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Fit to Fight: FITNESS Tests the BRAVE Workout

We can't help feeling badass when working out with a bow. (Photo courtesy of Town Sports)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Now that The Hunger Games is out of theaters, do you find yourself wishing you could be empowered by another tough, take-no-prisoners heroine? Pixar decided to fill that void with their latest animated flick, Brave, in theaters today. Since there was a Games-inspired workout, we hoped there would be another opportunity to put our own arrow-slinging skills to the test. So when we heard that New York Sports Clubs teamed up with the movie’s creators to drum up a challenging new workout inspired by the film’s main character, Merida, it was only a matter of time before we ran over, bow in hand.

Called the “BRAVE—Change Your Fate Workout,” creator Amira Lamb raises heart rates and whips participants into fighting shape using fun equipment like a fitness bow and a wooden sword. She pushed us to the limit with each move, combining high knees with archery moves and squats with swipes of the wooden sword. After enduring the 45-minute workout, our arms were shaking and buns were sore. A rest day is definitely in order!

We chatted with Lamb after the class to find out what she likes most about the workout and how she maximizes time at the gym.

What do you like most about the workout?

It's very different. It’s nice to not work with dumbbells and body bars all the time, and after our Hunger Games-inspired workout, we wanted to keep going with cool themes. In this class we use different types of equipment to get a unique effect on the body.

It was definitely an intense workout, especially for such a short amount of time! How do you maximize every minute?

If people need a break, they can take one, but I don’t encourage them to do so. We only have 45 minutes, so I want to make the greatest impact on your body possible. You don’t want to rest too much because you want to keep your heart rate up. If there are too many breaks, it’s a relaxed workout and the benefits are minimized.

Do you have any tips for women who are super-busy and want to get a total body workout?

Try full-bodied movements, or exercises that encompass both the lower and upper body at the same time. Some examples: kettlebell swings, squats to a shoulder press, or lunges with upright rows. Basically, you want to use as much of your body as possible within one move. By combining strength and cardio at the same time, there’s an added metabolism boost that helps you burn calories during and after the workout.

Is the Brave workout not offered in your community? Keep reading for moves you can do at home!

Squat like a warrior princess for buns of steel! (Photo courtesy of Town Sports)

For those of you in the NYC-area, NYSC is offering the class to both members and non-members throughout the city, so get in on the action yourself! If you're not nearby, have no fear: build these three moves into your next at-home workout to channel your inner warrior.

Crouching Fighter

  • Targets: butt, legs, core
  • What you'll need: broom or weighted bar
  • Why: Strengthen your muscles and push endurance to the limit by combining two moves that work your legs and core simultaneously.

Hold bar vertically with arms out in front of chest. With toes angled out, squat until both knees are at a 90° angle, without knees extending past toes. Pulse for 30 seconds in squat position and twist core left to right.

Shooting for the Stars

  • Targets: arms, back
  • What you'll need: resistance band
  • Why: Simulate the upper body action Merida uses while shooting her bow and arrow as high into the sky as possible.

Wrap the ends of band around hands until it's hard to pull apart. Straighten left arm and point toward ceiling. Pull back right arm, squeezing shoulder blades together. Pulse the right arm for 1 minute. Switch sides.

Warrior Princess

  • Targets: legs, arms
  • What you'll need: broom or weighted bar
  • Why: This fast-paced move kicks up your heart rate while toning arms and legs for a sleek warrior physique.

Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, holding bar vertically, directly in front of chest. Step forward with left foot, then bring right knee to chest and contract abs to bring arms and knee together. Return both feet to starting position. Switch sides and repeat continuously for 2 minutes.

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