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So You Wanna Play in the Sand?

Get a full-body workout while reminiscing about days spent in the sandbox at Equinox's Sandblast class.
Thursday May 01, 2008.     By Danielle Braff
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Time to get buff while playing with sand
Playing in the sandbox used to be a great way to spend a relaxing day with your buddies—when you were about four years old. Just because you're an adult now, though, doesn't mean that you have to ditch the sand altogether. Instead, pick up some 10- or 15-pound bags of sand to use as weights and cardio tools at Equinox's Sandblast. In truth, you probably won't have as much fun working out as you did bulldozing your playmate's sandcastle. But, when you leave the class, you'll know that you've burned loads of calories and toned your entire body. You never could say that about the playground, could you?

The skinny: Sandblast is offered at most Equinox locations, and you can take a 30- or 45-minute class. We opted for the 45 minutes to get the most out of our day at the gym. The 10- or 15-pound bags of sand that Equinox provides are the only gear you’ll need. The class mixes strength building with cardio, so expect to use the bags for tricep lifts during one exercise, only to jump over them repeatedly during another exercise.

At one point, the class had to place the bags on our towels and drag them across the room; I felt a bit like a horse during the exercise, but now I know why the animal looks so lean and beautiful. Pulling even 10 pounds across the room is hard work. It's perfect for the person who wants a total workout in one session: You'll get your heart pumping and your muscles toned, and you expect to burn between 300 and 400 calories.

The get up: Anything you'd usually wear to the gym will fly in this class. But don't dress too warmly; you'll be sweating within minutes of stepping into the sandbox.

Wear and tear: The bags of sand aren't exactly easy to hold; there are no grips, so your fingernails and cuticles may get a little scratched when you use your hands to grasp the rough sand bag. Also, don't skimp on the warm-up or sneak out before the cool-down. This is a tough class, and you'll need to take good care of your muscles to prevent any injuries.

The commitment: You can be as committed or uncommitted as you'd like. If you take a Sandblast class three times a week, you wouldn't need to do additional workouts if you simply wanted to maintain your weight. But if you want to lose weight and truly get toned, you should go more often. Still a once-a-week Sandblast class is a nice supplement to whatever workout you do normally.

The payoff: Since Sandblast uses sand instead of weights, you're going to tone your abs really quickly; you'll need your abdominal muscles to keep your body from falling over as the sand moves around inside the bags. You'll also get firm arm muscles from holding those heavy bags, and your heart will thank you for all the cardio you're doing.

Difficulty level: Equinox says Sandblast is an intermediate class, but we beg to differ. As long as you go at your own pace and take breaks when needed, it's as hard or as easy as you want it to be. There aren't any complicated moves or routines that you'll have to learn, so anyone can catch on easily.

The verdict: It's no day at the beach, but the class is the perfect solution for an all-in-one workout.


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