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Welcome to the Racked Awards, our annual celebration of the best in fashion, beauty, shopping, and health. Below, see our nominees for the Best New Fitness Craze.
Photo courtesy of The Monster Cycle
Let's get real: Fitness classes are hotter than Céline Trapeze bags these days. With a boom of online exercise studios going brick and mortar, new offerings popping up in gyms from coast to coast, and deal-driven apps making classes (somewhat) more affordable, 2014 will go down as the year boutique fitness went mainstream. But that's not to say some don't shine brighter than the rest! These five leaders of the pack have kicked off the biggest soon-to-be-trends 'round the country and foretell what bouncing, flexing, and pedaling we'll be doing well into the new year.
Photo courtesy of The Barre Code
We're Calling It: Barre Varietals
Which Means: A multidisciplinary studio that focuses on a full-body, strength-centric barre program (none of that Lotte Berk shit here!)
Why It's Important: If endless, quivering squats feel like an unwelcome throwback to grade school ballet class, this studio will redefine what it means to hit the bar(re). Results-driven with a focus on athleticism, The Barre Code's classes infuse everything from interval training and plyometrics to kickboxing and sauna heat into your regimen. Its cult-like status with Midwesterners comes from its athletic and confidence-promoting approach to traditional barre, which has made it all the rage in Chicago, where the studio was founded. Even better, it recently rebranded itself (it was formerly known as Barre Bee Fit) and began franchising across the country—meaning it's likely to hit a city near you. And hey, judging from the lean, strong, super-toned women they're churning out, it can't happen soon enough.
Where to Do It: Studios in eight states and growing
Photo courtesy of The Monster Cycle
We're Calling It: Watch While You Work Those Wheels
Which Means: A hard-as-hell-yeah spin class that's made extra-special with the addition of pulse-quickening music videos played on large-format screens
Why It's Important: Michael Macneal, co-founder and creator of The Monster Cycle, built such an extreme following with his spin class at Equinox that he was able to open up his very own studio featuring high-end sound systems, matte black bikes, and, frankly, the best soundtrack of any exercise class around. Die-hard clients flock to watch his club-rivaling video playlists while chugging up challenging hills, pedaling through breathless classes and taking in clips that were probably released that very day. (In short: The songs you see here will be in your regular spin class about a month later.) The trend has caught on with music-obsessed riders so much so that mega-gyms like Crunch are hopping on the fresh format too. When your most encouraging spin teacher doubles as the hottest DJ you know, it's seriously the best.
Where to Do It: TMC is based in NYC, while Crunch is a national chain
Photo courtesy of Vixen
We're Calling It: You Can Find Me in the Club (Getting Fit)
Which Means: Hip-hop cardio done in a confident, women-only nightclub atmosphere
Why It's Important: It all boils down to this: Vixen Workout is definitely gonna be on par with the pole dancing and Zumba crazes of years past. Encouraging ladies to bring out their inner Beyoncé in a judgement-free zone is basically the most ideal way to exercise—and did we mention you're supposed to wear your hair down for maximum hairography? The Vixen Army (what they call their die-hard clientele) keeps coming back in droves because the exercise has that X-factor most classes lack. It doesn't feel like exercise, but rather sweat-inducing fun. The hip-hop-heavy soundtrack is straight-up bangin' and makes even the most timid of dancers want to come out of their shells. So grab a couple of friends, twerk along to the tunes, and stare your sexy self down in the mirror, because you'll never look at a nighttime dance party the same way again.
Where to Do It: Classes in Florida, New York, New Jersey, LA, and Chicago
Photo courtesy of Equinox
We're Calling It: Running Smarter
Which Means: An indoor treadmill class using science and instruction to upgrade your hamster-wheel exercise
Why It's Important: Treadmill classes could be the one thing to make even the most class-averse exercisers actually join in on group activity, and Precision Running in particular changes the way you pound the (artificial) pavement. Created by running expert David Siik, this workout utilizes his BITE (Balanced Interval Training) method to find the sweet spot between distance training and high-intensity intervals. It decreases your odds of injury, increases your caloric burn, and keeps you way busier on that tread than a rerun of Keeping up with the Kardashians will. Though running indoors ain't necessarily new, Equinox has rolled out a full suite of classes nationwide, and similar ones are popping up everywhere. Factor in the longtime success of Barry's Bootcamp's running and lifting format, and the treadmill-only studio opening this fall in NYC, and it's obvious that attentive, focused treadmilling is definitely about to hit next-big-thing status.
Where to Do It: Equinox locations nationwide
Photo courtesy of IntenSati
We're Calling It: Soulful Wellness Cardio
Which Means: A high-powered, self-loving cardio class mixed with wellness life coaching (yep, you say positive affirmations out loud!)
Why It's Important: While many classes are taking yoga and mashing it up with other disciplines like dance or strength training, IntenSati instead takes the mindfulness of yoga and applies it to heart-pounding cardio. Developed by master trainer and Sati guru Patricia Moreno, the intention-focused moves make for a body and mind workout like none other. If you think SoulCycle does a number on your psyche, just wait 'til you jump in the air yelling "I love my life!" at IntenSati—and if you think dance cardio is hard, try doing it while shouting out loud. Sure, it takes a little getting used to, but inspirational rhymes featuring affirmations like "I am powerful!" or "Fear, so what?!" sure do come in handy when you just don't think you can do one more round of electrifying moves. You'll leave feeling refreshed, renewed, and capable of anything you put your mind to, and not just because you burned an un-freaking-believable amount of calories.
Where to Do It: Classes across the country
We can't wait for you to bust your buns in all of these classes, but this year's highest honor goes to...Vixen! Its inclusive atmosphere makes for an energetic option for burn-seekers of any ability level. Given that they encourage you to wear wedge sneakers and your boldest, brightest lip, Vixen Workout is an exercise class that feels like anything but. Fun, functional, and effective? It's a surprise this didn't catch on sooner.