All about you. Make 2021 your best year.

Fitness fresh start

Written by Karen Long

It’s just two months into 2021, and 80 percent of us have already given up on our New Year’s resolutions, according to “U.S. News.” But March is a whole new month, and any Wichitan looking for inspiration during the continuation — or outset — of a fitness journey will find plenty of innovation and surprising health benefits right here in our own backyard. Here’s to working toward better conditioning, improving energy or kick-starting weight loss, and much, much more!

Fusion Pilates

Unique formats, creative sequencing, building bone density and myofascial release are just a few appealing incentives of the fusion workouts found at Club Pilates, which opened last year in Bradley Fair. For example, lead instructor Kim Moses describes the aptly named Reformer Flow class: “There are limited transition times, and our goal is to have one exercise after another, constantly moving.” All while maintaining the traditional Pilates focus on core strength.

Classical Pilates is typically thought of as a somewhat functional modality, but Club Pilates has introduced a cardio element with their Cardio Sculpt class, which focuses on the Springboard and traditional Pilates exercises. In contrast to the usual silent Pilates studio, the class makes use of music designed around the choreography, similar to a Les Mills class.

Exertion and stress on working muscles is the force that causes them to lengthen and strengthen in Pilates — but that’s not the only body system to benefit. Any exercise that has sufficient “force of impact” will also build bones, according to Moses. This is an additional benefit of the Cardio Sculpt class, thanks to moving the body through all planes on the classic Reformer machine, using the resistance of springs while on your back, side or belly and practicing different combinations of classical and contemporary Pilates exercises.

The Pilates Restore class reduces soreness in the muscles thanks to myofascial release. It increases flexibility, range of motion and strengthening around all the joints. Other classes combine interval training with Pilates, which Moses calls “part of their special sauce.”

“We have some unique formats that you will not see in a traditional Pilates studio,” she says, “and that’s what makes us so successful really. We have full classes here and people are lovin’ it. And feeling good, too, when they leave.”

Strength-driven interval training

For people who’ve hit a plateau while trying to lose stubborn pounds, there’s a new secret weapon in town.

MADabolic, a new gym at K-96 and Greenwich, focuses on carefully calculated short bursts of intensity alternating with rest periods. Although it has similarities to high-intensity interval training, owner Yvette Ysidro explains, “We’re not HIIT really. We’re more ‘time under tension.’ We’re all about the pace. We go slow and we are controlled. You really get that burn in the muscles you’re working.”

When you feel that burn, Ysidro says, that’s how you know your muscles are actually building and growing. She calls the MADabolic approach, “strength driven interval training.” The sequence of workouts is carefully calculated over minutes, hours, days and weeks to provide stimulation to a variety of muscle groups and a complete workout alternating with rest periods. The objective is to build power, speed, strength, endurance and athleticism.

During each sequence, trainers work with members to achieve the ideal intensity target, ranging from 70, 80 or 90 percent on Momentum days, 80 percent on Durability days or a full-out 100 percent pace on Anaerobic days.

MADabolic opened at the end of 2020, and already they’re thinking about expansion.

“It’s going so well,” says Ysidro, “hopefully we’ll have a second location and be open on the west side in a year or year and a half.” At this rate it sounds like this secret weight-loss weapon may soon be not-so-secret.

The Blue Zones

“If you want to live a long life you’ve got to treat the body well and treat the mind well,” says Matt Lillie, co-owner at Opti-Life. “It’s not just about working out — that’s one part of being fit, but really it’s about, ‘What are you doing to take care of yourself?’ ”

Opti-Life is a “Vitality Club + Spa” near Woodlawn and 13th offering rejuvenation and functional nutritional in addition to a complete complement of workout systems and over 100 fitness classes.

The inspiration behind Opti-Life comes from research into the “Blue Zones,” a study of regions around the world whose citizens live to a vibrant and active advanced age. “The people who lived the longest, the happiest, had certain common traits, including their purpose, their community, movement and moderate eating,” says Lillie. “It’s whole-person centered.”

Mindfulness, community and purpose are central at Opti-Life, and that’s expressed in part through a wide variety of yoga classes, including restorative, Vinyasa flow, couples’ yoga and warm yoga, in the dedicated Mind + Body Studio. “Yoga originally wasn’t an exercise for the body, it was an exercise for the mind and the spirit,” says Lillie.

Opti-Life boasts six studios altogether, including a Pilates Reformer Studio; a Cycle Studio; an Opti-Fit Studio for HIIT workouts and a GroupX room featuring BodyPump, RPM and CXWorx classes by Les Mills. They also have a unique TreadX Studio for running. “So think of a spin studio, but with treadmills,” says Lillie.

Another innovation is an app that guides members through over 250 home-based online classes, or integrates with Opti-Life’s equipment to track progress. “You can be more proactive from a technology standpoint in our facility than you can in any other facility in town.”

Aerial yoga and aerial silks

If you want to take your yoga practice to new heights, or build strength and endurance while practically floating in midair, Flow Foundry will bring a whole new level of creativity and excitement to your workout.

Both Aerial yoga and Aerial silk classes take place while hanging from the 18-foot tall ceilings in the Flow Foundry space on south Meridian. Owner Christina Duncan, who also teaches classes at Opti-Life, explains the difference between the two.

Aerial yoga focuses on the therapeutic side — mindfulness and breathing with the moves, all while suspended in an Aerial hammock. She says, “It’s a very large piece of strong fabric that you can sit in like a swing.” Aerial silks, on the other hand, are two lengths of long fabric hanging side by side, which you “climb up tall and make the beautiful poses.”

This fun, playful approach to fitness gives Flow Foundry students a boost of confidence that keeps them engaged in their practice and eagerly anticipating the next lesson. With classes for ages 7 on up, beginners are welcome and Duncan says, “If you practice once a week you can make progress in a surprisingly short amount of time. In 6 to 12 weeks people are really impressing themselves.”

During that time students are building entirely new neural pathways. “When you feel that bit of awkwardness in your body, that’s your brain trying to catch up with what you’re doing. Once you get good at it you’re not awkward anymore — that pathway’s been built and that’s where muscle memory comes from.”

Join us in April for the next installment in this series, where we’ll explore the topic of sleep and how to be more refreshed, calm and clear in 2021!

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