The Burn and The Bar

Embrace the change of seasons with two types of full-body fitness classes

You may not naturally think of autumn as an obvious time to set new fitness goals, but this is a fine season to focus on your mental and physical well being. Not only can the right fitness plan help strengthen your body for winter sports, but many workout routines can inculcate a positive mental attitude, which may help as you transition to spending more time indoors.

“It’s amazing how much harder they work when the room is totally dark. It makes you more present in your body—and more comfortable.”

Two innovative fitness studios in the Pearl can help you embrace the season with invigorating classes designed to burn fat, strengthen muscles, and encourage a calm and happy mind.

When the lights dim at BurnCycle (910 NW 10th Ave, 503-946-8618,, the energy level rises. The contemporary studio offers one program only: 45-minute spin classes, which mean high-intensity, low-impact workouts in a group setting. Unlike other types of group classes, where it’s easy to get caught up comparing yourself with your neighbors, BurnCycle classes occur in near darkness, by candlelight.

“People say they don’t care what they look like when they work out,” says BurnCycle owner and instructor Jessi Duley, “but it’s amazing how much harder they work when the room is totally dark. It makes you more present in your body—and more comfortable.”

Instead of trying to simulate an outdoor ride, the class encourages riders to move to the beat of the very danceable music. During interval training, you control the bike’s resistance and work the entire body with crunches, push-ups, and hand-weight reps done from the saddle.

At the Bar Method Portland (904 NW Hoyt St, 503-954-3811,, group workouts take a novel form. One-hour classes incorporate dance conditioning, interval training, and stretching. The combination offers a host of benefits, says owner and instructor Denise Burchard, including burning fat, carving and lengthening muscles, and improving stamina and strength.

Instructors advise participants to accept any muscle shaking or quivering as a normal and desirable part of the workout, especially during the portion of class at the bar, which focuses on thighs and glutes. The Bar Method practice includes stretching muscles right after strengthening, which extends the body and creates flexibility.

Not only do the workouts leave you feeling as though you’ve just experienced a massage, Burchard says, they create meaningful change. “People leave here with more confidence,” she says. “They feel good about themselves and stand taller. There’s just as much transformation inside as out.” —Lucy Burningham