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This workout takes less than an hour, but you'll feel it for days

In recent years, cross training has been practically monopolized by the popularity of its trademarked offspring, CrossFit. But now in Sherman Oaks there’s a new contender: XO Cross Over Fitness.

What makes it different? High-intensity but low-impact, XO Cross Over Fitness combines traditional Pilates reformers and springboards with water rowers, punching bags, plyometrics and more. The diversity of equipment and exercises encapsulates its appeal.

This is a one-stop-shopping experience, addressing cardio, strength training and lengthening in each 50-minute class.

Developed and owned by Sara Lewis, a Pilates teacher who “wanted to mix it up,” XO Crossover promises a full body workout — and it delivers. The titular XO may be shorthand for “Cross Over,” but if the level of soreness I experienced after taking her class is any indication, it’s also a double entendre. Those hugs and kisses are the tender olive branch of a workout that executes all manner of exquisite torture. It may take less than an hour, but you’ll feel the results for days.


The XO studio is clean, bright and posh. (The front desk provides not only complimentary earplugs and hair ties but sticks of sugar-free gum.) A partition conceals the actual gym from the street, adding a welcome bit of coverage for participants who prefer to work out in privacy, safe from the curiosity of passersby.

The space feels intimate: On the day that I attended I was one of four students — all women — although the maximum capacity is 27 attendees. On one mirrored wall, the XO instructor had written our routine for the day — an intimidating series of three workout stations, each entailing three exercises, to be completed three times each. (XO calls its method “The Cross Over Three.”)

Because at any given moment one student may be working on her upper cut while another plows through mountain climbers, there isn’t much opportunity for socializing — eye contact was scarce and smiling scarcer. (Admittedly, there is energy for little else when you’re quivering atop a reformer or grasping the baton of a springboard like a flying trapeze.) Similarly, while the music is loud enough to conceal involuntary grunts, I hardly noticed the playlist. I couldn’t hear much of anything over my screaming quads.


Lewis, who led our class, was ebullient, energetic and knowledgeable. She was also accommodating when I forgot how or when to execute a movement, despite the fact that she’d given a group demonstration. (She assured me that the first round is just for practice, the second is to explore, and that by the third “everything would make sense.” It did.)

Lewis uses a headset, which is helpful for hearing instruction over the music, although on the occasions that she called my name with an order to “give it more juice,” I felt like I was being called to the principal’s office.

Students who prize accurate form will value her attention to individual needs. Lewis gave me a number of personal adjustments, like tweaking my stance at the punching bag when I sacrificed precision for a poor imitation of “Million Dollar Baby” and squaring my hips at the reformer to ensure I wasn’t compromising my lower back.


XO provides six reformers, springboards and punching bags, three rowing machines and a number of balance balls, kettle bells and free-weights. The Cross Over Three is performed in one-minute increments, rotating between stations, like a game of musical chairs. (“You can do anything for one minute,” Lewis reminded me.)

Not a second of the 50-minute class is wasted — truly, even transitions between moves and stations are counted down by the second. At first I found the countdown stressful (I couldn’t, for example, get my boxing gloves on in time) but by the final round, as Lewis had promised, I stopped dreading it and doubled-down on my oblique crunches instead.

My favorite portion of class involved balance. Standing on a Bosu ball felt like standing on flan — it trembled like Jell-O, and my legs trembled from the effort of staying upright. That one exercise got so deep in my glutes that I felt I’d discovered an unknown muscle group.


$20 for a single class; packages are available. XO Cross Over Fitness is located 13950 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. thecrossoverxo.com


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