Updated: Sep 16, 2019
A lot of you have asked me what I do at the gym, or even my top choices for when I sign up to take various classes in the city, so I'm here to share what I have learned (and what I personally prefer with regards to working out) with you!
Now, just before we get started: I have not been a fitness guru for all the years of my life....probably not even 75% of it. In fact, I was very uninvolved in the regimented fitness class setting or even going to the gym on my own until about my senior year of college. A bunch of sweaty people in a big ol' sweaty gym just didn't really entice me. Now that isn't to say I wasn't active --- growing up, I participated in probably every extracurricular activity possible --- tennis, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, ballet and I even did musical theater (dance moves in those things will definitely break a sweat!). So, I was in no way just a bump on a log, but I simply never really got into the #gymlife.
That being said, the turning point for me to get more fitness focused was when I signed up for a running class my senior year. I was traumatized and literally regretted it after the first day (we didn't even run.... we just reviewed the syllabus too lol) and didn't know what I was getting myself into. Turns out that it was the class that made me re-think how I was approaching my life and my health and that I wanted to make some changes, not only for myself but for my future family. As much as I dreaded waking up early at 7AM (in college that's early) to go run, I never felt better breaking a morning sweat and conquering the day. I couldn't believe I had gone so many years of my life without making this feeling more of a routine. So, even once the class completed for the semester, I found myself running on my own and finding any way possible to add more fitness into my life. Now, a few years later, I've grown that passion even more and can't even go 3 days without breaking in a good sweat (otherwise I start to get cranky). Sometimes just looking back on your life it's crazy to see how things can change, and that a person you never thought could come to surface, does.
Anyways, enough about me: moral of the story, I am no fitness fanatic who has to be in the gym 24/7, but I do love to be active and immerse myself in a variety of things and try out new workouts! The good thing is that Atlanta is the PERFECT city to re-discover your love for fitness. We have SO many studios where you can take a class in almost anything your heart desires. Kickboxing, Pilates, HIIT, Yoga, Pure Barre.....we've got it all. Now, I am going to mostly focus on HIIT workouts (as those are what I typically end up doing) BUT I will mention others as well at the bottom if cycling or yoga is more of your thing
So, here are some of my favorites (click on the title to book a class!):
I was a trainer here for about 2.5 years, so I guess you could say that I am biased. But I used to go about 2-3 days a week, depending on my schedule. OTF is a great combination of endurance + strength + power to give you a lean and toned look. The class is 60 minutes in total (including the warm-up and stretching), and the typical layout is spending half on the treadmill doing intervals (pre-set by the fitness instructor), and then half between the water rower and the weight floor with regimented timed blocks and exercises. Now, most people disregard OTF automatically because they hate running (and at first I thought the same thing) but the intervals on the treadmill help to spice it up that you don't even realize that you just ran 2.5+ miles! I love the satisfaction that comes with hitting a new speed or distance, especially since I used to barely make it through running a mile. With the additional balance of strength + power from the other equipment, it's a great well-rounded program to ease back into working out. You set your own speeds for treadmill efforts and go at your own pace on the weight floor, but you still get to interact in a group setting and have access to the trainer for any questions or exercise modifications. The best thing about OTF is that it has been around since 2007 and there are MANY studios in the country, and your membership is eligible at all of them....so there is no excuse to not get a workout in while on vacation (not necessary, but the option is there!). I love knowing I can go out of town and still hop into a class if I'm up for it. Your first class is free, so what the hell, go give it a shot! Key note* -- this workout is not available on Class Pass.
I was the Membership Director & a part-time trainer at the F45 North Smyrna studio for a while after my OTF career, so again biased... but I LOVE F45. The workout program is relatively new to Atlanta as it only has a few studios at the moment (Buckhead, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, North Smyrna and Decatur) but I absolutely love this workout and the brand! The name stands for "Functional 45" meaning the focus is on full-body, functional movements in a circuit-style setting (no treadmills) and the workouts are 45 minutes each (with the exception of the weekends, where they increase to 1-hour). The layout is where you work an exercise at a certain station for X amount of time (usually 20-45 seconds), and then rotate to the next, or complete a few rounds before switching. Some days you will have 27 stations, and some you will have 9. I simply like these workouts because I'm all about explosive, timed efforts and I love circuit-focused workouts because I find myself to be more motivated to work harder. There is something about doing the highest number and most quality amount of reps in 30 seconds vs just doing 12 at your own pace and calling it quits.... especially when a trainer is yelling in your face. It's all a mental thing, but I totally vibe off of that so much more. The M-W-FRI workouts are typically cardio-based (box jumps, burpees, sprints, etc). with a slight mix of strength where T-TH are more strength-focused (bodyweight strength exercises, chest presses, low rows, etc). and then the weekend combines all workouts together and gives you an extra 15 minutes to burn it out. You get an amazing 2-week free trial (depending on the studio, some are only 1-week!) with F45, so I highly recommend grabbing a friend or flying solo and giving it a shot! Key note* -- this workout is not available on Class Pass.
This place is awesome, and the staff is no joke one of the friendliest groups of people that you'll ever meet. Now, there is only one studio in Atlanta (hopefully more to come) but it is definitely worth making a visit to! The word "BACH" originates from New Zealand and means "one's second home," and the staff and community in the studio do a fantastic job at making you feel like it truly is your home away from home. Even if your real home is less than 5 minutes down the road. I love coming here because they not only offer HITT classes, but also have Power Flow classes, Yoga classes, Meditation classes, a coffee bar AND a chiropractor/massage therapist all under one roof! All of the things you need to live a happy life are at your fingertips. I have never tried the Meditation/Power Flow classes before, but the Yoga instructor is amazing and I always leave feeling so energized and challenged after the HIIT workouts. The HIIT classes last about 45 minutes and then some time is added in at the end to stretch. All workouts are personally crafted by the coach, and are a great combination of cardio + strength and incorporate tons of full-body movements. All of the coaches want to see you succeed and are just so passionate about their work that it shines through to their workouts, and even onto their social media account (lol), every single day. For the HIIT workouts, they have a stationary bike for your cardio as well as a large turf section where bodyweight challenges are completed, and then a section for weights. The lights are dimmed low, the music is loud, the movements are challenging..... and it's overall an awesome experience. You can even go get a HIIT workout in and then cool down with some Yoga or Meditation all in the same day. Your first class is free, so go sign on up and give one of them a go! Key note* -- this workout is available on Class Pass.
If you're looking to try a workout that is a newer concept and more cutting-edge technology, this is the place for you. I went here for the first time a few months ago, and I have literally never sweat more in my entire life. This workout combines skill mill treadmills (self-paced treads...they're the coolest thing ever) with a weight floor and then also kickboxing movements to give you one of the sweatiest, most challenging workouts that you will ever do! It's a 60-minute workout, but I promise you will feel like you worked for 24 hours straight (in a good way). I've been back a few times since my first class, and the workout still leaves me feeling extremely challenged and inspired to work even harder towards my physical fitness goals. You spend half of the class doing short sprints and cardio-based work on the treadmills, and then mix together some weight floor and bodyweight exercises as well as kickboxing movements for the other half. You'll address all types of exercises including dynamic, compound, aerobic, anaerobic, and so many more. My favorite part of this workout is using the skill mill treads - in comparison to most gyms where the typical treadmill is responsible for "leading" the way (aka by you clicking a speed and catching up to it), in this case, you're in charge and that treadmill won't move until your feet do. Check this video out to see what I mean -- I never knew I could run at 14.2mph --- it's extremely cool pushing yourself to such high limits! Your first class is free, so again, definitely go check them out! Key note* -- this workout is available on Class Pass.
This workout is similar to OTF in that they have mainly a treadmill portion for your cardio and then a weight floor where you work upper body, lower body and your core. There are a few studios within the Atlanta area and it's a great class to hop into if you're an experienced athlete or even if you're just beginning because there are many ways to make the workout more (or less) challenging if it isn't already that way for you. The classes are a full 60-minutes (not including stretching) so you definitely get quite a sweat in and work a lot of different types of movements! You typically work in about 6-10 minutes blocks of time and alternate between the floor and the treadmill for the full 60-minutes. So yes, be ready for a challenge because that switching is a LOT harder than it sounds. I like the treadmill work here because they not only do flat road sprints and runs, but also intense power-walking efforts with inclines as high at 30% sometimes! I usually hate running or walking up hills when I'm outside, so these classes make sure I get some experience in that area and work an entirely different muscle group. The floor work consists of isometric or dynamic movements focusing on everything full-body and uses a variety of equipment (bosu balls, bands, medicine balls, weights, etc.) to get the job done. Your first class is free, so get your booty in for a free workout! Key note* -- this workout is available on Class Pass.
.......And to think that's only 5 studios I mentioned! You have SO many options it's insane. Again, those are just an overview of some of my favorite HIIT places to workout at, but that doesn't mean I don't like other types! I personally don't prefer cycling on the regular (it hurts my butt too much and I need to move around and do different things to keep my mind focused away from my misery lol) but an occasional session I'm always down for! I have recently gotten more into Yoga, Kickboxing and Sculpting which are workouts to balance things out on my rest days, or to keep myself challenged outside of my comfort zone. Regardless, it's all about finding what works best for YOU and what invigorates you to show up everyday and give it your best.
Now that I am not training anywhere at the moment, I usually just workout by myself at my apartment gym. BUT I always like to spice things up and try new places (or re-visit old ones!). I usually use Class Pass as a way to give me the opportunity to try different studios in the Atlanta area. PS - I don't workout hard everyday -- I shoot for at least 4 workouts a week and then make sure to have proper recovery days in between. If I'm feeling up to additional workouts, I'll hit up my apartment gym more frequently and create my own circuit or strength workouts to give me a little sweat, but nothing that will put me over the edge. It's all about balance, recovery and listening to your own body to figure out the best routine that works for you!
**Keep an eye out for my FIRST online fitness program coming out next week to get a taste of what I do everyday. A 2-week AND 4-week bodyweight challenge!
Other awesome studios I'd recommend trying out: