I first heard about Brrrn a few years ago when I was working in New York City. The studio conducted classes in a 50-degree room (hence the name), and became popular for their “slide” classes, which uses 6-foot slide boards for “lateral training.”
As the pandemic led to an increased demand for at-home workouts, the company made the Brrrn Board available for consumers to purchase. And it just looked really cool (no pun intended). After being cooped up in my home gym for a year and a half, I am down to try anything that brings a little of that boutique studio novelty in house.
I will admit: I was sure it would eventually end up collecting dust somewhere. I thought it would score high in novelty, but low in intensity. But I was pleasantly surprised that it actually gave me a serious cardio workout — and perhaps the best ab workout I’ve gotten in a long time.
Cost and equipment
You need to purchase the board ($299 for the adjustable 6-foot board) and an "all-access" subscription plan, which costs $14.99/month or $149.99/year. (For those who don’t want to buy a board, the platform also offers a basic subscription, which does not provide access to the board workouts, for $9.99/month or $99.99/year.) It is a substantial chunk of change up front, but keep in mind how much more affordable it is then, say, a Peloton or Mirror. The board comes with the booties you'll need to wear as well as wipes for cleaning the board.
To take full advantage of the platforms offerings, you will also need a pair of dumbbells (ideally a light and heavy set) and a kettlebell.
Navigating the platform
You can access the platform through the recently launched Brrrn At-Home app, available on iOS, Android and desktop. I decided to access the workouts through my desktop so that I could use a larger screen.
When you log in, you will see the categories across the top: Slide, Cardio Sculpt, Brrrnouts, Core, Yoga, Brrreath, Recovery and Bootcamp — plus a Getting Started tab that has tutorial videos on setting up and cleaning the board, putting on the booties and the basic slides you will do during the workout. You can filter within the categories by length of workout, equipment needed and instructor.
There are hundreds of on-demand workouts on the platform that come in 10, 20, 30, 45 and 60 minute lengths, with new classes added each week. You can add classes to your calendar (compatible with Gmail, Outlook, Apple) directly from the platform, which makes it convenient to plan your workouts ahead of time. Your personal dashboard shows your monthly activity including Brrrn streaks and how many classes you've completed.
What the workout entails
After watching the tutorial videos, I started with the 10-minute Beginner Slide Workout to get acclimated to the board.
Once you get moving, the motion is really fun — it makes you feel like an Olympic skater. Physically, I felt it right away in my inner thighs. Pushing from side to side and then having to stop myself at each end definitely gave my inner and outer thighs a workout and as we started going through the different progressions (like low to highs, which start in a squat position and end standing up tall), my glutes were fired up as well.
This definitely a good ab workout, too; you don’t really have a choice but to keep your core engaged the entire time because the board is so slippery that otherwise you'd lose your balance.
I wanted to see how the board is used beyond sliding so I decided to try a core-focused class next. I chose a 20-minute core workout with ab exercises timed to the beat of the music.
The class began with moves that were half on the board and half off. We performed standard moves like glute bridges, crunches, dead bugs and Russians twists, but using the board really activated my whole body. The bridges and crunches were so much harder when having to keep your heels pressed against the edge of the board and not letting them slide out from under you. I felt it all down the back of my hamstrings.
The board makes you feel lighter as you move though these exercises, so I was able to go a lot faster and really get my heart rate up.
A lot of the moves reminded me of being on a Pilates reformer. Since the board takes the impact out of jumping moves, I was able to go faster and deeper with movements like mountain climbers and plank jacks. Sliding my feet along the board — as opposed to stepping on the ground — helped me keep better form. The board makes you feel lighter as you move though these exercises, so I was able to go a lot faster too and really get my heart rate up. This definitely wasn’t a class for beginners.
I powered on and opted for a 30-minute Cardio Sculpt with Weights to see how the workout used dumbbells. It was a mix of cardio time on the board, standard weighted exercises off the board, and then exercises using the board (some with a weighted element like lunges with flys). I liked how the board really mixed things up and kept typical strength training movements interesting; the class flew by.
The next day I was ready for a challenge so I chose a longer 45-minute Slide with Weights. The class started with body-weight strength using the board with exercises like sliding planks, side planks, slide burpees and slide reverse lunges. I liked the slide burpees a lot because they were low impact and doing them on the board really makes the move more accessible to people with joint issues. I tend to shy away from lunges because they bother my knees, but the board took the impact out of the move and also helped me keep better form. I usually put too much weight in my rear leg, but when performing them with a sliding motion you have to be light on your back foot to slide the leg in and out.
The weighted exercises done off the board were pretty standard. But the weight circuits were interspersed with cardio time on the board, which did mix things up and keep it interesting. Plus, using slide time on the board as recovery in between weighted circuits kept my heart rate up in between sets.
There was a total-body circuit with more complex dumbbell exercises — which was challenging but the instructor provided modifications — and then an arm-focused circuit. Then we returned to the board for army crawls and plank jacks (which they call “snow angels,” which just sounds more pleasant). The body-weight strength done on the board is difficult to describe: In one way it feels harder since you’re sliding in and out and that activates the entire core, but in another sense it makes the moves easier because it takes the impact out and makes it easier to get deeper into certain positions. Again, I finished drenched in sweat.
What I liked
It’s a cool way to move your body — it definitely has you channeling an Olympic skater when you get into it.
I found the Brrrn Board to be a really fun and unique cardio activity. As someone who has been doing strength training while staring at the same wall in my house for a year and a half, it provided a new way to do standard exercises that can get boring and repetitive. It’s also just a cool way to move your body — you feel like you're channeling an Olympic skater when you get into it. I also liked how it's low-impact, and how it enabled me to do certain moves I usually shy away from because of knee pain.
The board definitely fired up my core and mimicked using those “discs of hell” (as I lovingly refer to them) that you may have used in a fitness class before. The sliding motion allowed me to get much deeper into core exercises like mountain climbers than I can on solid ground. I also liked that you can control the intensity of the workout, making it harder by increasing your speed and easier by slowing down and using suggested modifications to strength exercises.
I also loved the music on the platform. It kept me engaged in the workout and was fun to slide to. I also liked the functionality of being able to control the volume of the instructor and the music separately.
There are a bunch of workouts on the app that don’t use the board, so the platform is more comprehensive than I expected. In this way, the Brrrn platform is really all you would need for a well-rounded workout routine. You can choose to work out on the board or opt for a yoga, weight-training or recovery class that doesn’t use it at all.
What I didn’t like
The equipment is expensive compared to other on-demand programs that require little to no equipment, so you really need to be sure this is an exercise program you will enjoy.
I do think that using the board could get a bit repetitive if you're using it long term. And if you’re someone who hates treadmills because you feel like you're running in place, this is similar in that you’re moving back and forth in a 6-foot space. However, there are workouts that could definitely keep you engaged and progressing if you enjoy working out with the board. The Brrrnout section features AMRAP and strength tests that challenge you to either see how many reps you can complete in a certain time frame or how long you can hold a position.
There may be a learning curve for sliding on the board. If you’re someone who is new to fitness, you may find it challenging to balance. It requires a good amount of core strength and stability to stay upright. Not to mention, moves like plank pikes, mountain climbers, burpees and army crawls are challenging even off the board and require some established core strength to maintain proper form.
I would recommend this workout to:
- Someone interested in investing in a new piece of gym equipment that's unique
- Those who miss the novelty of boutique fitness classes
- Anyone with joint pain in search of high intensity, but low-impact exercise
- Those who like working out on a Pilates reformer
- People in tight quarters that want to hide their equipment under the couch