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Lifestyle: Workout to the Classics

Insights from Juliana Kay, founder of Classical Music Workouts.

When it comes to group exercise, Hawthorn is spoiled for choice. From community facilities like the Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre, to sports clubs, private gyms and personal trainers, there are plenty of ways for locals to get active and have fun with other people. But classical music has never been the drawing card for exercise – until now.

Juliana is a professional conductor and composer who started leading workouts to classical music in 2022 to address a niche she wanted to see filled. Operating on a pop-up basis, co-led by fellow singer Marjorie Butcher, Classical Music Workouts has been growing a niche following of people who both enjoy exercise and classical music.

Why did you create Classical Music Workouts?

Lockdown 2020. I did a lot of video workouts in my living room but was never fully satisfied with the pairing of music and movement, or the choice of music that I was finding. There was too much focus on burning calories, too many generic tracks with electronic beats, poorly timed with instructors; movements. I wanted to feel like an artist when working out, and figured that other people probably want that too. So I created my own workouts.

Why classical music?

A lot of people find classical music boring because they don’t know how to engage with it. Sitting down quietly and listening to music is a relatively new phenomenon, which separates the music listener from the music maker. For most of human history, music and movement have been inextricably linked. Musicians know that the best way to understand and fall in love with classical music is through active participation: through singing, playing, conducting… and dancing. Our workouts are precisely choreographed to match the structure and affect of each piece, to help participants’ experience music in a meaningful way, and hopefully fall in love with classical music.

What does a typical session look like?

Our sessions are 45-minutes long and include cardio, resistance, isolated muscle groups and whole-body movements. They are led by two instructors, one who demonstrates low-impact option for those who may have physical restrictions. Sometimes it looks like movements you might find in a PT session, like planks and crunches and lunges, and some pieces are more playful and dance-based. The music is mostly high-energy classical music – think Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Copland’s Hoedown, and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. We always finish with a stretch to some Gregorian chant to finish the session calm and refreshed.

When and where will this program be coming to Hawthorn?

The theme for our Hawthorn sessions is “Great Rivers”, featuring music inspired by rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. Iconic masterpieces The Moldau (Bedřich Smetana) and Strauss’s The Blue Danube (Johann Strauss II) are the centrepieces of this program.

Where: Hawthorn Library, Meeting Room 3

When: Saturdays 25 March, 29 April, 27 May from 10:10 – 11:00am

Book: via our website (walk-ins also welcome)

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