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7 Lessons Learned From A Fitness Class Explorer

03.03.2014

- By Caila Ball

As a writer, I spend most of my workdays sitting. Sitting at my home office. Sitting and researching. Sitting at a coffee shop. Sitting and pitching. Sitting at the library. Just sitting.  Therefore, when GoRecess offered me the opportunity to stop sitting and incorporate some play into my workday, I couldn’t have jumped up (from where I was sitting) any faster!

Tasked with reviewing some of the top fitness studios in the Los Angeles area, I’ve become a bit of an “exercise guinea pig” over the past few months. We’ll go with “fitness explorer” instead, because that title’s adventurous sound is far more appropriate.

Here’s what I’ve learned on my adventures after my first 10 classes as a Fitness Explorer!

1. Variety Spices Up Our Lives

Too much of any one workout can be monotonous, and can also lead to fitness plateaus. Trying a number of different studios and workouts each week allowed me to mix up my cardio, strength, flexibility and balance training.  Some studios even offer a variety of classes that cater to this very benefit. Both YAS (Yoga and Spinning®) and Sweat Pilates (Pilates Proformer and trampoline) offer a chance to sweat it out with a heart-racing cardio burn, and tone it down with their respective strength workouts.

2. Never Underestimate a “Girly” Workout

3-pound weights and a ballet bar? Puleez. I’ve run marathons: how hard can this be? These misguided thoughts were effectively my proverbial famous last words before trying Pure Barre. Roughly 90 seconds into the class, it became clear that tucks, lifts, isometric holds, and - yes - 3-pound weights were much more challenging than anticipated. The (non-weighted) thigh workout even made walking down the stairs the next morning a challenge. Lesson learned: ballerinas have ballet bodies for a reason.

3. Reformers & Megaformers Are Our Friends

They slightly resemble torture chambers, but the “torture” of a Megaformer yields quick results. My body both loved and hated the Pilates Reformer and Megaformer after sessions at Pilates Platinum, Mind & Motion and Sweat Pilates, and the burn - together with increased exercise on the whole - is slowly (but surely) producing visible results in my core.

4. Let the Inner Child Out

Before December, the last time I bounced on a trampoline was as a child of the 90’s, when every parent on the block had their fingers crossed that our soars and flips wouldn’t result in sprains and breaks. The last time I had hung upside down by my knees (or anything, really) involved elementary school monkey bars (parental fingers equally crossed). Channeling these childlike activities at Cirque School LA and Sweat Pilates made the class time fly.

5. There are Benefits of Fun Workouts…

As the bumping music and simulated drumming in Pound at Fitmix wound down, it was hard to believe I had just worked out for 45 minutes. Moving and grooving to Yoga Booty Ballet at Swerve and sparring with a partner at Foxy and Fierce Kickboxing also had me smiling, rather than gritting my teeth. The sweat, however, still poured. Fitness doesn’t have to feel like a chore in order to burn calories, and the less chore-like it feels, the more likely you’ll be to keep up the class.

6. …But the Grueling Ones Hurt So Good

Barry’s Bootcamp’s reputation of being one of the most challenging workouts in the world preceded it. The “shredmill” meets weight training workout certainly lived up to expectations, and on more than one occasion, I was fairly certain I might throw up during a sprint. Sounds awful, right? Not for my hardcore athlete side, which was out in full force during the grueling hour-long session. Partially the promise of the 1,000 calorie burn and partially the thrill of overcoming self-doubt, there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of making it through a “scary” workout.

7. There’s a Workout for Everyone

Since December, I’ve jumped on a trampoline, made amends with Pilates reformers, sprinted uphill on a treadmill, lifted countless weights, hung upside down on a trapeze, used drumsticks aerobically, sparred with a stranger, danced, cycled, downward dogged, channeled my inner ballerina…and I’m only getting started. Not all of these activities are for everyone - frankly, not all of them are even really for me - but there is so much choice when it comes to fitness. So enough sitting: find a class that fits you, and get out there and play!

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