January 3, 2011 / 2:48 PM / 8 years ago

Gyms offer circus spins, lovelorn lunges

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - How can you mend a broken heart? Try a squat.

Women take part in an aerobics class at a gym in Tokyo September 4, 2007. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Vying for new memberships in 2011, fitness centers, gyms and studios are offering everything from circus stunts to breakup advice.

“January is our sweet spot. This time of year you give people a lot of variations,” said Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programing for Crunch fitness. “We want to keep people working out and trying new things,”

Buoyed by New Year resolutions and dreams of fresh starts, new gym memberships can spike over 12 percent in January, according to IHRSA (International Heath Racquet and Sportsclub Association), the fitness industry’s global trade association.

Cyrus said her membership base of 20 to 40-year-olds favors short, intense workouts, often with a performance base or sexy edge.

So at Crunch you can swing, Cirque-du-Soleil-like, from circus silks hung from the ceiling, or get a 16-hour certification in pole dancing. The rebounding class is re-dubbed Bar Hoppin’.

It’s just positioning the best practices: cardio, strength, resistance training, in a different menu,” Cyrus said.

If Crunch can seem like a singles’ party, Gold’s Gym addresses those for whom the party’s over.

The worldwide chain has put together an eight-week program of workouts, tips and advice for those on the emotional rebound.

Their Breakover Makeover Workout works on the premise that if you can’t wash that man out of your hair, you can sweat him away in the cardio room, and build a better body doing it.

“Celebrities seem to break up right before holidays but people who have families do try to wait until the holidays are over,” said Dr. Beliza Vranich a clinical psychologist with Gold’s Gym, who provides website tips and advice for the suddenly single.

Vranich said while breaking up usually conjures visions of ice cream, isolation and weight gain, “the Breakover Makeover aims for the opposite.”

Along with soothing suggestions to buy a new workout outfit or try an unfamiliar fitness class, comes a workout that Vranich describes as “very succinct,” with an emphasis on lunges and squats.

“People are more obsessed with butts and glutes than ever before” she explained. “Lunges or squats are terrifically effective. And for sex appeal, butts and glutes are really important.”

Vranich thinks 2011 will be the year of the glutes.

“Anecdotally, my friends who are plastic surgeons are doing more butts than ever before,” she said. “In the past we’ve paid more attention to the top half and front of body.”

At YogaWorks, the national chain of yoga studios, the philosophy is less breakover than crossover.

Under the umbrella of “mindful fitness,” studios are adding Pilates, resistance, and circuit training to their yoga.

“We wanted to come up with other things,” said CEO Phil Swain. So, one new class, YogaWorks Slim, is quicker paced and organized to keep the heart rate up.

Swain, along with most other experts, says classes are getting shorter in response to student demand. But he insists quality is maintained.

“We’re very protective of yoga ,” Swain said. “Everything has to be barefoot.”

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