Flex Time?

It’s about time! This new Cirque-inspired workout turns the old stretching grind into child’s play.

For those of you who hate working on your flexibility—which is almost everybody, despite its importance to well-being—there’s a new way to get there that’s not excruciatingly boring. It might even be fun.

That’s because the masters of flexibility and fun, Cirque du Soleil, have teamed with Reebok to come up with Jukari Fit to Flex, and Las Vegans at 24 Hour Fitness gyms are among the first to try it.

Instructor-led classes feature movements and music of Cirque, with the main prop being a specially designed Jukari band. Students gracefully stretch the band into hypnotizing shapes in order to tone muscles, improve balance and, yes, get flexible.

“At the heart of this program was the desire to make fitness fun again by returning to its roots in the free-spirited playfulness of children in the park,” says Lyn Heward, Cirque’s director of creation for the Jukari program. “Oblivious to the physiological constraints of their bodies, children throw themselves with complete abandon into the discovery of what their body can do without the imposition of the mind and time.”

And without the imposition of one of those resistance bands. The Jukari band is more like an “assistance band,” which is lightweight and designed—like a Cirque du Soleil prop—to aid in balance, create fluid movements and add a colorful flair to the class.

“Most people do not have the ability to stretch deep enough on their own,” says Sara Haley, Reebok’s creative coach and master trainer who helped Heward develop the workout. “With the help of the Jukari band, you are able to gradually move deeper into stretches.

“Pilates and some yoga classes may also have a dynamic flexibility component to them,” she adds. “However, you may not simultaneously experience the same caloric burn as you do in Jukari Fit to Flex. Cardio dance or aerobic-based classes may give you the calorie burn, but do not give you the flexibility and mobility that you are missing.”

Rebekah Copley, who has been teaching Jukari at local 24 Hour Fitness gyms for a couple of weeks now, has already seen enough evidence—and class attendance—to become a believer. “It is pretty popular considering how new and unique it is,” she says.

The movements do take practice, Copley says, but most students pick them up quickly. She has been switching the routine every few weeks to keep the class fresh and, of course, fun.

“The participants really enjoy manipulating their bands to create shapes and flowing movement patterns,” she says. “They particularly enjoy creating whipping and slapping sounds. That’s where they really let loose and have fun.”

Jukari Fit to Flex classes

Offered exclusively at 24 Hour Fitness SuperSport gyms in Las Vegas. Check the group schedules at 24HourFitness.com.