Ab Lab with Louis Coraggio at Chelsea Piers

I’ve always avoided group fitness classes because they kind of seem like a personal hell. Forced to keep up with a room of strangers, they seem to thrive on competiveness. And for me, that’s like the “First Day at School” meets “You’re Not Fit Enough” in one epic nigthmare.

After going to one class I now realize it’s only half that bad.

I took the Ab Lab with Louis the other night, and I have to say, the class is insanely good. Like, really, really good. It was a half hour long and I didn’t feel like I was being watched by anyone else, mostly because it’s a nonstop class that doesn’t leave you much time to even begin to wonder what other people are doing — it’s all about you.

The class combines planks, crunches, and everything in between, to really slam your core and shred your abs. I can say that I was sweating and felt like I was going to be ripped after the first class. Definitely a good thing, even if it also means I looked like I strolled through a monsoon and couldn’t speak by the end of the class.

The music was great, super high energy and in keeping with the workout. There were a few times that I felt like I was going to die, but I just focused on the music and pulled through. It’s all about focus, and I thought the soundtrack helped with that.

There were some moves that I just couldn’t get the hang of — my coordination is sometimes slow to arrive — and I just hung out in the back of the class, doing my best, or quietly sitting it out when I just couldnt’ do anymore. But you know what? That’s totally fine.

The thing I learned about group classes is that, really, nobody’s looking at you. Because nobody really cares about anyone else. In Ab Lab, the movements are too intense and the pace is too quick so there simply isn’t time for judgement.

So that was a good thing to learn.

Would I take the class again? Yes, I would — I thought it was fun, upbeat, and it definitely feels effective, as I can currently feel each of my abs so individually I think I might have to name them.

Will I take another group fitness class again? Maybe not — while I think it’s amazing, group fitness still isn’t really for me. I go to the gym because I like the more zen aspects of getting into my own routine, taking my time when I need to, and not feeling competitive with the people around me.

There was a clock on the wall and I’d be lying if I didn’t keep my eye on it. I like to know how much time I have to get through an exercise, and one of the things I liked about this one was the instructor gave us second-by-second instructions. 5 seconds of this move, 30 of this move, and a countdown to help keep rhythm, and keep the class motivated and on top of it.

Jeff Smith

Jeff started in photography and short format video, and he's been at the forefront of the web tv movement. He’s worked on haute couture shoots in Paris, shot street style in Milan, and is currently developing a steady roster of beauty, fashion, and digital clients in NYC.