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KAI RYSSDAL: This being January — the month when New Year’s resolutions haven’t yet had a chance to be forsaken — there’s a whole slew of people newly devoted to getting in shape out there.
In New York City there’s no shortage of places to work out, which is why gyms there are offering all sorts of new fitness classes. And some of those classes are a little out there. Jhoanna Robledo has spent the past month trying out the new fitness fads. She wrote about it in this week’s issue of New York Magazine. Jhoanna, good to have you with us.
JHOANNA ROBLEDO: Nice to be here.
RYSSDAL: Now you are an exerciser, right? But you are not one of these fitness-trend chasers are you?
ROBLEDO: No, not at all. I’m actually a runner, and prior to doing this article that’s pretty much all I did unless it’s too cold out.
RYSSDAL: So tell me about these classes. What are they like just in general, for those of us who haven’t been to a gym in years.
ROBLEDO: It’s amazing. I expected something of the Jane Fonda ilk and I was amazed to see the breadth and depth of variety out there. There’s everything from a boot-camp-style class to a cheerleading class to a Samurai sword class, where we were pretty much holding onto Samurai swords the entire time, to Bollywood dance complete with a wonderfully lyrical narrative going along every single move we may.
RYSSDAL: Tell me about that bootcamp one. You called it boot camp meets Jeopardy. I don’t quite understand how that works.
ROBLEDO: Yeah. Basically I call it boot camp because you’re working as if you’d imagine people in the military would train. You’re doing jumping jacks, push-ups. But the Jeopardy element comes in where you sit in teams and you have to answer trivia questions, and depending on whether you get it right or wrong, you get hard exercises or extra-hard exercises.
RYSSDAL: So there’s no easy exercise option?
ROBLEDO: No, no, unfortunately not.
RYSSDAL: There was a picture that went along with this article that I have to ask you about. People are hanging from what look like long ropes upside down in a gym someplace. What is that?
ROBLEDO: They call that float. And it’s basically yoga meets aerial aerobics meets Pink at the Grammys because she was hanging up from the rafters. Basically you do your yoga positions and Pilates-type positions while you’re hanging from this hammock. And they call it a hammock, actually, although it looks more like a sling.
RYSSDAL: This is ultimately a business story, though, isn’t it? I mean, gyms are doing whatever it takes at the tail end of a recession and the beginning of a new year to get new customers through the door.
ROBLEDO: I mean there are plenty of gyms in the city. You can only do so much in terms of how to beautify your space. Everyone can get the same gym equipment, you can always compete on price, so how do you differentiate yourself? You offer classes that are unusual and different and fun, and that would be a great lure. And hopefully you help people exercise and get fit at the same time.
RYSSDAL: It’s not cheap to get into some of these classes, especially in a place like Manhattan.
ROBLEDO: No, not at all. You pay anywhere from $80 to $200 for a membership every month.
RYSSDAL: What about yourself? Are you a convert now or are you just going to keep on running?
ROBLEDO: I have to admit that after doing the month of classes, I went back to my running. Although, yes, I have gone the last three weeks now to at least one exercise class a week.
RYSSDAL: Jhoanna Robledo is a contributing editor to New York Magazine. In this week’s issue, she is the gym class guinea pig. We’ve got a slideshow of some of the crazy things gyms are doing to get people in the door these days. Jhoanna, thanks a lot.
ROBLEDO: Thanks a lot.
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