I find it amazing when something that you think has evolved about as much as it ever possibly can does a little jig and reinvents itself. This is how I feel about exercise classes. I mean, you used to just show up, put on your best headband, follow the leader, work up a bit of a sweat, maybe have a little dramatic flashdance moment, and then prance home feeling rather good about yourself. Oh sure, they introduced ground-breaking cardio workout tools from time to time, like the steps with risers, velcro ankle weights, and giant stability balls, but that’s been about it, really.
Now, it’s been ages since I actually attended regular high impact fitness classes (Jazzercise, anyone?), so today’s double whammy TRX Suspension and Kettle-Fit class certainly raised my eyebrows, not to mention my heartbeat. Seriously, I walked into the large workout room at energyXchange to find long sets of resistance belts with handles hanging from an imposing steel beam that spanned the middle of the ceiling. As if that weren’t enough, we were then instructed to grab a couple of kettlebells, a skipping rope, and gliders. I had the uneasy feeling that this was going to hurt.
I had read about the physical benefits of kettlebells, and had even gone so far as to purchase one to swing around my Irish condo when it was too rainy to be outside and there was really nothing to watch on my twelve very basic cable channels (so, just about every day that I wasn’t in the pub, or when I hadn’t already poured myself a glass of wine after walking in the door, because they recommend you swing them with two hands, and, well, to be fair, the wine was there first). Needless to say, it was still in mint condition by the time I moved back to Canada.
The class got underway, and it shared some similarities with the High Intensity Interval Training I had attempted earlier in the week, in that specific exercises were done in about thirty second intervals. The words ‘muscle confusion’ may have been uttered, either out loud or in my head, but what firmly held my attention were the ones that involved the TRX Suspension system. Despite my persistence at yoga, my balance is still impressively poor, and my core strength is not exactly the best. So when we were instructed to loop one of our ankles through the handles and extend it behind us while we attempted one-legged squats, I ended up doing my best bouncy airplane impersonation in an effort to prevent a catastrophic crash-landing.
The other sequence that I found slightly perturbing was when we had to loop each of our ankles in a handle and hold ourselves in the plank position for what seemed like forever. This feat of strength was livened up even further with a few pikes or crunches where we brought our ankles towards our hands and then extended them again. Ah, good times.
Strangely, what I didn’t mind as much were the upper body moves using the TRX, such as when we had to use the handles to first hold ourselves away from the center beam, followed by pulling ourselves towards it, alternating our arms in three different positions. Using our own bodyweight here seemed somehow more natural, and for some strange reason made me reminisce about old school male gymnasts holding themselves in a cross position on the rings. Of course, that may have just been the delirium setting in, hard to say.
Overall, though, I did enjoy the class with its evolutionary exercise equipment. On some level, the goal of keeping me challenged and focused was definitely met, while I also miraculously managed to participate in all the moves without feeling like a complete and utter dufus. Now that’s what I call progress.