Summer Equinox: New Workout Round-Up

1215099789An 8:30 a.m. Friday meeting is a tough pitch, even for a publicist to the stars. But we’re always game for trying a different workout, so we dragged ourselves to Equinox at an ungodly hour last week to check out what’s new. (Also, we understood smoothies would be involved.)

It was a rough morning—we arrived five minutes late, profusely apologized, and then realized that we were the first ones there. No one else showed up for another half an hour, so we eventually received what amounted to personal training.

The first class on the agenda was supposed to be Climb-Max, new to the Boston Equinox this month. However, the class was at 9. And we were still waiting for other people to arrive. So we kind of skipped it. But we’re not totally lazy: We picked up the phone to ask our Equinox-going New York friend, who has been doing Climb-Max there for a few months, what it’s like.

“It’s a less-’90s version of step class,” she says. Indeed, Climb-Max uses the same plastic step risers that have been in gyms for 15 years, but puts the riser on a slant to work your butt better. (The Equinox people say the incline makes your glutes work 85 percent harder.) The 60-minute, interval-style class features 30 minutes of cardio (the incline stepping/jumping) and 30 minutes of weights (using the riser as a bench).

Next up: kettlebells.

Kettlebells (ball-shaped weights that originated in 19th century Russia) aren’t new to Equinox, or most other gyms, but most people haven’t been trained to use them properly. The key, apparently, is to use your hips to drive the motion as you squat and then swing the kettleball up into the air. It’s a great workout—you get strength training with explosive power, plus a decent cardio session (because doing a million squats while swinging an 18-pound ball definitely gets your heart rate up). There are no kettleball group classes at Equinox, though, so we’d recommend doing a session with a trainer before grabbing them on your own.

Our favorite workout of the day was on the Kinesis machines. The machines, exclusive to Equinox, use a cable system similar to most weight machines, but the range of motion is much greater. The actual exercises are conventional—lat pull-downs, tricep presses, upright rows—but there’s no attached bench or seat, so we were doing squats and lunges at the same time. The combination delivers a complete-body workout in 30 minutes. (We only did it for 15, and were still sore the next day.)

Bottom line: All of these workouts put our treadmill/free weights routine to shame. We love the efficiency of each, plus the fact that concentrating on learning new techniques makes the time fly by even faster.

Equinox, 131 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-578-8918,