We Tried It: Harley Pasternak’s My5 Workout

06/18/2015 at 03:17 PM ET

Harley Pasternak
Courtesy NYSE

Harley Pasternak, a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who’s worked with stars like Halle Berry, Robert Pattinson and Lady Gaga, hosted a Fitbit-sponsored workout event on Wall Street in honor of Fitbit going public on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, leading exercises from his new book, 5 Pounds.

As a biweekly runner — meaning I run five minutes to my local doughnut shop once every two or so weeks — I was terrified I wouldn’t have what it takes to survive a 30-minute session, seeing as I can barely make it through a 23-minute episode of television without falling asleep. Last night, I had several nightmares stemming from my workout anxiety: In one, my legs snapped in half. In another, I died of exhaustion. In the most haunting, my high school crush watched me flail through the whole session, laughing hysterically at my form and poor flexibility. (Not since the age of 3 months have I ever been able to touch my toes. True story.)

In the morning, I reminded myself that Pasternak couldn’t go too hard on us because it would be terrible PR if someone died because the moves were too difficult.

So, I dusted off my sports bra and headed down to Wall Street, a sentence I never thought I’d say. I reminded myself that Pasternak’s whole thing is getting “the most results from the least amount of exercise,” so he was on my side.

Harley Pasternak

The whole workout was 30 minutes, divided into six, five-minute circuits. We marched in place, jogged in place, imaginary jump-roped in place, punched in place, lunged (sort of) in place. The burn in my thighs, calves and arms was immediate — but I never had too long to suffer because we were switching it up every 10 seconds or so.

The event was my first group fitness class since I took adult education yoga at my high school. I was awful at it, and self-conscious, and that remained mostly true at the event on Wall Street. Group fitness isn’t my scene. But the blasting of Beyoncé/Drake/Tinashe jams, Pasternak’s words of encouragement and the dynamism of the workout allowed me to momentarily forget that I have virtually no muscle mass. I was reminded: Exercise is about pushing yourself to the best of your abilities, not the abilities of the hot girl next to you.

Pasternak recommended doing any one of his moves — even simple ones, like pretending to jump rope or marching in place — just about anywhere. (“At work? Go into a bathroom stall and march it up.”) You don’t need a gym to workout. And that’s a beautiful thing.

—Maria Yagoda, @MariaYagoda

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