The Speed Racer workout

May 7, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
"Speed Racer, the Movie" opens in theaters Friday. Already in progress is a new workout with the same name. It incorporates laps, pit stops and a steering wheel.

It is an experience that basically brings the racetrack indoors. The Speed Racer class at one gym mimics moves that race car drivers use in the cars. It gives gym goers a complete workout, and even uses a weight shaped like a steering wheel.

So ladies and gents, start your engines! Laps, some short lived pit stops and driving.

It's not a movie. It's the Speed Racer workout!

Our crew chief was instructor Jonathan Sexsmith, an Equinox instructor and personal trainer.

"The demands of a race car driver are enormous," he said. "So we focus on incredible cardio endurance, metabolic endurance and core strenght."

So to mimic the rotational forces felt in a race car driver's core, Sexsmith uses a smart bell. Or as we like to call it, a way-too-heavy steering wheel.

"It's also one of the only tools that give you a complete 360-degree experience with a fitness tool," he said. "So you can take it around your head, you can take it around your back."

And oh yeah, it's a lot harder to use than it looks.

It didn't take long to lose my smile as I realized that being a marathoner means nothing here.

However, for all the flushed faces and sweat, there was a twisted sense of fun.

"You have the steering wheel, which makes it a little bit more fun," first-timer Cathy Jefferson said. "You need to be distracted. If you think about it too much, you will fall over."

It was a feeling shared by one Ironman Triathlete.

gustavo caicedo/1st time in class "The first 20 minutes, I was shaking," first-timer Gustavo Caicedo said. "The last 40, my breakfast was up here."

And Jonathan leads by example, working up a sweat as well.

There are three Speed Racer classes at three different Equinox gyms around the city. They are:

  • Tuesdays at noon at 19th Street (not taught by Sexsmith)
  • Thursdays at 6.30 p.m. at Greenwich Village
  • Fridays at 12:15 p.m. at Columbus Circle