Photo: c/o Spiderbands
Just when you thought the fitness industry had come up with every workout imaginable, enter Spiderbands. Not to worry, arachnophobes, this 45- to 60-minute class doesn’t involve spiders. Rather, the NYC-based fitness studio uses a bungee cord apparatus with a bar attached, focusing on body weight suspension and aerial concepts in 27 different high-intensity, cardio resistance classes. The result is a total body workout like no other.
CEO and founder, Franci Cohen, first came up with the concept when she was looking to create her own method of exercise. Cohen knew from the beginning that Spiderbands would involve a web of elements that allowed everyone (no matter what their age or fitness level) to enjoy. “I’ve always planned to design my classes with 32 count choreographed segments,” she says. “As I developed the bands further, I realized the added benefits of working in different positions relative to the rigging point, on different planes of motion, and how collectively this can induce greater overall output from participants.”
Being that I consider myself to be an active individual, I decided it was time to see what all the hype was about, and so I booked a class. The studio is relatively new (it opened in November 2017), and they launched with six out of the 27 classes that Cohen felt fit their demographic best. I started with the “Signature Spiderbands” class to get a better understanding of what the workout was all about.
Photo: c/o Spiderbands
Upon entering the studio and spotting the bungee apparatuses, I felt a wave of panic creep over me. It should be noted that I’m afraid of heights, so I couldn’t fathom how I was going to handle being mid-air. Plus, I was getting flashbacks of a not-so-positive aerial yoga experience I had a few years ago. Luckily, I felt relief once Cohen demonstrated the proper way to get onto the bands and the safe way to get off them. Each space in the classroom has two bungee cords hanging from the ceiling with a bar conjoining them in the middle, as well as two adjustable handles clipped at the top of each band.
The class began with a warm-up to familiarize you with the Spiderbands, as well as the type of movements you’ll be doing during the class. The routine consists of four-move combinations in each segment that are repeated throughout the class. This is a foolproof way to keep up with the choreography. The first thing I noticed was how quickly my arms fatigued, as you are expected to maintain resistance on the Spiderbands throughout the entire class.
Cohen says, “The compound movements that have you rubbing your belly and patting your head keep your body constantly challenged and bring your brain to the game as well.” Hence why the combined use of the upper and lower body in class gives you the ultimate total body workout. “We work on various planes of motion, leveraging gravity and your body weight to achieve each move,” she adds.
Photo: c/o Spiderbands
Initially, I found myself struggling because I was trying to understand the bands and follow the movements while also learning to trust my body in the different planes of motion being strapped in. But Cohen assured me that after a few repetitions everyone gets the hang of it—and she was right! Soon I was hopping back and forth mid-air, climbing a bag, doing sumo-squats, and performing other plyometric moves like a pro.
The best part: I was no doubt getting a high-intensity workout, but it didn’t seem to hurt my joints. “This is largely due to the fact that all our classes are intended to be high intensity but with little or no impact to the joints,” Cohen says of the Spiderband method. “This allows me the freedom to train those recovering from injuries, older clientele, and young athletes, all successfully in the very same class.” In fact, she told me that she has a client in her late 60s who loves Spiderbands so much that she regularly takes three classes back-to-back. If that isn’t #lifegoals, I don’t know what is.
Given that I took the signature class, I was curious as to how the other classes compared. So, Cohen gave me the rundown of each class, which varies from a trampoline/boxing/kickboxing class called “Spider Jumpstrike” to a “Spiderdome” class that involves both Bosu domes and Spiderbands. To finish off the roster, there’s a “Spiderkix” class that focuses on kickboxing and Spiderbands, an “Athletic Fly” class that has another set of bands known as “Spider Fly Zone Bands,” and the “Spider Circuit,” which has a five-circuit station combination of the five other classes.
One thing to know about Spiderbands is that you will leave drenched in sweat, and you will feel like you had a physical and mental workout. The workout truly targeted every muscle group in my body. Overall, I would recommend this class to anyone who is tired of basic bootcamp but still looking for that high-intensity sweat session.
The only caution: Cohen advises that pregnant women avoid the Athletic Fly class, as they may find leaning their bellies on the Fly Zone band to be slightly uncomfortable. However, for other fitness enthusiasts, no matter which class you take, you’ll challenge yourself in ways you didn’t expect, get in a good workout, and most importantly, you’ll have a ton of fun. Bring your friends along for the high-flying ride!
Photo: From left: Giselle Castro and Franci Cohen