I Wasted 15 Minutes Of My Life Taking A Group Exercise Ab Class

August 23, 2011 · 14 comments

While in New York, I always like to try new exercise classes. I wanted to try Barry’s Bootcamp which mixes a cardio treadmill workout with intense bootcamp strength training moves. However, since I’m down here for a total body assessment, Joe Dowdell (my trainer through CrushingTheCourse.com) asked me to “No! Please don’t!!!” I think the intensity would mess with the results, or maybe it’s not a such a safe workout… I’ll find out soon enough.

So instead, I went to the Equinox and paid the $15 to access a different club. I started my lean and strong workout when I saw an ab class was about to start. I figured, “What the heck?” I went in, got a ball and set up my mat.

Let me begin this review that the class was packed! The first 10 minutes were all crunches! My neck was killing me by exercise 5 – in a sequence of about 15. I know that you cannot effectively workout for abs for 15 minutes straight but since I dedicate this blog to giving you insight into the fitness industry, I’m telling you, they have no received the memo!!!! Ab classes are a waste of time. The last 5 minutes were the most effective ab exercises featuring knee tucks using a sliding disk and pikes using the disk as well. Those are some of my favorite exercises but the first 10 minute wrecked my neck and back that I couldn’t do them! I like going to classes like this because I steal certain moves from the instructors to show you my favorites, but I do not recommend going to an ab class at your gym. They are not necessary and 10 minutes too long.

Do this ab workout at the end of your cardio of strength training workouts:

  • 60-second plank on forearms – rest 60 seconds -
  • 30-second side plank on each side – no rest in between sides but rest 60 seconds after both are done
  • 60-second plank on forearms – rest 60 seconds -
  • 30 second side plank on each side – no rest in between sides but rest 60 seconds after both are done
  • 12 reps Spiderman Plank – Plank position, bring right knee to right elbow, repeat on opposite side for 1 rep.
  • 15 leg raises with hands under butt pressing lower back into the mat
  • 12 reps Spiderman Plank – Plank position, bring right knee to right elbow, repeat on opposite side for 1 rep.
  • 15 leg raises with hands under butt pressing lower back into the mat

Have you ever taken a group exercise class? Do you love or hate group exercise ab classes?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rori August 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I completely agree with you. I think it was you who said “abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym.” I’m in school getting my doctorate in physical therapy and have become to hate and cringe when I see gym rats recklessly doing 1 million crunches with no results. Most people do them wrong, using momentum, their neck muscles and hip flexors. Why, when we are a flexed society, do we need to facilitate this poor posture and get no results? Do we need to risk neck strains, tight hip flexors and herniated discs? A strong core, and the muscle definition that goes along with it comes from from functional and postural strength training. Do we walk around do crunches all day? No! We do use our core when we balance ourselves on the unsteady T or when we push ourselves out of bed or get down to lay on our beach towel or carry heavy groceries. That being said, I agree with you. The most effective core exercise are planks and pushups (If you can’t do those properly, you have a weak core). I am also a huge believer in squats, deadlifts and pullups. Hugely effective in building core strength and defining those muscles. But of course, and as always, in the words of Sarah, “abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym.” <3 Love your site!

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2 Sarah August 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Thank you Rori! I should have also added that many of these classes exist because they are packed! People do want them and when I publish videos about getting six pack abs, it’s for the people that have lost the fat or are in the process of losing the fat on their abs. It’s really important to eat right but also, people need to remember these truths. Many do not. Just look at the number of these classes at EVERY gym.

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3 Rori August 23, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Thanks for the response. I think it it’s pretty funny when clients come to me asking for sit-ups to help them work on their bellies. I literally quote your “ab-kitchen” quote every time and try and help them understand the myth about spot reducing and that their change in physique comes from not only working out but their commitment to healthy and proportional eating. I also teach HIIT group fitness classes so I’m not “against” group fitness classes, just against the ones that are taught by people who really don’t know what they are doing. I rarely ever do crunches in my class, with my clients or with myself, and if I do, maybe 2-3 sets of 20 MAX an only because my ladies beg and plead for them. Side note about too many crunches…there is one trainer at my gym who literally has his clients do crunches the entire time. Guess what? He’s developed an inguinal hernia and needs surgery…

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4 MarleyC August 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I am so glad you posted about this! I go to a spinning class once or twice a week for some variety, but other than spinning, I HATE group exercises classes. I once took an ab class and my experience was almost exactly like yours. We did crunches for the first 10 minutes or so, and my neck was so sore I almost left the class. The next day my neck hurt more than my abs.
Moral of the story: ab classes are a massive waste of time.

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5 Mary @ Bites and Bliss August 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I do a 15 minutes ab class after Body Pump some days and it’s KILLER! I know the moves could be better with weights and what not..but my abs leave so sore.

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6 Viviana August 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I agree about crunches! Pilates and Barre have taught me what you need to do for a strong core and it’s a whooooole different thing! I stopped doing crunches altogether. I only do the “8 pulses” ones you showed in one of your videos and never do more that 2 or 3 sets. You literally showed me how to do the plank position and now I hold it for 60 seconds! I am slowly growing tired of group classes as I become more advanced (and after I discovered your channel!) but I still take spin and body works or body pump whatever they call it :D spin because it’s good when I can’t do intervals/run outside and I can go at my own pace…I just don’t see the point of ppl pedaling like maniacs but oh well…I still make sure I push enough but I like to keep control of the bike and good form. One of the 2 instructors for body pump is my Pilates teacher too so the last part which is all abs is really good. The other teacher is a lot about crunching but her weight lifting part is great so I usually stay for the first 45 minutes then I sneak out and do my “Sarah routine”! Right now it’s the “Endless summer abs” video:)
Finally, and sadly, abs ARE made in the kitchen. I cut back on alcohol, which is pretty easy to do during the week but not on weekends although I’ve been managing! And health wise it can’t be bad for you! Once I’m done with these last 2 pounds (getting down to 130 for the renewal of my vows in Italy!) I might sneak a glass of wine with my dinner once a week! But limiting refined carbs and sugar which I generally already did for the most part, has helped a TON!

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7 FLABS NOT ABS August 23, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I’ve never taken an ab-exclusive group exercise class. I’ve taken core-conditioning group exercise classes and they are pretty effective. I think it depends on who is teaching it. Focusing solely on crunches is not an effective solution.

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8 Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] August 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm

going to try this 1 out! love spiderman planks.

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9 Katherine August 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Thanks for outlining a good ab workout! I’ve been doing planks but not the side ones. Love your blog!

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10 Sarah August 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Try my new workout I literally just posted seconds ago! It’s killer and I have a video for you to follow along with.

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11 Eileen August 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Hi Sarah, I have to disagree that all abs classes are a waste. There are a lot of bad teachers out there for sure, but I teach a 30 min abs class (last 5-7 is stretching) and I incorporate lots of balance and pilates moves. We are never in the same position for more than 3 mins or so. I have had neck problems in the past, so I am very mindful not to overdue moves that strain the neck. I do find that I have major shoulder pain after doing a long series of planking moves. Someday I’ll video it and share it with you. Thanks for all the moves by the way!

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12 Erica osborne October 17, 2012 at 1:04 am

I’m not sure where you do your abs classes but in mine we do a variety of exercises from planking, walking planks, mountain climbers, windmills, wood chops, Russian twists, butt ups, and many, many others. I do a warm up for about 5 mins of crunches on a stability ball most of the time. Your in the wrong class!

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13 Erica osborne October 17, 2012 at 1:07 am

My class is also 30 mins long so a 5 min warm up is appropriate.

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14 Bob Duato December 28, 2013 at 7:00 am

I did the math … and I’m a bit confused? Should the title of this article have been the 15-20 minute 5 minute ab workout that’s better?

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