Denise McCay with her devoted following, some of whom have been with her for decades and one of whom started two days ago (Hi, Angel!) Photo by Tracy Certo.

Got a fitness class that you just can’t live without? We know the feeling.

Since I moved to a different part of the city more than a year ago, I’ve continued to return to the old ‘hood to take my long-time favorite class. Surely there’s something closer, I thought, and I did find a few good ones. But I have yet to find one nearby that I can’t live without.

While I continue to search, I could use your help. What’s your fitness fix in town? We’re looking for cult classes, the kind that inspire such loyalty that you keep your Tuesday nights free to take it. Or you tell your friends: Can we meet after 7? Because missing that class is almost as painful as taking it.

Let us know here. In the meantime, here’s the class that inspired this article and that we’re happy to highly recommend:

Power Hour, high-intensity aerobics/plyometrics at Amerifit, Green Tree

This hourlong, fast-paced, high-intensity aerobics class is known for its intense combo of squats, lunges, planks (so many planks), punches and jacks, all set to heart-pumping music.

It started as a step class at the Scott Twp. gym, just off Cochran Rd. And while a step is still used, it’s more of a tool, says instructor Denise McCay, who can be as intense as the exercise. Super fit, she has been teaching this class for decades (and some of us have been taking it that long), but keeps it fresh with the latest moves and the most current pop tunes.

People cross rivers and bridges to get to Amerifit to take it; it’s that good.

The challenging, full body workout is sometimes boot camp in its moves, and other times a fun rhythmic flow. Either way, the groove never lasts long. The music changes and we’re in the air jumping up, dropping for a plank, then jumping back up again. Or switching to skater jumps. Or scissor jumps. Or high-knees running while doing a rope pull with our arms.

About every 10 weeks, she introduces an all-new routine. It never gets old, nor does the music. The right tunes are essential to keeping me going and the reason I know all the lyrics to fire-me-up songs like “Bad Romance.” Ga-ga-ooo-la-la.

Denise’s newest class might be her toughest yet, with its walk-forward pushup planks and planks where the goal is to nearly kick yourself in the butt. Several times in the last class— three to be exact — she said, “You’re gonna hate me!” as she introduced a new and challenging move.

We wisely did not respond. It takes all your energy just to get through this hourlong class.

Let’s just say she cares. And so does her large group of devotees, pictured above, still smiling after an intense workout.

They continue to return, 50-some strong up to three times a week, and she has nicknames for some: “Prego,” if you’re pregnant. “M+M,” for a sales rep of the candy. “Headband,” for a friend who used to wear a sweatband in class. Of course, she knows the names of many since they’ve been attending for so long.

The newest person in the class, who goes by Angel (her actual name, not Denise’s nickname) tried it for the first time last Friday at 9:30 a.m. and then returned Saturday for the 10 a.m. class.

“She kills it,” says Angel. “Best class I’ve ever taken.”

Denise hears this a lot.

I hesitate to say this next part but it’s got to be the best fitness deal in town. If you’re not a member, a mere $5 gets you in. Another reason why it’s always packed and why you might want to stay away.

Kidding. Try it and if you do, we want to hear what you think.

Your turn now. Let us know your favorite fitness class — yoga, pilates, boxing, whatever gets your heart pumping —  in the comments below (or email here) and we’ll run more in an upcoming article.

Tracy Certo

Tracy is the founder and Editor at Large of NEXTpittsburgh which she started in March 2014 and sold in December 2020. She is passionate about making Pittsburgh a better place for all and connecting people...