Is it Pilates? Yoga? Martial arts, meditation? In-Trinity, the latest creation of Spinning inventor Jonathan "Johnny G" Goldberg, is a unique blend of all-body stretching, strengthening and balancing exercises that you do while seated, lying, leaning and standing on an hourglass-shaped slant board.
All the while, you're listening to spacey, relaxing music flecked with sounds of gurgling brooks, cackling dolphins and birds in flight. It's New Age-y and effective. The mix of disciplines left me feeling challenged, refreshed and strangely euphoric. The weekly classes, debuting in the Los Angeles area at the LifeFit Center, an open-to-the-public gym located on campus at Cal State Long Beach, are always sell-outs. They're offered in four levels of difficulty; I took both the intro class and the more difficult Warrior 1.
Atop 12 boards arrayed in an arc in front of a floor-length mirror, we started class in "Zen chi," a seated cross-legged lotus position. From the middle board came the calm, soothing voice of our instructor, Ayla Donlin, an In-Trinity master trainer and the LifeFit gym manager. She told us to lean forward, close our eyes, trust the anchor straps we were holding, and listen to meditation-oriented entrainment music said to have healing properties. Johnny G says its "bi-neural beat" transports our brains into a calming, dream-like state that makes time pass quickly. Sounds far-out, right? But I swear the next 45 minutes went by in 15 minutes.
After Zen chi, the Warrior 1 class races through 31 mostly familiar stretches and yoga exercises — down dog, child's pose, cobra, Figure 4, bridge, sit-ups and many others. Yet three things made this workout very different: the slant, the ability to grip an edge, and the sticks. The slant added challenge; balancing on one foot while doing controlled kicks and leg extensions taxed all parts of my feet; I started to sweat as my soles were working as hard as my first time trying stand-up paddleboarding. The board's grippy rail made it possible to hold and brace yourself below the plane of the board, allowing deep side stretches far beyond those in floor-based yoga. Wooden martial-arts sticks, which we'd rhythmically clap together in overhead extensions, added a funky tribal-ness and welcome quickness that broke-up the calm.
No rah-rah "you can do it!" exhortations here. Keeping with the serene, meditative flow, Donlin calmly explained form and counseled us to stay within our individual comfort zones. Some of the older non-exercisers were thrilled with the basic movements of the intro class, while longtime yoga/Pilates veterans and younger folk pined for something faster and tougher. I found that in Warrior 1, which turns stretching into an adventure as it soothes your soul.
Class is $10, although the first class is free. LifeFit Center @ The Beach; Cal State Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach. (562) 985-2015; LFCBeach@csulb.edu