Punch class

The women in personal trainer Greg Weaver’s “tribe” weren’t looking for a typical aerobics experience. They had agreed to be part of Universal Athletic Club’s first Tribe Punch cohort — a commitment that found them powering through squats, waving battle ropes and sparring together two times a week.

“The impact, it kind of lets you get aggressive a little bit,” says Weaver, a former fighter who says his class can torch up to 800 calories. “It’s a great cardio workout. People are sick of just running.”

Alternatives to long-time favorites like stepping and weight-based Body Pump are finding their way into even the most traditional of local gyms. Smaller studios have also found a niche that allows them to cater to exercise enthusiasts who just want something different.

Whether you want to try synchronized rowing, aerial yoga or chair dancing, Lancaster County can probably meet your needs.

Rachel Skye opened Studio Spin in Lancaster in 2013 to share her love of chair and pole dancing, physically intense (and sometimes intensely sensual) workouts that provide full-body conditioning.

“I would call it a dance-fitness studio,” says Skye, an aerial performer and professional choreographer. “I think having that dance aspect makes it fun and takes the focus off of the exercise.”

In Studio Spin’s hooping classes, participants can burn up to 600 calories in 60 minutes as they swirl and toss weighted hula hoops and master fun moves like the helicopter and lasso. Belly dancing and various classes that blend Pilates with other practices share the schedule with mainstream group sessions in Zumba or hip-hop cardio.

But the bulk of Skye’s business is related to her chair- and pole-dancing moves. The pole, in particular, can be a great boost for women’s upper body strength and their confidence. Some customers use it to complement more basic workouts they squeeze in at other gyms.

Once a month, she offers a “more sensual” pole classes called flow. She also hosts private hen parties in which women-only groups can connect as they exercise to a burlesque or ’80s theme. In the coming year, Skye hopes to bring in an aerial instructor who can teach off-the-ground movements for both the hoop and slings.

Skye says it’s important that health clubs continue evolving to keep members motivated — and in shape.

That’s the hope of Universal’s Tribe program, which allows members to select from the punch, life or fit programs according to their goals. Cohorts are limited to 10 members, which means those who sign up essentially get small group training.