I brought my running gear to work yesterday, and was just going to go run sprints by myself on the soccer field, but then I remembered that my personal trainer teaches a bootcamp class on Thursday afternoons. I figured I would give something new a try.
The class setup was really fun - in honor of Easter, my trainer had written a bunch of different exercises on slips of paper, placed them in plastic Easter eggs, and hidden the eggs around the area outside the gym. We were divided into teams - each team had to find 5 eggs. Then we had a set period of time to do the exercises from all the eggs, and then the teams swapped exercises. (So we ended up doing 3 or 4 rounds.)
In general, the experience reminded me of all the things I hate and all the things I love about group fitness classes.
The things I hate:
1. Gratuitous appeals to weight loss/aesthetic goals. My trainer is actually really good about not doing this, but that doesn't stop the other particpants from shouting out things like, "We're doing this for our beach bodies!"
2. Random and haphazard exercise selection. I'm used to training with specific goals and progression in mind, and bootcamp classes don't really do that. You'll get exercises that you don't know how to do properly (Hello, box jumps!), exercises that you don't want to do (Crunches, for real? In 2018? Haven't you all read Stuart McGill?), exercises that are too hard, and exercises that are too easy.
3. Lifting weights and running are both almost forms of meditation for me. When I finish a session, I don't just get the physical benefits, but I usually feel mentally refreshed, calmer, and more focused. Doing burpees like a lunatic with 20 other people doesn't really have the same effect.
Things I love:
1. I like the novelty. It's fun to try new things.
2. It does get your heart rate up like whoah.
3. The cameraderie. There was lots of encouragement, high-fiving, and lots of commiseration in the locker room afterwards about how much burpees suck. (Yes, I hate other people and I love other people. Did you expect me to be consistent?)
Also, I managed to teach one of my teammates how to do a kettlebell swing without referencing anything NSFW, which is an achievement since a kettlebell swing basically consists of humping the air while holding a cannonball on a handle.
Group fitness classes also offer an interesting opportunity to measure up your fitness levels against a bunch of other people. I used to be able to confidently assume that I would stand out as the least fit person in any group fitness class. (Which isn't so bad - if you don't let it hit your self-esteem, you can serve a socially useful function.) Now, not so much. I'm still a noticeably slow runner, although my endurance isn't bad. I'm terrible at burpees and other similar exercises that involve flinging yourself up and down a lot. I'm reasonably good at anything requiring core strength. I'm unsurprisingly pretty darn good at anything that requires leg strength.
I don't think I'll do the bootcamp class on a regular basis, but I might join it now and again for a change of pace.
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