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The Resistance


We have stepped, pedaled and rolled for fitness, but are we ready to hang?
Cynthia Bethea, an applied mathematician, found out about Spiderbands the new old-fashioned way: from her favorite SoulCycle instructor’s Instagram feed.
He was announcing that he would be teaching a different sort of fitness class at a newly opened studio in New York. It looked goofy but interesting. Located near Union Square, Spiderbands offers classes in which bungee cords and handles supply aerial suspension, buoyancy and resistance as students kick, push up, sprint and squat their way to a tighter tomorrow.
Ms. Bethea, 38, whose daily workout included boxing and indoor cycling classes, gave it a try. “It hurt to laugh for a couple days after,” she said. She now exercises regularly at Spiderbands, sometimes four times a week. Classes last 50 minutes and cost $34.
New York is where many workout trends start (SoulCycle, Pilates, barre). As a dedicated member of the fit-erati, I too decided to try Spiderbands.
With names like Spider Jumpstrike and Spider Circuit, the studio’s classes are high-intensity blends of cardio and strength building. During many, waistbands are suspended from the ceiling by bungee cords.
For various exercises, participants lean forward, backward or squat into the bands and are given both lift and resistance. An instructor calls out a quick-changing pattern of simple movements (lunges, kicks, jumps) as music blasts. It’s playful, and, for novices at least, the motions can be awkward.
But the class moves at a zippy pace. My abs and the muscles under my armpits really hurt for days after. In the good way, mostly. This is sort of a high-tech, boutique-fitness version of the plastic bands you can buy at Target and put around your ankles while you do floor exercises.
The workout was created by Franci Cohen, 40, a mother of four. She had been a group exercise instructor and nutritionist before having children. But hustling from studio to studio in Manhattan as she was nursing or doing the school run became onerous.
She rented a gym space near her home in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn and began mulling ways to bring together her favorite elements of different disciplines, like kickboxing and Pilates, into one workout that is gentle on joints and strengthening.
“I was experimenting,” Ms. Cohen said, sitting on the floor of her Manhattan studio between teaching classes. “It was like, ‘What if I take two of the legs off this trampoline? What if I put handles on these bungees and attach them to the ceiling?’”
She worked with private clients and friends to refine the workout and the apparatus over years, waiting for her youngest child to enter kindergarten before opening the Manhattan studio.
The studio is designed to make you feel like you are scaling the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge, bounding from post to post over the East River. “To me, this is a total New York workout and the bridge is the epitome of New York,” Ms. Cohen said.
Here are three Spiderband-inspired exercises you can try at home:
Seated Roll
Wall Mountain Climber

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