photo: courtesy of Exhale
Muffin tops, spare tires, love handles—whatever you call them, flabby abs don't look so sexy, even if you pretty them up with cute names, baggy tops or trendy belts. So get your gut out with these workouts, which have been shown to tackle your belly problem ridiculously quickly. Go often and get a six-pack, or add them to your regular workouts to become smoking hot from head to toe.
Core fusion at Exhale Spa
Exhale takes the best aspects of pilates, yoga and abs classes, and combines them into one hardcore, core-focused hour. The class uses a ballet bar, your own body weight and medicine balls to get to the deepest part of your abdomen, so you’ll really target the mushy areas of your belly. Instead of doing basic leg lifts, for instance, you'll sit under the ballet bar with your back against the wall, feet planted in a V position. Then, you'll pulse your legs in the air. Don't be surprised if you can’t even lift them at first; but, according to Exhale, if you go two or three times a week, you'll be an expert—and the proud owner of a flat stomach—in no time.
Fit Core at Fitness Formula Clubs
If you've only got a half hour to spend on your abs, Fitness Formula has the class for you. You'd think it would be easy to get through a 30-minute class, right? Well about five minutes into Fit Core, you may regret your decision to go: Your stomach will be killing you—in every area that a stomach could possibly hurt. Obviously, a zillion crunches, leg lifts and ab pulses won't feel as comfortable as, say, a Swedish massage. But you will love the effect when you're done; almost immediately, you'll see a slimming of your midsection. Keep it up, and all that ab flab will disappear.
Buts & Guts at Core Chicago Pilates & Fitness Studio
You might as well get some butt action while you're at it. At Core Chicago Pilates, this 60-minute class uses key components of pilates to whip you—and your butt and gut—into shape. You'll use props like the Bosu, which looks like half a ball and is flat on one side, round on the other; a flexibility band that sort of resembles a jump rope, but applied in this case to strengthen your thighs and butt; and the stability ball; you've seen these roll around the gym floor, but when used for sit-ups, the ball better supports your back than a standard crunch.
The Bar Method at Bar Method Chicago
Sadly, this class uses a ballet bar instead of an actual drinking bar. But we love it nonetheless for its fab ab results. The Bar Method already has a following in California, and the studio's recent addition to Chicago is getting rave reviews. It combines pilates, ballet and yoga—taking the best core exercises from each and using a slow burn method, which targets major muscles by holding positions for a long time. Get ready to do lots of pulsing to increase the fat-burning part of the workout, which will boost your metabolism and keep the muscles working even after the class is over. Then, you'll really want to hit the bar (the booze-slinging one, this time).
Pilates Reformer at Harmony Mind Body Fitness
The machines may look intimidating, but the reformer classes at Harmony Mind Body Fitness aren't in the slightest. The instructors will place you in the correct position inside the massive Cadillac or Stability Chair (types of equipment, not modes of transportation for the elderly), and all you'll need to do is move your legs a bit while trying not to fall off the machines. For some reason, the reformer never feels very hard while you're working out. But we always feel completely sore the next day, and our abs work harder than ever. So it's a win-win: You get that hurts-so-good feeling in your gut without seemingly much effort.