The pursuit of the perfect exercise class continues, as I meet up with two friends for a workout at Pop Physique’s new(ish) 3rd and Fairfax location. The only place I want to be is happy hour, and yet, on a street known for its happy hour specials, I am walking into an exercise class at 5:45 pm on a Friday. Credit the perfect butt in the Pop Physique ads for that guilt trip.
I am drawn to the font and colors on the website that are mirrored throughout the studio. Perhaps this seems like a silly reason to work out, but can you imagine going to a gym that used Comic Sans?
Thanks to whatever-daily-deals-site-it-was’s coupon, this will be my fourth Pop Physique class (we stretch the definition of “It’s My First Time” - I’m still a new-bie), and I bring along two of my workout buddy first timers with me.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I have the boyfriend in tow as we meet my two other workout gals. He is, in many ways, an unwilling participant, but I am, in many ways, a tyrant of a girlfriend. I really should have been a lawyer:
(30 minutes earlier)
“Where are you going?”
“Pop Physique. Want to come? I have a coupon.”
“Sure! Wait isn’t that mostly for girls?”
“Have you ever seen a guy in a class?”
Boyfriend looks at website:
“I’m not going to your ballet class with you!”
“But you already said you would! And you can’t say one thing and then do another! And I’m sure guys go.”
“Ugh, fine what do I wear?”
“Do you have tights?”
(Back to present)
After listening to a bit more grumbling about the pink weights not being heavy enough, the class begins. The girls and I are in immediate stitches over the boyfriend’s attempts at graceful knee lifts to get the heart rate up.
Then the pain begins and there is no time or energy for laughter.
We begin with an intense, 10 minute arm workout. We do MANY repetitions with light weights, to the point that arms are shaking and 3 pounds feel like 50 (and yes, the weights did turn out to be heavy enough for the grumbling boyfriend, who switched from a 5 pound weight to a 4 pound weight midway. Huge victory.). We end the arms with pushups, reverse pushups and rotating one armed planks, which is not something my body will let me do after my arms have become so fatigued. The brief arm stretch does little to sooth the burn.
Just after a brief pre-burn leg stretch, we move on to thighs. I have always had sturdy thighs, and these sturdy thighs are shaking about 2 minutes into the 10 minute section. The instructor guides us through variations on squats and lunges that all incorporate isometric holds into the mix. We hold a small exercise ball between our thighs during one of these exercises; my inner thighs will continue to feel that days later. There are moments where I don’t think I’m doing it correctly and would have liked a bit more form correction, which happens only toward the very end of some poses.
Following another brief stretch, we do a modified arabesque to work out the butt. The small movements are impossibly effective, and both sides of my seat are quivering at the end of this 10 minutes.
Seated round and flat back exercises are next. These take cues from Pilates; while keeping our cores completely still, we use small leg movements to work the transverse abdominals and lower abs. This quickly transitions to 10 minutes of incredibly intense abs (isometric holds to the extreme!), and then we are rewarded with some blissful stretch time.
I love exercise pain, and therefore I love Pop Physique. My muscles still felt it the next day, but not so much that I wasn’t able to go for a run (after just a bit of Ibuprofen). Even the “I’m way to strong for your girl class” boyfriend had to admit that the class was challenging. The poor studio acoustics and lack of instructor correction made the class a challenge to follow at times, but Pop Physique is the type of workout that becomes more effective over time, when your body recognizes the movements and can hold the poses without taking time to correct.
Here’s my only issue, and it stems mostly out of being a Bar Method loyalist: I find Pop Physique to be a so-similar-isn’t-it-copyrighted? workout to Bar Method. The only noticeable differences are the brighter colored weights, louder music, wood floors (prefer the Bar Method carpet!), and a slightly increased pace. The lack of form correction was also a large change from the Bar Method studios.
A huge workout class pet peeve of mine is when classes have special offers, but only for people who haven’t tried the class. A lot of classes lack coupon love for the loyalists - and Bar Method, unfortunately, falls into this category. I love Pop Physique because it basically is Bar Method - but with the important benefit that it still offers discounts to non-first timers. Exercise loyalty only goes so far during semi-employment.
Pop Physique West 3rd and Fairfax (Multiple Locations)
7940 3rd Street
Los Angeles - 90048
The takeaways: Challenging even for the boys, a toning delight, ask for form correction if needed, stretch those inner thighs after, plan time for street parking on 3rd.