Today is the last day of January, and if you’re like me, you’re reviewing your New Year’s goals to see how the first month of execution went.
Not so well.
I wanted to be much further along in my “pre-half-marathon” training. I did manage to take the first session of Ramp Up Your Run (an excellent class, by the way), but I also wanted to increase my weekly miles in preparation for the official kick-off to my training next week.
Unfortunately, sick kids (who then generously passed on their illness to me) have kept me home-bound and out of the club, and a heavy workload that has to take precedence have meant a delay to my pre-training.
Betty Becker, Group Exercise Director, is right on track to meet her goals for 2011, however.
When she approached me about spotlighting a different group exercise class each month of 2011, I was happy to help.
The goal, she says, is to make the awesomely packed schedule more accessible and to encourage members who might not have tried a class to give it a shot.
Of course, you already know about new and wildly popular MXT (now with both a 12:15pm Wednesday class and a brand new Saturday class at 12:30), but there are literally dozens of other classes on the schedule too.
This month, Betty’s shining the spotlight on Cardio Kickboxing.
Here’s Betty’s pitch for why you need to give this class a go:
If you’re bored with your aerobics class and looking for a high-intensity workout that will increase your endurance, strength, and flexibility, while you burn fat, then Cardio Kickboxing is for you.
This high-energy, explosive, exciting, and motivating class is a no-contact kickboxing workout that blends elements of boxing, martial arts, plyometrics, balance, and strength conditioning into a 60-minute exercise routine.
Why take Cardio Kickboxing?
You can burn 500-700 calories
It’s easy enough for a beginner to learn and tough enough for an advanced member to master
From shoulders to calves, you’ll become lean, toned, and strong with a complete body workout.
It’s a fun and results-driven workout
You’ll learn self-defense moves to protect yourself
Cardio Kickboxing will help you build a positive self-image, increase your self-confidence, and reduce your stress level (Kristi here: that last benefit alone makes me want to take this class right now).
Don’t let fears of trying a new class get in the way of giving Cardio Kickboxing a try. I’m the instructor, and I can tell you that my class members move at their own individual pace. The movements are easy-to-learn, and you can perform them either low or high-impact. Whether you want to get in shape or you’re just looking for a challenging workout, I encourage you to give Cardio Kickboxing a try.
See you on Tuesday nights at 5:50pm in the Group Exercise Studio!
One of the suggestions emailed to me in response to my 2010 wrap-up post was to write about group exercise classes I’ve taken to give you an idea of what to expect if you haven’t ever taken the class. I hope to be able to do that going forward as Betty highlights a new class each month.
Have you taken Cardio Kickboxing with Betty? What do you like about the class?
I am very uncoordinated, which is part of the reason why I enjoy running. It’s basically one foot in front of the other and very hard to screw up. There’s no equipment to use. No complex movements. And unlike a group exercise class setting, there is no instructor to follow when your head knows which way your body should be moving, but your body refuses to cooperate.
I took the first “Ramp Up Your Run” conditioning session on January 14th, which was co-taught by personal trainers Bruce and Laura.
And while I’m still uncoordinated as heck, I learned a number of exercises and stretches to not only improve my coordination, but also to take my sport to the next level.
The class was modeled around the idea that running is a full-body sport.
You need strong legs to run (obviously), but you also need balance, coordination, agility, and endurance.
Bruce taught the first half of the session and ran the class through a series of bootcamp-style drills and exercises designed to strengthen every part of our bodies.
And he knows running like no one I’ve ever met. With 17 marathons under his belt, including 10 consecutive Bostons, he could write a book about the importance of plyometric exercises (specialized, high-intensity training techniques used to develop athletic strength and speed) and how to use them to improve your run.
We performed many drills and exercises, but here are the highlights:
We placed resistance bands around our calves and did side-step moves to strengthen our leg muscles.
We did agility ladder drills to improve our speed and footwork.
We worked on balance by standing on one foot and then jumping up to land on a box.
We learned the importance of foam rolling to prevent and treat running injuries.
We performed a series of running drills, including one that included skipping.
Then Laura took over to cover the stretching portion of the session.
Laura is not only a talented dancer, but she is also an expert on stretching and teaches the Essential Stretch class on Sunday afternoons. I did not stretch enough during my half-marathon training last summer, which may have contributed to my calf-injury, but after listening to and watching Laura, I have now become a stretching machine.
We did balance ball stretches designed to improve our leg strength.
We worked on our cores and how to improve our posture.
We learned about the importance of both pre- and post-run stretches and how stretching prevents injuries.
The class moved quickly, but we were encouraged to stop Bruce and Laura at any time to ask questions about what we were doing, which all of us there that night did.
Our class had the personal attention of two awesome trainers for 1.5 hours.
They watched our form and adjusted us when necessary (I needed a lot of adjusting).
They took the time to answer all our questions, long after the session ended.
They addressed our specific injuries (and runners love to talk about their injuries), and what we can do to prevent them from happening again.
And while at times my stretching form was a hot mess, and I could not properly execute the skipping drill to save my life, Bruce and Laura never made me feel inadequate. They were nothing but encouraging, positive, and supportive.
After the session ended, I asked my fellow classmates what they thought of “Ramp Up Your Run.”
Here’s what they said:
“All of the core strengthening stretches and exercises were awesome -I am still feeling it days later.”
”Stretching my calf muscles was exactly what I needed that day! I was pleasantly surprised that they included a lot of yoga-like moves, which is nice (since I do try to do yoga).”
“I’m sold on the exercise ball and will be going today to get one of my own. I can still feel the sore muscles from some of the exercises that utilized the ball and I know those core muscles need some serious work.”
“My favorite bit of advice focused around strengthening my ankles. This is crucial to me because of a recent sprain. I’m really hoping that these suggestions will make me run stronger and longer!”
“The instructors made a great point that a strong runner needs a strong core….I will be working on that.”
The next session of “Ramp Up Your Run” is this Saturday, January 29th, from 12:30-2pm. I loved this class, and if you run, I think you’ll enjoy it too.
If you’re like me, you’re dying for a peek behind the sheets covering the opening to the space where Bell Racquet Sports used to operate.
In the Winter issue of Spirit, the manager of the new retail space, Jennifer Snyder, hinted at what’s to come. When I sat down with her last week, she dished on even more secrets.
The store has a name, but it’s being kept under wraps for now.
She did share it with me, and I will tell you that it’s smart, creative, and captures the essence of the club perfectly.
The look and feel will be much different than that of the previous shop.
Jennifer has an inspired vision for the shop. She wants the space to be warm, inviting, and alive – a place you will want to enter and stay awhile. She envisions more of a high-end gift shop environment and less of a sports store. Soft music will play, plants will enhance the space, and the merchandise will cater to members’ varied needs.
The focus is on lifestyle …
The retail store will blend tennis and other athletic gear with lifestyle merchandise. You will still be able to purchase racquets, strings, grips, and workout clothes, but the store’s product line will also include casual wear and other non-athletic clothing, including high-end dresses and shirts to wear outside the club. Jennifer was the manager at L’avant Garbe & Men-tality, so if anyone knows about fashion, it’s her.
I’m sure I’m not alone in arriving at the club only to realize I’ve forgotten my iPod’s earbuds. Jennifer wants the store to cater to members’ last-minute shopping needs, and as such, the store will stock things we typically forget until it’s (almost) too late. Gifts, greeting cards, padlocks, earbuds (yay!) and other convenience items will appear on shelves.
Opening Day is
Tuesday, March 1st!
Hours of operation are:
Opening day will be a big deal at the club. Specials, giveaways, raffles, and great food and drinks are all on tap for the big celebration.
Now here’s where YOU come in.
Jennifer stressed often during our talk that communicating with members is very important to her. After all, this is our store, and she wants to stock it with items we want and need.
So, leave a comment below to let Jennifer know what you would like the store to carry. Have a favorite brand of athletic socks you want stocked? Always forgetting your tie or cuff links and want to grab them on your way out the door to work? Let us know that too.
One lucky current member who leaves a comment suggesting a product idea or line for the store will receive a $100 Spa Gift Card – perfect for you, or perfect for a loved one as a gift for Valentine’s Day.
I will select one winner via Random.org on Wednesday, January 26th, at 5pm, and post the name of the winner on our Facebook page and here on the blog on January 27th.
So, what do you want carried in your new retail store?
* Congratulations to Heather Gagnier, who has won the $100 gift card from the Spa at Midtown. Thanks to everyone who submitted such awesome ideas for the new retail space. I will be passing on your suggestions to Jennifer Snyder, the store manager. The store opens in just over a month!
About the most extreme thing I’ve done is carry twins for eight months. They were born early, thus saving me from the truly extreme ninth month of a twin pregnancy. Their birth was via emergency c-section, so that was a little extreme, but I think natural childbirth would have been a lot harder.
So, when I looked at the new class schedule and saw MXT (Midtown Xtreme Training), I was intrigued. And when members began raving about the very first class on the club’s Facebook page a few weeks ago, my curiosity was piqued again. The current class time (Wednesdays from 12:15-1:15pm) doesn’t work for my schedule, so when Trainer Vinny Mugavero, who together with Trainer Justin Bradt developed MXT) offered a private class at a more convenient time, I took him up on it, and dragged three of my friends along for company.
Not much in my life is extreme.
It earns its name.
Here’s what you need to know about MXT (Midtown Xtreme Training):
1. Embrace Kettlebells.
My kettlebell experience is limited. I used them briefly during Boot Camp Against Cancer, and that sums up my exposure to them. Pardon the pun, but MXT is kettlebell-heavy. During class we did Dead Man Lifts and incorporated kettlebells into sqauts and choreographed moves. At first, I was raging against what one friend called “kettlebell hell,” but by the end of the class I had begun to look at them in a new way. I’m a runner, and all my power is in my legs. My upper body strength is very poor.
MXT showed me exactly how poor, and now I know how important it is to improve this area. Strong upper body = strong total-body runner.
2. The Class is Not for Beginners.
Prior to taking this class, I considered myself in shape. I have many areas that need improvement (doesn’t everyone?), but I have a decent level of overall fitness.
MXT kicked me in the rear.
"I'm trying, Vinny. I'm trying!"
We began the class with several laps around the Group Exercise studio (yay! Running!), moved into jumping jacks (traditional and squat jacks), and then things began to ramp up from there. We used free weights for bicep curls and during push-ups. We used body bars and jump ropes. We did sprinter stances and then backed up our hands to our feet, inchworm-style. And in the second half of the class, we used kettlebells almost exclusively.
I am not a fitness expert by any means, but if you’re new to working out or lack endurance, I would not recommend this class. “Xtreme” appears in the class title for a reason. However, I would certainly encourage everyone who wants a challenge and who has a moderate fitness base to give it a try.
3. Boot Camp-Style Stations Mix It Up.
November’s Boot Camp Against Cancer was my first Midtown boot camp experience. I really liked running through the different stations, because it kept the class interesting, and I never had to do any one activity for very long. During the last part of MXT, Justin set up five stations using a step box, kettlebells, dumbbells, and a stability ball, and we moved through the circuit. Good cardio mixed with weight training.
4. Vinny and Justin are excellent trainers with inspiring strength.
This was a fast-paced class whose activities were continually changing. I am usually overwhelmed in classes like this, because I have the balance and coordination of a toddler.
But strangely, in this class, I was able to follow the moves (although not always able to perform them for very long), and I’m giving Vinny and Justin credit for this. Granted, the class was small - there were only 5 of us, and therefore we received a lot of individual attention- but both trainers were excellent teachers. They performed the moves multiple times-slowly-so that even the most challenged learners (me) could follow along.
The class ended with Turkish Get-Ups. What’s a Turkish Get-Up? Check it out here. My friends and I did Half-Turkish Get-Ups (meaning, we did not actually ”get up”) with nothing in our hands. It was challenging, but do-able, and it felt a lot like a yoga move.
Justin demonstrated a full Turkish Get-Up (meaning, he did the entire move) with a 25-pound kettlebell in his hand.
And for that, he received a round of applause from the class. It was impressive, to say the least.
I used to think running 5 miles was extreme. And then I did it.
I used to think running 10 miles was extreme. And then I did that too.
Pushing limits is a good thing. Traveling outside our comfort zones is something everyone needs to do once and awhile (or every Wednesday at 12:15).
T.S. Eliot once said, “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
And while I don’t believe Eliot has taken MXT, he’s right.
Push the envelope and give the class a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.
The next session of S.E.A.L. Training starts on Wednesday.
Don’t worry. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds.
I was interested in S.E.A.L. training for my husband. He planned on participating in “I Lost It At The Club“, which was run last January for the first time. But the program wasn’t taking place this year, so he was looking for another way to kick-start his weight-loss goals for the New Year.
Unfortunately, the times for S.E.A.L. training don’t match up with his schedule, but I wanted to share what I learned, because it sounds fantastic.
S.E.A.L. stands for Strength, Endurance, Agility, and Life. The class focuses on the following:
Strength:Blending traditional weight-training with everyday movements.
Endurance: Increasing cardiovascular and muscular thresholds.
Agility: Combining movements of everyday life with sports training.
Life: Integrating activities of everyday life with fitness.
Bruce tells me that this program is unique because the results are clearly measurable. You will notice a difference in your body, your overall strength, and your endurance once you’ve completed S.E.A.L. training. The class utilizes traditional weight-and-strength-training methods, along with some unconventional ones thrown in to make the class interesting.
And while “Summer S.E.A.L.” was held outside, “Winter S.E.A.L.” is held indoors because one never knows what a Rochester winter has in store.
Steve put me in contact with Frank Dana, Midtown member and S.E.A.L. graduate. I asked him a few questions about the program. Here’s what he had to say:
What was your favorite part of the training?
My favorite part was the fact that the workouts were always changing. The workouts would build on each other and would challenge my body. On top of that, the trainers would make sure the participants would perform the new exercises correctly. The trainers are excellent and the coaching they give to the participants throughout the course is worth the price.
What changes did you notice in your body and overall strength from when you started?
I have chronic lower back problems and this training helped with my back issues immediately. Proper lifting/exercise technique is greatly emphasized in this class.
What can members interested in S.E.A.L. training expect in class?
Expect great workouts lead by very knowledgeable trainers. The S.E.A.L. workouts will energize you and by the end you will notice a big difference in your body.
Would you recommend S.E.A.L.? If so, why?
Yes. The fact that my lower back felt great after my S.E.A.L. sessions speaks volumes. Plus, having to commit to workout classes twice a week can force people needing a kick start in their New Year’s resolution workouts.
S.E.A.L. begins on Wednesday, January 12th and runs through February 12th. The class meets twice a week for five weeks, on Wednesdays from 6:00am-7:15am and on Saturdays from 8:00am-9:15am.
The cost is $180 per person for the five-week program.
Have you participated in S.E.A.L. training? What did you think?
Thanks to everyone who entered the latest giveaway by sending in their feedback on this blog and the club’s Facebook page. And congrats to Steve Sullivan, whom random.org selected as the winner of the Midtown logo sports bag.
My primary goal in running the giveaway was to ensure that the Facebook page and the blog are both useful and interesting. Based on the feedback I received over the past few days, it sounds like you’re enjoying both.
So, what did members have to say about Midtown’s social media?
Here are some of the comments I received, followed by my response to each:
I like how you have been able to bring a fresh perspective to the happenings at Midtown. Keep on writing, especially about classes you’ve personally experienced. I would love to hear more about Kinesis!
Thanks! I plan on writing about my class experiences more this year. I will shamefully admit to being a primarily Fitness Floor girl (what with the half-marathon training), but I’ve taken a Pilates Reformer class (amazing) and also Cardio, Strength, and Conditioning (high-energy and intense). I also want to try the new MXT class (Midtown Xtreme Training) very soon. You can check out my post on Spinesis, which includes Kinesis, here. I will definitely add a post on Kinesis to my plan for the blog.
I love the blog the way it is, but would like to see more entries on weight loss and nutrition! Also, more contests/giveaways!
Great ideas! I am looking into interviewing some Midtown staff members with nutrition and weight loss expertise. If anyone reading has lost weight and would like to share what worked/didn’t work, I would love to hear your story. Feel free to email me.
Oh, and more giveaways and contests are coming soon!
What I like best: Updates on my Facebook feed about new programs/classes that I might not otherwise hear about (ie Psyclewerks, holiday bootcamp), even if I don’t end up attending. I’m no good at reading the print material. It used to stink when I’d hear about something *after* it happens and assume, “I would have gone if only I had known…” Now I have no excuse!
I’m really glad you find the Facebook updates useful. I like all my information online as well, and in my house, paper tends to get lost in the shuffle (or covered with crayon).
I love your writing – insightful, clever, and personal.
How about posting a “workout/challenge of the week”. Post in the beginning of the week and have people post theirresults….
An example: “Do as many pull-ups as you can in 3 minutes…resting as much as you want with the clock running”
Two things it will do. 1. Start a dialog between members on the page. 2. People might see each other doing it at the gym and do the challenge together.
Image courtesy of Spencer Olinek
I love this idea. I’m going to get in touch with the trainers to see if they’d be willing to share some ideas for the challenges.
I’m fairly new to Midtown and constantly run into members I know that give me tips and such about Midtown. Maybe have a “Did You Know?” section on the blog or website and direct new members to it. That way we can utilize all the great things Midtown has to offer and perhaps do more know more.
Another great idea! Over the spring and summer, I posted “Fun Facts” on the Facebook page. These “facts” were little-known tidbits of information about Midtown that many members might not know about. For example, in the wintertime, the “mineral” in the Mineral Soaking Tub is actually salt from the Dead Sea imported via California.
You can find all these facts by searching back through the Facebook page, but I will compile them on the blog in one area.
I like both the FB page and the Blog, but one thing makes reading and digesting the post a little difficult for me: The posts are longer than most and would benefit from having a title or key word category so that I can scan the page and easily find the posts that interest me. I’m not sure if it would work, but if the posts had all caps or bolded titles including TENNIS, RUNNING, GROUP EXERCISE, INSPIRATION, FEEDBACK, etc. then I might be able to quickly find the info I’m interested in reading.
This is a compelling idea.I wish Facebook provided users with text formatting tools (bold, color, or underline) but unfortunately, it doesn’t. I would fear that because using all caps is akin to “shouting” in the online world, people might read the posts that way. Plus, some posts pertain to multiple categories and some don’t pertain to any one category.
I will give this idea more thought. If you have ideas on how to categorize the posts or how to make them more readable, please let me know.
Keep the feedback coming. The contest may be over, but I’d still love to hear from you. Remember, this is your blog and it’s your Facebook page. Anytime you have an idea for a topic you’d like to see covered on the blog, or a way to improve our Facebook page, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.