Instructor: Angie Schumacher, of Thornton, the founder of Fit Chick Express. Schumacher has been involved with fitness all her life.
After working in daycare for 12 years, she decided to get certified by the National Federation of Personal Trainers and begin teaching fitness, with an emphasis on women. She started working out with five girls in a park, and five years ago opened Fit Chick Express, which claims to be the “most effective, fun and inexpensive” way to get fit in a community of women.
What is the workout? The 30-Minute Boot Camp is a fast-paced total body workout for women that mixes cardio with all major muscle groups. It is Fit Chick Express’s signature class.
Schumacher says she started the class because “as women, we take care of everyone else but ourselves. Thirty minutes is perfect. You come in, get the workout done as quickly as possible and get out.”
My class was set up in a series of circuits with one minute of work and a short transition time in between stations. The exercises, emphasis and length of intervals change every day.
Schumacher says many people don’t believe you can get in a good workout in just a half hour, and she aims to prove them wrong.
Classes average 10 to 15 participants, with the early morning classes the busiest, sometimes hitting 25 women.
The class uses a variety of equipment, such as medicine balls, stability balls, dumbbells and TRX, but exercises using body weight (like pushups) continue to be the biggest challenge for many people, Schumacher says.
What’s different? Fit Chick Express is just for women, and it’s built with a strong community emphasis.
Even though the class moved quickly, the atmosphere still felt social. Members regularly hang out together outside of class and have a Facebook group, Schumacher says. Although most of the exercises were not new, the atmosphere had a distinct feeling — a blend of no-nonsense, get-in-and-work-hard, but with cheerfulness set to great music.
Cost: Get a free two-week trial to see if you like the facility. Then, you can buy packages for $94 to $150 per month, with classes averaging $7 to $12 each.
Level: All levels, from total newbies to marathoners. I found the class a six on a 10-point intensity scale, a bit lower because it only lasted 30 minutes.
Interestingly, about half of the participants have some kind of injury to accommodate, Schumacher says. She was highly attentive and focused throughout class, offering constant modifications and encouragement. Schumacher may have worked just as hard running the class as we did doing the exercises.
“We make it fit for any person at any time,” she says. “You don’t feel the same every day. If you’re having a down day without energy, that’s fine, we try to help them with that. We want people to take care of themselves. It’s like an individualized group training class.”
When: The 30-Minute Boot Camp is offered 16 different times per week, including Saturdays. Check the schedule for times.
What to prepare: Regular workout clothes, athletic shoes and a bottle of water. You may need a sweat towel, although I didn’t sweat too heavily.
Muscles worked: Full body, with a different emphasis each class. My class focused on hamstrings and glutes, with some core and upper body.
I especially felt it in my chest, because we did a lot of pushups. I also felt a little sore in my glutes, hamstrings, shoulders — um, yeah, full body it is.
What I loved: The two-week trial is an amazing offering that all fitness studios should provide. You cannot tell if a studio is the right fit for you in one or two classes. And if a studio is really up to par, it can only benefit by letting people try it for free, because then they’ll be hooked and potentially start to see changes in their bodies.
As a busy mom, I appreciated the 30-minute workout, too. It’s better to have a 30-minute workout on a busy day than nothing at all. And the proof was in the soreness. Can a 30-minute workout be enough? My sore muscles head to toe scream heck to the yes.
What I didn’t like: I understand why some women like all-women facilities, but why exclude? My perception of an all-women facility is that it’s going to be easier — and this class was everything but. I think the name Fit Chick Express limits what this facility truly offers and would have turned me off, if I hadn’t tried it for myself.
How I felt after the class: I was mildly sweaty but not ruined. I felt accomplished and my muscles felt fatigued. By the next day, my muscles were talking to me. Those 30 minutes stayed with me for three days.
Instructor: Amy Scriver, of Frederick, who has been doing yoga for 10 years and teaching it for a year and a half. She recently became certified to teach Hot Power Fusion Yoga through CorePower Yoga. She also was certified as a professional trainer in 2009 through the National Federation of Professional Trainers.
What is the workout? A fusion of high-intensity interval training with yoga, so it aims to help you burn fat and increase metabolism (through intervals), build strength (through toning exercises) and increase flexibility, balance and relaxation (through yoga). This class features a short period of low- or high-impact drills, following by low-intensity yoga poses.
Scriver says combining strength training with flexibility and stretching helps build long, lean muscles that many women are seeking, rather than bulking up.
She describes it as boot camp meets yoga.
In fact, the University of New South Wales found that 15-minute high-intensity moves can burn three times more stomach fat and increase your after-exercise metabolism by 47 percent.
What’s different: I have never heard of another class that combines intervals, strength training and yoga poses. Also, this class is for women only, which appeals to women who might feel intimidated or self-conscious in a coed class, as well as women who seek camaraderie and friendship to encourage their fitness goals.
Inspiration for class: Scriver designed the class herself in October to teach women functional strength and fitness.
“I’m not your traditional yoga person, and I do like to strength train. I just combined them,” Scriber says.
FitChick, the center, is celebrating its third year this month, and it claims to be “the most effective, fun and inexpensive ‘body make-over’ solution ever,” guaranteeing fat-burning workouts, metabolism-boosting yoga and nutrition and lifestyle counseling.
What does it cost? A one-time drop-in rate is $12.
Who does it? Classes are typically five to six people, all women, of all ages, fitness levels and body shapes.
When: 10 a.m. on Saturdays. The website says the class is 45 minutes long, but my class lasted an hour.
Level: Although you can modify exercises and you get what you put into it, Scriver says, she aims for a six to seven on a 10-point scale.
I found the class around a five to six. There were balancing moves I struggled with and the toning exercises were definitely effective, but I think this class might not be challenging for a seasoned athlete machine of a woman in Boulder County. I think it is more designed for new moms, beginners or as a fun, quick and efficient Saturday morning add-on for intermediate-level fitness lovers. There were women in my class who looked very fit and obviously had a strong exercise background.
It seems almost every class in existence claims it’s for “all levels” and can be modified. But especially in Boulder, many of these classes are super intimidating for true beginners and non-athletes.
But not ChickFit. This center truly has women of all body shapes, and the friendly participants don’t seem to be competing or judging each other at all. The FitChick website features a local woman who has lost 62 pounds, 15 percent body fat and 46 inches, and it features a testimony from a woman who is 314 pounds.
“After four months, I can find my biceps, my legs are more defined and I am stronger in general,” the woman, Bridget Murphy, writes. “I have never felt more supported with an exercise routine than in this class.”
The point is, you rarely see classes around here that are equally as appropriate for an intermediate athlete and a woman like Murphy. When this center claims to be welcoming to a diverse group of women, it truly is.
Format: Class begins with a warm-up sun salutation. Then it follows several yoga sequences, drills, upper-body strength-training, lower-body strength-training and yoga poses. Then it brings the intensity up again with more strength training, core work and then down again with yoga poses. The specific moves are different per class, but the sequence stays the same.
Still, Scriver tends to stick to the same yoga poses every week (but in different arrangements) so the participants can work on improving them and don’t feel intimidated.
Equipment: A mat, flex band, yoga props and blocks (even small stools for people who need more support than a yoga block).
What to wear: Comfortable clothes, no shoes. Bring water.
Muscles worked: Full body, with fat burning and flexibility tied in. Scriver focuses on upper back strength, because women often tend to ignore those muscles, which get weak with so much hunched-over computer work. A strong upper back improves your posture, and good posture can make anyone look 10 pounds lighter (not to mention feel better), Scriver says.
“I’ve seen such improvement in those girls, it’s amazing,” she says. “My regulars who have been with me since October, their balance has improved, and their flexibility.”
One new move: Boat with back row. Sitting on the ground, put a flex band around your feet and come up to a half-boat pose. Push out with your legs to work your inner thighs. Hold the band in a hammer curl, and bring your arms straight back so the elbows hug the rubs, working between the shoulder blades. This time-efficient exercise strengthens your core, inner thighs, upper back and arms. We did this exercise three times. If your form is bad, put your feet down. Don’t try to be a hero and hurt your lower back.
What I loved: The idea of incorporating intervals in between yoga sequences is brilliant. I found it more fun and challenging than some more traditional yoga classes. I felt like I got a quality full-body workout in a short period of time, yet I didn’t feel destroyed when class was over.
What I didn’t like: The claim that FitChick is the most effective, fun and inexpensive way to transform your body — ever. Really?
This is a great program, and it’s based on a strong foundation of science and functional, proven fitness techniques. Combined with the nutrition and lifestyle counseling, it has a true potential to make permanent changes.
So why go and throw in the hyperbole? Sensational promises make the program sound like a scam — which it’s totally not. I don’t doubt that this works and is really changing bodies and lives. So let the facts speak for themselves. You’ve got this.
How I felt after the class: Hungry and worked out. Ready to conquer my Saturday.
How I felt later: My triceps felt it the most, but I wasn’t very sore in the following days.