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Best of Washington 2012: Four Intense Workouts

Want a tough workout? Matthew Graham, a 51-year-old writer and personal trainer, dropped in on intense fitness classes. Here are the most challenging he found, in order of increasing intensity.

Photograph by Marshall Clarke.


Graham’s Maximum heart rate: 161

The TRX is a strap that hangs from a hook and has adjustable handles so you can do exercises such as suspended push-ups (with your feet in the straps) or pull-ups. A one-hour class at Crunch Fitness, featuring aerobics and strength training, is fast-paced and fun. Chevy Chase DC, 202-621-7622; Metro Center, 202-621-6698. Drop-in fee $15. Free pass available online.

Photograph by Madeline Tank.

Bikram Yoga

Maximum heart rate: 165

An otherwise moderate, 90-minute yoga class at DC’s Bikram Yoga Tenleytown turns into a heart-pounding sweatfest in a studio that’s at least 105 degrees—and often higher. The brutal heat does allow you to find your full range of flexibility. Graham felt great the next day. 202-243-3000; Drop-in fee $18.

Photograph by Madeline Tank.


Maximum heart rate: 164

A one-hour Maryland Kettlebells class offered the best instruction we’ve seen using these cannonballs with handles. A variety of full-body exercises such as windmills—deep side bends done while holding a kettlebell overhead—develop strength and coordination, and the intensity builds as the class progresses. Prepare to be sore the next day. Silver Spring; 443-742-1224. Drop-in fee $20; first class free.

Photograph by Madeline Tank.

High-Intensity Training (H.I.T.)

Maximum heart rate: 163

While this one-hour class at the Northwest DC Sport & Health Club didn’t score the highest heart rate, it’s Graham’s pick for the most intense: His heart rate consistently stayed above 150 while he was performing lunges, push-ups, plyometric jumps, calisthenics, and weightlifting in repeating circuits. Multiple area locations; Drop-in fee $20. Free one-week membership available online.

Best of Washington 2012
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