Being a part of the Recreation Center team has given me an opportunity to expand my horizons in my own health and wellness endeavors. Because of my involvement, I was asked to take a strength circuit class with Katie Evans (who is a grad assistant for fitness and wellness) and document my first-hand experience for all of the readers out there. I had never done one before. Here was my journey.
First off, it’s important to note that most of the group exercise classes are dominated by the female population, making this a different experience with two males in the class. My attendance was welcomed; I felt happy to be there. Oftentimes, I think that people may be afraid to step into that studio room in fear of being judged or criticized. But it’s important to keep in mind that the instructors are there to help you and the people who are taking the class are there for the same reason that you are: to get fit and healthy.
Getting into the groove
The first thing that we did was get our heart rate elevated by doing some jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks, and the motion of jumping some rope. We did each cardio activity separately and then one after another, which helped not only get our heart rates up, but keep them up. These small exercises were effective when it came to getting my body warmed up and ready to go. Upbeat music was playing in the background and I was ready to take on the next activity.
The first circuit that we did was a jump squat, which means we jumped into the air and landed into a squat. From there we went into pushups, which transformed into side planks. We did 12 reps of each a total of 3 times. The jump squats weren’t bad but the pushups and side planks started giving me a small burn in my arms; the kind of burn that signals that your muscles are beginning to get a really good workout. It was one of those feelings that motivated me to do more, to work harder.
The second circuit involved dumbbells of two different weights and a resistance band, all of which were provided for us. Not having taken a class before, I decided to get two 6 pound and two 8 pound dumbbells. The first set that we did included lunges that went into shoulder presses. After that, we did the resistance band pull down which means that we took the band in each hand, our arms stretched up into the air, and pulled them away from each other until the band met our chests. The circuit was rounded out with a bent over row, which required us to stick our butts out and extend our arms down with a heavier dumbbell in each hand, and pull our arms up as if we were in a rowboat. We did 12 reps of each workout 3 times a piece.
By the time that the second circuit was done, my body was getting a deeper burn. I started to feel my body tighten up in the areas that we were working out and all I wanted to do was stretch my body. I pushed on instead.
The third and final circuit began with some lateral lunges, which could have been done with dumbbells if we wanted a little bit of a challenge. This required us to take side steps with each leg, keep the opposite one straight and bending the other. After that, we went into some bicep curls that transitioned into shoulder presses and tricep extensions. The circuit was rounded out with a walking plank (as if regular planks weren’t hard enough). Like the previous circuits, we did 12 reps of each activity, 3 times.
By the time the class ended and we cooled down with some stretches, I was feeling the burn deep in my muscles. I got a great sweat in and felt like I accomplished something great with a workout that only lasted 40 minutes at the most. I thoroughly enjoyed each activity and each circuit.
Every time that I wanted to stop, Katie pushed us to keep going. She was intense to the point that we were all motivated to keep going the whole time but she also recognized that not everyone was on the same level in terms of fitness. Because of this, she gave everyone a chance to alter their workout depending on what level of fitness they believed they had. There was never a defeated feeling in my mind. She motivated us to do more and challenge ourselves, which is everything that you can want from an instructor, a coach, a supervisor, etc.
If you get the chance, take this class. The schedule for the Summer II session can be found here.
Go into the class with an open mind and the will to challenge yourself. The combination of the two will lead you to accomplish any of your fitness goals, no matter how big or small.