Women

Don’t sweat that New Year’s resolution – or rather, do sweat it. ELLE editors test both cult classics and current crazes to find your best workout for 2013

Description: Health Plans

Health Plans

Barry’s Bootcamp

Description: Barry’s Bootcamp

The program

Instead of roughing it outdoors, Barry’s Bootcamp devotees work out in dimly lit, camo-embellished studios in NYC, Nashville, and throughout California. Ultraripped instructors keep up morale with a playful narrative (“Sweat is your fat crying!”) rather than drill-sergeant-style abuse. Each hour-long class features high-intensity intervals on the treadmill and strenghth-building floor exercises.

Barryshootcamp.com

Editor’s take

In an attempt to drop holiday-party pounds, I sign up for 10 sessions before a long weekend in South Beach. As a sometime runner, I’m drawn to the treadmill-based workout; the intense strength-training component will offer a new challenge and, I hope, much-needed muscle tone. At roughly $30 per class, Barry’s isn’t as cost-effective as a typical gym membership, but it beats enlisting a personal trainer.

Results

Studies suggest that interval training raises the body’s metabolic rate, a claim I take too literally at my postworkout for-yo pit stop. Still, in just two weeks, a friend notices my “jacked” arms, and I feel more energetic – even on resting days. While I never step on a scale, my body looks tigher than before, and my South Beach swimwear anxiety begins to subside.

Intensity

Description: Intensity

P90X

Description: P90X

The program

Create by parky trainer Tony Horton, this as-seen-on-TV, 12-DVD program promises transformation in just 90 days. Using a mix of free weights, resistance bands, and a pull-up bar, each hour-long workout targets a different muscle group, with cardio and yoga peppered in. it also comes with a supplemental diet plan and a “100% satisfaction guarantee.”

Beachbody.com/P90X

Editor’s take

Each winter, working out falls by the wayside as I choose food, wine, and warmth over exercise. In an attempt to avoid my usual weight gain, I order P90X. Don’t let the cheesy infomercial fool you – it’s hard. In the beginning, Yoga X is the only DVD I’m able to complete without a break. The low-card, high-protein diet plan is brutal at first, but it helps me shed three motivating pounds in the first week.

Results

Of the countless infomercial workouts I’ve succumbed to over the years, P90X is the only one to deliver results. After three months, my tummy is flatter and my arms rival MObama’s. and, for the first time, I think twice about what I eat. I missed the community that a gym offers, so for now my DVDs are tucked away. But if I ever need a lifestyle reboot, I’ll dust them off again.

Intensity

Description: Intensity

Ballet beautiful

Description: Ballet beautiful

The program

Devised by former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers (Natalie Portman’s coach for Black Swan), Ballet Beautiful promises to deliver the lifted derriere and sleek limbs of a dancer – no pointe work required. You can attend classes at Brower’s airy SoHo studio from anywhere via live video feed (she can see you, so no sneaky Cheetos!).

Balletbeautiful.com

Editor’s take

When I spot something that can only be described as “knee cellulite” in a J. Crew dressing room, I make haste to Ballet Beautiful, about which I have heard hosannas from fashion-world friends. The interminable leg lifts and glute-squeezing bridges are punishing, but I find Browers’ lithe physique and calm instruction inspiring.

Results

After three weeks of either attending a class or working out at home to one of Browers’ DVDs every other night, my thighs feel firmer and leaner. I was supersore for the first few days, but it was worth it: By the start of the second week, that bulgy, dimply above-the-knee wedge that so horrified me already appeared visibly diminished. Better than Spanx!

Intensity

The sweat spot

Description: The sweat spot

The program

At Ryan Heffington’s the Sweat Spot, people who want a dancer’s body have to earn it the old-fashioned way – actually dancing. Heffington’s L.A.-based empire began in 2010 as a Sunday afternoon dance class known for welcoming newcomers. Now classes – and Heffington’s anything-goes environment – attract both off-duty professionals and the rhythmically challenged.

Thesweatspotla.com

Editor’s take

Dancers at the Sweat Spot are dressed in a mix of ironic neon spandex or American Apparel cotton basics. Every class starts with a high-energy yoga-meets-aerobics warm-up, which gets me huffing and puffing. Unlike in some hard-core studios, at the Sweat Spot, the pros are so friendly that I never feel self-conscious about my subpar skills.

Results

The Sweat Spot feels more like a party than a workout, a welcome alternative to my running regimen. I leave each class feeling lighter, more limber, and, as the name promises, drenched. I’ve picked up ballroom and ballet basics, my arms don’t give out now during yoga’s chataranga, and my relevé is less wobbly. And I’ve learned that dancers come in all shapes and sizes – even with my two left feet, I quality.

Intensity

Description: Intensity

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