(You can all thank NGS for this loooong-winded diatribe.)
After we got back from our trip to Turks & Caicos, Jason decided he wanted to get serious about working out. I agreed. For the past two years, my body has been feeling more and more decrepit: I had burning hip pain, I felt parts of my body moving when I walked that I hadn’t felt previously, and I didn’t care at all for the direction I seemed to be heading, health-wise.
After visiting (and almost immediately discounting) CrossFit, we decided to try a local fitness studio I had heard about at a Workplace health fair. After one free session, we were both hooked and signed up for memberships immediately. I was initially cheesed at myself for having to pay for exercise when I should be doing it at home for free. But then I realized that I was not, in fact, exercising at home and that this was the only way to commit to exercise, so I immediately got over it. I just keep telling myself that it’s an investment in my future health that will hopefully reduce my future medical costs.
I don’t want to list the studio by name because there’s only a few locations and I don’t want the people there to find this blog. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t care at all if they found this entry; it just makes me feel weird when people I know in real life read my blog (family members excluded). I know this seems dumb, and some of you who follow me on Facebook already probably know what I’m talking about, so I’ll throw you a bone and give you a few hints.
There’s 3 parts to the studio name:
Part one is a color and also a type of juice you may have with breakfast.
Part two is another word for a scientific idea. You may see it in such phrases as “________ of relativity” or “string ________.”
Part three rhymes with “witness.”
So, I work out at ColorIdea Witness, more or less.
The main reason I love ColorIdea Witness so very, very much is that it’s circuit training. This is key for me. I hate being bored by a workout. But here, I’ve been going 2-3 times a week for 6 months, and it’s never been the same workout twice. I absolutely love that. The nerdy part of me loves coming in and seeing the workout on the board; it’s like a miniature Christmas morning 2-3 times a week. (Re-reading that, it just occurred to me that maybe I need to get a life.)
Training consists of three circuits: one on the treadmill, one on the rowing machines and one on the floor. During your hour-long workout, you can wear a heart-rate monitor on a strap that posts your heart rate and calorie burn on TV monitors. As unnerving as that may seem (everyone can see everyone else’s progress), I really like seeing my numbers since it helps me know that I can push myself harder. (I also compete with myself to try to beat my previous numbers. And, if you are next to me on the treadmills, I’m trying to beat your speed/distance. You may not realize this, but it’s happening. Don’t worry, I don’t gloat.) There are three stages your heart rate can be in (without giving away Google-able terminology, think of a stoplight, with the yellow replaced with the first word of the studio name) and you’re aiming to stay in that middle stage as much as possible.
Classes are limited to 24 people, with half starting on the treadmills, and half starting on the rowers or floor. That means it’s basically you, the trainer and maybe 11 other people (usually less). So you get plenty of one-on-one trainer time to help correct your form, get tips, etc. Sometimes, if you’re lucky like Jason, the trainer will hand you heavier weights. Or, sometimes, if your heart rate is below where the trainer thinks it should be, they’ll tell you to increase your speed on the treadmill. Instead of being irritating, this only serves the purpose of telling me I am capable of doing more, something I wouldn’t ever push myself to do at home.
I typically start on the treadmills because I loathe cardio and want to get it over with as soon as possible. The treadmill circuit usually lasts for about 25-27 minutes. (This is where I was extremely glad that Jason and I were typically running 3.1 miles a few times a week on our own.) We switch between three speeds: slow & sustainable, pushing it and running as fast as you can (they call it something different, but again, I don’t want anyone to Google the terminology and find this entry). There may also be incline work. You spend anywhere from 30 seconds to 4 minutes in a given stage, with a minute of walking after the tough intervals. For the sprinter in me, this is perfect. Even when I’m dying, I know I’ll be able to walk in a few minutes. And, you can go at your own pace. There’s people who walk the whole time and people who practically sprint the whole time. (I am firmly in the jogging category.) Like the floor circuit, you never know what you’re going to get: one day it may be a lot of sprints, other days you’ll focus on longer paces at a slower speed and other days involve spending a lot of time running at an incline (my least favorite, because my legs are instantly dead for anything to come afterwards).
The floor work is my favorite. I cannot believe how much I love lifting weights. I love, love, LOVE it. The circuit usually starts with some rowing, then switches to the floor, which might involve using weights, straps, medicine balls, Bosu balls or just body-weight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, etc. Sometimes we even use those little scooters from gym class. Remember those? The ones with four wheels that you’d sit on and race around the gym floor while the P.E. instructor comforted that one kid who always ran over his own fingers? Well here, you use them to do ab rollouts or put your feet on them and do push-ups, so now they represent some serious core work.
Another bonus that doesn’t seem like a bonus but makes you feel like a total badass: I sweat a TON when I work out here. Like, I can seriously wring sweat out of my ponytail when I’m done. Sometimes I see people getting done with their workout and they’ve barely broken a sweat and I think, “How is that possible?”
The people are really cool, too. I love all of the trainers, the desk staff learned my name after like, two days, and the other people working out are all so nice and complimentary. Everyone encourages new people and assures them it gets easier, and at every class, someone is complimenting either Jason or I on either our weight loss or our slowly-developing-muscles physique. We all joke about needing to atone about overindulgences or commiserate over particularly challenging workouts, and it’s like a little family since people tend to work out at the same time/days of the week. It’s nice. I also like the fact that for that hour, there’s nothing to focus on but myself: no deadlines, no distractions, no phones. Just the thumping music and the shouting instructions from the trainer.
Our location has four trainers. There is one who’s our favorite, so we try to schedule as many classes with her as possible. For some reason, I burn more calories in her class than any other. In an hour workout, I’ll burn anywhere from 480-570 calories. Jason usually burns closer to 800-900.
Since I started, I’ve lost about 12 pounds. That might not sound like much, until I tell you this: I didn’t lose much weight at first, but lost major inches off my hips, which was huge since I was pretty pear-shaped. In the last few months, I not only upped the number of times I worked out from 2-3 to 3-4, but also got serious about my diet. I cut waaaaaay back on the Mountain Dews and my portions are much less. So in the last 2 months, I’ve lost about 6 pounds. I have another fitness assessment this weekend, so I’m eager to hear how many more inches off my waist and hips I’ve lost. Right now, I’m about 7 pounds from my ultimate goal weight and I have nicely defined arm muscles so I’m happy. All the changes I’m making are so subtle and sustainable, it feels like I’m not sacrificing anything at all. I’m still eating the same foods, just less of them. I’m still drinking Mountain Dews, just less. So simple.
Plus, I’m much stronger. We had to lift our ultra-heavy snowblower into the back of Jason’s vehicle to take it in for a tune-up, and normally it is a huge struggle because I can barely lift my end and Jason has to do the bulk of it and we argue and it’s never pretty. This year, we lifted it with no issue whatsoever. None. It was like lifting a paper bag. Jason was all, “You got it?” and I snapped back, “Yeah, of course,” like why wouldn’t I? AM STRONG LIKE OX NOW.
So this is the perfect place for both Jason and I. When it’s a workout day, I’m excited. Like, EXCITED, excited. Like one of those insane fitness people you try to avoid because they suck. Only I don’t talk about calories or eating tofu or any of that jazz because I love cheese and food too much. But I will talk your ear off about exercising. Because I love it so much now. Sometimes after a particularly grueling workout, I’ll think, “I want to work out again. Right now.” And considering that I would use any excuse to get out of working out, that is a thought I’d never ever thought I’d have.