In Texas, mechanical bulls are more often associated with rodeo training and western bars than with fitness.
But trainers at the Travaasa
Austin hotel and spa have
enlisted their own bucking bull to whip visitors into shape. The one-of-a-kind
“Bull Fitness” class brings a true taste of Texas to the destination hotel’s
wellness offerings, and since Travaasa Austin opened in April, the class has been
a weekly staple in the resort’s extensive activity
The bucking action of
the bull tests the body’s balance and strength, and in turn works the core
muscles as the rider struggles to stay on top. “It really works the inner
thighs, upper and lower abs, and the back,” said Jillian Lambert, a fitness and
wellness specialist at the Austin resort.
Mechanical bulls grew in
local popularity in the 1970s, when a Pasadena, Texas man installed one in his nightclub
and scoured the city in search of mattresses to break his patrons’ falls. The
concept really took off nationwide when John Travolta saddled up in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy.
At Travaasa, Lambert has
her students warm up on a stability ball, instructing them to mimic the motions
of the bull by bouncing. She then cranks up the classic country music as visitors
take their turn on Brutus (as the bull is affectionately known). Riders can
wear a hat if they choose, but they must leave one hand up in the air to
practice their balance.
Most people last only a
few minutes, but if you fall off right away, don’t fret. Depending on the
number of people in the class, which ranges from three to 10, everyone gets to
ride two or three times in the 45-minute session. According to Lambert, women
naturally hold on for longer thanks to their wider hips. The worst performers?
American football players. One came into the class recently and fell off in
less than one second. “People who are top-heavy don’t do so well.”
Located about 25 minutes
outside of Austin in the central Texas Hill Country, Travaasa Austin has 70
guestrooms across seven lodges. The Texas themes extends to the Austin musician-inspired
spa menu (try the Willie Nelson “On the Road Again” massage and take home a souvenir
guitar pick) and farm-to-table Jean’s Kitchen restaurant, featuring locally raised
beef and jalapeño highlights. Packages start at $225 a night, which includes
accommodations, breakfast, and bull and bull-free fitness classes.