Fitness Friday: Hanging Out With Spiderbands

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The holidays are long gone, but our newfound motivation is here to stay! While there are mixed feelings about the famous New Year’s resolutions, we at Downtown are all for whatever it takes to get yourself started on some better habits.

One of the things I’ve found really helps with my motivation to keep working out is finding something fun — a workout that kicks my butt and is over before I even know it. Who here can relate to having been in those classes where it feels like 30 minutes since you last checked the time, but it’s only been 5?!

Yes, I thought so. We’ve all been there. So when I first heard about Spiderbands, I was intrigued (albeit a little bit frightened). “Centered around suspension and aerial concepts, Spiderbands® is a fast-paced total body cardio resistance workout that leverages gravity and your own body weight”. Suspension? Cardio resistance? Leveraging gravity? It sounded intense!

But it was honestly just the right kind of intense! Franci Cohen, the founder of Spiderbands, headed the class I was in; Spider Jumpstrike. And while it might look a little intimidating walking in and seeing TRX straps and punching bags, it really isn’t. Before the class started, Cohen explained the technicalities of the workout — i.e. how to adjust the TRX straps to fit you, the different grips on the straps, and how they’re used, the punches and kicks, etc. So I felt ready for what was ahead.

You may have heard about the Spiderbands workout before, but the Spiderbands gym only just opened in its dedicated location in the Union Square area late last year. But while the gym might be new, neither Spiderbands nor its founder Franci Cohen are new to the fitness world. Previously it’s been available at Franci Cohen’s Brooklyn gym, Fuel Fitness. But now it has its own dedicated location — and it’s very nice. The entrance, locker rooms, showers, fitness studios; everything is brand new and very modern. It’s an added jolt of motivation.

And then, of course, there’s Franci Cohen. Throughout the class, as she leads you through punches, kicks, squats — and other moves I don’t quite remember what were called, but had me put my feet in the handles of the TRX straps and (try to) lift myself up courtesy of my abs, ahem — she cheers you on, telling you you’re doing a good job and looking great. And honestly, positive reinforcement has always been one of my favorite motivators.

Don’t be intimated at the moves though, as Cohen is great with variations — plus with every move, you learn the basic move first and then add on, so it’s very doable. The workout is fast paced so you never get stuck doing the same move 100 times, and it’s kept fresh and fun by different moves and techniques, which gives you something new to focus on and makes the class fly by.

What led Cohen to create Spiderbands was two decades in the fitness industry and seeing pros and cons of every workout. She wanted to create a class that took all the positives and none of the negatives.

“I took 20 years of things that frustrated me in certain things,” Cohen said.

“For example, I hate running outside on the concrete because of what it does to the joints,” she explained, “but I love that you can drain fat through the lymphatic system on the rebounder by counteracting that g-force.”

So with the rebounders, TRX straps and the custom flooring, you’re getting that high-intensity workout without high impact on the joints. And, best of all, Cohen has kept it fun.

“I was also trying to bring back the fun factor. Because a lot of workouts that are fun don’t always yield results, and the ones that yield results sometimes are so grueling they’re not fun, and you can’t do them every day,” she said.

Spiderbands offer eight different classes, three Spider FlyZone studios and five Spiderbands. In the Spider FlyZone classes the pace is a little slower to perfect techniques, and could be a great place to start, while the Spiderbands classes are fast paced from the get-go.

When asked for best advice for anyone taking the class for the first time, Cohen didn’t hesitate.

“Seriously? Just jump right in. And come a few minutes early, so we can set you up. Because the only thing that we want to kind of impart to everybody is how to hook your feet up, the adjustment of the high handles and such. But once you’ve got that, it’s one move at a time. So really, anybody with any background or no fitness background can come and succeed,” she said.

Sounds like something for you? Read more about Spiderbands on its website, the different classes and check out the schedule right here.

Photo: Kinglsey Delacato / Spiderbands