By MICHELA TUNDERA August 21, 2014
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DURING the humidity-induced haze of midsummer, I dreamed of how refreshing it would feel to flop, arms and legs outstretched, onto a garden-hose-soaked bright yellow Slip ’N Slide.
A few weeks later, I did end up soaked — in my own sweat — and sliding around on a clear plastic board, participating in an exercise class of the same name as that favorite summertime lawn toy.
I attended Slip ’N Slide, a class at the Revolution in Motion studio in Midtown Manhattan. Likened to speed skating without the skates and described as a “full-body, high-intensity, low-impact workout in 60 minutes,” it was developed by the studio’s owner and founder, Dr. Edythe M. Heus, a chiropractor and former head trainer for the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” (A metal sign autographed by members of the cast hangs over the reception desk.)
Her workouts, she said, focus on the nervous system and can be especially beneficial to anyone recovering from a sports injury.
Three other women joined the instructor, Johnny LaHoud, and me for class. Because the ninth-floor studio space is tight, the small class size allowed for plenty of personal attention. There are plans to move to a bigger space in the fall.
Mr. LaHoud, who has been a trainer at Revolution in Motion for three and a half years, asked for our shoe sizes and handed out corresponding pairs of blue- or black-cloth booties to pull on over our sneakers. (I wondered, briefly, if Apolo Anton Ohno had ever traipsed around in something like these.)
Two to a board, we warmed up by gliding slowly from one side to the other, keeping our feet parallel and our knees bent and locked to engage our core muscles. Mr. LaHoud had fastened plastic bumpers to the corners of each board to prevent us from sliding off. At first, just trying to stay upright, a few of us careened into our bumpers, and later, gaining confidence, we were all told to add arm swings, propelling us from side to side.
“The worst thing that happens is you fall and you bruise your butt,” Mr. LaHoud said.
Next, we were split into pairs. My partner, Heidi Werner, a 35-year-old architect from Harlem, said she started at Revolution in Motion in February and was hooked immediately. Now she takes classes there six to seven times a week, she said.
“The moves here have absolutely improved my balance, and almost more importantly, my athletic confidence,” she said.
Facing each other, we moved in sync while tossing a soft, weighted toning ball back and forth. At one point, the necessary coordination became too much, and I embraced the “slip” part of Slip ’N Slide. Before I could even begin to collect myself, Mr. LaHoud was beside me, checking to see if I was O.K. (I was.) The atmosphere, despite the challenging exercises, remained upbeat.
Mr. LaHoud worked with each student individually for the complicated moves, and when I struggled during a tough floor-based move called “the pendulum,” everyone applauded after I finished. Although I wondered how pathetic I had looked, it was nice to feel the love.
Most fitness classes I do are cardio-based, not strength, so this was a refreshing change: finishing an intense workout without being winded. That night, I left the studio tired and damp — kind of like those summer days, after an afternoon on my backyard Slip ’N Slide.