As a fitness editor, I’m no stranger to a weird and wonderful celebrity workout. From Kim Kardashian’s glute workout to Chris Hemsworth’s resistance band workout, I’m always keen to find out more about the workouts of Hollywood’s most famous faces. Next on my list, Friends actress Jennifer Aniston, who recently showcased her incredible physique on her Allure cover. In a bid to find out more, I set out to try Jen’s go-to workout class: Rise Nation (opens in new tab).
Aniston is often photographed leaving a Rise Nation class, which is a form of cardio that uses a Versaclimber for a low-impact, full-body climbing workout. “Climbing activates all major muscle groups of the body simultaneously, making our workout the most effective calorie burner on the market," the Rise Nation description reads. "The high-intensity nature of our workout means you only need 30 minutes, and it’s low impact and self-regulating, making climbing more accessible to people at all stages of their fitness journey.”
Unfortunately for me, I’m based in the UK, and Rise Nation hasn’t made its way across the pond just yet, so I went to a Versaclimber class at BXR (opens in new tab) in Marylebone instead. The class promised to burn up to 800 calories in 45 minutes, so I got ready to sweat. Read on to find out what happened.
What is a Versaclimber?
A Versaclimber is a mountain climber stimulator, originally invented in Switzerland in the 1980s, and recently rediscovered as a low-impact way to get a serious cardio burn. When used correctly, the machine is a full-body workout, but if you’ve never stepped on one before, it’s worth asking a trainer to get you set up correctly.
When you first get on the machine, move the handles so that they are at shoulder height, or just below. Put your feet in the foot pedals, but avoid tightening the straps too tightly across the feet. You can adjust the tension on the screen.
Unless you regularly climb, the chances are you’ll be challenging your body to move vertically. The lower the resistance, the bigger the cardio blast you’ll get, as you’ll be moving your arms and legs quickly. The higher the resistance, the more of a strength workout you’ll get, as you’ll be moving against the resistance.
When done with the correct form, the Versaclimber will work the entire body, targeting the glutes, quads, calves, obliques, transverse abdominals, triceps, and biceps.
I tried Jennifer Aniston’s go-to workout — here’s what happened
It was much, much tougher than it looked
The climbing itself didn’t take long to get to grips with; kind of like using the elliptical machine in the gym, it’s pretty self-intuitive. I asked my instructor to take a look at my form before the class kicked off, and she reminded me to push down from the bottom of my foot and think about raising my knee up — the foot shouldn’t move around on the pedals.
By the end of the three-minute warm-up, I was dripping in sweat and my abs were burning. Unlike Jen’s class, mine was 45 minutes long, and I was questioning how I’d endure another 42 minutes of climbing. Versaclimber themselves recommend that beginners start off trying shorter stints on the machine, keeping things at a gentle pace for the first time.
I got pins and needles
I got cramps and pins and needles in my legs about halfway through the class and had to jump off the Versaclimber to give my legs a little shakeout. My instructor told me this was totally normal for newbies. Unlike Base Nation, which has classes of different levels, my class was a mix of easier intervals and harder intervals, where you increased your range of motion on the climber.
I soon realized that I had to pace myself, and take breaks when they were offered. This is a high-intensity workout. My instructor reminded me to engage my core and keep my torso upright and my eye gaze up towards the screen of the Versaclimber during the class, as I found I began to hunch slightly as I tired.
My quads burned the second I got off the machine
My quads were on fire after my first class, and I could feel how hard I’d worked. As a runner, I spend a lot of time on my feet, but without the impact and the climbing motion, I’d clearly engaged muscles I usually neglect in my normal fitness routine. My instructor warned me my hip flexors might be tight after class, and recommended doing some low lunge stretches, and foam rolling my quads the next day.
I burned a hell of a lot of calories
Of course, calorie burn shouldn’t ever be the only reason we work out, and it’s not something I often take note of in my daily workouts. That said, I did notice that I was a sweaty mess, and had closed my activity rings on my Apple Watch Ultra after the class. It’s definitely one to try if you’re looking to work up a sweat.
Will I be back for more? Despite wishing it would end multiple times throughout the workout, there was something addictive about climbing to the beat. I’m a huge fan of trying something new, so will definitely try a couple more classes before I make up my mind, but kudos to Jen — this one was a killer!
Looking for more workout inspiration? Check out what happened when I did Pamela Reif ab workouts every day for a week, plus when I did a 3-minute hollow hold every morning to torch my abs.