I could feel my pupils dilate as I read the email invite: “I’m teaching a Pilates + Pinot class. Would you like to join as my guest?”
Um, did you just offer me wine with my exercise? I’ll be there with bells on!
Let’s be real. No one really likes working out. We say we do, but we don’t. True, there are real benefits – like being fit and living longer and all that jazz – but I know in your heart of hearts you’d rather spend the time drinking with friends. But thanks to a growing trend in the fitness industry, your days of having to choose between being good and hitting the gym, or being naughty and tapping that keg, may be numbered.
Gyms and fitness instructors all over the country, who may be just a wee bit tired of hearing our excuses for skipping out on exercising, are transforming the dreaded workout into a de facto happy hour complete with booze. From Beer Yoga to wine workout retreats that take you around the world, fitness experts are literally handing out “shots” of encouragement to get us to do our sit-ups with a smile.
“We make sure to offer a balance in all of our retreats, but our wine events and retreats are definitely popular,” said Stacy Schwartz, founder of Ketanga Fitness Retreats. “Wine is seen as an ‘acceptable’ splurge and people feel better about indulging when they know they are balancing with workouts and healthy meals the rest of the time.”
Schwartz is kind of an expert on helping people find that balance between healthy living and moderated indulgences. Her company, Ketanga, does around 30 to 40 workout retreats and local fitness events a year, covering everything from boxing to boot camp to Pilates to HIIT. Not all her events include wine (bummer), but she says all are about “fun, motivation, relaxation, and pushing yourself just the right amount.”
“You’re not not going to be sore after a tough workout if you have a glass of wine,” said Schwartz. “You have to look at your intentions for working out to understand if eating or drinking certain things, regardless of your workout, will affect your goals. It is all about balance, and following your own path — not your neighbor’s — to achieve your personal goals.”
So, sipping on some spirits after squats may not actually help you burn calories faster, but it can feel like a nice reward and act as inspiration for you to exercise a little bit harder. That’s the thought I kept in my head as I geared up to try Ketanga’s Pilates + Pinot class in New York.
The mid-afternoon Saturday event was held in a spacious workout studio on the bottom floor of the Lululemon retail store on 17th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The group of 24 female attendees ranged in age from young adults to more mature professionals, and were diverse in ethnicity, body type, and athletic ability.
Mats, towels, and water were provided, and our certified coach, Jenna Muller, opened up by telling us to clear our minds and set our intention. I’ve taken Pilates classes before so I was ready for the warrior poses and extended lunges, but I wasn’t quite prepared for coach Jenna’s reps of 20. I had the shocking realization during the class warm-up that I was going to earn every drop of that wine reward.
Coach Jenna has been an instructor for five years and her experience shows. She was quick to correct bad form without making anyone feel self-conscious and made the large group feel intimate by using our names when she doled out words of encouragement. She also reminded us a few times during long reps that there was wine coming – making us all laugh and keep going. We ended with stretching and applause and then broke for a group photo. And, of course, to grab some wine.
Ironically, Pinot wasn’t one of the types of wine offered. Instead, we drank Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. It was the first workout and wine event for most of the ladies and they all were really pleased with the class. I overhead a few making plans to attend Ketanga’s Pilates + Pinot retreat in June on Long Island.
As for me, I totally see the appeal of participating in a workout class that provides a boozy bonus every once and a while. Any treat is a little sweeter when you’ve worked hard to earn it and it’s more fun when you have people working toward the same goal as you. I wouldn’t recommend rewarding yourself with a glass of wine after every workout, but if you’re going to splurge, why not pregame with a workout first?