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Channel Your Inner Beast With Popular 'Primal' Exercise Program

By Emily Frost | January 11, 2013 8:19am
  Exercisers are flocking to a class that asks them to mimic jungle animals in the quest for buff bodies. 
Women Invoke the Jungle in Quest for Fitness
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UPPER WEST SIDE — It's a jungle out there.

And some neighborhood women are responding to the call of the wild by yelping animal noises, crouching like tigers and crawling like spiders — all as part of an exercise method that's gaining in popularity.

"Stoked Primal," offered at Reebok Sports Club/NY on Columbus Avenue and 67th Street, encourages participants to mimic the movements of jungle animals to tone and tighten their entire bodies.

"[The class] requires each student to tap into your inner sense of survival and preservation," said Katia Lin, 20, a student at Cornell University.

"The Congo music is great," she added. "There's a playful aspect that taps into everyone's inner child."

Stoked Primal
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Kira Stokes/youtube

Designed by fitness guru Kira Stokes, who has a strong following among women exercisers both in the city and Westchester, the 30-minute class is challenging but open to anyone seeking an upbeat session.

"You are mimicking an animal — that alone can put a smile on your face," Stokes, 38, said.

Part of her inspiration for the workouts was creating a routine that could be done anywhere without bulky equipment. She said she watched both the Discovery Channel and National Geographic for inspiration, and designed moves aimed to get the heart rate up to 80 percent of its maximum. 

The crouching tiger push-ups, bear walk and spiderwoman crawl are designed to work a variety of muscles and keep the body constantly guessing — a method Stokes said is the key to weight loss and lasting fitness. 

While her first primal classes two years ago had only a few participants, now her sessions are packed — and she's hoping to increase them. 

"It's been amazing. It's become a 'Stoked' community," she said. "The women have become mini-Kiras."

Stokes said she is constantly devising new classes, but her next challenges include recruiting more men and launching an app so that users can take her methodology with them anywhere.

That includes heading down to the basketball court to entice men into the exercise classrooms.

"Men love [Stoked Primal]," she said, "and they're amazing at it."