Editor’s Note: “Shaped By COVID-19” is a weekly series designed to help you stay active while you’re homebound with workouts from some of Denver’s leading fitness and wellness professionals. Got a fitness tip or favorite studio? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gym: AKT
Year Founded: 2019
The Trainers: Shannon Jaeger, owner
Favorite COVID-appropriate Rest Day Activity: “COVID has probably been busier for me than anything in my entire life. But I spent most of my free time outside: I put a garden in the front yard. I watch the kids ride bikes; we do fires out back.”
The dark room, the neon lights, the loud music—clearly it’s Saturday…morning? Yep. Welcome to AKT, or the Anna Kaiser Technique. AKT is a dance-style workout developed by celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser (she’s the one who trained Shakira for the Super Bowl) that debuted in Colorado in September 2019 with Shannon Jaeger’s Cherry Creek location. Jaeger’s second studio in RiNo is set to open in the next few weeks.
The club-like atmosphere of AKT is key to keeping you moving and, quite frankly, forgetting that you’re cardio-ing your butt off. Unlike some studios that might focus on upper or lower body on different days, AKT is an all-body workout every time. “Every class that you do should work every plane of motion, so you should always be working all areas,” Jaeger says. That means you’re not just moving your arms and legs, but you might be jumping or kicking or bobbing or throwing your hands up in the air, or doing all four in succession. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry. AKT’s instructors break down the moves slowly for you, and you get to practice, often at half-speed, before the move is incorporated into what will eventually become a kind of choreographed routine.
Jaeger founded the Cherry Creek studio after looking at Denver’s fitness scene and determining it was saturated with boutique high-intensity interval training gyms and barre studios. AKT, though, felt very different. Before COVID-19, the studio offered several different classes: “Dance,” with its alternating segments of lung-busting dance moves and some strength sets; a “Bands” class that involves resistance bands hung from the ceiling and pilates boxes; “Circuits,” a good old-fashioned HIIT session; and “Toning,” a lower intensity (read: no jumping) combination of pilates and barre that will leave your arms and legs shaking.
Since the novel coronavirus put the kibosh on group sweat sessions, AKT developed a library of online classes—complete with lights and loud music—available by subscription for $99. Full memberships, which include unlimited access to live-stream and—once COVID-19 allows—in-person classes as well, are $219 (although if you sign up to become a founding member of the RiNo gym, you can get the same membership for just $175). There are options for class packs, too. Whatever you choose, though, come prepared to sweat: This isn’t your mom’s jazzercise class.
Workout type: Dance-based cardio + strength
Muscle focus: full-body burn
Duration: About 35 minutes
The Workout: This introductory workout is shorter than AKT’s typical 60-minute sessions, but it still offers plenty of lung (and leg and arm) burn. Instructor Heather McGuigan walks you through each movement as you get acquainted with the style of dance moves AKT is known for. Don’t worry if it takes you a few times to nail them; you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice as the workout continues.