New York City is a mecca for fitness, where you can find a boutique spin class on every corner and yoga studio next to it. But what if you’re looking for something new? There’s no shortage of unique workouts, but if you want something that really gets your heart rate up and has the benefits of both HIIT and yoga, you may want to check out NYC’s latest class: Buddha Burn

This new routine came together when two instructors—one who specializes in strength training and one in yoga—realized they could achieve greater benefits by incorporate some of what the other was teaching. Their idea of combining cardio with stretching has developed into a distinctive new class that allows HIIT-enthusiasts to work on their flexibility and yoga-lovers a chance to get their heart rate up.

We talked to Buddha Burn co-founders Christine Cody and Jessica Rapp to learn more about their new fusion class.

What sparked the idea to develop a new type of fitness class? 

Christine Cody: I love a challenge. I’ve always been into strength training, running, endurance races and pushing my body to the limit. The training for my last Ironman 70.3 really took a toll on my body and that’s when I finally realized I needed more. I wanted to add yoga and stretching into my routine to prevent injuries, but never seemed to be able to find the time to go to a yoga-specific class. If I have 45 minutes, I want to burn as many calories as I can. Personally, I love the mindfulness that yoga brings and I wanted to combine that with strength training. With BuddhaBurn, I get the benefits of both all in an hour. Jess and I brought the best of both of our disciplines and BuddhaBurn was born!

Jessica Rapp: I’m a yogi through and through, but I’ve always enjoyed getting my sweat on a couple times per week, too. Christine and I started working out together last year and I became so challenged and motivated by the circuit training exercises she was leading (forcing…just kidding) me through. As much as I began to pick her brain to learn more about strength training, she began asking me about yoga and its benefits on physical and mental health. The idea kind of materialized as more and more people kept asking us about both disciplines. We wanted to share our knowledge and passion with the world.

What’s the class format like? CC and JR

CC: The general format of the class is interval training. The class begins and ends with yoga and includes bursts of 4-5 minutes of high-intensity full-body circuits. Each circuit is followed by a 4-5 minute yoga sequence designed to stretch the same muscles you just worked in the circuit. The goal is to increase your heart rate as fast and as high as possible in the shortest amount of time, and then lower your heart rate through yoga and breath. This alternating rise and fall of your heart rate works the cardiovascular system and is really good for your heart health. You also get the added benefit of stretching out the muscles through yoga directly after you worked them.

The yoga sequences also serve as the “rest” period of the high intensity interval training. We end the class with an amazing and relaxing yoga sequence and savasana that really allows you to decompress and soak up the benefits of the class.

JR: As Christine said, we use the technique of slowing down the breath to slow down your heart rate, and we’ll guide you through this in class. Be prepared to work hard and sweat while practicing a little mindfulness along the way.

What is the benefit of this type of routine?

CC: HIIT training alone has so many benefits. It increases your metabolism, allows you to burn body fat without losing muscle and increases the flexibility and elasticity of your arteries and veins better than steady-state aerobic exercise. By combining HIIT and yoga together, we really get the best of both worlds. You reap the amazing benefits of HIIT while increasing flexibility and muscle strength, preventing injuries and improving athletic performance through yoga. A major benefit for me personally is that I leave feeling like I got my butt kicked, stretched, and got some mental clarity. I feel an overwhelming sense of calm and empowerment.

JR: Yes, both disciplines have SO many benefits. There is so much research out there on the benefits of HIIT, including improved heart health, body strength, oxygen consumption and fat loss. Yoga specifically helps your entire body function better. Your posture improves, your lungs breathe better, your abdominal organs function optimally, your muscles move through full range of motion without getting tight and your mind becomes more present and clear. The mindfulness part is a big one for me—we could all use a little bit more of this living in the city that never sleeps.

Care to share any tips to get the most out of a class?

CC: Be in the moment. During BuddhaBurn, you are constantly changing movements. You only have to perform a certain exercise for 60 seconds. Be all there for that minute and then move on. The class moves so quickly. It feels like the time flies by.

JR: Each class has a theme, and we really encourage you to focus on the theme throughout the entire class. It may feel easier for you during one part or the other (HIIT or yoga), but really try to focus for the entire time. We encourage you to use your breath to do this—we’ll remind you plenty of times, trust us. You’ll really feel the true magic of the class if you leave with a sense of completing more than just a physical workout.

CC and JR bridge

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

CC: Without a question, pigeon all day! That was really my first and only yoga pose I knew so I used to practice only pigeon on both sides for a minute or two and think that I had practiced yoga that day. Now, thanks to Jess, I know many more poses, but I still love pigeon.

JR: The million-dollar question! I really love wheel pose. Backbends in general are such energizing, uplifting and heart-opening poses. I feel so vibrant and joyful after practicing wheel. If I’m allowed to have a second favorite, I would say seated forward fold (paschimottanasana) with my knees bent. If you bend your knees a lot and really let your belly rest on your thighs, it becomes a more passive, down-regulating, calming posture, with the added benefit of abdominal organ massage from your own thighs. After Christine kicks your butt, it’s exactly what you need!

And your favorite HIIT move?

CC: I absolutely love power jacks! It is the crazy cousin of the jumping jack. You perform a jumping jack, but jump at the top so that your body makes a star in the air. It gets your heart rate way up. They are so fun!

JR: I’m newer to this HIIT thing, so I definitely don’t love power jacks—I can only do about 10 before I’m exhausted! I really do love burpees (and I NEVER thought I’d say the words “love” and “burpees” in the same sentence). They are a true full-body exercise and really get your heart rate up. You also notice fitness and endurance gains super quickly after incorporating them into your workout—they get so much easier so quickly!


Ready to give it a go? Learn more about their story, and sign up for a class to breathe, sweat and stretch with them here.


Author: Allison Klibanoff