Hunter Mitchell of Spring Grove never considered herself a fitness person.
But when she noticed people at techno concerts performing dances with lighted hula hoops, she was intrigued.
An Internet search led her to a Lake in the Hills fitness studio where she’s found a new way to exercise.
“It’s fun, and I like finding new tricks to try,” says Mitchell, a McHenry County College student, who started taking hoop classes at Intrigue Fitness in September.
She also was surprised to discover that swinging a hoop around her waist, shoulders and arms provides a rigorous workout.
“After the first class I was hurting, and I saw that it was a real workout,” she says.
Mitchell has noticed that her arms have more definition and her midsection is more toned.
“Needless to say, I’m very happy about that,” she says.
If the new year has you looking for new fitness ideas, McHenry County has plenty of options. Whether your goal is weight-loss, stress loss or expressing a new side of yourself, check out one of these great new — and maybe unconventional — exercise options.
Poles, hoops and heels For those who want a more sensual brand of fitness, Intrigue Fitness of Lake in the Hills offers another unique approach — pole dancing.
“Pole combines athleticism with a woman’s sensuality,” says Linda Costoff, owner and certified fitness instructor. “It’s very unique in that it’s a full workout that lets you look pretty doing it.”
The workout combines cardio with strength building and also tones the core and upper body.
“A lot of women use treadmills and step-machines to exercise their legs but ignore their upper body,” Costoff says.
Hooping is another popular option at Intrigue. This workout begins with classic hula hoop moves, then expands to include arms, shoulders and more.
“It’s a great core strengthener and burns more calories than you realize,” Costoff says.
Intrigue’s pole and hoop classes include those at all fitness levels. Both exercises promote confidence and a positive body image, Costoff says.
“It’s about loving your body for what it is.”
Costoff was a stay-at-home-mom who became bored with her health club fitness routine and signed up for a pole class to try something different. After several years of traveling outside the area for classes, she opened Intrigue Fitness in July.
The studio is exclusively for women, ages 18 and over. Rows of sparkly tops, accessories and platform shoes, not to mention the bright pink studio, equipped with floor-to-ceiling metal poles and colorful hoops in various sizes, set it apart from a typical gym.
“Exercise is supposed to be fun, so I’ve made my studio bright and colorful, not just rows of gray machines,” she says.
Intrigue offers a variety of other classes as well. For more information, visit www.intrigue-fitness.com.
Warm up with hot yoga Burned out on cold weather? Consider hot yoga for a new fitness twist.
“Hot yoga is yoga that’s performed in a room that’s heated to 100 to 110 degrees,” says Shannon Tampa, a certified personal trainer, instructor and owner of Melt Pilates and Hot Yoga in Algonquin.
The benefits of working out in heat include better flexibility and a deeper cleansing of the body.
“It allows you to get deeper into your pose, and the more you sweat, the more toxins you release,” Tampa says.
Tampa opened her studio six months ago and saw an opportunity to offer a new fitness option.
“I had friends that were driving to Schaumberg to take [hot yoga] classes,” she says. “I wanted to include it because there’s nothing out here like it.”
Her studio also offers Piloxing, which combines boxing and standing Pilates. A high-energy interval workout performed to music, Piloxing alternates boxing moves with an equal amount of Pilates.
“The boxing gets your heart rate up, and because we’re wearing weighted gloves, it’s great for toning arms and shoulders,” Tampa says. “Then, Pilates brings your heart rate back down, and tones your core, abs and glutes.”
Small classes allow for personalized attention, and students of all fitness levels can participate, Tampa says.
“This is a very friendly, welcoming environment,” she says. “We attract people that don’t want a gym, but prefer something more personal [that] almost feels like a spa.”
Melt’s certified instructors teach a variety of yoga styles. For instructor profiles, hours and class schedule, call 815-388-8926 or visit www.meltpilates.com.
Punch up your fitness As a fitness trend, boxing has gone upscale. Clubs are opening throughout the country, and McHenry County is no exception.
“It’s addicting,” says Kathy Skonieczny, an instructor at Title Boxing in Crystal Lake.
The club opened in November and blends boxing and fitness.
“We’re not training boxers,” says Marvin Somlo, a partner in the club. “Our focus is a high-intensity cardio workout using boxing techniques.”
The workout involves punching a 100-pound bag while wearing boxing gloves and can help participants burn up to 1,000 calories an hour, Somlo says. Performed to music, an hour-long class includes 15 minutes of cardio followed by 30 minutes of interval training, which alternates short stints of boxing and rest. The class ends with a 15-minute cool down of core exercise.
Since opening, Title Boxing has been offering about five classes a day, and about 70 percent of the club’s members are women. The club’s monthly memberships offer access to unlimited classes.
Participants can use loaner boxing gloves or purchase their own. Gloves are sold on site and start at about $30.
Patricia Hamby of Lake in the Hills joined Title Boxing after Thanksgiving with a goal to lose weight and regain muscle tone. Though she belonged to a health club previously, it had been several years since she worked out regularly.
“It was an awesome class,” she says. “Today, I feel great. Tomorrow?” Hamby laughs. “We’ll see.” Title Boxing offers a free hour workout for first time visitors. A Lake County location is planned for early 2013. For more information or a class schedule, visit www.titleboxingclub.com.