Lora Kormos

3 unique ways to get fit and stay fit in Northeastern Pennsylvania

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It’s officially the New Year, and that means you can no longer use the same excuse I’ve been using for working out: “It’s the holidays. I can have three slices of pie if I want.” I, for one, may have overindulged a bit during the holidays. Did I really need all those holiday cookies? Probably not, but they were pretty tasty. Now with the holidays behind us, it’s time to get back in shape and start burning off those excess calories we may have acquired from those extra servings of stuffing and turkey.

It is hard to imagine that there was a time when fitness classes like yoga, spinning and CrossFit all seemed crazy and confusing. Now, they’ve become staples we have come to expect at many gyms. And even though you may love the serenity of a Saturday morning yoga session or shaking your booty in a Tuesday night Zumba class, sometimes you just crave something a little more unique.

Thankfully, our area has some on-trend exercise classes that can help cure the boredom and blast away the fat for those seeking a new challenge this year.

Jumpstart the year

Opening this past September, Sky Zone Scranton’s indoor trampoline park may have appeared to be just for kids. If that’s what you were thinking, think again. Trampoline workouts are becoming an intense way to shed the pounds while having fun. Having been invited to participate in a SkyRobics class at the park in Pittston, I quickly learned that this class is not just jumping on a trampoline for an hour; it is an all-around cardio and toning class that is sure to have you breaking a sweat.

The SkyRobics class description states that you can burn up to 1,000 calories in one hour on the massive trampoline court.

“It’s very much exercise in disguise,” says Sky Zone event manager Joe LaBarbera. And it’s true. After taking a one-hour class, you can’t stop smiling over how much fun you had.

Joe LaBarbera, left in bright blue shirt, with his class

The class starts off at a low pace, helping you get accustomed to something most of us haven’t been on in years. Once you get warmed up, that’s when the fun really kicks into gear. You work on getting your jumps higher and doing splits and straddle jumps, you practice your balance by jumping in different directions on your trampoline pod, use foam balls to perform different exercises, and practice different drills, such as jumping the length of the court and holding a plank.

“If you’re trying to be fit, this is a way you can be fit and strengthen parts of your body that you didn’t even necessarily know you have. It helps take you to the next level of fitness,” says LaBarbera.
The class also offers major health benefits.

“You’re working these small abductor and adductor muscles that you didn’t even know you have. You don’t really go home from SkyRobics with the whole back of your leg being sore, but you’re tired when you leave and you feel like you have a lack of coordination because you just exhausted muscles that you never put to that high a level of work,” LaBarbera explains.

Also, studies show that just 10 minutes of trampoline jumping can be a better workout than over a half-hour of running. Plus, it avoids putting a lot of stress on joints and can decrease cholesterol levels and blood pressure. “You get an amazing cardio workout doing this, but you’re going to also, at the same time, work out muscles that you absolutely cannot work out doing any other organized fitness.”

The SkyRobics class is a class for everyone, no matter their age or fitness level. LaBarbera mentions that they have had children as young as 8 participate in the class. “There are adaptions for every level. We can make things harder or less intense.”

SkyRobics is a total body workout. You’ll sweat throughout the entire class, but you almost forget all of that because of how much fun you are having. LaBarbera states, “You’re so overwhelmed by the elated fun feeling that you forget how tired you are.”

And it truly is exercise in disguise.

Work on that core

A lot of fitness classes will incorporate an accessory into a workout, such as kettlebells or resistance bands. Corebar, however, incorporates a seemingly simple piece of equipment – a lightweight metal bar bent to resemble an archer’s bow. Don’t be deceived, though. This unintimidating piece of equipment can turn into quite a workout.

Traci Kilgallon

“From a physical standpoint, you burn major calories,” states Traci Kilgallon, owner of Fab Fitness in Kingston. “You tighten and tone the whole class while you are holding a weighted bar.”

Fab Fitness is the only fitness studio in the area to offer this high-energy toning class. The studio was approached a little over a year ago when a certification class was being held in New Jersey. Realizing that no one in the area offered this class, they jumped at the opportunity to learn. Since introducing the class, it quickly became one of the studio’s most popular classes, which is a good thing for Kilgallon: “It’s one of my absolute favorite classes to teach!”

Corebar is known in the fitness world as HIIT, or high intensity interval training. Using the weighted bar, you will perform 30 minutes of intense cardio, followed by 20 minutes of toning. The class focuses on your core by mixing aerobics, resistance training, martial arts, and Pilates.

Throughout the class, you will perform a variety of moves, including squats, burpees, and planks with the bar. The purpose of the bent bar is to help maintain the integrity of the spine while performing a variety of moves at various intensities to keep your heart rate elevated. The bar helps act as an unstable base during the toning portion to add a level of complexity.

“We also have a Corebar boost in the class. It’s one minute of intense cardio.” Kilgallon also mentions that while you burn major calories during one 50 minute session, the Corebar also has medical advantages for those with back problems; it can actually help straighten the spine.

If you are new to group classes or any fitness regimen, don’t worry; this class is opened to all fitness levels.

“I show a lot of modifications throughout the class, since there is a lot of jumping,” Kilgallon says for newcomers. “I love teaching, and I love being able to help people.”

The Corebar class is great to incorporate into your exercise routine because it offers everything you could want in one class: strength, cardio, balance, flexibility, and agility.

Fab Fitness also offers a wide variety of other group classes, including Zumba, Tabata, Piloxing, and Fab Fit, which is their own unique combination of weights and plyometrics.

Take your workout to new heights

Normally, when we think of exercise, we think of being on the ground. But during an aerial silks class with Kayla Dyches, owner of Riot Circus Arts, you get to take your exercise routine to the air. Once you enter Dyches’ studio in Forty Fort and get a quick glance at the colorful silks hanging from the 20-foot ceiling, you realize you are in for a good time.

Kayla Dyches

Dyches started taking gymnastics eight years ago. “After doing gymnastics for that long, people usually do one of three things. Either they forget it, become gymnastic coaches, or they go to the circus,” she says.

Dyches chose to take the path less traveled and began taking hoop dancing classes at Sky Gym in Georgia. While there, she learned it’s best to have numerous skills and became instantly hooked the moment she saw the aerial side of performing.

“From the moment I started, I loved it,” Dyches recalls. She trained hard to perfect her craft and decided about five years ago that she wanted to be able to share her passion with others, becoming an instructor in between her performances.

An aerial silks class is a full-body workout. “It’s everything. You could expect to get the best workout ever. You won’t find another workout like this, and you will get off the ground,” Dyches explains.

The typical class will begin with a warmup, usually lasting 15-20 minutes, and is a combination of stretching and strength training before even touching the silks. From there, students will move onto climbs, going from top to bottom and bottom to top, reaching the fullest height on the silks that they feel comfortable with, and then move onto that day’s lesson. Each lesson is customized to meet the level the student is at.

Dyches’ aerial silks class is opened to all fitness levels. Many students coming through the door do not have any type of prior experience.

“Anyone can come in as long as you are not a quitter and as long as you are willing to put in the work,” Dyches assures. “There’s always going to be something in here that’s easy for you and something that’s really difficult for you. It’s different for everybody. Everybody’s body is different.”

One of Dyches’ biggest concerns is making sure that all students reach the ground by their own free will.

“As long as you pay attention, as long as you’re listening to me, being attentive, listening to your body, you’ll be OK,” she states for all those who are nervous they might fall. “I watch everybody like a hawk.”

Dyches offers private and small group lessons for those interested in taking an aerial silks class. Lessons are tailored to fit the student’s schedule. Students who are enrolled in private lessons are also encouraged to attend open studio. During open studio, students can practice what they learned in class, and Dyches will be on hand to answer any questions.

Dyches also teaches a wide variety of classes, including aerial yoga classes at Balance Yoga Studio in Forty Fort, private and group hand balancing lessons and workshops, and she is a certified personal trainer.

Resolutions and the future

Each fitness instructor had their own resolutions for 2015. Some were interested in expanding their location, some wanted to get certificated in new and exciting fitness classes, some were looking forward to being able to teach new students, and some wanted to expand their class offerings. But each all shared one common goal for the coming year; they want to be able to provide a comfortable atmosphere for you to come and meet your fitness goals for 2015.

An echoed sentiment among each instructor is their passion for teaching fitness.

“I’m lucky I get to do what I love to do,” said Dyches.

All the instructors share the same great passion for being a motivational instructor.

“I love being able to motivate others,” says Kilgallon.

And they are all there to help challenge you physically to meet your goals.

“I feel so blessed every day when I’m doing what I love to do,” says LaBarbera.

Corebar photos courtesy of Traci Kilgallon and Steve Lewis Photography

Sky Zone Scranton
(525 Keystone Ave., Pittston)
Times: SkyRobics offered Tuesday and Friday at noon and Saturday at 9 a.m.
Cost: $12 per class; class packages are available

Fab Fitness
(255 Wyoming Ave., 2nd floor, Kingston)
Times: Corebar offered Monday at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., and every other Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $5 per class; first week free to new members

Riot Circus Arts
(900 Rutter Ave., Forty Fort)
Times: Private lessons only; make appointments via riotcircusarts.com
Cost: $45 per class; class packages are available