Some people say you should tape a picture of Marisa Miller or Cameron Diaz on your fridge if you want some visual motivation to stay fit and forgo the bon-bons.
But I got the hint in person, in the form of two women in hot pants, fishnets, and fur legwarmers, go-go dancing to A-Ha.
Though sometimes my vision was clouded by an outpouring of white vapor from the nearby fog machine, I saw these two women each time I lifted my head to finish yet another crunch. They popped their hips and shimmied while I hoisted and lowered two heavy cables like a pumped-up rope-turner on a Double Dutch team. They flipped their hair while I did countless burpees and attempted pull-ups on a TRX band.
I wasn’t working out in a club, per se, but an approximation of one at Chaos Conditioning in Buckhead. This interval training gym typically hosts more conventional bootcamp-style classes. But on an occasional Saturday night, owner and instructor Jeff Baird turns the place into Club Chaos, an invite-only workout party with thumping music, flashing lights, fog machines, and dancers.
Though most of the time Club Chaos doesn’t stick to a theme or an era, this was '80s night, so I dug up the zebra-striped leggings from my days in an all-female Van Halen tribute band. Most of the fifteen other VIPs were similarly decked out in '80s-wear. Two guys wore short-shorts and sweatbands. Baird’s wife, Deb, wore his mother’s old leotard with a skinny pink belt and a braided pink headband.
At the start of the class, the group did a “shot” (some kind of veggie drink). Then we were divvied into four teams, denoted by colored wristbands, with each setting up in a different part of the studio: one group at the treadmills, one group with the battle ropes, one group with the TRX bands and heavy bags, and so on.
Then, as the muscle-bound DJ spun Cyndi Lauper, each group went through a set of strenuous exercises: running, or pushups, or squats, or lifting ropes, or stepping up and down on a Bosu ball. Old Jazzercise videos were projected on the wall. And all the while, Baird cheered us on and the go-go dancers did their thing.
Other circuits were introduced—modified jump-roping, pairing up to toss a six-pound ball back and forth, pull-ups, triceps dips. Then the teams came together to finish off with an abdominals workout, followed by a champagne toast.
I must admit that when I first learned of the class and this concept, I thought it might be kind of ... gimmicky. But the gimmick worked. The sixty-minute class was incredibly tough—the mix of strength-training and cardio kept my muscles guessing and wore me out—and it was an absolute blast, thanks to Baird’s energy and the fog and the lights and the music.
And, of course, the dancers. I may not be putting on hot pants anytime soon. But my bon-bons? They’re in the trash.