What It Is: AKT Mixer
Who Tried It: Grace Gavilanes, PEOPLE.com associate editor
Level of Difficulty: 9/10
In my never-ending journey to try out buzzy new exercise classes, I decided to channel my inner dancer and give AKT Mixer ($37 per class) a shot.
The class, which just launched a few weeks ago, is the latest offering from celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser a.k.a. the woman behind the toned physiques of Shakira and Kelly Ripa. It promises to blend Kaiser’s popular classes Sweat Dream, Happy Hour, 4Play and Tone — a similar breakdown of what Ripa and Shakira experience during their one-on-one sessions with the fitness guru. Considering I’d never taken an AKT class before, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into … but was hyped/nervous to find out.
Spoiler alert: I’m not a professional dancer (shocker!). I’ve only taken three Zumba classes in my life in an attempt to convince myself that, yes, I dance for cardio. But sadly, I don’t. I do, however, get down at the club, usually with a whisky sour in hand to distract from my almost-always awkward moves on the dance floor.
But AKT Mixer is not Zumba. It’s so much more than that. First of all, there’s Kaiser, whose infectious energy and pep is enough to get the most die-hard of couch potatoes off her butt to sweat it out at her N.Y.C. studio. Then there’s the structure of the class. Walking to my designated spot, I was told I’d be using a Plyo box, resistance bands that looped around a bar above me, dumb bells and a towel during the 60-minute class.
We started off with dance-inspired lunges and squats as we simultaneously pulled down our resistance bands with each move. I quickly noticed the people around me (who were so encouraging and nice; shout-out to devoted class-goer Ryan for easing my fears before class!) were regulars. Following the warmup — which also included squatting against the mirrors while lifting weights, as well as jumping on and off our boxes — we kneeled on top of our boxes for butt and thigh work. The killer for me? When we lifted one leg behind us and began forming small circles with it. The movement was so small and probably looked like zero work to any passerby, but it left me with sweat dripping off the tip of my nose and chin.
What came next was a choreographed dance, which I was told was developed over a span of a handful of classes, and that explained a lot. Those in attendance knew the choreography and weren’t taken aback when Kaiser spun ’round and ’round like a seasoned dancer. They followed suit, without missing a beat. Meanwhile, I struggled and grunted because — and this is going to sound weird — I’m not used to thinking while working out. It’s usually a very mindless experience for me, but AKT Mixer was the opposite; it required my full attention and coordination.
I felt awkward and noticed that an AKT staffer, who was taking video of the class, avoided filming me during the dance portion. I laughed, and eventually stopped trying to look as cool as Kaiser (but really, no one can look as cool as her), and instead focused on the next move on queue. And guess what? I felt myself improving!
After finishing up with our dance, Kaiser asked us to pick up our hand towels, and instructed us to pull either end, using what we’d normally wipe our sweat off with, as another form of resistance that targeted our arms and abs.
Verdict: I know for certain dance enthusiasts will fall in love with AKT Mixer. They’ll sweat, laugh and will feel like they just auditioned for a backup dancer spot on Shakira’s world tour. As for me? My favorite portion of the class involved using our dumb bells and box. My butt, abs and thighs hurt in the best way, and have Ms. Kaiser to thank for that.