A regular barre workout brings your muscles to fatigue through tiny movements — a.k.a. “pulses” — that burn like crazy even though you’re barely moving. The HIIT part of this barre class weaves in bursts of fast-paced exercises that leave you breathless — think mountain skiers with your feet on sliders — and make those leg lifts back at the bar that much harder. Try it: $18 drop-in. 7101 Emlen Street, Mount Airy.
JTown instructor Rachel Rubin created this workout, which takes the essence of a yoga practice (guided breathing and mind-body connection) and combines it with the best of a kettlebell session (lunges, squats and swings) — in a studio heated to 90 degrees. But don’t worry: The savasana at the end features an ice-cold lavender-scented towel. Try it: $20 drop-in. 409 Old York Road, Jenkintown.
When you lift weights, you probably only think about getting the dumbbell up; gravity does the work on the way back down. But Swedish fitness company X-Force has created devilish machines that add 40 percent more resistance on the way down, making each rep way harder. (The burn is so intense that the only workout option is a 30-minute personal training session.) Try it: $85 per session. 30 South 15th Street, Center City.
Pilates on a mat is tough. Pilates on a reformer is even harder. Similar moves on a Megaformer — a souped-up reformer that uses resistance springs — are a Herculean effort. Expect planks, lunges and crunches with your feet on a rolling platform that you’re supposed to slowly drag forward using your abs. Sound absurd? People don’t call it one of the toughest core workouts for nothing. Try it: $32 drop-in. 1625 Walnut Street, Rittenhouse.
Published as “Adios, Comfort Zone” in the June 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.