If you’re a normal person, the word “playground” probably evokes feelings of fun and childhood freedom. But if you’re anything like me, the word can bring up feelings of dread and memories of being the last one picked for sports teams in school. As a kid, I was the six-year-old reading a book alone while the rest of her peers played jump rope.
When I saw a class called “The Playground Experience” on the Equinox schedule back when I first signed up in December, I wanted to reclaim the word for myself. The process of learning how to work out over the course of the prior year had shown me that just because I wasn’t a “natural athlete” didn’t mean that I couldn’t be fit or athletic. And boy, was I in for a treat.
The playground at East 43rd St. Doesn’t all that equipment look like fun?
Grades (1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)
Size of class: 9
This class is capped at 24 students, and it fills up quickly. Those 24 are split into four teams of six, so it never feels too crowded, but there’s still an atmosphere of camaraderie.
Quality of workout: 7.5
The Playground Experience is an hour-long class that goes by quickly. The instructors divide the students into four teams using colored bracelets. We warm up with a game of “follow the leader” and mobility exercises with resistance bands. Combining HIIT and strength training, the “strength and power” section divides the gym into four quadrants, each consisting of three rounds of a 60-second power move and a 30-second strength move. Once we finish that section, the room is divided again. Two teams go to the cardio pit, which is filled with four different machines, and two teams go to the metabolic play area, which has four different exercises (really more like games) set up with a wide variety of equipment. In this part of the class, students perform each activity for 90 seconds until the class is over. After a short stretch session, the students get together to do a team chant and go on our sweaty way.
My class looked like the below:
Strength and power
Station 1 (3x)
- 15 wall balls
- Partner sit-ups with a medicine ball
Station 2 (3x)
- 20 kettlebell swings
- Kettlebell deadlifts
Station 3 (3x)
- 12 burpees with a lateral jump over a hurdle
- TRX rows
Station 4 (3x)
- 15 box jumps
- Rock climber
- Air bike
- Medicine ball toss with a partner
- Push partner on sled (this one is really hard!)
- Monkey bars (I just did high knees while hanging off the bar)
- Tire Flip
One of the problems I have with this class, as well as with other circuit classes at Equinox, is that it takes way too much time to explain the movements. That probably has something to do with the coach/student ratio — there just aren’t enough people to demonstrate moves at the stations themselves, which is why the moves have to be explained at the beginning of class.
Difficulty level: 8, although the workout is easy to modify
- Find a partner at the beginning of the class. Many of the movements are team-based.
- Bring weight lifting gloves — you never know when you’ll need to use the monkey bars.
Studio quality (Equinox East 92nd St.): 10
Equinox East 92nd St. is one of the best locations in Manhattan. The studio is always clean and rarely gets packed like some of the Midtown ones. The class schedule consistently has a good selection, offering a wide range of classes with some of the best instructors in the city.
Want to know what are the Best Playground Workouts in NYC?