It's Amanda Lauren X A Sweat Life

I am obsessed with group fitness, but it's an expensive habit. I wrote a post for A Sweat Life featuring my best tips on how to afford those pricey classes and still have enough left over to buy yoga pants that aren't on sale. Click on over to A Sweat Life to check it out.

New York Fitness Fave AKT Comes To Los Angeles & Target Stores

If you haven’t heard of AKT yet, I won’t judge you (that much), but let me take this opportunity to inform you, it’s one of the hottest workouts right now. AKT was created by Anna Kaiser, a professional dancer turned A-list celeb trainer. After shaping some of the hottest bodies including Kelly Ripa (I know I can stop right here, but let me drop a few more names), Shakira and Sarah Jessica Parker, she opened up her first New York studio in 2013. Very quickly, AKT achieved “it” status. Four east coast locations later, they are getting ready add another one in Los Angeles in 2017. The brand is also launching a limited edition collaboration with C9 Champion, available exclusively at Target (so feel free to pronounce it Tar-jay).

Last week, I had the full-on AKT experience at their Beverly Hills pop-up. I previewed the line and was totally wowed. Everything about this collaboration impressed me, including the quality, construction and (let me be truly honest about my priorities) style. Priced between $12.99-$41.99, every piece looks way more expensive than it is. Another great thing about this collab is that it’s body positive and size inclusive ranging from XS-3X. While I wasn’t able to preview the entire line, overall, I felt what I saw was cut on the more generous side. I plan to order a size smaller than I normally wear. 

I also got my workout on, taking a Sweat Dreams class. While this sounds like something that involves napping and losing weight, don’t let the name fool you. It was a fast-paced program that consisted of circuits, which alternated between strength training with weights and cardio moves as well as mat exercises. Designed to consistently challenge the body, I found as soon as I got the hang of each circuit, it was time to move on to the next one. I really had to keep my focus, which made the hour fly by. Incredibly intense, it was a lot of fun with an encouraging atmosphere. I also give the playlist bonus points because playlists tend to make or break my motivation. 

Sweat Dreams compelled me to push myself in ways I normally don’t. Because the class was in a smaller space, we only used two props, 3 and 8 pound weights. I rarely use weights heavier than 3 pounds. It was as if I took a magic confidence pill and I was really surprised about what my body could do. The entire experience has actually made me feel more confident in my other workouts. 

I do not look this fabulous when I exercise, but at least I can buy the clothes.

I do not look this fabulous when I exercise, but at least I can buy the clothes.

The class was taught by one of AKT’s top instructors, Ariel Hoffman. I was floored by her ability to take command of such a large group, making sure no one was lost, especially because it was the first time quite a few of the participants were trying AKT. Anna herself didn’t teach the class, but she had a really good excuse because she is eight months pregnant. However, she was there to supervise and correct forms (mine included). Anna glowed hard and had such a kind, happy vibe about her. I can’t wait until she gets back from maternity leave, so I can take a class with her personally.

While AKT isn’t officially open in LA yet, they have semi-secret classes at the Pacific Arts Center. You can check the schedule and book through the Mindbody and AKT apps. 

If you don’t live in a location with an AKT studio, no FOMO is necessary because a streaming program is available, as well as DVDs. But you will have FOMO if you don’t kick off the New Year with new gear on January 1st at Target. So, don’t forget to log in at midnight. Try not to think of this as drunk shopping so much as starting your resolutions at the earliest possible moment. If you prefer to shop in store, the line is available at select locations only. 

Drum Your Way Fit With Pound At Crunch

As someone who participates in group fitness four to five days a week, it’s really important to keep it interesting and challenging. What’s worse than a boring workout? So, I was really excited to try Pound at Crunch. Pound is a really interesting concept because it doesn't fit into a neat category. Instead it combines cardio, strength training, core work, stretching and drumming. Yes, drumming!

To be honest, I was a little nervous to try Pound. Try to think of the least musically talented person you know, such as someone who can’t even pretend to drum on a steering wheel while stuck in traffic. My sense of rhythm is probably far worse.  Before the class, I had a vision that I would drum totally off beat and everyone would give me dirty looks, but luckily that didn’t happen. I was actually surprised that after a song or two, I felt like I was able to keep up with everyone. The drumming also really helped to stabilize my core and keep me balanced, which, as it turns out, is the whole point of the class. According to the instructor, Harmonie (yes, that is her real name and no, it could not be more appropriate), being part of the Pound Posse doesn’t require any coordination, “Coordination is not a huge element that we focus on. Anyone can do this workout as long as you feel the music. Your body just flows with it and connects everything you are doing.”

Harmonie In Action

Harmonie In Action

While Harmonie is a natural fit to teach this class, before Pound, she had no prior musical experience, “I've always loved music and was in dance, but I had zero drumming experience and that’s the beauty of it. You don't have to be a drummer to do this workout at all.”

In addition to making the class good for all levels, by providing different modifications, Harmonie was a dream instructor. She was fun, fit, enthusiastic and most importantly, had great taste in music. Liking the playlist absolutely essential for feeling the flow of Pound. Every song has its own set of moves and choreography such as squatting, stretching, crunches, or cardio, followed by or integrating drumming on the floor, in the air or hitting the Ripstix together.

If Pound sounds familiar to you, it’s because this workout has been around for over four years. Kirsten Potenza & Cristina Peerenboom came up with the idea one day when day they were air drumming sans sticks. They realized they were challenging their cores and boom, Pound was born.

Harmonie was one of the first Pound instructors and she is still happily rocking out every week, “I get the biggest high from teaching class. I empower my class to let it all out and to do their best. I challenge them by asking them to think of something they want to let go of during class and then to focus on something they want to bring more of into their lives. It's quite miraculous to watch their faces when they are Pounding...it's like you can see into their soul because each one is thinking something different. I know I play a small part in their day and it makes me so happy that I can do that for them.”

Another thing I really liked about Pound is that it replaces standard weights with ¼ pound (no pun intended) Ripstix. It seems like dumbbells have become the standard equipment for every workout I do these days from Pilates to Spin and even Yoga (which goes against so much of what yoga is about, but that is a different post entirely). Adding weights adds an extra challenge that many people want, but I am not one of those people. My shoulders and arms tend to bulk easily, so I’m sticking with Ripstix from now on.

If you don't live in Los Angeles and reading this makes you have major Pound FOMO right now, don't worry. The class is taught in over 2000 studios and gyms worldwide. If you want to try Pound at your local studio or get more info, visit Pound Fit’s website.