We tried the fitness classes at PopSugar's first-ever Play/Ground festival -- here's what happened


A weekend filled with fitness and beauty, plus hanging out with stars like Kate Hudson and Tiffany Haddish ... what's not to love? Lucky for you, this seemingly perfect weekend is actually happening thanks to PopSugar.

PopSugar's first-ever festival -- Play/Ground -- is going on from June 9-10, and AOL Editors got a sneak peek of all the fun! In between panels with boss babes like model Iskra Lawrence and "Riverdale" stars Vanessa Morgan and Ashleigh Murray, festival attendees will get a chance to participate in fitness and wellness sessions with some of the world's most renowned instructors and experts.

AOL editors attended some of the classes being offered at the festival in a short span of only two days, and it's safe we left the experience not only feeling super sore and so much stronger but also feeling incredibly happy because we had the time of our lives experiencing some fun workouts with one another.

Take a look below for a sneak peek of the workouts you'll soon be enjoying at PopSugar's first-ever Play/Ground festival!

Saturday, June 9


Photo courtesy of Barre3

Walking up the two flights of stairs to get to Barre3's West Village studio may seem like an exercise in of itself. But prepare yourself, because you'll walk away wobbling. It may look like a typical barre class -- but it was so much more than that. And it was a class I actually enjoyed.

My teacher was encouraging without being pushy -- and approachable without being strict. The class was filled with women nonchalantly stretching and taking swigs of their water. And though it seemed like they were frequenters of the studio, I was not uncomfortable or self-conscious as I took my space at the barre by the window.

Throughout the class, the instructor made her way around the studio, offering kind suggestions and counting down as we held a move. And let me tell you -- I sweat more than I have at any other barre class. I'm not sure if it was just the ambiance in the room or the cardio, but I'll be back, for sure.

Sunday, June 10

Body By Simone

Beloved by celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Anne Hathaway and a number of Victoria's Secret models, I nervously walked into my first class at Simone De La Rue's posh Chelsea studio location. Intimidated would be an understatement ... though I always sit front row in spin class, I immediately took my place at the very back of the room. After warming up (no, that wasn't the actual workout), our instructor put on a playlist with songs by Cardi B, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars as she took her place front and center.

Body By Simone's cardio dance class was literally non-stop movement for 45 minutes. Let me tell you, I *definitely* got a workout in. You will sweat -- a lot.

Was the choreography difficult ... like I'm in a Cardi B music video difficult? For a person who has no dance experience whatsoever, I can safely say that the moves are easy to follow, though it may take you a couple of repetitions to get the routine down. In between the choreography, strength moves like squats and lunges were incorporated, which is different from other dance classes I've attended in the past.

In the last 10 minutes of class, we did some mat work that consisted of some ab-killing moves like planks and mountain climbers. There was also a weights segment (think 2-3 lb. weights) where we targeted our biceps and triceps.

And while running and spinning are usually my go-to forms of cardio, I finally understood what the hype around Body By Simone's workout was all about! What I loved most? The community. Some of the Body By Simone veterans came up to me and my co-workers after class and gave us the most encouraging compliments. "That was your guys' first time? You guys did great!" one woman told us.

Just a forewarning though, I woke up the next morning with feeling sore in place I've never felt sore before, so stretching after the workout, especially in your calves, is key!

MNDFL Meditation

Photo courtesy of MNDFL

What can you expect in this guided meditation practice? Well, my 30-minute meditation practice changed every preconceived notion I had about meditation. As soon as I walked into MNDFL's cozy Brooklyn studio, I felt relaxed. After grabbing a hot cup of tea, we were led into the meditation studio where we sat on cozy cushions.

The instructor led us through a serene meditation practice that included setting intentions and repeating affirmations. I'm not going to lie, my mind lingered -- a lot -- and often times I would tell myself that I was "doing it wrong."

However, the instructor revealed that even realizing that my mind is lingering is progress in itself and that sometimes thinking can be a form of meditation too. This mindset changed what I thought about meditation, which I originally thought was all about clearing your mind completely.

Part of the guided practice involved repeating a positive affirmation in your head over and over again. And though you'd think it would have no effect on my mood, it actually did! After a stressful day at work, a positive affirmation was exactly what I needed. I left the studio with a much calmer demeanor and a more positive mood.

June 9 & 10

Sweat with Kayla Itsines

You've probably seen devoted BBGers posting their transformation pictures on Instagram, or spotted a fit Australian showing up on your newsfeed. If you haven't, Kayla Itsines is worth a follow. The personal trainer has made a name for herself in the fitness industry with her Bikini Body Guide, an app that joins millions of fitness goers together and lets users follow along with meal plans and workouts.

I'm not saying I was ambivalent at first, but any online program leaves me weary. And since I've heard such good things -- and am a huge fan of Kayla's -- I had high expectations. And let's just say, those expectations were met. I hope to be continuing the program for at least the duration of the next few months.

The app includes audio cues and visualizations that allow "Kayla" to demonstrate the proper moves but also coach you through the different challenges. The guide focuses on 28-minute workouts per day to help build endurance, fitness and strength. It gets gradually harder as the days and weeks go by, so it's especially perfect for beginners. Plus, you don't need to go to a gym -- but users can workout in the confines of their own living room. With millions of users, it's clear to see why Kayla's program is a winner.

For more information on PopSugar's Play/Ground festival, including all the special performances, click on this link.

Originally published