What is CXWORX: CXWORX 101 overview and first-timer tips

What is CXWORX? It’s an awesome 30-minute group fitness class, and today I’m going to tell you what you can expect in your first Les Mills CXWORX workout. (Edited to add: This class is now called Les Mills CORE. Also, if you don’t have a gym nearby that offers Les Mills CORE, you can give it a try at home using Les Mills On Demand streaming workout service with this free 21-day trial.)

What is CXWORX: CXWORX 101 overview and first-timer tips

What is CXWORX_ CXWORX 101 overview and first-timer tips by A Lady Goes West

According to the folks at Les Mills International in New Zealand, who are responsible for creating CXWORX, the program can be described as:

“The intensely challenging 30-minute core workout that gets you results where it counts the most.”

CXWORX is one of the newer Les Mills programs and has only been around a few years. It’s grown in popularity and is typically tacked on to the end of other Les Mills programs to make a great full-body workout.

What kind of workout is CXWORX?

CXWORX is all about building core strength, improving functional fitness of the abdominals, mid-section, and glutes, as well as working the cross-slings, which run from the upper to lower body. Basically, CXWORX targets everything from the mid-thigh up to the shoulders, which is an area also known as your trunk. It’s not exactly weight-lifting, and it’s not exactly cardio.

CXWORX standard class

Because CXWORX is a pre-choreographed program, no matter where you go in 80 countries around the world, a CXWORX class is always going to be similar. It’s just under 30 minutes and consists of six tracks in the following order, each designed to target a different part of overall core strength:

  1. Warm-up – various movements lying on back to prepare the core muscles
  2. Core strength 1 – long-lever movements lying on back and hovers
  3. Standing strength 1 – standing movements to integrate upper and lower body
  4. Standing strength 2 – standing movements to focus on glutes, hips and legs
  5. Core strength 2 – various movements to focus on rotation and obliques
  6. Core strength 3 – various movements to focus on posterior (back) muscles

What equipment do you need for CXWORX?

To do CXWORX, you need a resistance tube, a mat and a towel. There is usually the option to use a small, medium or large weight plate for added resistance.

It’s important to note for both women and men, you should make sure that your shorts aren’t too short, because you will spend time with your legs in the air. 

Using a resistance tube

The resistance tube used in CXWORX is a versatile piece of equipment that allows you to add load to your muscles when doing movements, without momentum. Resistance tubes have no momentum, because they are only weighted when you pull on them. Therefore, it’s safer to use a tube during wide-range fast movements across the body, rather than dumbbells. If a gym offers a CXWORX class, then they will have a selection of tubes for participants.

CXWORX moves

In a typical class, you’ll do a combination of isolated and integrated movements, like leg lifts, crunches, cross-crawls, hip bridges, leg extensions, hovers, oblique crunches, power skaters with a tube, wood-chops, lunges with a tube, rows with a tube, supermans, planks, mountain climbers, squats with a tube and much more. You don’t need to know what any of these moves are, because the instructor will coach you through them all.

What do you need to know as a first-timer?

To be completely honest, CXWORX can be a little bit awkward, even for the instructor. Not only is it sometimes hard to see everything you need from a lying down position, but you will also have your legs in the air, your butt in the air and will have to work with a tricky piece of equipment, the resistance tube. First and foremost, don’t feel weird. Everyone else is in the same boat as you.

With that being said, I recommend that you go in with an open mind and consider these tips:

  • Show up a little bit early and introduce yourself to the instructor, that way they can tell you what to expect.
  • Set up close enough to the front so you can see the instructor’s full body.
  • Don’t worry about using a weight plate, it’s only an advanced option.
  • Grab a green tube. Usually resistance tubes go from easy to hard, with green being easiest, orange/red in the middle and blue/black as the hardest.
  • If you get confused on how to set up with the tube, then leave it out. It’s perfectly acceptable to do your first CXWORX class with absolutely no equipment.
  • Listen to the instructor’s cues for what you should be feeling in your body. There are many small movements and adjustments, and you may not be able to see it modeled exactly on someone else, so you’ll have to feel for it on your own body.
  • In the long sets of hovers, never feel bad about staying on your knees.
  • In the tube work, never feel bad about holding onto only one handle for less resistance.
  • It takes a while to get comfortable with the movements, so plan to try at least a few classes before you decide if it’s for you or not.
  • Please don’t worry about your neighbor or feel competitive. Nobody is looking at you. In fact, most people are so busy worrying about themselves and fixing their own form that they won’t even glance in your direction. (But that doesn’t mean you should wear short shorts!)

How hard is it?

It’s challenging. After my first CXWORX class years ago, before I started teaching it, I remember having the worst soreness in my entire trunk for a couple of days. But I went back, and I grew to love it. It doesn’t come naturally to most people either. In fact, the moves take some time to set up and perform properly, so plan to feel a little uncoordinated at first.

But CXWORX truly changes your core, which in turn, can improve your overall fitness and athletic ability.

It’s also important to note, that because CXWORX tires out the core, it’s not advised that you do any resistance training after CXWORX and risk injuring your back. In fact, most of the time group fitness schedules will feature BODYPUMP directly before CXWORX, so resistance training is already complete. It’s okay to do light cardio afterwards, but I like to do CXWORX as the last element of my workout for the day. There’s not much you can do with an exhausted core.

What’s the best part of CXWORX?

Thirty minutes sure does fly by. I’ve never experienced a workout that goes by so quickly and leaves you feeling so complete. And when you finish a CXWORX class, your core seems noticeably stronger instantly.

If you’re interested in finding a CXWORX class near you, try this gym locator. You can also try CXWORX at home for free by trialing the Les Mills On Demand streaming service. Head to this link to get your free 21-day trial. Have fun!

Have you tried this super-hard @LesMills core class? Click To Tweet

Do you want to know about other Les Mills group fitness programs? Check out my BODYPUMP 101 overview, as well as my BODYATTACK 101 overview, or head on over to the Fitness + Workouts page.

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Disclaimer: CXWORX may not be right for everyone, especially those with back injuries or women who are expecting. Make sure you check with your doctor before trying a class.

Questions of the day

Have you ever taken a Les Mills CXWORX class?

If so, what did you think?

Do you ever incorporate a resistance tube into your workouts?

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44 Comments

    1. It sure is. CXWORX is all about learning to brace and stabilize your abs, and being able to master that can help you with any class in the future. Be sure to check one out soon! 🙂

  1. I’ve never completed a CXWORX class but I had always wondered what it was when I worked out at Gold’s. Your post was very informative. When I move back to someplace where it is offered, I’ll be sure to check it out.

  2. This was a fab post–and a great overview of CXWORX! Such a good class, eh? I love, love it so much. It has changed my core, and helped so much during and after pregnancy.

    I would say it’s a challenging class to take but also to teach. There is SO much going on!! Going to the AIM really helped narrow in on certain cues & why we say them, etc.

    Anyways, love the post!

    1. Thanks, Annette. I definitely find that CXWORX is the hardest class for me to teach, because there is so much to think about and explain. But man it works! 🙂

  3. Hey Ashley

    So great you’re teaching all the Les Mills stuff! I just moved to the Bay area from Australia and LM is EVERYWHERE, almost every gym offers it. I’m bummed it’s not as popular here, i’d love to see more of it. I’m in the East Bay and thus far cannot find Body Attack over this side…. As for CX worx, i love it! It’s fast and a great core workout. Any LM Grit offered at your Equinox? Either way, i hope LM increases in popularity here….i miss it!

    1. Hi Kate, Welcome to the Bay Area. Thanks for stopping by the blog. In the East Bay you can go to 24 Hour Fitness Walnut Creek Super Sport for BODYATTACK, or all the way over to 24 Hour Fitness Livermore. GRIT is offered at the Bay Clubs in the City as well. There aren’t Les Mills programs at Equinox, so I’m probably going to learn to teach Equinox-specific programs and diversity my repertoire. But I’ll always keep a few LM classes a week. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    1. Hi Sue! No, it’s not available at home right now. I teach the program, so I have the instructor DVDs to follow. CXWORX is not super popular, but is another one of the Les Mills BODYPUMP branded programs that a gym has to license. Keep looking around for it!

  4. Just the information I was needing before taking one of these classes for the first time. Thanks for such a good write up!

  5. I see this is an old post but super informative! Thanks! Are you familiar with Dastasis Recti – abdominal separation that can happen after pregnancy? I’ve been working to close my gap and am down to 2 fingers. Crunches and planks are a big no-no, as they can pull the gap apart. Key for me is keeping the abs pulled in (i.e. “belly-button to spine” mindset) whenever working out, working the transverse abdominals. Do you think this class would be ok for me? I can do my own modifications during crunches and planks. I’m curious what your opinion would be. My goal is to flatten my stomach, close my gap completely, and strengthen my core.

    1. Hi Jenny! Thanks for reading. And yes, I’m familiar with dastasis recti. I will say that this class may be too intense for you right now while working on closing the separation. You spend at least two tracks totally on your back for crunches, and at least one full song in plank position. There is some standing work with bands that is helpful — but overall, I wouldn’t recommend it for you yet. I’d wait a little longer until you are more healed! Of course, it’s up to you and your doctor, but those are my two cents.

  6. I just joined a 24 hour fitness, and tried CXWORX for the first time yesterday morning with my husband. We read this review right before going, and felt so much more prepared! It was our first time doing a workout class together. We both felt kind of silly, but we also had a ton of fun and are SO SORE! It was a great workout, and I’m glad it’s only 30 minutes. I couldn’t have made it to 60 haha

    1. Hi Brittany! I’m so glad you felt prepared for CXWORX and that you had fun doing it with your hubby. I remember the first time I did the workout, my core was SOOOO sore for days, but in a good way hahaha — I thought I had broken a rib ahhaa. Good work, lady!

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