I survived an elite workout with Instagram-famous trainer Kira Stokes. Most people train for years to take the class.
  • Trainer Kira Stokes, who has worked with people like Candace Cameron-Bure, Norah O’Donnell, and Hannah Bronfman, has a workout style designed to shake up your routine and shock the body into getting fit.
  • I signed up for her Stoked 360 class, a full-body workout that is 75 minutes of constant movement with weights, resistance bands, and a lot of jumping.
  • The workout wasn’t the hardest I’ve ever done, but it was challenging. Stokes has a unique talent for getting the class excited about feeling the burn.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Everything is going fine — I’m only sweating mildly and am hardly out of breath.

I’ve just finished explaining to the staff of New York Sports Club’s Chelsea location that I am a journalist and I am supposed to be here.

I have volunteered to do a 75-minute class known as “Stoked 360,” the signature fitness offering of trainer Kira Stokes, who has worked with celebrities like Candace Cameron-Bure, Norah O’Donnell, and Ashley Graham.

Stoked 360 is advertised as “a total body assault.” I have been told that this is not a class for beginners and requires significant endurance and athleticism, so I go in expecting to work hard.

Read more: I ditched the gym and tried a bunch of weird new workouts — and I found a new favorite

I told the man at the front desk that I was warned against taking this workout, that it would be very difficult.

“Quick tip — stick to the back of the class, where the more beginner students are,” he said.

Before the Kira Stokes workout, I was sweaty and nervous.
Gabby Landsverk

The previous class lets out and a group of sweaty athletes sporting “Stoked” crop tops and protein shakes exits the room. I am trying to recognize Kira from her online pictures but there is no need to search — she manifests like a blond oak tree, her muscles somehow even more defined in person.

The class enters the studio, which has been prepared with neat rows of equipment, including jump ropes and resistance bands.

We warm up with relaxed movement, but the workout quickly builds intensity as we add weight

Stokes’ classes are divided into several “circuits,” each one a series that includes a full-body movement, a plyometric or “explosive” exercise like squat jumps, and a cardio/core exercise.

In the first circuit, we do weighted squats, shoulder presses, broad jumps, inchworm push-ups and mountain climbers. For the second round, the class switches to heavier weights, and this is where it begins to get interesting.

Stokes has a verbal patter that includes frequent punctuation like “Get it together!” She uses this to wrangle the class into following her instructions as she builds additional movements onto each repetition of a circuit.

We start with a shoulder press, later adding a triceps extension, and then additional arm movements, all while holding weights. There are also lots of push-ups combined with squat jumps and mountain climbers.

I am attempting to “get it together,” but my left triceps is trying to crawl clear out of my body.

Kira Stokes has perfect form in this side plank and every other exercise she demonstrates.
Courtesy of Kira Stokes

Rope jumping counts as the “rest period” between circuits

It’s soon time for our “rest period.” This means that as Kira explains the next circuit, we all furiously jump rope to the beat of a pop/techno mashup for about three minutes.

I accidentally hit my rope against the whirling rope of the woman in front of me, and she glares at me without slowing the pace or rhythm of her jumping. Then Kira yells “Go!” and the beat drops. We are suddenly doing double-time on the rope, and I no longer have the energy to feel anxious.

Our next circuit involves weighted leg movements that eventually build into jumping, explosive maneuvers.

At this point, I’m grateful I’m in relatively good shape — I spend an average of 10 hours a week both playing roller derby and working out at the gym. Although Stokes does offer some modifications to maintain good form, this workout might be physically impossible without an athletic background.

In an interview, Stokes told me that most people have trained with her for years to make it into this class. In contrast, I prepared not by years of workouts, but by eating a large cheeseburger, fries, and ice cream for lunch beforehand.

We do another round of jump rope, and I regret adding weight in the previous exercises because I can no longer feel my arms.

Nearly all of Kira’s exercises engage your core muscles

For our next circuit, we spend some time on the ground.

We do a movement called a quadruped crawl, also known as a bear crawl, on all fours with knees barely off the floor. Continuing to move this way in time with the rest of the class — straining my quads, glutes, core, and shoulders — turns out to be the hardest part of the workout.

Courtesy of Kira Stokes

There is another round of jump rope, at which point Kira reveals that the music is designed to pace us, and she sets it so we are intentionally off beat for the first 30 seconds or so of jumping. Then, when the beat drops and we’re finally in unison with the tempo and each other, it’s an instant energy rush.

We do a quick round of leg exercises with resistance bands, stretching out each leg out to the side until my butt feels like it’s on fire. The high energy persists with painfully enthusiastic high-fives people give each other in victory after finishing the round.

Stokes is a big believer in getting 8 hours of sleep

Another Stokes special is incorporating the word “Yes?” as a question on the end of her sentences, as in “It’s not just the workout, it’s about how the pieces fit together, like every move is a chapter in a story, yes?” At the beginning of the class, I just nod, but by the end, there’s so much energy in the room, the class loudly echoes with a verbal confirmation.

Afterwards, I introduce myself and get the obligatory selfie with Kira.

Gabby Landsverk

She resumes our conversation from where we left off in an earlier phone interview, telling me about the importance of getting enough sleep. Stokes tries her best for 8 hours a night, she said, because classes like this take a lot of energy to lead.

If you’d like to try Stoked 360 for yourself, you can check out her class schedule online. Contact the New York Sports Club Lab for prices (you don’t need to be a member to take classes).

If you’re not in New York City or want to work out on your own schedule, Stokes also has an on-demand workout app ($14.99 a month) with high-intensity circuit workouts of various lengths, including instructions for good form.

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