5 Austin workout studios I've tried and loved this year

Now that my 10K training is over and I've discovered that my body can do much more than I expected, I thought it was time to get out of my comfort zone a bit. I've tried a few new workout studios and workout styles in the past few weeks, with mixed results (and a LOT of sore muscles).

Ballet Austin's Butler Center for Dance & Fitness

I've been to a few Pilates classes at Ballet Austin over the years, but after I saw my friend Beth attended a Missy Elliott music video dance workshop there earlier this year, I decided to feel overconfident about my dance skills and sign up for a class. She and I signed up for the Britney Spears Toxic Videodance class, which was a one 90-minute session to learn the choreography Britney performs to the song. I must have blacked out and forgotten for a second that Britney is the literal queen of stage choreography when I signed up for this, because take a look at the routine we learned (starting at 1:25 until about 3:02 because hello, we don't have time to learn the whole dance in 90 minutes). 

This is my first time watching that video since dance class and I feel even more assured that I will never, ever be a dancer (and also more assured that Britney is queen, LOOK AT HER).

Despite my subpar dance skills, it was a really fun class. The instructor, Jenny Alperin, was hilarious and friendly, and she made the class totally accessible. She knew we were all at varying levels of skill, so she gave us options to simplify the moves if we needed (and, uh, I needed). It was a blast, and I'm excited for the next workshop I get to take! Right now, they're offering a three-week NSYNC vs. Backstreet Boys Videodance workshop, but I'm going to be on vacation for one of the weeks. Tragic that you guys won't see my boy band moves (though there would probably be less gyrating involved than with Britney).

The workshop did get me interested in their adult dance classes, though! I've been eyeing the cardio dance workout class on Sunday afternoons. Maybe next week? I'll report back.

Align

I heard from an Instagram friend that this Pilates, boxing and barre studio was offering free classes before its official grand opening in a new location on Lake Austin Boulevard, so I had to check it out.

First of all, the studio is beautiful. It's just off of MoPac (right by that pawn shop on the corner) and it's a two-story building with lots of natural light. On the bottom floor, there are Pilates reformers and towers, as well as a room for private lessons. On the top floor, there's a barre studio, a boxing studio and some retail space. 

I signed up for a Pilates Equipment class on a Friday afternoon, a little fearful of the aforementioned towers but mostly excited. The classes are small (there are only five reformers), so the instructor is able to pay close attention to each person in class and help them with some of the more complicated moves—if you're not familiar with Pilates reformers, they can be kind of confusing. My instructor, Chris, told me they normally spend half of the equipment classes on the reformers and half of the class on the towers. We didn't use the towers, so I didn't face my fears that day, but trust me, I got a good, solid workout. We started out working our legs, then spent the rest of the class on our abs and arms, and my triceps felt it for days afterward.

Their full class schedule launched May 1, so if you're interested in checking it out for yourself, you can find the schedule here. I know I'll be back, because that tower and I have a score to settle.

(Oh, and another major perk: The studio is right next to Deep Eddy Pool and Juiceland, so I went for a swim and sucked down a Wundershowzen after my workout.)

Silent disco yoga

Yeah, you read that right. I saw a local yoga studio in town, Stretch Yoga, was hosting an event called "Blissful Beats + Sunset Yoga" on a Friday night, and I had to give it a try. The idea behind the class was to give wireless headphones to class attendees, silent disco-style, and teach a yoga class on the roof of an east side apartment building. 

The result? I have mixed feelings about it. I admittedly haven't been doing as much yoga as I used to (or as much as I'd like to), so I was a little rusty. I was also sore from going to Pilates earlier in the day, and I'd been up since 3 a.m. because I was filling in on the morning shift at work. The headphones were also a little distracting, but the music was peaceful and I loved that the headphones totally blocked out the city sounds. Also, watching the sun set over downtown Austin on a warm spring evening is pretty great. That said, I'll probably stick with my chill restorative yoga sessions in a regular studio—but if you'd like to give it a try, the yoga studio says it's hosting another "Blissful Beats" class in June. 

Impact Strong

I tried kickboxing a few times last year when I bought a Groupon (yes, I'm a Groupon fiend) for Impact Strong's first Austin location on William Cannon. I loved it, and I'm not sure why I didn't stick with it. It really helped me work out some of my frustrations toward the guy I was dating at the time (or rather, the guy I was trying to date...it's a long story). So when I heard Impact Strong was opening a downtown location, I was so excited I bought their opening special class pass immediately...and then forgot about it for about six months. Whoops.

I finally dragged myself back there (thank goodness the people are so nice—they honored the pass I purchased a billion years ago) for a 30-minute kickboxing class at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.

I thought a 30-minute class would make it easier to get through on a Saturday morning...but it was 30 minutes of face-paced, high-intensity cardio. The instructor, Skyla, was incredibly helpful. I told her it had been about a year since I'd attended a kickboxing class, so she walked me through every move and every step. The other people in the class were clearly veterans of the gym—they didn't need any explainers—so I was able to watch and learn. 

The class was basically a half hour of intense kickboxing moves, with quick workouts like burpees, pushups or squats in between. I walked out of there feeling exhausted and invigorated, not to mention the fact that I left a puddle of sweat on my driver's seat when I drove home. 

The Barre Code

Okay, this might be cheating, because I've been going to The Barre Code since January and I've mentioned it several times already. But I haven't gone into detail about why I love it so much. I initially joined The Barre Code during their January Resolution Remix challenge, which encouraged members to take different types of classes and step outside their comfort zone to complete their bingo card. Since I hadn't been working out at all, pretty much everything was outside my comfort zone.

The studio is so welcoming, and the owner, Cami, is one of the nicest people I've ever met. She went out of her way to get to know me on day one, and ever since, walking into The Barre Code has felt like walking into a room full of friends. The instructors are all wonderful, and I've truly never had a negative experience there. I'd say The Barre Code is mostly responsible for helping me shed nearly all 30 pounds of that weight I've been trying to get rid of since January.

They just added a new class to their schedule, too: Brawl. It's kickboxing! And apparently I'm on a kickboxing kick lately (ugh, sorry for the pun). It's more than kickboxing, though. The website describes it as "an intense class that combines cardio kickboxing sequences with strengthening work for the thighs and glutes." I can't wait to try it.