Health & Wellness

Working out in a museum? I tried the latest fitness craze — here's what happened

If you've never worked out in a museum ... you're CLEARLY doing it wrong.

Okay, maybe I'm just doing it wrong since I haven't made it to an actual gym in the past six months. Yet I willingly signed up for the crazy new workout that just waltzed into New York City: Meet The Museum Workout.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
Warming up outside the Met as I got ready to take on The Museum Workout!

For a limited time, dancers from the Monica Bill Barnes & Company are conducting fitness classes, or rather, leading "performances" through the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I arrived on the museum's steps bright and early. The workout starts promptly at 8:45 a.m. — before the museum is officially open to the public. After being quickly introduced to Monica and Anna (two darling women, dressed in sequins, who would act as our instructors) we were off!

And within seconds, the workout felt like it had lived up to its name — and the hype. As "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees blared on a handheld speaker, we pranced around the corner of the Great Hall like Santa's reindeer — all in perfect alignment, moving mindfully around the art.

"For us, it has all the elements of everything we put in a show — there’s humor, there’s irony, there’s emotion, there’s joy. It’s absolutely a performance. The costumes are an attempt to actually blend into the museum and bring a sense of formality," Robert Saenz de Viteri, the company's creative producing director, told TODAY.

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The workout, which is 45 minutes long (and about 2 miles), combines cardio and aerobic exercises. You never stop moving and talking is prohibited.

So it's your job to keep an eye on the instructors the entire time, all while appreciating the art ... And ... Oh! Simply avoid acting like a bull in a china shop. Easy enough.

But this workout is NO joke! The Met approached the dance company about three years ago to gauge their interest in collaborating with writer/illustrator, Maira Kalman — and they immediately jumped at the opportunity.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
Pro tip: Stick around until the end of the workout (I'm looking at you, back-of-the-class slackers) for a handwritten souvenir from Kalman.

Fast forward to three years later, with classes in full swing, the dancers — Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass — can't help but appreciate all the hard work that went into making it a reality.

"When we walk through that Greek and Roman (gallery), we’re walking through all of these bodies that are real people and all lost their arms and noses and there’s this moment that always hits me about how incredibly lucky we are," Barnes said.

From my vantage point as a participant, I too felt lucky to observe the art in such a way. I've been to the Met countless times before, but this was the first time that I could genuinely say I felt at one with the art.

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"It’s such a ridiculously cliché thing to say — but to be alive," Barnes continued. "That all the people in there were or had a physical experience and that we are in the middle of ours. I mean, it’s just a really strangely, wonderful, emotional moment."

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
This was my favorite part.

Though the workout may best be described as bizarre, there is something incredibly special to be said about how these two art forms are fused together. Between the carefully selected exercises, disco music, narration from Maira Kalman and sparkly outfits, the performance, I would have to say, flowed effortlessly.

So while it may not have burned all the calories from the morning's bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, it was definitely an interesting experience!

Sadly, this class is sold out through the beginning of March, but if you're interested in reading more about it, please visit Monica Bill Barnes & Company's or the Metropolitan Museum of Art's websites.

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