We tried it: Body R+D lets you take your workouts slow

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Photo provided by Body R+D

Intensity seems to be core theme of group fitness these days.

Whether it’s High Intensity Interval Training or CrossFit or spinning or Shred415, working as hard as you can — and usually as fast as you can — is the goal.

But at Body R+D, the struggle comes in moving slow. Really slow.

At Body R+D (the letters stand for research and development) you work out on a Megaformer, which is a Pilates reformer rigged up with a bunch of pulleys, bungee cords and resistance springs. Every movement should be no faster than a count to four: four counts out, four counts in.

You work your arms and back by using the pulleys to pull yourself forward on the Megaformer’s sliding platform; you work your legs by lunging on it; you work your abs by holding a plank on it.

The 48-minute class is designed to hit your core, lower body and upper body, but there’s a serious focus on your legs, says Harry Shelley, owner of Body R+D. Training these large muscle groups is associated with a higher metabolic rate after you leave the gym.

You’re moving really slowly, so you’re not likely to break a sweat — but that doesn’t mean you aren’t struggling. It’s tough. The movements are designed to be done slowly, but the tension is constant.

There’s no cardio, but if you are challenged your heart rate should increase.

Body R+D’s goal is to get you lean and toned — not bodybuilder jacked, Shelley said. And interestingly, unlike classes like barre and Pilates, men do go to Body R+D.

Pregnant women also like the Body R+D method, according to Shelley. Despite its intensity, it is very low-impact exercise, which is a draw to many pregnant women who want to continue strength training.

Shelley said the classes are designed to be different every time you come in, as there are over 100 different moves you can do on the Megaformer. They all have names, similar to a yoga class: Bear, Grizzly Bear, Pike, Teaser, Angel.

It probably takes a couple classes to get familiar with the equipment, Shelley said. If it’s your first time, get there a little early so the instructor can give you a quick tour of all the possible pulleys and loops.

Where: Body R+D, 2940 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Cost: Single classes $37, discounted class packages available

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