I need to sweat to feel like I'm getting a real workout. Whether that comes from spinning, Pilates, an elliptical, or several sets of strength training, it doesn’t matter, as long as I need a shower when I'm done.

August 14, 2012

Melissa Paris, founder of Melissa Paris Fitness
Credit: Brian Friedman

I need to sweat to feel like I'm getting a real workout. Whether that comes from spinning, Pilates, an elliptical, or several sets of strength training, it doesn’t matter, as long as I need a shower when I'm done.

This is probably why I wasn’t a huge fan of Antigravity Yoga. (I recently tried out a class with a co-worker.) Sure, I used my abs to swing my legs around as I was backward somersaulting into a silk hammock (Yes, it was an unusual workout). And I can see how you could get some seriously defined muscles once you had mastered the techniques, but I left feeling pretty much the same way as I’d arrived.

It was a different story after Melissa Paris got a hold of me. Paris is a certified personal trainer based in New York City and Long Island, who works with clients in individual and group-class settings.

About 30 minutes into our intense ab-crunching, low-lunging, high-kneeing, push up-planking class, Paris yelled out “If you aren’t slipping on your sweat, you aren’t working hard enough.”

If you think Paris sounds like a drill sergeant, you are both close to and far from the truth. As an ex-cheerleader, she’s a perfect blend of pep and pushy.

“I love bonding over a good workout,” she says. “I love making people feel good about themselves.”

Her bodyweight conditioning class is basically made up of an hour of non-stop movement. There is a group of two moves (burpees and bicycle crunches, for example), and each move is performed for either 30 seconds or one minute each, with three sets per group. You get a few seconds break in between sets, and a short water break between groups.

For most moves there was an option one or option two. For example, you could walk up from a forearm plank to a push-up plank or jump from forearm to hands. You also had the option of using both hands for burpees or just one.

Paris says this type of workout allows you to own your own body weight. “Mixed with the intervals, it gives you a killer combination of strength training and cardio all in one shot,” she says.

It was the quickest hour-long workout I’ve ever had. There’s no time to think about anything other than the move of the moment. Paris reminds you to rely on your body, not your head. Wanna give up? She’ll yell “You can’t give up on the last 10 seconds.” And it makes you think, “She’s right, I’ve already made it this far (admittedly with a couple of sporadic breaks), what’s a few more seconds?”

By the end of the workout, I felt accomplished, motivated, and yep, sweaty. Next time, I’ll bring an extra shirt.

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