By Esme Benjamin
In an affluent pocket of Los Angeles three lauded trainers are supercharging workouts with the help of machines, setting the bar for group fitness classes that get the job done in less than half an hour.
Ten minutes into any class at Rise Nation West Hollywood and the studio floor is polka dotted with droplets of sweat. Angelenos pump their arms and legs rhythmically, moving their VersaClimber machines in time to an EDM soundtrack.
Rise Nation was founded by Jason Walsh—a celebrity trainer with a track record grounded in physiology and kinesiology—who sells his climbing-based workout as the fastest, safest and most effective way to exercise.
“The VersaClimber is full-body. It’s the cross-crawl motion,” he explains, referring to the natural way we develop movement as babies. “It’s going to make you stronger, get you moving better, and it’s going to correct issues a lot of people have with their body from sitting, bad posture, or bad training.”
Walsh is the first to admit that his method will feel uncomfortable at first, but it gets results that gimmicky workouts just don’t achieve.
“What we’re seeing popping up across America are 30 minute workouts. Everybody’s hopping on the bandwagon,” he says. “They’re literally putting their hand into a grab bag, throwing s**t against the wall and going ‘that’s awesome, that’s never been done before. Piloxing!’ (Pilates / boxing) They’re not thinking about you. They’re trying to figure out what will attract you because it’s different.”
A Rise Nation class, on the other hand, elevates your heart rate by utilizing every muscle in a way that’s physiologically natural. Walsh also believes it provides a higher calorie burn—almost twice as much as anything else out there. “No reformer, no bike, nothing will be as good as the VersaClimber. With this you do 100% of the work,” he says.
A little further west, in Brentwood, a 27 minute workout called PLATEFIT that incorporates “space age technology” is generating buzz.
A decade ago founder Rachael Blumberg became intrigued by the dusty, neglected Power Plate machine in the corner of her gym. Research revealed it was a medical device invented to help astronauts improve bone density and reverse muscular atrophy after returning from missions in space. Because it’s designed to improve muscle strength and tone in a timely manner, it follows that the Power Plate also makes a highly efficient workout tool.
“I didn’t make the workout 27 minutes, the machine made it 27 minutes,” Blumberg explains. “On the machine you have 30–50 muscle contractions per second. That means in 30 seconds you have 900 muscle contractions. If you’re just stationery in a squat or plank, you have 167,000 contractions. And that’s by doing nothing—just standing on a plate which is moving up and down, front to back, left to right.”
The vibrations challenge your body in a way it isn’t used to, so that holding a plank—hands on the plate, feet on the ground—feels incredibly hard, even if you’re in great shape. After 27 minutes of bootcamp-style exercises which send your muscles into overdrive, you leave feeling thoroughly worked out.
“I’ve seen people, over the space of 12 weeks, losing anywhere from 12–25 lbs,” says Rachael. “My recommendation is three times a week, because that’s all you really need, but people get addicted. The vibration and increased circulation feels really good in their bodies, so some will take two workout classes and a cellulite class in one day.”
PLATEFIT’s restorative cellulite class has clients stretch, foam roll and lay on the plate for deep massage and targeted myofascial release. “If you have cellulite it’s hereditary and you can’t get rid of it, but the Power Plate can decrease the appearance by 70–80 percent if you’re consistent and come three times a week for a minimum of 15 minutes,” says Rachael.
Both the Power Plate and VersaClimber have been around for a very long time, but the Supra is brand new and very much state of the art. Developed specially for Lagree Fitness, it looks like a Pilates reformer on crack—a sci-fi looking machine with pulleys, multiple straps and sliding platforms that can be tilted and turned by remote control to keep increasing the resistance level.
Founder Sebastien Lagree developed his 25 minute method to address every aspect of fitness—cardio, strength, endurance, body composition, and flexibility—and the incorporation of the Supra ensures you build strength fast without putting strain on your joints. The strain on your muscles, though, is significant, and the studio is filled with the sound of grunts escaping through gritted teeth.
That’s the takeaway lesson from LA’s 30 minute machine-based classes—the reason they last half the time is because they’re twice as hard. If you want a short, ass-kicking workout that’s scientifically sound, Rise Nation, PLATEFIT and Lagree Fitness have you covered. If not, you’re better off sticking to yoga or Zumba.