Sunday, September 28, 2014

One Week of Group Exercise Classes - RECAP

Last week, I challenged myself to five days in a row of group exercise classes.  I was feeling like I needed to push myself more with my workouts and thought that the group atmosphere would be a good motivator to keep me determined and giving my all to my workouts.  I was right.  These classes are no joke!  I ended up making it through four classes and took Friday off.  Last week was one of the busiest weeks of school so far with lots on the calendar, which meant for many early mornings and late nights.  I knew that I physically could not do one more class on Friday and was disappointed that I didn't complete all 5 classes.  But, now I know for the future that it's best to do three or four classes, take a day off, then do three or four classes again.  That's what I'm planning this week.  


Below is a detailed recap of each day and a review of the classes I took.  

MONDAY - YOGA
Mondays are always hard, and, as I lay sleeping in my warm, cozy bed, still super tired from a long weekend, and being up late working on Monday's posts, my alarm was nagging me to wake up.  I'd already hit snooze too many times and it was almost 7am (the alarm was set for 6).  For a second I thought, "What if I don't go today?  Who will know?" Well, I will know, and I don't want to let myself or you down.  So I got my tired ass up.  My son is usually awake before me, but Mondays are hard on him too.  "I'm still sleeping.  Leave me alone!" He growled at me, which is totally not like him.  I grabbed his school clothes, went downstairs and started making our protein pancake, pulling already-assembled school snack and lunch from the fridge and into the backpack.  My groggy son made his way downstairs, ate his pancake, I had to help get him dressed for school and we're out the door at 7:40.  I hope he naps at school today, I think.  

Hurrying to the gym, I'm stressed because I don't want to be late for my first class and I'm actually nervous because I've never done this class or yoga before.  I realize I have that high-school feeling of "what if everyone already knows each other and what to do and I'm left out?"  Also, I don't really know where the class is taught, so that's stressing me out a little.  But, I get there in plenty of time and there are already about 20 women standing outside the room waiting.  "Are you waiting for the yoga class?" I ask the woman closest to me.  "Yes, if you don't get here early, you won't get a spot."  

And they're all in flip-flops or bare feet.  I'm in athletic shoes.  oops.  Once the door opens and we enter the room, I see a mat already set up on the floor, so I go sit on it and take my shoes and socks off.  "I was saving that spot for my friend" a woman says.  oops, again.  So, I go get my own mat, two blocks and a towel and there's barely any spot to lay the mat out.  It's a huge room and it's full of people.  After I got situated, I counted at least 75 people there for the class (mostly women, but a few men).  

The instructor starts the class with a quote from Einstein- something about insanity and he talks about that for awhile.  He is a good instructor, even though I don't do yoga, I can tell.  (and also judging by how popular his class is).  His voice is calm and even and he instructs you very specifically on how to do the poses.  He's actually really eloquent in describing what your body should be doing.  A few times, he nonchalantly adjusted how I was holding a pose and did so for other people in the class too.  

Breathing is important in yoga- in and out through your nose and it should make sound.  Holding the poses was challenging, but I think I did okay.  My favorite part of yoga was the end- the two minutes of lying quietly on my back while soothing music played in the background was heavenly.  I realize I never just sit quietly at home.  I'm always go, go, go.  Even if I'm sitting on the couch, it's either while watching t.v., playing on my iPad, or reading.  So, just laying still quietly was awesome.

The instructor ended the class with a Dalhi Lama quote about giving your full attention to the task you are doing.  Great way to start a Monday.

Monday night, after dinner, we had a PTO officer meeting to prepare for the big school PTO meeting that Thursday.  The meeting lasted until 10:30 p.m., so it was a late night.

TUESDAY - CORE MOTION
I woke up on Tuesday morning really sore.  I didn't think I'd pushed myself that hard with yoga the day before, but my muscles thought differently.  I had an early text from my friend saying she was keeping her daughter home sick, so our running was canceled.  Wanting to continue the group exercise, I checked the schedule and found "Core Motion: a non-stop cardio workout using a medicine ball that emphasizes functional movement, fat-burning, and core strength."  This class was so hard, but also ended up being my favorite.  You could use a 2 or 4 pound medicine ball (the size of a basketball).  I chose the 4lb ball and was dying after 45 minutes of the hour-long class.  There's a lot of movements where you are pushing the ball above your head and you hold it the whole time.  This class reminded me most of the workouts I did with my trainer when I was training for my contest.  It incorporated the strength and cardio elements at the same time.  45 minutes in, I was looking for the door, but I stuck with it.  I was a sweaty mess at the end.


WEDNESDAY - CUTTING EDGE (strength) 
By Wednesday, I realized I was seeing some of the same people as in the first two classes.  I guess they do these classes pretty frequently.  This class was similar to Core Motion, except you use sets of free weights.  The step bench was mostly for when we lay on it to do chest exercises- like flys with the weights.  We did a lot of cardio too, like burps (yuck!) and abwork with planks and crunches.  Again, the class was super challenging.   The round discs are for lunges and my legs were on fire!!!

As the class started, the instructor asked if anyone was new to the class - I'm not sure if I was the only new one, but I was the only person who actually raised her hand.  The instructor was nice enough to come over to me a couple of times and make sure I was doing okay.  And, at the end, she came over again and asked what I thought.  I told her how hard the class was, and it made me feel out of shape- but I liked it."  She said, "I was keeping an eye on you and you did great!"

Doing three days in a row of hard exercise had me feeling really good.  It's easier to eat healthier when you are working hard too.

Wednesday after school, my son had swimming lessons, then I came home and made dinner for my husband and had plans to have dinner with my girlfriends at one's house with our friend visiting from out of town.  After leaving my girlfriends house, I made a late-night trip to Target for last-minute PTO items.  I think I made it to bed around midnight.


THURSDAY - CYCLE TECH 
By Thursday morning, I was so tired.  We had a classmate come over at 6:15am that we were bringing to school, so it was an extra early morning.  I drank a cup of coffee to get me going (I usually wait until after my workout because I sometimes get too jittery/hungry if I drink it before).  My husband agreed to do the cycling class with me since he didn't have any appointments that morning and we knew the instructor.  Thank God this class was only 45 minutes.  I really felt like my legs might not make it through this class, but once you get going and the music was so good, I'm proud to say I gave it my all.  It was 45 minutes, but that was all cycling.  We were told to "make sure to stretch" when the class ended.

The instructor for a spin class makes all the difference, along with the music they play.  This class rocked, and I remembered that the instructor is a Christian, because he threw in a Hillsong song. :) He was so good, encouraging us the whole time, saying, "leave the anger behind, the stress behind"  "own the moment, this is your exercise, don't sit on your butt. . . "  And he kept changing the lights for different moods.  He was good about telling us what RPM we should be at too.  I'd never done a class where they had that kind of monitor on the bike before.  My husband snapped this pic before class started- and it filled up (about 40 people?).


After class, I had to hurry and get to the school to do some work, then rush to my hair appointment, and back to the school with wet hair to finish up.  I got home around 4pm, then had to be back at the school at 6pm for our 6:30 meeting.  I ended up getting home around 8:30pm, got in bed with my son so I could hear all about his first day of karate and then stayed up late working on my Weekend Steals & Deals post for Honey We're Home.  I went to bed with it unfinished, and decided to skip Friday's workout so I could finish my post and because my body was so physically exhausted and sore. 

FRIDAY
Nada.  Definitely needed this rest day. I felt bad to disappoint y'all!  I had said that I was going to do five workouts and only did four, but I figured it's better to be honest and give you the truth than to push myself past what I know is good for me.  At lunch with some friends on Friday, my girlfriend gave me some "thank you" cookies and that was the first sweets I indulged in all week!  And I kept my water consumption up too.

WHAT I LEARNED:  These group classes are an awesome workout!  They are not the aerobics classes of the 80s, but instead, are intense cardio/weight training exercises. The workouts are similar to what I did with my trainer (the Core Motion and Cutting Edge) and the group class helps keep you going when you feel like quitting.  The other thing I liked about having an instructor was I didn't have to think about what exercise to do next.  They are there telling you what to do and the transitions from one exercise to the next happen quickly.  I really wanted to leave without doing the whole hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays classes, but being in the group made me stick with it.  I felt slimmer and stronger after just four classes.  I know that if you stick to intense group classes like these, you will get in shape!

Also, I did feel intimidated at first because these were my first classes and I didn't know what I was doing or know anyone in the classes.  That's okay.  I overheard other people saying they hadn't done the classes before either.  Sure, having a friend go with you might make you feel more comfortable, but it's still YOUR workout.  Make it yours!

I still want to do the Friday class I missed "Muscles" and plan to do that one this week.  Also, tomorrow, my husband and I are doing "Cardio Kickbox".  I'm scared of this one because the class description is, "Moderate/fast paced. High energy workout of kickboxing drills and combinations incorporating heavy bags."  Um, never done anything like this before, but I bet it's a great workout!  It's okay to be scared, but I don't want to let fear paralyze me.  Be courageous and strong.  Conquer your fears.  You will be rewarded.

I'm so glad I gave these classes a chance.  I definitely felt a change in my body after just four classes (along with healthy eating)!

Are you convinced to try a group class now?



Sunday, September 21, 2014

One Week of Group Classes - THE PLAN

Hi friends!  I'm trying something new this week to shake up the semi-funk I've been in lately with my workouts.  I only worked out once last week because I felt too busy with all the commitments going on.  Some weeks are like that, but they leave me feeling icky.  And, as y'all know, when we workout, our eating is typically better.  We don't workout so hard during the week, just to "blow it." So, this week, I'm doing a week (Monday - Friday) of group workouts.  I feel like I need the boost of energy and support you get when working out in a group.  There's a commitment because it starts and stops at a specific time and you do get a great workout.  Once the class gets started, it's rare that someone leaves without completing that class. 

I printed out the schedule and class descriptions of group exercise classes at my gym and found they typically have three options for the time of day I like to go (in the morning right after dropping my son off at school).  This works perfect for me, I just get up, get dressed/eat my protein pancake/get my son fed and ready for school and we're off.  No hair, makeup, or coffee (I prefer to linger with that after I get home and showered).  When I get home, I know my day is off to a great start because I got my workout out of the way! 

I chose a variety of classes so that I can experience different types of exercise and instructors.  If I really like one, I'll consider committing to that class for a longer period.  On Tuesdays, I'm sticking to our school running club, which is just a few women that run the 3-mile track at our local park right after drop off.  

Here's my schedule of GROUP CLASSES for this week with the class description below:

Monday- Yoga Body (8:30 - 9:30) YOGA
A well-rounded hatha yoga practice that will lightly warm you up and stretch you out while beginning to train your body for more advanced work.  Most appropriate for those who have prior yoga experience and are physically fit.  

I've never tried yoga (well, once, over ten years ago), so we'll see about this.  There was no other "beginner" yoga class offered at my timeframe.  I've have a couple of very close girlfriends who rave about yoga, and I'm eager to try it for the mind/body connection.  Any advice for this first-timer? 

Tuesday- Running Club (8:15 - 9:00) CARDIO
Run/walk intervals for 3 miles outside. 

We've increased our stamina lately, so we're running more, walking less. This is great because we are done quickly and I can get on with the rest of my day sooner. 

Wednesday- Cutting EDGE (8:30 - 9:30) STRENGTH
A more refined format including traditional weigh training combined with timed cardio intervals consisting of basic, athletic movements specifically designed to enhance the strength portion of the workout experience.

I definitely want to keep my strength up and my muscles toned, so I'm excited about this class.  I bet it will be hard- timed cardio intervals always are, especially if you push yourself. 

Thursday- Cycle Tech (8:30 - 9:15) CYCLE
An indoor cycling class designed to prepare you for race day; some of the techniques, specific ride profiles and drills are those used by competitive cyclists. 

I've met the instructor who teaches this class and I think he's a pretty hard-core cyclist.  I'm interested to see how his teaching technique is.  I hope the music is good!

Friday- Muscles (8:30 - 9:30) STRENGTH
A muscle conditioning class for all levels, using various resistance equipment to build strength resulting in a total body weight workout. 

My friends say the instructor who teaches this class is the best, and I can't wait to see for myself!

Hitting "publish" on this post and sharing this goal with you will keep me accountable to completing all these classes.   As far as my diet goes, my goal is simple- don't eat any sweets (ice cream, cookies, brownies, etc.) and drink lots of water- 55 ounces a day (about half my body weight in ounces).  


I will report back and let you know the classes went and whether I plan to stick with it.  
Will you commit to a joining a group class with me this week?
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