Posted tagged ‘Body Combat’


March 15, 2011

The original title of this post was “Gym Rat”, but since I limped almost a mile home from my run this morning, I decided to delve a bit deeper into my vocabulary and psyche and find the truth here.  What I have discovered is that it’s really about the repercussions of perfidy, with a touch of James Cameron thrown in for good measure…

I recently joined a local gym  to learn how the equipment works.   I want to help some of my personal training clients who have gym memberships; my personal trainer certification course did not include learning the functions and use of gym equipment.  If a client really loves the gym and that works for them, I need to be able to adjust their exercise prescription to accommodate what they want.   I also thought it would be a great opportunity to mix up my workouts.  After the amazing Body Combat class I attended with my friend Charlene, I realized how much I loved the way it felt to move my body so differently.  The gym I joined is very affordable and only about 10 minutes away from home.  It’s open every day from 5 am to 11 pm, and offers a few classes.  Not Body Combat, but kick-boxing, spinning, and kettle bell classes.

I learned on my first visit that I should have made an initial appointment if I wanted someone to show me around.  I also learned that the gym has a solid core of members, many of them also personal trainers.  Friendly faces greeted me as I made my way around the machine circuit, and a woman who was working out stopped to show me how to use an entire roomful of machines.  She was tiny and unbelievably strong, without a lick of judgment.  She quickly demonstrated upper body and lower body moves, then waved me on each piece to try.  She kindly adjusted the weights so I could actually perform a set of reps on each one without rupturing my muscles.

My second visit included another learning session, this time with a kind and patient man.  He took his time instructing me on equipment I had not yet tried.  He showed me how to check my form in the mirrors.  Every wall in the gym is mirrored!  I felt self-conscious and had a hard time focusing, but after a little while, I got into it and felt like Wonder Woman  after an hour.

I met one of my clients on the third visit, and was able to go through most of the gym fairly knowledgeably, planning out a program for either a fast, intense workout or a longer, more relaxed one.  We used the treadmills and the elliptical machines last, and reviewed intervals on both.  I left him jogging on a treadmill, both of us satisfied with the new plan.

I made three trips to the gym last week.  Some muscles ached a little bit, but overall I felt pretty good.  I ran before I went each time, not trusting I would get an adequate workout without it, and also because the thought of not running outside was unbearable.  I have found a couple of things I love:  a pull-up assist machine, an upright core machine, and a weighted squat machine.  All three give me the support I need to work upper body, core, and lower body in a fresh new way.

I have also found a couple of things I strongly dislike:  the elliptical and the treadmill.  One of the best aspects of running for me is the satisfaction of landing.  I was not aware of this until I used the elliptical for 15 minutes.  I felt like I was in the film Avatar.  I remembered when the avatars ran, they seemed to glide, barely touching their feet to the ground.  Each time my leg came down, it just slid behind me.  My quads seemed like they were about to explode.  I could not find a rhythm, could not find a cadence that made me feel grounded.  And that grounded feeling translates to my mind and all that I am when I run.

Another aspect of running that satisfies me is movement.  Specifically, forward movement.  The treadmill is stationary, even though I’m running.  I could not let go of the feeling of being out of control, of being about to fall.  A nasty sensation of not being in the driver’s seat (or the runner’s feet?) overwhelmed me as the belt went around and around beneath me.  I held the side handles for dear life, raising the incline to 12 to try and lose that feeling.  12 was fine, actually, since I like hills, but not really what I wanted in terms of running.  Here’s where the perfidy comes in.  To top it all off I felt guilty, as if I were cheating on my one true fitness love.  Even as my legs spun around and around the belt, I found myself fantasizing about being outdoors, feeling the air against my skin, my feet softly landing on the ground like butterfly kisses over and over again.

My running partner Sue and I went to the gym together on Sunday.  She showed me her regular upper body routine, I showed her some of the lower body machines I had learned, we did core work together, then we split.  She hopped on one of the elliptical machines while I finished a circuit I liked from last week.  I joined her for and extra 15 minutes of cardio. Right away my left quad started to twinge.  Avatar!  Avatar! I just wanted it to be over.  I wanted the real me.  Outside.

So—lots of new moves, and extra workout time.  I should be feeling pretty good.  But I miss my free weights.  I miss my living room.  I miss the plyometrics and balance work.  And although I am still running outside, I somehow sense an ugly, passionless infidelity when I am at the gym.

Now for the repercussions.

This morning I planned to run the usual six miles.  The cold spring air opened my heart and my mind; I decided to go on to Halibut Point.  I have finally figured out a loop from the street that takes me through the park and all I could think about was the view of the sea from that long dirt road, with the feel of the earth beneath my feet.  The connection between mind and body is strongest in this place.

My left quad started feeling cranky as I exited the park.  I slowed down, easing my way along the side of Granite Street.  I foolishly turned onto Curtis Street, then Stockholm, thinking that the pain would subside.  I slowed even more when I turned down Story Street, and took it easy all the way to Beach Street, skipping the lovely downhill sprint I adore.  I wanted to run home.

I made it to the bandstand by Back Beach before listening to my body and giving in.  I walked the last .8 miles home, shoving the pain and fear back down each time it rose up inside me.  I fought back tears, trying to distract myself from the throbbing ache in my thigh and the acute awareness of the short two months until the Twin Lights Half Marathon.  I hobbled through my front door, swearing my allegiance to what works for me, ready to heal and get back to training for my first half marathon out in the real world.


Body Combat

January 20, 2011

I sneaked in a five mile run this morning before joining my friend Charlene at her gym to try out her favorite class— Body Combat.  The streets proved to be just wet, and because I was not sure of my timing, having to drive my daughter to school and still meet Charlene at 8:45, I opted for a figure-eight loop to stay close to home.  The cold morning air felt good on my face and helped me let go of some of my anxiety about participating in a class where almost everyone else knew the basic routine.  I am not particularly graceful and suffer inhibitions about my synchronized-move capabilities.  Charlene is quite fit, and has been attending this class for a couple of years.  It’s her fitness equivalent to my running addiction.  I knew she would take care of me— she’s the kind of friend who would not leave me in the dust.  I still needed the run.

I ran downtown, zipping up Main Street focusing on my breath and letting go of my nervousness.  I ran the length of Beach Street, turned around, retraced my steps, and chugged up the hill by my house.  I welcomed the scenery of my old route as I looked out onto the ocean by Old Garden Beach. The ocean was white-capped, a rich sapphire blue raising the foaming tips of the waves.  I ran back home along Marmion Way, noticing how much damage the tides had done to the street by Straitsmouth Cove.  I forgot all about the class.

After I drove my daughter to school, I hopped in the shower for a quick freshening, dressed in indoor workout clothes, pulled sweatpants over my capri pants and a warm fleece top over my tank.  I paced around the house for a little while, dwelling on what was to come.  I made myself get into my car, drove to the club, and parked.


Charlene scampered across the snowy parking lot and met me on the front steps.

“Hey back!”

“Here’s your guest pass.  I’ll take you down to the locker room.”

The gym was big and cold.  We passed the pool on the way down the ramp to the locker room, and I glimpsed a water aerobics class in progress.  I shivered.

We locked up our keys and clothes and headed to the classroom, which turned out to be a basketball court.  The room was almost empty, but by the time I had helped Charlene move the instructor’s platform into position, a handful of people had wandered in.  I worried about losing my place in the very back of the class.  I did not want to be anywhere near the front.  I wanted to be able to follow the other participants through the class, and to see the instructor without being seen too well myself.  Charlene did take care of me, too, showing me the basic front punch, upper cut, cross punch, roundhouse kick, back kick, and front kick.  I had a hard time keeping my balance as I tried to take it all in and perform each move at least adequately before the class began.  It seemed hard.  I wondered if my run was a mistake.

Body Combat is like kick-boxing.  Loud, techno-influenced music flooded the room as the instructor began the class.  I stopped thinking completely as I struggled to follow along.  She demonstrated every piece of each segment a few times at an easy pace, moved on to the next, then sped it up, incorporating multiple moves into one long segment.  She had fantastic energy and I soon saw held no judgment about my ability to follow along.  She used an amplified headset to communicate with the class, and took time to make sure we all were on track with the choreographed punches, kicks, jumps, and postures.

I could feel the smile on my face as I struggled to learn the new moves.  I stopped being embarrassed about ten minutes into the class and began to have fun.  I laughed at myself as I watched the other people in the class, mostly women, move in unison while I repeatedly thrust out the opposite fist or the wrong leg, while I jumped forward as they jumped back.  I did pretty well for me, though, duplicating most of the moves on time and fairly rhythmically.  By the time we reached the peak of the cardio segment, I was jumping and running in place with the same freedom that comes for me in a good run outside.  I was sweating, a good sign.

Suddenly Charlene ran over to me, then past me.

“Lap time!”

I chased after her, expecting to run around and around the room, but she veered off right after the first lap.

“Grab a mat!  Floor work!”

I followed her to a corner in the hall, took two of the thin mats, not knowing what to expect.  Floor work!  I could do that no problem.  We splayed out on our backs and did a few oblique crunches, turned over and did plank with alternate leg raises for about a minute, then executed maybe 10 push ups.  I was excited, ready for more.  I looked over to my friend to see what was next.  She grinned at me, sweat running down her pretty face, her flat little belly.

“Cool down!”

I was stunned.  That’s it?  I looked at my watch.  A full hour had gone by. I was ready for another hour.  Pulsing with energy, I forced myself to a seated spinal rotation stretch with the rest of the class, wondering if the instructor would start another session right away, wondering if Charlene would stay with me for another round.

I did the cool down, a combination of yogic stretches with which I was familiar, mixed with graceful martial arts poses. The music ended.  The instructor hopped off the platform and everyone pushed toward the exit.  It was definitely over.  Charlene and I parted in the locker room.  She had errands to do after a quick shower, so I headed home to my own shower, yearning for more Body Combat.