The Fitness Challenge
Training Outside the Box
Photo by Peggy Garbus
“Good god, Woman, how many gym memberships do you have?” asked my husband. He was holding my keychain, from which three key cards to local gyms were dangling. Okay, I admit it. My name is Lisa and I am a fitness junkie. I get bored of doing the same exercises all the time. With the holiday season fast approaching I decided to get out of my fitness rut and challenge myself to try something new. Here are some local gems:
Dan, a personal trainer (and co-owner) introduced me to the world of boxing. I was surprised at the level of cardio fitness it takes to box. What’s key in the sport is keeping your arms close by your sides and relying on your core for strength. We did the basic two-punch, four-punch, seven-punch and 11-punch routines. I was trying so desperately to stay focused that I didn’t realize how hard I was working. There were left-right, left-right hooks, dips, dunks, and more punches. Every time I missed, he made me start over, so by the time I had finished the drills twice, 25 minutes had passed in a flash, and I—the reluctant sweater—had actually broken a sweat. A great workout.
I’ve spun before, but my experience in spin studios is somewhat limited. Rows of sleek bikes lined the studio. We began the class warming up to a Mumford and Sons tune and our instructor Cindy spent the next seven songs guiding us through different positions on the bike.
JoyRide differentiates itself from other spin classes by incorporating an arm and shoulder workout into the class. Spinners choose a two- or four-pound bar to work their biceps, triceps, and shoulders. The strategically darkened room and rhythmic music allow you to mentally escape and focus on moving the flywheel. The burn was ridiculous. By the end, endorphins were zooming through my body and I felt energized.
I have to admit I thought this would be an easy one. I’ve practiced mat Pilates, but I discovered it’s a watered-down version of the true discipline, which focuses on using the group of muscles at the center of the body to control the limbs.
My instructor Mary Beth took her time explaining the Pilates method. I learned that my body, like most, is not symmetrical. I rely on twisting my spine to the right in order to power through exercises. We focused on my centering myself to perform basic moves slowly and purposefully. What I thought would be a breeze was very challenging because my muscle strength was so lopsided. Result: I learned that I needed to focus on alignment basics before I moved forward with strength training.
Special shout out to personal trainer Stephanie for a brutal agility workout. I admit I was nervous about this one because invariably what I dread the most is usually what I need the most. I’m clumsy so I was particularly concerned about my right side and left sides working in tandem. Stephanie put me through a routine packed with everyone’s least-favorite exercises: the TRX, burpees, the ladder, band resistance, and the BOSU balancer. Agility training is of value to athletes of all ages interested in stepping up their game. My reward for all the hard work? A welcome stretch at the end of our session.
I loved the studio for its minimalist yet inviting feel. It’s just the right size for getting the individual attention you need while still being able to experience the collective energy of the class. The devil is in the details with yoga, and Hello Yoga’s instructors are the best at helping you make subtle changes in your practice. The music rocked, and so did my mood as I let go of my worldly concerns and absorbed the inspirational messages voiced in the class.
You don’t have to be a fitness junkie to benefit from any of these exercise options. Hello Yoga and JoyRide offer courses at all levels. Personal trainers take your specific needs (and limitations) into account and will modify routines accordingly. During the winter months, it’s tempting to exercise less and hibernate more, but why not lace up your sneakers and take your own fitness challenge? You’ll be glad you did.