What it is: Alchemy 365 is a multi-location gym offering a blend of yoga, strength and cardio in functional movement classes led by a "coach." The bread-and-butter classes are known as A10 and A20, the numbers indicating how many minutes of the class you work as hard as you can on your own.
Who created it: Founders Mike and Andrea Jones started out creating crossfit gyms before developing the Alchemy concept.
What's it like: When you enter the workout room, you notice the padded floor and lots of equipment — weights called "torpedoes," medicine balls, stretchy bands, rings, steps — along the walls. A chalkboard up front lists equipment needed as well as a list of exercises.
The day I attended an A10 class, coach Nhu Richards had us huddle up as she demonstrated the moves we'd be doing (including a squat, a balancing hinge and a jump with a medicine ball toss that looked really fun). She patiently slowed the demo for those of us who were first-timers.
We warmed up with a yoga flow, and then Richards led the class in unison through the series. The exercises, she explained, incorporate basic movements like dead lifts, pushes and pulls. Every movement can be modified for every fitness level.
What makes Alchemy unique is that every class combines the moves in different ways, using different equipment. This means workouts change daily. "We repeat a class maybe once or twice a year," Richards said.
The changing combinations mean your muscles never lapse into an exercise rut. It's group fitness, but "you're only competing against yourself," Richards said.
After finishing the "movement practice and preparation" time all together, class members exchanged high-fives, but we weren't done yet. Richards started a timer, signaling the switch to individual effort — 10 minutes on the clock to pump out the sets of exercises we'd been doing, now working as hard as we could on our own.
Richards blasted the music, and everyone got to work. By the time we were done, those squat-tosses didn't seem quite so cute anymore — I could feel my glutes burning. I looked around and saw beet red faces and plenty of sweat drips on the floor. We all high-fived again, panting, then cooled down, stretched and took a final resting pose.
Who it's for: Modifications including dropping weights and working at a slower pace make these classes approachable. I swing kettlebells weekly, use cardio equipment a few times a week and do yoga. Still, some of the Alchemy moves, particularly the squat performed with a weight overhead, felt awkward to me. Richards encouraged me to drop the weight I was holding during the move because my form was off. As with any new class, it can take a few tries before coordination begins to click.
Would I go back? Yes. I'd like to try the APulse class, which incorporates sprints — a minute of high-intensity moves — into a yoga class. Intriguing.
What to know before you begin: Show up 15 minutes early to gather your equipment and find your spot in the room. Early-morning and after-work classes fill up fast. Yoga or gym attire is good, no shoes/socks needed. When you try your first class, you can come the rest of that week for free.
Pro tip: If you're at the Highland Park location in St. Paul, recover with the Original Cin smoothie — cinnamon, chopped dates and protein powder — from the Passionflower counter. Delicious!