Is working out more fun if you can pretend you're partying at Ponsonby's Longroom? asks Sinead Corcoran.
Playground is Auckland's first nightclub gym in the sense that while you don't get drunk and kiss strangers, you do get sweaty in a dark, neon-lit room.
The idea is that gym-goers will gain extra stimulation from the combination of exercise and the sensory use of music and lighting.
The question is, is working out more fun if you can pretend you're at Ponsonby's Longroom, or is exercise always a bit hideous no matter what?
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Over the past decade nightclub gyms have cropped up all over the world, particularly in New York – the city that never sleeps.
In 2009 Jennifer Brugh-Tanguy founded Nightclub Cardio in Houston after feeling frustrated when the high heels she wore to nightclubs prevented her from dancing enough for it to double as a workout.
She told the New York Times she now has 160 instructors across America who run $10 "dress-to-sweat" late-night dance workouts. Think laser lights, DJs, vitamin water martinis and a maximum of three moves per song, so no one's heart rate drops while trying to remember the choreography.
The trend officially arrived on our shores when Rhys Jolly set up New Zealand's first nightclub gym, Playground Gym on Newton Rd in Auckland last October.
It turns out that exercising in the (almost) dark is the way to go, because strategic use of lighting can enhance workout performance and heighten the overall exercise experience.
Professional boxing trainer and co-founder of Rumble Boxing in the US Noah Neiman told health magazine Well & Good: "The lower lights force your pupils to dilate and focus more intently on what you're doing, letting those predatorial instincts kick in."
Plus, in a dark room you can rest assured no one's looking at you.
"Darkness eliminates an intimidating atmosphere. You get all the energy amplifying the benefits of working out with a massive group of hard-working, like-minded people, but will never feel intimidated or judged," says Neiman.
Jolly is the founder of Playground gym and also my former personal trainer. So, though I knew I was in safe hands, going into a nightclub sober was a daunting first-time experience.
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Thankfully, the vibe couldn't be more welcoming. Don't worry, you're not thrust on to a sweaty, heaving dance floor the second you slip in the door; the gym is set up so you walk into a cosy little cafe situation, complete with bean bags and high fives from the trainers. After donning a heart rate monitor (attached to a stretchy band thing, sort of a belt you tuck under your sports bra) you can saunter through to the actual gym, which is as dark as a real nightclub, but with neon light decor.
Though Playground doesn't offer dance classes (yet, my fingers are crossed) they do F45-esque circuit training while playing absolute bangers. In terms of the actual workout, it's tough but you can go at your own pace. Anyone can do it no matter how fit they are, and that's where the heart rate monitors come in:
"Our workouts are heart-rate driven so they are more specific to your body, as opposed to one way for everyone," says Jolly.
"Each different zone of the workout is directed for your heart rate. Our trainers will say 'Right team, in the next minute we're going up into the orange zone.' That could be 70 per cent of your max heart rate, so you can check the screens and you'll see if you're pushing hard enough.
As someone who stresses out in a gym class that I'm either pushing myself too hard too early on (and will have to fake a work phone call just so I can leave) or, even worse, am not going hard enough so it feels like an utter waste of time – I loved having the heart rate monitors so I could gauge where I was at.
I won't lie to you, the workout was one of the hardest I've ever done but the fact I was in a dark room where no one could see my sweat and tears was a real plus.