Left to my own devices in a gym, I'm clueless. I see weight machines and go, NOPE. That's why I love taking group fitness classes—you literally get told what to do. In the age of ClassPass and a la carte studio booking, however, I realize I've been playing roulette with my workouts. I'd go on a barre binge. Then I'd do a trampoline class. Indoor cycling. Boot camp. Dance cardio. Despite enjoying the variety and instant gratification of moving my body every day, I still felt lost. After doing class after class (and eating reasonably well), why wasn't I seeing results?
"You can't get the most out of various classes when you don't really have a program," celebrity trainer Ashley Borden tells me. On top of training the likes of Ryan Gosling, Reese Witherspoon, and Taraji P. Henson, and launching workout DVDs like The Body Foundation, she trains at L.A.'s Lock Box and has seen firsthand how ClassPass clients who drop in for group classes "are not building any foundation with the classes they're in." Those who favor repeating one kind of workout over and over "start overtraining one muscle group and get injured. "Basically, if you're not being intentional with the exercises you pick and how they work together, you won't see any changes.
So, what's the magic formula for moving past that plateau? Borden broke down the following: three days of strength training plus two days of your choice workouts plus one recovery day equals results (and by results, she means both weight loss and muscle gain).
Borden suggests strategizing your workout plan a month in advance to better hold yourself accountable. Functional and strength training is at the core of her plan—the trainer emphasizes seeking workouts that involve lifting weights (like you would in CrossFit or a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) classes like OrangeTheory Fitness or Barry's Bootcamp). Lifting heavy and doing intervals "keeps your heart rate up, which is excellent for releasing anabolic hormones, aka muscle building hormones, and creates the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, effect, which keeps burning calories after your workout," Borden says.
With three strength training workouts in the week, you could alternate with your beloved other workouts—Pilates, barre, boxing, dance, running, rowing, whatever—on the two other days. Then you finish off with one recovery day focused on stretching and gentle movements (like yoga, swimming, or steady-state, impact-free cardio you'd do on an elliptical or spinning class). As Borden puts it, "These other 'fun' classes done around strength training are like a cherry on top of what you are doing with your program."
BRB, finding my nearest CrossFit gym….
This story was first published on ELLE.com.
For more on Fitness, check out This Super Easy 5-Min Workout Is Equivalent To A 1.5km Run or Here Are The Workouts You Should Do During Your Period.