There are a lot of really fit people in Charleston. That's what I learned when I dropped in for a session at the gym Naomie Olindo credits with being a huge part of her fitness journey. This Southern Charm-er's abs are completely ripped, and I understand why now that I've attempted her workout.
When I hit up HYLO Fitness' location in West Ashley for one of the gym's signature high-intensity classes during a visit to Charleston, my fellow classmates looked like they do this 50-minute workout combining rowing, biking, and weight lifting on the regular. And well, that's what Naomie does: In a recent Instagram, when someone asked how she stays so fit, she responded, "I make myself workout 3-5 times a week. Like really force myself. The only workout I do is @hylofitness in Charleston. The coaches push me and I need to be pushed."
Naomie explained last year how she transformed her body with a combination of challenging workouts and intermittent fasting. "1.5 years ago I was unhealthy and pretty unhappy about it," she wrote on Instagram. "Going to the gym once is easy, eating one healthy meal is easy, but doing it consistently more than not is hard! That’s why it works."
Clearly she found an exercise routine she can stick with, so I wanted to see what HYLO Fitness is all about: Here's a quick glimpse of what it's like to work out like Naomie.
"You arrived on a good day, it's butts and abs!" That's the greeting I received from the folks at the front desk at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, where everyone around me seemed very cheerful about being out of bed to do a ton of planks.
The woman behind the desk couldn't have been nicer. She gave me a tour of the facilities, from a scale that measures your body fat percentage (no thank you!) to a locker room decked out with a plush rug and leather couch.
HYLO Fitness is very sleek. It's all white walls and wood tones, with a giant glowing neon blue logo that's perfect for selfies. There's even a boutique stocked with black, gray, and blush-toned activewear from brands like Lululemon and healthy food like the Blender Bombs Naomie loves for her smoothies.
I peered into the two fitness studios. There's the "LO" room, a studio for stretching, yoga (where HYLO Fitness offers hot power yoga, "Yoga Burn" with cardio, a vinyasa-style class, and more) and barre classes too (including barre in a 90-degree room).
The "HY" room for HIIT training is stocked with rowing machines, exercise bikes, weights, and moody lighting. I looked inside the darkened room where class was in session and it seemed like Dante's Inferno, with people scrambling around doing sit-ups and jumping from machine to machine. That was about to be me!
As a newbie, the instructor took the time before class to show me how to use the bike and rowing machine and the format of the class. We split into three groups: one on the rowing machines, one on the bike, and one working on weighted lunges, side plank leg lifts, and more exercises. The doors closed and the instructor demo-ed how the next 50 minutes would go. We would cycle through the three stations, doing a set over and over in each station until it was time to switch. Screens at each station displayed what to do, in case you're like me and forget demos immediately.
That meant rowing 500 meters, then working on hip thrusts with a medicine ball and sumo squats with a medicine ball. Or biking as fast as possible for two minutes then tackling 20 crunches and 20 plank punches, then doing it all again.
Time seemed to slow down while I was struggling to do those crunches, flopping around on the floor. Instructors clued me in on my form, including the right way to use the rowing machine. But somehow, the class went by in a flash, too. A killer soundtrack helps, as does the feeling that no matter how hard one set is, you know soon it will be over and you'll be onto the next exercise. Seeing all my classmates whipping through the exercises and working right alongside me also inspired me to keep going.
They weren't kidding: My butt was already sore as I walked out the door of HYLO Fitness. This is a tough, tough workout, and honestly, this "HY" class combined with yoga would be my dream fitness routine. Maybe I'd even be like Naomie and aim to get there three to five times a week!
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