Rachel Grunwell

Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Fitness Challenge: Sweat with the celebs

Each week Rachel Grunwell will try out a new form of exercise to bring you the lowdown.

GRIT Class, Les Mills. Photo / Getty Images
GRIT Class, Les Mills. Photo / Getty Images

What is it? A high-intensity 30-minute workout that builds strength and lean muscle by using weights and your body weight.

Rachel Grunwell Workout gear, water. The gym provides weights.

The experience: The grit series is new, but I'm not new to Les Mills. I'm a member (although this has been on hold as I've been busy with this column!).

What I love about the club is its abundance of team training options. There's always a class whenever I can kick my butt in there and with classes I get a great workout guaranteed.

My fave Les Mills classes are pump (a weights class that builds strength and burns fat) and body balance, which combines tai chi, yoga and Pilates and leaves you "balanced". I credit these classes with getting my body back post pregnancies (during which I ate waaaay too much icecream).

I'll let you in on a secret - their inner-city Auckland gyms are where you'll trip over heaps of celebrities including Shorty Street, TV and sports stars.

But no one makes a fuss. They just look a hang of lot better in their lycra.

Actually, my husband did make a fuss once. He looked twice, instead of once, when he found himself mid-workout, surrounded by the English football team during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Anyhow, because I'm familiar with Les Mills I thought I'd review one of the new classes at their newest gym, so I can see the place through fresh eyes.

So I'm at their Britomart gym for the first time, which is architecturally designed and boasts all the latest gear and a whopping 2200sq m of space.

There are just under a dozen gym-goers in this grit class, taken by instructor Curtis Pipes, who's originally from the US.

He tells me: "You need to lose your jacket otherwise you'll die in that!" What he's trying to say is "fewer layers, less sweat"

Pipes also tells the class: "For 30 minutes you need to work as hard out as you can."

So we kick off with squats while lifting weights, run on the spot, do push ups, burpees, more push-ups, jumping, lifting weights up and down, squats, more burpees and more explosive jumps and then shoulder presses while holding a free weight ...

All this, and only five minutes has lapsed. I quickly see why you burn up to 400 calories in half an hour.

Pipes keeps reminding us: "How you start the class is how you finish it."

The only consolation is that Pipes works harder than anyone: during jumps, he springs off the ground and into orbit. It's like he's stepped off a colossal trampoline and I'm afraid the guy might dent the new ceiling. He's insanely fit and sweat flies off him at the same rate he chews his sugar-free gum: fast.

But he has his eyes on the class at all times too, often dropping his weights and improving someone's technique or giving them a high five. It's like having a personal trainer with the amount of one-on-one time he gives away. And because he's watching my every move, it makes me want to try to keep up.

At the end, he remarks: "Now you're all looking like athletes!"

He high-fives everyone before they leave. So it's a big club, but the place still has the personal touch too.

How much? Different membership prices apply depending on how long you sign up for. Chat to Les Mills about the options.

Worth it? This class is short, but scorches calories. The club has one of the best fit-outs, with great instructors, lots of training options and most gyms offer childcare facilities, women's only areas, cafes, on-site experts and beauty treatments and more.

Try it: There are 10 Les Mills gyms nationwide (four in Auckland). See lesmills.co.nz

Rating: 9/10

- Herald on Sunday

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