Feature Health + Wellness Health SEEN

Banish The Boring Workout

July 30, 2015
Challenge yourself with a fun new way to keep fit.
By Susan Peck | Photography by Brett Mountain

Anyone who works out regularly knows the importance of keeping things fresh, trying new exercises and generally making your workout as varied and interesting as possible. The last thing you want is to get so bored with your routine that you grow out of your skinny jeans forever.

Variety is the spice of life, and that’s true for our physical pursuits. If you’re looking to mix up your workout a little, you owe it to yourself to try one of these interesting new ways to keep in shape and keep yourself out of the dreaded workout rut.

Surf’s Up

Picture this — you’re on your surfboard catching a wave and sitting on top of the world, getting a surfer’s body without ever getting wet. That’s Surfset Fitness, the new workout in Studio X at Beverly Hills Athletic Club (BHAC) on Southfield Road in Beverly Hills.

“Surfset Fitness is all about getting away from the traditional static workout, challenging your body in new ways and taking it up a notch while you’re having lots of fun,” said class instructor Shirin Bellissimo.

BHAC is the first locally to have Surfset Fitness equipment, which consists of a specialized surfboard fixed atop three Bosu balls. It was designed by a former athlete and surfer who wanted to keep his long, lean physique when he couldn’t get to the ocean. Presented on ABC’s Shark Tank two years ago as an exciting new workout system, Surfset Fitness was born.

The classes at BHAC are held three days a week with a dozen Surfset boards available. Surfset Fitness class members (a.k.a. surfers) say they love the challenge of the surfing workout. “I love the fact that we’re doing exercises that push you,” Debbie Harrison said. “When you work up a sweat like we do, you know it’s a great workout!”

BHAC fitness trainer Matt Mikkola also suggests trying out the TRX suspension training class to break up any health club monotony.

Developed by a former Navy SEAL, TRX consists of a Y-shape device suspended from an elevated point that uses your body weight as leverage while you perform toning, strengthening and sculpting exercises.

“This is a program you can use your whole life because as we age we need the strengthening and core stability it provides. But maybe the most important thing is it helps maintain good balance, one of the most essential things we need as we get older,” Mikkola said.

Put Up Your Dukes

Another way to put some pizzazz in your workout is to add some kicks and punches. Kickboxing — or more specifically, cardio kickboxing — combines elements of boxing, martial arts and aerobics to provide the best overall body conditioning and toning.

“First Lady of Boxing” Jackie Kallen, a manager and promoter, explained that a lot of pro athletes cross-train with boxing because it’s about the most complete cardio and body strengthening workout you can get.

“It’s interval training with intense three-minute rounds and one minute of rest in between,” Kallen said. “And there’s a feeling of empowerment and confidence that you don’t get from other sports.”

George Jones, kickboxing instructor at Franklin Athletic Club (FAC) on Northwestern Highway in Southfield, explained, “Kickboxing remains popular because people see and feel the great results from it.”

Teaching kickboxing for more than 25 years, his classes at FAC are wildly popular because he includes singing, rapping and the greatest workout to relieve stress.

“It’s amazing what these classes do for our members from ages 8 to a 95-year-old woman who comes three times a week,” Jones said.

“After today’s class, a woman said, ‘George, thank you so much. When I got here I was I mad and a ball of tension, and now I feel great!’ That’s the greatest testament to what we do here.”

Come Fly Away 

Hatha yoga meets Cirque du Soleil — Yoga Shelter in Grosse Pointe and Rochester Hills both have aerial yoga classes to bring your inner Peter Pan to new levels of fitness.

Developed by former gymnast Christopher Harrison, it provides a workout that allows you to stretch and strengthen without overstressing your joints or compressing your vertebrae as you’re suspended from the ceiling on beautiful silk fabrics tied together to create a “hammock.”

“The hammocks are hung at various heights, allowing you to try different types of yoga postures,” said Melissa Whorf, owner of Yoga Shelter studios. “There’s a greater range of motion and a deeper stretch than doing yoga on the floor. The advantage is that it strengthens different muscle groups and complements your other yoga practices.

“There’s a liberating lightness to soaring in the air,” Whorf added. “It’s a chance to get in touch with your inner child with a playfulness you don’t get from traditional yoga.”

The Circle of Life

Equilibrium Studio on Telegraph in Bloomfield Hills was born from the philosophy that we can all achieve wellness of body and mind with special practices. One of them is Gyrotonics — a therapeutic circular movement system (think gyroscope) that combines elements of Pilates, Yoga, Tai-chi, swimming and dance, created by Juliu Horvath in the mid-1980s.

Studio owner and self-proclaimed attitude sculptor Nancy Hodari explains the benefits of Gyrotonics. “With the specialized equipment we have including the ‘Tower’ and the ‘Toner,’ you can counteract posture problems like ‘computer back,’ whittle your waist and help realign your spine.

“But this isn’t about ‘no pain no gain.’ It’s a therapeutic fitness practice that slowly and gently increases your wellness inside and out,” she said.

The only certified master trainer in Metro Detroit, Equilibrium’s Veronique Breen, a former dancer, said, “Gyrotonics is so effective because it implements rhythmic circling movements to stimulate the nervous system, lengthen muscles and strengthen your joints and spine. Most everyday movements involve rotation so it only makes sense that your workout practice should, too.”

Gyrontonics sessions are a one-on one class with private training packages from $30 to $100.  NS

For more information …

Beverly Hills Athletic Club

31555 Southfield Road, Beverly Hills 

thebhac.com, (248) 642-8500


6405 N. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills 

equilibriumstudio.com (248) 723-6500

Franklin Athletic Club

29350 Northwestern Highway, Southfield 

franklinclub.com (248) 352-8000 

Yoga Shelter

1910 Rochester Road, Rochester Hills

yogashelter.com (248) 650-9642

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