At the entrance to Spiderbands are four springy bungee cords dangling above two Bosu balance balls. The wall behind is decorated with the words “come hang with us”, next to the studio’s Instagram handle. It’s a set purposefully composed for social sharing, because once you get into the studio there’s no time for photos—it’s right down to the business of working out.
Spiderbands is a 50-minute class focused on what founder Franci Cohen calls “compound movements”—exercises that challenge multiple muscles and joints, switching between the aerobic and anaerobic energy zones, and requiring so much concentration it’s almost meditative.
Cohen, an experienced nutritionist and trainer, struck on the idea during the abs section of class, when she looked up and noticed resistance bands dangling from the ceiling. She wondered what would happen if she could fortify them and make them weight baring, then pair them with other equipment—punching bags, mini trampolines, and Bosu balls—for an intense workout that’s unlike anything else out there.
“I’ve been in the industry long enough to see what works and what doesn’t work, and the complaints people have,” Cohen explains. “New Yorkers don’t have an hour for cardio and an hour for strength. And they don’t want high intensity and high impact because then you get injuries. I eliminated complaints and created a safe, science-based class that gets results fast.”
The Spiderbands class I picked, Jumpstrike, is composed of several sets of four different exercises, repeated roughly eight times each. It’s a complex choreography of bounces and punches, tuck jumps, kicks, and squats that makes sweat beads form five minutes in. At one point our instructor guides us into “the bear hug”—we leap up and throw our legs around the punching bag, gripping it with our ankles and lowering our bodies to a horizontal position, using the bands for support. It’s one of the hardest moves I’ve ever done in a fitness class.
Even familiar exercises feel entirely different performed with the signature bands. During “plank shoulder taps” my feet, which are looped through the bands, keep lifting against my will. I have to engage my core twice as much as normal just to stay grounded. On the flip side, they provide assistance as well as resistance.
At one point we spring from a downward dog-type position to a handstand—the bands around our ankles propelling our feet to the sky—before slowly hinging our legs back down against the weight of the band. It’s a push-pull tension that works muscles in ways they’ve never been worked before, and gets those super speedy results Cohen boasts about.
But effectiveness isn’t necessarily what keeps you coming back to a studio. There are plenty of challenging, effective, science-backed workouts in NYC, but it’s safe to say none are quite as much fun as Spiderbands.
Spiderbands, 12 East 14th Street, New York, NY, 10003 +1 (212) 287-9029