has to strengthen,” she says, “for something to lengthen.”
Aerial yoga accentuates all of the benefits of traditional yoga practice, such as calming the nervous system, relieving stress and correcting alignment as the hammock supports the body and allows for lengthy inversions. Inversions are any poses where the head is lower than the heart, and here, hanging upside down, they are experienced without any compression on the spine. The longest inversion we held was for around five minutes and when I stood upright, after a short dizzy spell, I felt a rushing sensation of energy that no triple-shot flat white has ever given me. To finish, we returned to our cocoons to rest. The inversions really had my heart pumping so I was grateful for Connie’s softly spoken words, which helped to slow my heart rate. I left feeling energised and uplifted but also with a calm, quiet mind – quite an achievement for someone whose brain is constantly active.
– Lucy Gibbons, FQ intern
THE FORM ROOM
Training sessions start from $110
A gym that greets you with a stylish lounge area, a marble kitchen with coffee and tea facilities, luxe bathrooms with waterfall showerheads and a sparkling-clean workout area without a drip of someone else’s sweat? Welcome to The Form Room, in Ponsonby, Auckland, where there’s no queue for equipment. The purpose of this impressive brand-new, fitness facility is to cater to clients individually with bespoke personal training sessions and nutrition plans designed with your goals in mind. Owners Jordan Jennings and Sarah Evans don’t believe in cookie-cutter exercise plans and the fact that you’ll often be the only other person in the space means your workouts are your own. During my introductory session, Jordan took me through an extensive Q&A to determine my goals and abilities, along with physical tests to measure my resting heart rate, body fat percentage (without the nasty pinch test), metabolic rate, muscle mass and hydration levels.
Jordan and Sarah were then able to build me a workout and nutrition plan based on my lifestyle and the fact that I’d really like to tone my thighs. Nutrition is particularly key to The Form Room’s approach and Jordan and Sarah have developed a clever points-based app, which is available exclusively to members. Tracking everything you eat and drink on your smartphone, it does all the calorie counting for you. The finer details and the innovative thinking behind this gym make it appealing to people like me who need to take the burden out of fat burning. A loud, constantly packed and intimidating gym, this is not – in fact, it feels more like a spa, but with weight machines.
– Lucy Slight, FQ features editor
Casual class: $20 adults, $16 students
There are very few things I love more than a good dance. From school discos to a night out and everything in between, put me in a room with a playlist of ‘90s RnB and the latest pop hits and I’m a happy Beyoncé wannabe. Despite my love for dancing, I tend to lack the skills required to follow a set routine – freestyle’s more my jam. But when the opportunity to combine a much-loved hobby with fitness came my way, I was all over it. Arriving at Viva Dance studios in Newton, Auckland, I noticed the rest of the class was dressed more hip-hop than burlesque, so my stilettos were ditched for sneakers as I eagerly awaited taking centre stage.
After a quick warm up, we got into the usual star jumps and side steps, followed by body rolls, then booty popping – at that point it was clear this was going to be a workout like no other. A fusion of hip-hop and burlesque choreography to the likes of 50 Cent and Nicole Scherzinger’s ‘Right there’, I spent the hour eight counts behind everyone else, but loving feeling like one of Ciara’s back up dancers regardless. While I definitely broke a sweat, it was no pump class. My abs, however, felt like they’d had a workout, if not from crawling across the floor, then from laughing at myself trying to do so. Judging from the inspiring skill level of some of the regulars, I knew this type of exercise would take a bit of practice before I nailed perfect. Luckily, it was a blast.
– Tyla McKenzie, FQ fashion and editorial assistant
30-minute fitness class: $15
According to NASA, a 10-minute bounce on a trampoline provides a better cardiovascular workout than 33 minutes of running. With this good news in mind, I headed to Uptown Bounce Indoor Trampoline Park for a 7am fitness class. On a wet and stormy winter morning, the turnout was small – only four of us – but I’m told the evening classes average around 14 people, and there are 22 trampolines that go wall-to-wall. This new facility in Grey Lynn, Auckland, has a crisp, contemporary feel and the café sells Supreme coffee, as well as its own brand of frozen yoghurt – not a bad post-workout treat!
Wearing the cute Uptown Bounce-labelled socks I was given on arrival, I was good to go. At first I felt quite silly, like a little kid playing on the tramp at home, but I quickly began to enjoy the experience. During the 30-minute session we performed moves such as running on the spot with our core muscles held tight, bouncing and free-falling backwards using core strength to pull ourselves back into an upright position, and using the trampoline pads for floor-based core conditioning work. Studies suggest that bouncing may feel easier and more enjoyable than more traditional forms of exercise – no surprises there – and I definitely agree. At the time I didn’t feel like I’d had an intense workout but over the next few days I felt the satisfying burn in my legs and core, so I knew it had an impact. Using a trampoline takes up to 80 per cent of the stress off your weight-bearing joints, helps detoxify lymph glands and enhance co-ordination and motor skills. That’s a pretty good set of benefits, and it suits a wide range of age groups. There’s also a 45-minute body burner class for fit types and a 15-minute heart starter for newbies.
– Sally-Ann Mullin, FQ editor
Aquastrength Total Body Workout Program, $26.70; Aquastrength Bells and Fins, $102.55 each
We’ve all heard of aquaerobics, the group fitness classes synonymous with the blue rinse brigade, but there’s a new trend in town that’s changing the way we perceive water-based exercise and, trust me, it’s tough. Aquastrength is a New Zealand initiative that’s on its way to rolling out in gyms across the country, and is currently used by some of our elite sports people, including the New Zealand Warriors and Northern Mystics. Using the increased resistance that water brings, plastic fins are strapped to your ankles while you grip hand-held weights or a bar bell in waist-deep water. The equipment feels like nothing on dry land but once in the water and moving through a set of exercises like kicking lunges and arm extensions, you immediately notice the resistance they create.
Personal trainer Sean Hughes took me through a 30-minute session. There was no traditional swimming involved and I didn’t get my hair wet, however it became strikingly apparent I’m not as coordinated in water as I am on land, repeatedly losing my balance, but I loved the low impact and lack of strain on my joints. In fact, I didn’t feel any pain from my ‘niggly’ knee, but after half an hour I was tired and thirsty. Out of the water I could feel the workout in my thighs and arms, but the next day brought no aching muscle pain. Aquastrength will soon be implementing personal training and group fitness classes in gyms around New Zealand. However, if you have access to a pool, you can buy your own equipment and programs online and do the training sessions on your own.
– Lucy Slight, FQ features editor