Thursday, May 12, 2011

Explorations in Exercise

So I know I must sound like a broken record when I talk about what I will call “my past life” (the ex, the Tae Kwon Do team, etc) but I ask you to bear with me as this post will (briefly) discuss my past life as a kickboxer and then delve into all the new and exciting forms of exercise I have tried in the last couple months as I search for a new gym (trust me, you’ll want to read about this).

I have never been one to be so self-motivated that I can just hop on a treadmill or pull on the running shoes and go out for a run. If I do either of those things it’s usually about 5 minutes before I am completely hating myself and counting the minutes down until I can stop. In short, I get really, really, bored. Maybe I am just ADD when it comes to exercise but I have found that I only push myself and see real results when I take group classes. In the past, I have tried all kinds of classes including step aerobics, body pump, kickboxing, spinning, yoga, Jazzercise (yes, I said Jazzercise—which I did while I was in grad school and was about two seconds away from becoming an instructor), and the occasional boot camp. I even tried an aerial yoga class with my sister one time at a yoga studio in New Orleans which was actually really cool. It consisted of doing yoga poses in big strips of fabric that were hung from the ceiling.

So yeah, I have run the gamut of exercise classes.

Usually I will find one or two types of classes that I really get into and will stick with them for a while (I guess you could say I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to exercise programs I like). I did Jazzercise for a solid 2 years and my last bout with kickboxing lasted just over 2 years as well. So after the shake-up with my gym in January I was faced with a serious question—to continue kickboxing or not?

At first, I couldn’t imagine giving up kicking. Honestly I believe it was what I was born to do (just ask my mom about my time in the womb).  I tried out a couple of local kickboxing gyms in Atlanta including Bangkok Boxing and Unit 2 Fitness but as I’ve said in previous posts I just wasn’t ready to commit. Enter in the amazingness that are all those group savings coupons—Groupon, Living Social, Sweet Jack, Scoutmob—you know what I’m talking about.

I am probably a subscriber to more of these online sites than are necessary but you can seriously get some sweet, sweet, deals. I bet I could go a solid year just buying these things and trying different local Atlanta gyms while never having to worry about paying joining fees and monthly dues (which definitely appeals to my budget at the moment and my lack of wanting to commit to anything). It’s pretty fantastic.

So one of the places I have tried recently is called Adrenaline Fitness in Chamblee. I bought a month’s worth of fitness classes from Living Social for $25. Adrenaline bills themselves as a “class oriented gym” (great for me). They offer everything from the traditional step and weight training classes to recent fads like Zumba and Hot Yoga. During my month there I tried just about everything except their “Body Combat” (i.e. kickboxing) class. You may think this is a little strange given my past with kickboxing but there are a couple reasons why I chose not to take the class. First I think I needed a break from kickboxing and time to allow my body to explore new forms of exercise. Second, they didn’t use a heavy bag which was a major turn-off to me. Punching and kicking the air is no fun in my opinion.  So it was off to Zumba, body pump, step aerobics, and hot Yoga I went.

For those of you who don’t know, Zumba is a combination of latin dancing, hip hop, and bellydancing. From what I gleaned off Wikipedia it was developed in the 1990’s by a Colombian choreographer named Alberto “Beto” Perez. It didn’t really take off until 2001 in the United States and now there are 110,000 instructors in over 125 countries. In my experience Zumba was a lot of fun—especially if you like to dance. I wouldn’t say the classes I took were particularly challenging but I did sweat a bit and it wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour.

Of the other classes I attended at Adrenaline I would have to say that my  favorite class was the hot yoga. In hot yoga the room is heated to around 105 degrees which is supposed to allow the body to achieve a deeper stretch and better workout.  I’ve read that some hot yoga classes can last 90 minutes but the one I took was only 60. The poses are mostly classical yoga poses—triangle, downward dog, plank, warrior I and II, etc. and each class that I took began with a series of sun salutations and ended with stretching and a nice relaxation period. Even though the poses in the class are pretty basic the heat makes it really intense. I can safely say I have never sweated so much in my life! But the end result feels amazing—talk about getting rid of toxins—and being someone who hates being hot, well, let’s just say I am a believer in hot yoga now.

In addition to the classes at Adrenaline I also purchased another Groupon deal back in December. This group coupon was for…wait for it…pole dancing classes (I told you that you’d want to read on)! A local dance studio called Dance 411 in East Atlanta was offering 4 pole dancing classes for $29 (an $80 value). I had put off signing up for the class for a while but finally strapped on my big girl stilettos (okay they weren’t really stilettos, just some high heels I had hanging around) and took a class last Saturday. Let me just say that I had so much fun! I was a bit nervous at first (I think most everyone else in the room was as well) but Ninja—our instructor (yes, you read that right--the instructor's name was Ninja)—helped us relax by doing a quick warm-up stretch and making us choose a pole name which would be our alter ego for the class. There were lots of embarrassed giggles as she made each person say their name aloud and people threw out names like Candy, White Chocolate, and Miss Apple.  Ninja went over some basic pole dancing terms including “loving the pole” (basically grinding on your pole) and taught us some basic moves like booty bumping and how to spin on the pole. Then she taught us a sexy little dance, split us into groups, and let us work it out. Now let me just say that if you give a woman a pole, she will work it! I’m serious—I don’t care hold old or shy all women like to feel sexy. The women in my class were no exception and by the end of class everyone was practicing their struts and spins and cheering each other on. It was great!

Now I realize that this has been a long post so I will get to my point. My point is that in my experience trying new types of exercise is refreshing and good for your body. Even though I may be bitter about what happened with my last gym I have been able to try some new things and I am really glad about that. Who knows, there could be some pole dancing classes in my future (don’t even think that it was not a workout—my arms were feeling it the next day) and at some point there will definitely be hot yoga. The good thing is that I am still free to try some new things and I am keeping my eyes peeled for more fun group fitness deals. I am going to go back to kickboxing for a while (Unit 2 had a Living Social deal this week for a month of classes for $30 and I couldn’t say no) because I still feel as if that is where I get my best workout but now that I know there are other things out there that I enjoy maybe I’ll mix it up a bit. It never hurts to explore.

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