I Tried These 8 Group Fitness Classes So You Don’t Have To

Looking to find a new workout class? Here’s the low-down on 8 fitness classes that I tried in greater Indianapolis.
A photo of a girl in workout clothes holding a water bottle and smiling

Confession: I’ve never been super confident when it comes to fitness.

Honestly, I’ve never been even mildly confident. In school, I was a star student in almost every single subject except gym (and woodshop, but hey, it’s the hand-eye coordination I think I have a problem with). I cheered in middle and high school because I wanted to be active, but I was afraid to be in a competitive sport because that meant a team was partially depending on my athletic ability to help win games. And yes, I thought about this as a 12 year old.

When I got to college, I started using the rec center pretty regularly and loved the way that made me feel. But, honestly, the second I started comparing my workouts to my friends’, I lost my motivation. I’d discreetly check the mph or incline on my friend’s treadmill and get discouraged if I couldn’t keep up. Every fall my friends tried to organize intramural teams, and every year I made the excuse of being too busy, when in reality I was embarrassed by my athletic ability—or, in this case, lack thereof.

Still, as I slowly stopped moving my body regularly, I felt the way the lack of physical activity was impacting me. I had extremely low energy, I was irritable, and I was anxious a majority of the time. I just felt, for lack of a better term, “blah” a lot of the time. After graduating college, I started working out in my apartment gym and realized quickly how much better I felt about myself—and just in general—when taking that time to exercise. It was something I did for me, not for a boss, not for a friend, not for a family member, not for a partner. It was an investment in myself.

As I became more comfortable in the gym, I realized I wanted more structure, and some accountability, when it comes to working out. Still, knowing my history of self-consciousness in the fitness department, I had no idea what type of class I would like … or be good at … or even be able to do.

So, instead of giving into my fears and trying none of them, I tried them all. And just in case you’re like me and looking for a new workout but don’t know what you’d like, here’s the low-down on all the classes I tried to help you narrow down your options.

(Disclaimer: My take on the sweat and post-class soreness levels are because of the types of workouts I am used to doing, this so these would more than likely be different among participants. Also, the class makeup may not be the case in every class; this was just the experience that I had.)

Focus: Strength

Sculpt (Barre)

Physique 57 Carmel

A photo of the inside of a fitness centerI took a weekday morning sculpt class with Physique 57 (virtually, due to scheduling complications). After setting up a makeshift barre studio in my living room that consisted of the back of a chair, my yoga mat, some small weights (cans work too), and a pillow, I was ready.

Though the movements were small, I definitely felt the burn throughout class. The instructor was also great about keeping me engaged via the virtual setting, even helping me correct my form all through a screen. The class was upbeat and engaging with a Whitney Houston mix getting us through the hour.

I also had the chance to drop into the studio in Carmel, and I was so impressed. The space was sleek, yet inviting; the bathrooms had all the amenities imaginable (right down to hair ties … I’m notorious for forgetting those); and the station wipes even smelled like essential oils. Even though it felt like a place celebrities would work out (and they do!), I still felt extremely welcomed and invited by the friendly staff.

The lowdown:

Class length: 1 hour

Class size and makeup: Small, all women

Class/environment energy level: Medium*

Post-class soreness level: Low-Medium*

Sweat level: Low-Medium*

Membership Price: $99 unlimited classes/month (~$6.19/ class if 16 classes/month)

Try if you’re looking for: More strength building with less sweat and a sophisticated environment

*These numbers may be different at an in-person class. I also had a different workout class the following day, so I was careful to not go all-out for this class and be too sore for the next one.

Full Body Solidcore (Pilates)

Solidcore Downtown

A photo of the inside of Solidcore with blue lights and equipmentI will admit, I was extremely nervous to try Solidcore. All of the other women I know who are regulars at Solidcore are complete bad*sses and fitness junkies, and I was so terrified of making a fool out of myself that I may have shed a few tears in the car on the way to the studio (it was also a Monday evening, so can you blame me?).

Nevertheless, I knew I’d be more upset if I chickened out than if I didn’t at least try … and I’m so glad I did. The coach and entire staff were bubbly and inviting, the cool lighting and loud music (a March Madness playlist, hello!) got my adrenaline pumping, and the workout challenged me in the best way.

While the machine that we worked out on made me nervous at first (I’ve never even done reformer pilates), the instructor was attentive enough to help me feel confident using it without calling enough attention to me that I felt the class was watching my every move. There are also modifications on resistance and difficulty based on how many classes participants had attended. As the coach explained, the workouts build your muscles to a point of failure … and I could definitely feel in my abdomen muscles the next few days.

The lowdown:

Class length: 50 minutes

Class size and makeup: Medium, all women

Class/environment energy level: Medium-High

Post-class soreness level: High

Sweat level: Medium

Membership Price: $204.97 unlimited classes/month (~$12/class if 16 classes/month)

Try if you’re looking for: A core workout in an upbeat high-energy environment

Focus: Flexibility

Aerial Yoga

Myriad Yoga

A photo of silks hanging from the ceilingThis was the last class I took, and it was the PERFECT way to end my tour de Indy fitness classes. The class was taught by Maven Jordan Nommay, and she had me feeling strong, sexy, and surprised all within one hour!

I was so intimidated by this silky hammock hanging from the ceiling when I first arrived, but by the end, it was my best friend. I learned to trust it and move my body around in ways I didn’t even realize I knew how to do. I didn’t think I’d be able to invert (yeah, like hang upside down) or stretch in the ways I actually could … and loved.

The class was soothing, allowing me to move and stretch in ways I can’t sitting at a desk all day. At the same time, I felt re-energized after leaving; I couldn’t help but smile. As a former cheerleader, I loved the way I was able to stretch and contort my body I hadn’t in so long.

The lowdown:

Class length: 1 hour

Class size and makeup: Small, all women

Class/environment energy level: Low-Medium (Soothing)

Post-class soreness level: Low

Sweat level: Low

Membership Price: $25 for a single class drop in (or part of a class pass with Myriad Fitness)

Try if you’re looking for: New ways to improve flexibility in an intimate environment

Heated Vinyasa

Invoke Studio Downtown

A photo of a yoga studioBefore trying hot yoga at Invoke, I had only gone one other time to hot yoga at a different studio … on an empty stomach and dehydrated. We’re talking 6 a.m., light dinner the night before, no water pre-workout class. It was miserable, and I barely made it through. I was nervous this would be the case again this time, but it wasn’t the case!

I made sure to drink plenty of water and eat somewhat healthy throughout the day to fuel and prepare my body for class. Then, when I got there, I laid my mat out in the dark room and followed cues from the instructor and fellow classmates on movements and flows. This was one of my favorite classes because I moved, stretched, and sweat a TON without having to ever keep my heartbeat elevated for too long at a time (I’d love to be a runner, but I just don’t think it’s in the cards for me).

The class was challenging, yet there were modifications that allowed me to pace and push myself against my own limits, not comparing myself to those around me. I am obsessed and can’t wait to return to Invoke.

The lowdown:

Class length: 1 hour

Class size and makeup: Large, mostly women

Class/environment energy level: Low-Medium (Soothing)

Post-class soreness level: Low

Sweat level: High

Membership Price: $109 unlimited classes/month (~$6.81/class if 16 classes/month)

Try if you’re looking for: A lot of sweating and full-body movements in a slower, controlled manner in a calm environment

Focus: Stamina

Classic Cycling

CycleBar Carmel

A photo of a purple lit room with a Cyclebar signGood thing this was the first workout class I tried, because I got “make a fool out of myself” at a workout class checked off right off the bat! After struggling through this 60-minute cycling class, I found out I had never locked my feet in the pedals (which is apparently what you’re supposed to do). At least now I can blame my lack of speed and balance on that … I hope.

I took this class with two friends, which made the experience all the more fun. Plus, I loved the playlist the instructor had on. I will admit, stamina is not my strong suit, but I still enjoyed pushing myself through this cycling class, and truly felt the burn for the next few days.

This class would definitely be great for those who are motivated by a competitive fitness environment, as class stats are ranked and shown on a screen in the front of the room throughout the duration of the workout.

The lowdown:

Class length: 1 hour

Class size and makeup: Medium, all women

Class/environment energy level: High

Post-class soreness level: High

Sweat level: High

Membership Price: $159 unlimited classes/month (~$9.94/class if 16 classes/month)

Try if you’re looking for: A competitive, upbeat environment where you can burn calories and increase stamina through cardio.

Orange 60 Min 2G (HIIT)

OrangeTheory Fitness Downtown

A photo of an orange colored fitness centerA friend of mine lives within walking distance of OTF Downtown, so I accompanied her to a Saturday morning class. Similar to my aforementioned feelings toward Solidcore, I know so many fitness lovers who are regulars at OrangeTheory, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up, especially with the running.

Luckily, I found out as soon as I arrived that there are different workout intensities for power walkers, joggers, and runners, so I didn’t have to increase my speed drastically in order to get a killer workout. I also realized that while the class was large, everyone was focused more on themselves than anyone else. While your stats (communicated through a monitoring band on your arm) are listed on a screen, it doesn’t rank participants. The class I took was a 60 minute 2G, meaning I spent half the time on the treadmill, one-fourth the time on a rowing machine, and one-fourth the time doing a strength building circuit on the floor.

Having a friend with me definitely made me feel more motivated and comfortable, and I loved the neon orange lights and loud music that played throughout the class. I found seeing the time my heart rate spent in certain zones motivated me to want to keep working harder. And I definitely did … my legs were sore for the next few days!

The lowdown:

Class length: 1 hour

Class size and makeup: Large, mix of men and women

Class/environment energy level: High

Post-class soreness level: High

Sweat level: High

Membership Price: $169 unlimited classes/month (~$10.57/class if 16 classes/month)

Try if you’re looking for: A competitive, co-ed, high energy environment and a full-body workout

30 Minute Hit (Boxing)

30 Minute Hit

A photo of a boxing dummy in a workout roomThis class surprised me in the best way. First of all, I was running SO late to it because I accidentally put the wrong address in Maps, so I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it. When I got there, I found out 30 Minute Hit was different than all my other classes in that it is a guided circuit workout that all participants start and complete within 30 minutes at their own pace any time during the hours the gym is open. So, the fact that I got there 15 minutes after I said I would didn’t affect my workout at all—I just ended 15 minutes later than I originally thought I would.

This class definitely helped me feel strong and empowered, and it required me to think about the way my entire body moves together in a new way that I wasn’t used to. Additionally, the circuit worked different muscles at different times but kept my heart rate up the entire time.

The instructor explained to me that many women take boxing as a form of self-defense, and I could definitely see why. Many of the techniques taught could be used in self-defense, and many of the movements allowed me to release built-up emotion!

The lowdown:

Class length: 30 minutes

Class size and makeup: Small, all women

Class/environment energy level: High

Post-class soreness level: Medium

Sweat level: High

Membership Price:  $119 unlimited classes/month (~$7.44/class if 16 classes/month)

Try if you’re looking for: A full-body, strength- and stamina-building workout that helps with self-defense skills

Hiitz Hop

Irsay Family YMCA

A photo of a dance roomI took one of my friends who loves dancing just as much as I do to this Hiitz Hop—HIIT-based Hip Hop—class with me, and we had an absolute blast. I felt like I was back dancing at a basketball game with my cheer squad or out on the dance floor on a Friday night with my college friends.

The instructor and classmates were motivating, sassy, and fun, and I felt like we had been best friends forever. As it was Women’s History Month, we had a BOMB playlist with Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj, and more. By the end of this 60 minutes, I was out of breath but didn’t even feel like I had “worked out” because it was such a fun time! I definitely felt more comfortable in this environment simply because I’m more confident in my dancing skills than other skills, just as others would love classes that play to their strengths more. I can’t wait to go back to this class.

The lowdown:

Class length: 1 hour

Class size and makeup: Medium, almost all women

Class/environment energy level: High

Post-class soreness level: Low*

Sweat level: Low-Medium*

Membership Price: Free with YMCA Membership, which is $45-$65 per month and allows access to the entire facility and all group fitness classes

Try if you’re looking for: A club-like dancing workout that keeps your heart rate elevated

After doing all these workout classes, I’m addicted to moving my body, especially after long days to help boost my energy and mood. I found myself sad that the classes were over because I found a new love for pushing myself in new ways, even if I was bad at it!

I also realized that no one is looking at (or judging you) like you think they are, that I always felt better after going to the classes even if I was tired or nervous, and bringing a friend along made it all the more fun.

I’m excited to get a few memberships and return to some of these classes, as well as continue to try new ones.

Kylie Stine is a Maven extraordinaire and a regular Indy Maven contributor. 

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