Changing-Up Is Hard To Do

Leave it to women’s aerobics to leave me humbled.

Recently, my TRX instructor Rebekah suggested I try a circuit crosstraining class at the gym. Always up for something new, I decided to give it a shot this morning. 

The circuit crosstraining class is apparently different each time, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course, what I did expect was to breeze through it. After all, over the past year my workouts have included regular intense CrossFit routines, tons of running followed by weights often followed by more cardio on the Jacobs Ladder, and just recently I started repeatedly running up and down the ski area near my house with a backpack filled with bricks. I’ve been expecting my Certificate of Bad-Assery to arrive in the mail any day now.

So I expected the class to be pretty easy. My expectations were only fueled when I walked in and saw I was the only man in the class. I then saw that many of the circuits were straight out of women’s aerobics classes — steps for things like cross-overs and leg lifts; squat presses with light PURPLE-colored dumbbells. I was already thinking of sneaking out the door when over the sound system they started playing Kei$ha.

But I decided to grin and bear it. We started off bouncing and stretching to the club music beat. We hopped and swung our arms around and I thought about how if I was watching me I’d be making fun of me. We then started hitting the 90-second circuits – decline presses on a step, hyperextensions using a ball, crossovers on a step, squat presses with the purple weights.

And then I started sweating. And something that seemed like a burn began to set in.

We interspersed some of the circuits running around a basketball gym next door, and doing some skipping high-knees. I stopped thinking about people who might be watching me, and started thinking about how my legs felt like they were starting to quiver. For one circuit I wrapped these silly little tight bands around my ankles and shuffled around. With all the leg-strengthening workouts I’ve been doing, my legs never move like this, and the burn was excruciating. My legs shook as we did side leg lifts and kicks from the wall. Then burpees, box jumps and spinning.

Despite all the intense workouts I do, this class — this GIRLS class —  had exposed for me movements and muscles that have been neglected in my training. To me, it was a wake-up call about the importance of changing up a routine — or, better yet, throwing routine out the window. With all the micro-focus on different styles of exercise today, it seems the most important thing is just to be active as often as possible, and do as many different activities as possible. When you do something completely new, it jolts your body and shines a spotlight on all the areas you’ve been missing.

Now I have to go get myself those silly ankle bands. And find out when the next class is.