Diane Harrison teaches a class during RockSweat Fitness as participants workout at the Roxy Theatre.(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
RockSweat Fitness classes feature music from the Talking Heads, Ludacris, Drake and more, set amid club lights and big screen video -- all on a Saturday morning.(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
RockSweat Fitness is an hourlong, high-intensity interval training class led by Diane “Birdy” Harrison.(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
Diane Harrison teaches a RockSweat Fitness class as her husband DJs.(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
Under a disco ball and pink-purple lights, participants run and skip around the dance floor.(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
The workout includes one-minute spurts of high-intensity jumping or burpees.(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
It’s not even 9 a.m. on a Saturday and I’m outside the Roxy music club on Sunset Boulevard. It feels a bit like one of those parallel universe moments, as I move toward the dance floor with dozens of other people in their workout clothes. Evan Harrison, a music industry veteran, and his wife, fitness instructor Diane “Birdy” Harrison, brought their skills together for RockSweat, an hourlong, high-intensity interval training class with music from artists including the Talking Heads, Ludacris, Drake, Feist and many more.
Music and exercise are old friends, but Harrison said he found that too often fitness class music wasn’t good, or it wasn’t played on a good sound system. He fixed the first problem, and the Roxy fixed the second. Add Diane Harrison’s enthusiastic teaching, club lights and a big-screen video, and you might think you’d gone out for fun.
RockSweat Fitness, rocksweat.com.
It’s an iconic club, for starters. There’s a disco ball, pink-purple lights. “It’s a show and you are part of the show,” Evan Harrison, who emceed the class, said at the start. Many of the exercises incorporate a rocker’s aesthetic; for one jumping exercise Diane Harrison had us spread arms and legs in the air to “channel an early David Lee Roth.” At the end, we joined hands and took a bow. To show that music is a major part of the experience, Harrison emailed the playlist to everyone after class.
It’s hard work — one-minute spurts of high-intensity jumping or burpees and a brief respite. For most of the exercises, we stayed in one place, but Diane Harrison got us skipping or jumping around the dance floor too. Most people could do just about all of the exercises, even if not with a lot of panache, but some were difficult, like a very beginner’s break dance move. Even the yoga of the last 15 minutes was taught by a power yoga teacher.
While most of the participants were in their 20s, the music spanned decades, from David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel” and the Who’s “I’m Free,” to new artists Evan Harrison introduced such as Leon Bridges. He talks about music history through some of the steady points, like planks, which helped me much more than the more common instructor countdowns. It’s meant to be our party, and participants were called up to the stage to help lead some of the exercises. Everyone was encouraged to be moved by the music. “Let’s see who’s got the best moves,” Harrison said.
$20 per class, sold online. For now, classes are once a month. Bring a towel or yoga mat; the floors were clean, but if you end up on the rug for floor exercises, it was damp.
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