The not-so-elusive elliptical

Wagger Meghan McSharry heads to the new Elliptica for a deceptively challenging workout on the trending elliptical machine.

The elliptical is one of our favorites for many reasons: It gets the heart rate up, provides us with a low-impact workout that’s easy on the knees and, after enough time, leaves us just as sweaty as running outside in the middle of a summer heat wave. 

The machine can be tricky, though. What incline do we set it at, and what’s the right resistance for our desired workout? Not to mention the repetitiveness of the elliptical workout can be a bore and, on our less-than-motivated days, that leads to hopping off and calling it quits after 30 minutes at best. 

We’re also big fans of fitness classes. Group fitness, personal training sessions, anything, really. As long as there’s someone tailoring the workout to our personal needs and convincing us to keep going, we’re in. But many fitness classes have grown to have such huge followings that being a beginner is extremely intimidating. 

That’s why we decided to give Elliptica a try. A product of Laura Laboissonniere (one of Westfair Communication’s 2018 40 Under Forty winners) and Clair Mason, Elliptica is the new workout spot in Fairfield County, with locations in Fairfield and Greenwich. Laboissonniere, who already owned two Pure Barre locations in Fairfield and Westport, craved a new challenge. 

“I wanted to bring my passion and expertise into town,” she says, noting that elliptical-based group fitness is relatively new to the United States but the equivalent of the “spin class of Europe.” So Elliptica Greenwich opened its doors in January 2018.

After arriving and checking in at the desk, we entered the studio filled with ellipticals like we had never seen before — less bulky and without a giant screen like the ones at our usual gyms. Around the room, there were women of all ages, from high school to middle age and beyond, and a handful of men, too. Already we felt more confident, as the range of people and experience levels made us feel right at home.

Instructor Dante Rocco dimmed the lights and instructed us to pick up a set of both 2- and 3-pound weights. We were a bit confused by the low weight levels, but he assured us even he used low weights — and we’re glad we didn’t go for anything heavier. Rocco first taught us the various hand positions and warmed us up thoroughly, eventually pushing us to sprint at over 100 rpm. The addition of even 2-pound weights had our arms feeling like Jello. After a much more challenging 45-minute class than we had anticipated, we were left feeling somehow simultaneously ready for a nap and yet more energized than we’d been in weeks.

Elliptica is an ideal workout for those looking to try a new type of group fitness in a judgment-free environment. It offers an atmosphere that welcomes people of all fitness and experience levels, and our instructor kept us motivated even when we felt like we couldn’t bear to keep going. But don’t expect it to be easy. We certainly did not anticipate just how hard it would be, or how much soreness we’d experience in the following days. 

The Greenwich studio, on the second floor at 1345 E. Putnam Ave., is complete with a small apparel boutique and children’s play area for busy parents. Classes may be purchased online, through the Elliptica app or at the studio. In Fairfield, find Elliptica at 85 Mill Plain Road.

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