With pink, purple, and blue neon lights flashing in sync with loud, bass-heavy music and sparkling disco balls hanging overhead, AKT fitness feels more like a nightclub than a gym — which is exactly what founder Anna Kaiser intended.
Drawing the attention of celebrities like Shakira, Kelly Ripa, and Sarah Jessica Parker, AKT (Anna Kaiser Technique) has grown exponentially since its launch in 2013. There are now 60 studios across the United States, two of them here in metro Detroit — one in Royal Oak, and a new location opening this spring in Rochester Hills.
“AKT is a combination of dance cardio, interval training, Pilates, and strength training,” says Caity Rose, manager of AKT in Royal Oak and Rochester Hills. “It’s deeply rooted in positivity, community, and having fun while exercising.”
So, what is it about AKT that distinguishes it from other health clubs? In addition to offering a variety of classes that are continuously changing to introduce something new, AKT consistently works the entire body, instead of just one area of focus. AKT also stresses how your mental state can affect your workout and vice versa. “An area of fitness that’s often neglected is your mental well-being and your sharpness, like having the ability to memorize dance combinations, so that’s a great aspect of dance cardio,” Rose explains. “On top of exercising, you’re cognitively working your brain, so it’s a great and fully comprehensive way to move.”
AKT offers four different class formats that accommodate all abilities and interests:
Dance is a high-energy, fast-paced class that alternates between choreographed routines, created by Kaiser herself, and short strength intervals, building endurance and making you feel like a pop star on stage at the same time.
Bands is a unique experience that includes less dance but does require you to hold onto overhead resistance bands. “The bands create a great buoyancy effect on your joints, so it’s a great option for anyone at any point in their fitness journey for that reason,” Rose says. “We have a lot of pregnant women who love that class, because it gives them a lot of support. Or anyone with joint issues, so they can still get a great cardio workout in that’s low impact.”
Tone is for those looking for just strength training. Tone classes don’t involve any cardio, but instead are divided into 15 minutes of upper body focus, 15 minutes of lower body focus, and 15 minutes of core, ending with a foam rolling session to “release the burn.”
Circuit follows a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) pattern, doing cardio and strength building on and off through 30-second and 15-second intervals, as opposed to a consistent workout for 30-45 minutes straight.
Even though the core of AKT is dance, no previous dance experience is necessary. “We’re very alignment-based, and we work the body in all kinds of motion, but you do not have to be a dancer to enjoy AKT,” Rose says.
The clubs offer a free Intro to AKT class for those curious about the practice who want to try it out before diving in fully. In addition, if you aren’t comfortable with going into the gym yet, you can join live classes virtually from the safety of your own home. Regardless of which class you choose, Rose recommends “coming prepared to have a good time.”