hot bod

The Absurd Fitness I Didn’t Know I Needed

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Getty Images

“Hot Bod” is an exploration of fitness culture and its adjacent oddities.

Your arm is a blade, and you are a precise witch. You’re a lonely mountain, higher than everything else around it. Soon, you’re a furry tundra animal shaking off the snow. Six minutes later, you’re magma, hotly gliding down the mountain you just were. If you can believe it, you were actually just doing a classic body roll, which, in the parlance of this Kinrgy fitness instructor, is called an undulation. I’ve been doing a lot of magma-based undulations recently, because there is nary an opportunity for transfiguration left untaken in Kinrgy. It’s the exercise class that asks: What if we brought the theater of the absurd to an ab series?

Kinrgy is dancer-actress–wellness personality Julianne Hough’s kinda batty, richly mystical, and exceptionally pleasurable fitness program. It’s a class to which I have become mortifyingly addicted. Kinrgy is a dancerly aerobic series and a peerless study in synesthesia — it’s surrealism in motion. With each command to move your pelvic floor like a ripple, every participant turns into a high priestess of absurdism. And I’m there, despite everything, because I love the physical movements. I’m baffled by the psychedelic poetry, but I don’t think I’d understand how to move that way without this poetry, and so here I am channeling a dolphin arching through the waves.

Most importantly, though, this fitness class transformed me into a believer in the power of nonsense to communicate to the body. If we’re supposed to get out of our heads, but our heads control our bodies, confusing the mind into submission seems to work wonders.

Kinrgy’s kaleidoscopic instructions are certainly for fun and play; I also suspect they’re necessary. The class’s inventive combinations of movements requires a new language. I’m a dolphin “swimming upstream” (a slippery standing ab twist) and the earth spinning on its axis (a lunge series). Kinrgy incorporates HIIT cardio, Pilates, ballet, yoga, tai chi, breathwork, moving meditation — and in this swirl, it feels innovative. I’ve tried an astonishing number of fitness classes, and anything physically unexpected is a difficult achievement. “I love it so much, because it’s all of my favorite things in one place,” Venice yoga and meditation teacher Aylin tells me about her experience stumbling into a Kinrgy class in the Grove. Martina, who is an investor in Scotland and attends Kinrgy classes online, has done plenty of exercise classes, and she, too, has never seen one like Kinrgy. “This kind of expression is alien to me. That’s what I love about it,” she says. “It’s a bit of love and hate. When I’m trying to do the moves it can sometimes be awkward and take a while to get, but the feeling my body gets afterwards is so rewarding.” After all, who wouldn’t want to feel like a sleek, majestic water mammal careening upstream?

Did I just write that? I know, and I’m embarrassed. But no one ever needs to know I’m dolphin-ing, because I do these classes in the privacy of my home— which is exactly why I feel more liberated to commit to the ridiculous! And Kinrgy’s ridiculousness is part of its appeal.

First, the class drips with a particular neo-mysticism. A few days ago, an instructor with ombre streaks and minimal tattoos said, “Try to pretend you’re balancing a glass of mountain spring water on your head, and you don’t want to spill a drop, because that’s that liquid gold right there.” Second, it’s extremely sensual. To awaken our energy, we are often grinding on the ground. Also, they’re really thirsty for you to have an emotional release at the end. I stumbled on Kinrgy during my rigorous investigation of “fitness classes that want you to cry,” and I deemed Kinrgy “the most” in this category. Kinrgy is like if Erewhon were a class — it’s offering an usual array of products, but they all seem bound by an amorphous desperation to heal you.

Kinrgy is a wellness jumble, but I think that’s by design. Its very disarray keeps you on your toes. The nonsense — “Keep the energy introverted!” “She feels like a boulder!” — is part of this distraction, and I love it for that. It’s very classically surrealist to be messy and free-flowing with a bunch of associations, and also to earnestly know that a piece of nonsense you can grab onto like a rope is a surefire way to yank you into a new sensation. Just because it’s nonsense doesn’t mean it’s useless! To coax your body into a new feeling— something it can do, but you don’t know that yet — the instruction might need to come from the realm of the surreal.

The Absurd Fitness I Didn’t Know I Needed