“What the hell is this?” I thought out loud, almost mistaking the dark studio—illuminated only by strobe and disco lights and thumping with the loudest beats I’ve heard outside of a music festival—for a nightclub. Of course, it wasn’t a club; this is Switch Playground, the newest fitness concept out of South Africa to land in New York City.
I’ve been hearing fitness insiders, editors, and bloggers buzz about the new studio since it launched in December. Some love it, others don’t, and everyone warned me Switch Playground is not a class for the faint-hearted. At an event last night for Forever 21’s new activewear collection that included a workout at the new studio, I was able to test it out for myself. Here’s how it went down.
Ahead of the class, about 20 editors waited nervously in the reception area. Those black doors loomed ominously in front of us, separating the lobby from the studio. We huddled outside sharing our collective wisdom in hushed tones. “A friend told me it’s the toughest class she’s ever done. Worse than Barry’s,” one woman warned. “It’s part yoga, part circuit class,” offered another. The heavy doors flung open, and six crazy-fit and overly-excited instructors ushered us inside. Honestly, the next couple of minutes were a blur of yelling, clapping, smoke machines, and blinding disco lights. This, friends, is Switch Playground.
Once we found our positions, the class kicked off with about seven minutes of yoga, a fairly basic stretch to warmup for the ass-kicking that followed. Next we paired off and were directed to our stations, and the circuit component began. Along with my partner, I traveled between around 20 stations, spending two minutes at each. During this time class-goers complete two complimentary exercises in 30-second intervals. It combines strength training, plyometrics, strength training, and a little yoga: One minute you could be sprinting on the step machine and the next you might be linking ankles with your partner for joint sit-ups, or boxing, or cycling—the list goes on. There’s just a small 20-second break between each exercise, which adds to the intensity of the class.
According to Chief Marketing Officer, Susan Harrison, you can torch up to 1,000 calories in a one-hour class. “[It’s] a total-body circuit workout unlike anything else. Not just one, but multiple high energy instructors are in the room—training, coaching, encouraging, and assisting you as a DJ spins a motivating playlist,” she added in an interview with Sporteluxe over email.
I feel as though anyone interested in trying Switch Playground needs to appreciate the intensity level. No part of this session is easy, and even though I workout almost daily, I still had to pause and catch my breath pretty regularly in this class. In saying that, the music combined with short intervals and a large variety of exercises stops you from feeling bored, raises motivation levels, and generally makes the class fly by more quickly. Still wanna try? Head over to the website to book your class.