When I moved away for college, one of the things I most looked forward to when I came home on breaks was the mother daughter time my mom and I would spend while working out. At the beginning it was going to the Gold's Gym near our house and hardly working on ellipticals next to each other, we then progressed to Hot Yoga as the beginning of the boutique fitness craze began, and we landed on Orange Theory Fitness as our go-to. We loved the heart rate monitors and would push each other to work harder as well as the strength exercises that really grew our muscles. My mom would go 2-3x a week and progressed from walker to jogger then runner and she built enviable abs for any age (a few years ago in Greece, Nathaniel turned to me and goes 'Does Mom have a 6 pack?'), on breaks I would join her and we kept up this routine even as I moved out of the country. We knew the OTF method well enough that on family vacations we would run ourselves through similar intervals on the tread and floor.
COVID-19 swiftly put an end to knowing when we'd work out together next, my mom's weekly OTF, and both of our overall sense of movement and activity. Simultaneously fitness streaming became huge and we're probably right now in the next era of fitness revolutions. My mom and I decided to try each free trial available for the duration of the trial and then decide which workouts we'd invest in subscribing to. It's a fun project for the both of us, we commit to seeing each other on Zoom everyday which means we're talking more than we have in years, we're sweating together, pushing each other to power through, and we're experiencing real results.
I figured we'll share with you our brief thoughts on each streaming platform and you can see at the bottom what we have left to try...if you see something missing please comment so we can add it! I've made the list chronological based on when we did them.
*Maybe it's useful info I'm in my mid-20s and my my mom is in her late-50s, neither of us have any injuries but my mom doesn't love high-impact (besides running), I wear a heart rate monitor for all the workouts and I count high intensity as anything that's getting me between 153-172 BPM, if you want any other details please let us know*
**During these difficult and challenging times we both want to express a huge amount of gratitude for all the trainers and coaches who are creating and releasing content, regardless of whether or not it was our cup of tea we appreciate the amount of hard work and the very steep learning curve that we are all on**
While I have never had the Peloton bike or tread in Budapest, I have been a subscriber to the platform for 4 years now, so this one is a little different than the rest because we didn't do the free trial. I keep subscribing because it has catered really well to when I was going to the gym, I'd prop up the phone on a spin bike or treadmill and take the classes and when I transitioned to outdoor running in the warmer months, I love their outdoor running classes. I've taken a smattering of their indoor strength and stretch workouts but I really keep paying for the audio of the instructors. I can't get myself to do a HIIT or Intervals run without them and I like being yelled at by Robin Arzon too much to ever let it go. This platform has also benefited on being for streaming from the beginning so their set-up is one of the best out there.
We did a stretching workout, House Work by Sydney Miller, and BollyX, and we found the platform pretty lame. There's something missing about the energy of the instructors connecting to the viewer at home, there seemed like a lot of options, but actually there truly weren't and the visuals just weren't great. BollyX was probably our favourite, but there weren't very many classes available and we only liked one instructor. We would not return to this.
It's hard not to enjoy The Class, the music is incredible and the moves go to the beat, the instructors are inspirational, and the modifications abundant. The workout isn't overly choreographed, you'll work a bit of a sweat but not get drenched, and you're bound to burn somewhere between 250-350 calories. You have to get into letting go, looking silly, and being okay with some crunchy guru talk, but by the end we both were laughing and enjoying. My mom said some instructors were a bit hard to hear and the amount of jumping jacks and burpees might not be amazing on your knees. We ended up buying thicker mats which helped a ton, we both rank this one high and think we'll probably come back to it. If you want to try The Class and donate to the WHO try this On Demand Class for $10. We did this class and really enjoyed it, and it felt fun to come back and see ourselves get stronger at the burpees and jumping jacks that are included in every class!
Probably the best metric we have is the feeling of happiness or sadness we experience when we get to the end of a free trial. We definitely are feeling sad as we come to the end of LEKFIT, these workouts are made for streaming and it shows, the audio and visual is clear, reps are counted out but there isn't so much talking that you get distracted and can't hear the music. The equipment really helps here and we appreciate that we're being asked to lift heaver than 2-3lbs which is typical in most dance cardio. The rebounder is amazing on the knees, helps with balance, and is truly fun. It is definitely a tough workout, we are groaning all the way through the DEFINE classes and some of the BOOST, but at the end of a BOOST class we're burning between 400-500 calories. My mom says a lot of the DEFINE exercises are much easier on the rebounder because it doesn't hurt your wrist or put pressure on your knees. We also both agreed that it was good we didn't start with this class because it would have been even more killer a few weeks ago. We invested too much in our rebounders to not come back to this.
After my mom pulled her shoulder we knew we wanted to ease our way back with a workout that would challenge us, but wouldn't be too strenuous. We really enjoyed Charlee Atkins, her workouts are usually only 30 minutes long which is doable and they go by really quickly! A couple great things she does that others don't is that she has a running clock going so you know how long you're in a move for and how long the rest is, she also shows you what the next move is so you don't waste lots of time with demos. We gravitated towards the bodyweight workouts and we liked that she really worked all the muscle groups. She also is doing the workout with you the whole time and she's feeling it, she's panting, pushing, etc. and it can feel refreshing to have your trainer in it with you, though some might not like the heavy breathing. She doesn't use any music, so if you need that, this isn't the workout for you, but she's talking the whole time so after a point you don't miss it. We really liked her stretch series as well. She knows what she's talking about and you can tell she has a real education in exercise science. The only cons for us were that there wasn't a ton of content on the website, she's always adding though so I imagine in a few more months it'll be a packed library and we didn't get our heart rates up super high. We didn't find that you could ever consider the workout a HIIT workout, but if you're looking for something challenging but doable this could be your class!
One look at Kira, and you know she's not playing. This may be one of the harder classes we've taken, but somehow she breaks it down and makes it manageable. She's not using music besides just a beat in the background and she does all the workouts with you, but she doesn't seem to be struggling at all. In a way to us she seemed like the older, more experienced version of Charlee. Kira's workouts are down to a science and each training block incorporates complex strength training moves, plyometrics, cardio, and core work. She's meticulous about working out each part of the body right up until the point of failure, but none of the blocks are very long so you never fatigue quickly. You can tell she has years of experience under her belt and in a 30 minute class with her you feel like you've most efficiently worked out while also preventing injury...it just feels smart. We could see how adding heavier weights and doing this week after week would really change your body. Are heart rates definitely got elevated and we broke out into a sweat (which is not so easy for my mom). We would recommend coming into the workout with some prior training, this isn't a beginners class and it's important to be mindful of that. We could see ourselves coming back, simply because she seems like one of the best trainers out there!
We haven't yet done Tracy Anderson, but we know that Tracy is the mother of modern dance/sculpt fitness and her instructors have gone off and done their own classes which we have tried (LEKFIT, DanceBody). Anna Kaiser is probably the trainer who spent the most time with Tracy before branching off on her own so we suspect that they might be the most similar, but we'll let you know after we do Tracy. The workout seems effective, but where this workout lost us was in the platform. The on demand platform is in beta testing, which makes sense, but it is a complete mess. It's unclear which of Anna's usual formats go with the on demand formats, some classes are filmed for on demand, others in her studio for on demand, and others are just a camera in the back of the room. We did not do any of the camera in the back of the room because we knew we didn't like that with Nicole Winhoffer. We alternated between Dance Cardio, Toning, Sweat, and Circuit but we know with a 7 day trial we hardly scratched the surface of what Anna is offering. There is A LOT of content, but it isn't collected into an easy program and it isn't clear which classes to do together. We did 30min, 45min, and 60min classes...our favourite were the the toning classes which really pushed our muscles to exhaustion, had innovative moves we'd never seen before, and hit every muscle group. Our least favourite was the Dance Cardio, unfortunately licensing issues means that the music is pretty boring and it just doesn't have the same energy people rave about from her in-person classes. We learned some new moves, we felt comfortable doing the classes at all-levels, and we definitely broke out a sweat (though our heart rates didn't get high enough to consider it a HIIT) for us to come back the platform itself would need to be revamped and reorganized!
We REALLY LIKED the Sculpt Society! Definitely one of our favourites and something we enjoyed doing. We mostly did all the full body classes and we started with the ones that included dance cardio but towards the end preferred the ones without. We felt that the dance cardio was a bit silly and it didn't really get our heart rates up, we preferred to take the classes as really a sculpt/strength training rather than a cardio workout. What Megan is amazing at is legs and butt, we never encountered any of the same move and the lower body series definitely made us work. Every move was challenging, innovative, and explained beautifully. Cardio and arms tended to be the same moves and we just felt they probably weren't long enough or high enough intensity to be doing as good a job as the lower body. The abs series is strong as well, whether on sliders or on the pilates ball our core definitely got a good workout. The music isn't amazing, but Megan is pretty much talking the whole time so it doesn't matter and she does go to the beat of the music which really helped in terms of finding tempo. The other thing you notice is that Megan is a real pro, each side is carefully timed out you never have to worry that you're working one side more than the other and Megan always knows how many reps in you are and how many left to go. Also, she's doing the workout with you the whole time which means she's never making you hold anything for too too long. We think as the program develops there will be more and more classes which would make this a return for us because we're mostly interested in the full body. Think of it as a barre class but taken up a notch, we could see muscles getting really leaned out if we stuck with this!
Non-subscription based classes
Only happening on Saturdays and Sundays this workout burns upwards of 550 calories, is designed to be a sculpt block, cardio block, sculpt block, cardio block, and so forth changing every 5 minutes. Dynamic moves, incredible music that won't be repeated, and different instructor personalities. You get as much as you give in this democratic workout. If you're interested in joining please contact me
Classes Left to Try-We'd love your suggestions!
Body by Simone
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