My Instagram feed is a never ending scroll of models doing things that professionally beautiful people do. Drinking green smoothies by the beach, showering under waterfalls in infinitesimal swimwear, and of course working out with ethereal poise and immaculate ponytails.
The latter is a comforting reminder that even the genetically blessed require maintenance. In fact, said maintenance and the chronicling of it on Instagram has become a prerequisite for the job. Whatever happened to the rock’n’roll nonchalance of Kate Moss and her chain-smoking cohorts?
It got me wondering what effect a model-style fitness routine would have on a civilian body. To find out I signed myself up for a week’s worth of classes at their favorite New York studios. Five workouts, back to back, with no rest days.
The studio: ModelFIT
Model endorser/s: Karlie Kloss, Anne V
The workout: Think dance-meets-barre.
You could easily miss ModelFIT’s unassuming entrance on Bowery if it weren’t for the fact that 5”11 women with balletic top knots and Lululemon leggings keep coming and going.
The ethos behind the ModelFIT workout is simple — a mash up of Pilates, boxing, dance, yoga and barre, designed to create lithe-but-strong bodies for all its clientele, not only the models.
The class I attend has a Jennifer Lopez theme and we begin with a simple-to-follow dance cardio sequence set to throwback jams from JLo’s extensive back catalogue. Moves incorporate light dumbbells and are repetitive enough to ignite that deep muscle burn that defines Pilates / barre.
After working up a sweat we strap on leg weights and move to the mats. The emphasis here is definitely on exercises that worked the thighs and glutes (because JLo) and our trainer is a stickler for precise form maintained through multiple repetitions. I know I’ll feel the donkey kicks tomorrow morning.
ModelFIT, 212 Bowery, New York, NY, USA +1 212 219 2044
The studio: AEROSPACE High Performance Center Model endorser/s: Adriana Lima, Linda Evangelista, Constance Jablonski The workout: Boxing bootcamp. The primary draw of AEROSPACE is one of the studio’s co-founders. Michael Olajide, Jr. is a former middleweight boxing champ beloved by multiple models and celebrities, whose professional achievements include choreographing fight scenes for the movie Ali. A magnificently attired gentleman in blue leggings and metallic sneakers with a jazzy eye patch, Olajide, Jr. has a surprisingly gentle disposition, which is fortunate, because even at the moment when you want to drop to the floor with exhaustion you’re still inclined to like him. AERO3 feels to me like the training montage from Rocky. A relentless ass-kicking routine which encompasses strength work, lightning-speed shadow boxing and complex skipping sequences. Turns out I suck at skipping, but the women in front of me (one an apparent model who was on her second class of the evening) inspire me to push through and do the best I can. This is without a doubt the toughest class of the week. A workout worthy of athletes. AEROSPACE High Performance Center, 121 West 27th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 929 1640
The studio: G-BOX
Model endorser/s: Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid
The workout: Boxing
Although you would never guess it based on their teensy arms, models love to spar, and Gotham Gym is their favorite place to do it. This boxing workout is unfailingly popular with the Classpass set thanks to its mix of technique, cardio and calisthenics, with the additional stress relief that comes from repeatedly smashing glove to pad.
I took a class at G-BOX, newly opened in collaboration with WellPath in SoHo, which happens to be incredibly Instagram-able. Irreverent quotes too explicit to reiterate here adorn the walls and stairs, and a projection of Muhammad Ali looms large above the boxing ring.
After a warm up of jumping jacks and squats, and a quick and dirty introduction to the basics of boxing, we are grouped into pairs for a chance to practice our jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts. This is as much a mental test as it is a physical one, requiring the memorization of each specific sequence. My partner and I struggle to coordinate timing and force, but our fumbling becomes amusing in the end. As I make my way to the subway I already know I’ll be back for more.
Gotham Gym G-Box, 43 Crosby Street, New York, NY, USA +1 917 472 7384
The studio: Yoga 216 Model endorser/s: Lindsay Ellingson The workout: Hot yoga. By this point in the week my body is sore. My inner and outer thighs hurt, my hamstrings are ridiculously tight and my arms ache when I go to pick up my gym bag. It’s a relief that today’s class is hot yoga, even though it’s already uncomfortably humid out as I leave the house at 8:30am. Former Victoria’s Secret angel Lindsay Ellingson is practically an ambassador for Yoga 216 — a boutique studio in west Chelsea that specializes in semi-private classes of no more than six people. The teachers here are all about precise alignment cues which help you build strength in the right muscles. The option of heated classes ups the ante. Our teacher, Heidi, guides us through a dynamic vinyasa which is just the right amount of challenging, and thanks to the heat my muscles manage to release into each pose. We finish with a restorative shoulderstand (which translates to lying on our backs, legs resting on an elevated bolster pillow) and with a cool towel placed over my eyes savasana turns into a micro snooze. Yoga, I love you. Yoga 216, 511 West 20th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 337 3530
The studio: Barry’s Bootcamp
Model endorser/s: Christy Turlington
The workout: Half treadmill intervals, half strength training
Thank God for Friday. I have one final workout, but it’s possibly the toughest. Barry’s Bootcamp is a 60 minute class split between treadmill intervals and strength drills (think weighted lunges, squats, press ups and the like). I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to it.
Barry’s is clever, because it’s so fast paced you don’t have time to focus on how challenging the workout is. On the treadmill you’re too busy following the instructions fired at you — “In 20 seconds crank the incline up to 5 and the speed to 7.5 to 9.5” — that you hardly notice you’re gasping for air. Likewise, the strength portion of class is an evolving sequence of moves that requires total concentration. Add low lighting and an awesome playlist and somehow the whole thing turns out to be, dare I say, rather enjoyable.
Barry’s Bootcamp, 419 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 260 4777
The conclusion? Breaking out of my usual exercise routine helped me lose a pound or two, but mostly the benefit was in forcing myself to workout every single day. On Saturday, instead of pep talking myself into a run, I actually have to sell myself on the benefits of rest, and by Sunday I’m back at it, doing HIIT in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Currently taking bets on how long this newfound motivation will last…