From yogalates to hip-hop aerobics, new keep-fit classes sweep through America's gyms each year before taking the UK by storm.
With 2011 round the corner, here are the workouts attracting the masses stateside.
The idea Inten stands for intention and sati is a term for mindfulness. Developed in 2003 by Patricia Morenohe, it involves shouting positive affirmations in unison during an hour-long, tough workout. You can burn 600-800 calories, and shouting while exercising enhances your cardio-respiratory output.
The reality I am doing squats, lunges and jumping jacks, while bawling, "I am strong, I am grateful, I am a warrior" along with 40 other people. I am exhausted and feel as if I am in a self-help class. Happily, the instructor understands my pain. Natalia Petrzela has been teaching IntenSati for more than two years, and practising for longer. "I was totally resistant to saying the affirmations at first," she says. "Then I realised that if you can say them in this admittedly bizarre situation, you are training yourself to take on the unfamiliar in much bigger ways." By the end of class, my words come out as a puff, but I feel empowered.
IntenSati is run in California and New York but a workout DVD is available on Amazon. Visit satilife.com
The idea Zumba is the brainchild of Alberto Perez, who taught an aerobics class in Miami in the mid-90s, and made it his own by incorporating salsa and merengue dance steps. By the early 2000s Zumba had spread across the US and has recently crossed to the UK. Today, the 60-minute dance workout uses salsa, merengue, samba and calypso moves, alongside a soundtrack of Latin and international music. Zumba aims to tone the body and burns 500-900 calories an hour (this varies between body types).
The reality The dance teacher is shaking her hips and making the complicated footwork look easy. I, however, look a long, lanky mess. And when I try a turn, I almost knock into the woman on my left. Luckily, the teacher is fantastic and walks me through the steps (not strictly allowed in Zumba, as you are supposed to let the music move you, not count out the steps) until I start to improve. As I shake to the beat, I feel my leg muscles stretching and toning. More importantly by the end of the class, I haven't trodden on any more toes. Success.
The idea This is an aerial dance fitness class taught at Reebok Sports Club/NY by instructor Fran Sperling, who has been practising aerial dance for more than 15 years. It's called Fierce because, says Sperling: "If you can be fierce in here (while hanging in the air) you can be fierce in all aspects of your life." The two-and-a-half hour class strengthens the upper body through rope-climbing and choreographed moves on a trapeze. Gravity also helps to deepen stretches and lengthen muscle. (Previous activity in yoga or dance is helpful.)
The reality Sperling is on the trapeze doing splits; I am in awe and scared. Seeing my fear she promises: "Even inflexible people look graceful in the air." Unbelievably, she's right. I start on the trapeze, and I'm not bad. I even pick up the lingo – a "pike" is when you bend your legs up and over your body to stretch in front your face. I try this move while on the trapeze. Then it's time for rope-climbing – the aim is to slide up, sit back in a chair position then hook the rope around my leg and keep climbing. I am the last one in the class to get it (conquering it only when Sperling brings out firm-grip spray for my hands), but soon I'm up there a few feet off the ground. By the end, my hands hurt and my arms hurt, but my stomach feels very toned.
Fierce is not yet available in the UK; in the meantime, visit thecircusspace.co.uk to learn trapeze skills.
KOR + (formerly known as Booty Slide)
The idea Rebecca Kordecki, a fitness trainer for 18 years, set up Booty Slide in New York in 2007 to exercise every muscle group in her body, without taking up too much time or requiring too much equipment. She created little booties and a slide kit to use while performing moves that strengthen and lengthen the body. The name Booty Slide is a double entendre, she explains: "We wear the booties on our feet, but the workout also lifts your booty." After publicity last year, it's grown in popularity and been renamed KOR +. The 30-minute workout sculpts the arms and burns up to 500 calories, depending on body weight. Feet never leave the ground so there's no impact on the body (but if you have knee injuries, see a doctor first).
The reality Worrying that I will slip, I start doing lunges. Next up, with my hand resting on my slide pads and my knees on the floor, I stretch my arms along the floor at a 45-degree angle in opposite directions – this is called the KOR slide. Finally, with sweat dripping from my brow it's the Booty Blast, where I create a table shape with my body and place a resistance band around my legs. In this shape I build my (non-existent) core stomach muscles by stretching and raising my legs. It's a lot tougher than I expected and I feel the toning effects even before I've left the class.
KOR + is expected to launch in the UK in 2011. Visit rebeccakordecki.com
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