Friday, April 10, 2015

fitness therapy

Coming down from my marathon high, I had to decide where to go next. While I wasn't about to give up running any time soon, I found myself longing for something new. And because of the weight I had gained while training for the marathon, I was also looking for a way to kick start my metabolism. Years ago, running had done that. A few years ago, after settling into my running routine, I started lifting weights with a trainer and, no surprise, the new exercise gave my metabolism another nice boost. So once again I found myself at a crossroads. Where should I go next?

With no shortage of workouts available to me, I chose TRX. Or rather, I decided to give a few new workouts a try and TRX came out on top. For now. I'm not an all or nothing kind of person. While training for the marathon, I would lift weights, run intervals, climb stairs, go for (short) bike rides, and practice Yoga and Zumba. The majority of my workouts were runs, but not all of them.

The past few years I've also tried working out at home. I'm a fan of Jillian Michaels - I find her voice less annoying than others and her workouts tough. But home workouts weren't cutting it for me. I could just crap out easily and no one (except my belly) would ever notice.

I first decided to sign up for a month of unlimited classes at a nearby gym. Actually, it's a gym located directly on my commute home from work. The gym had two very important components and these are the reasons I chose it above all others. It offered classes in the evening. And it had online class registration. It was very no nonsense. You sign up. Then you go. All I had to do was go that first time (always the hardest for me).

And I went. I didn't know much about the gym or the types of workouts it offered or what I was going to experience. I did know the gym wasn't CrossFit and I had heard (and read) great things about TRX. But I don't think I really understood how tough the classes would be. I had just run a marathon, after all. I could easily conquer anything they could throw at me.

Well, this particular gym has become my sanctuary. The classes are small. Everyone knows your name. So I continue to go. And work my butt off. The gym offers a small variety of classes. The two I rotate between are HIIT (high intensity interval training) and TRX (total body resistance exercise). HIIT is basically indoor boot camp. TRX is basically a trapeze. Except not really. It's a set of adjustable stirrups used to help you throw your own weight around. It requires coordination and is not a natural fit for someone as uncoordinated as myself. Yet I find myself loving it. My own weight has caused me to work muscles in my arms I never thought existed. TRX has caused me to feel the burn while holding a plank, feet still inside the stirrups. And pressing my own body weight has caused me to spend the better part of my first week in pain. And yet, I go back for more.

My TRX and the class set of TRXs

I tried a few other gyms on my quest to mix up my post-marathon workouts. From Orange Theory to track workouts, these programs involved too much running. As I runner, I know that criticism might sound strange. But running is the thing I do myself. If my goal is to work out hard, I don't really enjoy a class where half of it is spent on a treadmill (for so many reasons). I still run outside several times a week; varied short midweek runs and one long run every Sunday. This is my recovery/training program. And it feels like it's working. Every run is less exhausting than it was before. At times I even feel light on my feet.
A little motivation at the gym

Because in addition to my interval, short, and long runs, I go a small gym. Where everyone is kind. And there's no waiting in line. There are only people who swear by the TRX. I just mostly swear at it. I think I have a love-hate relationship with the suspension stirrups. But I can feel my body transforming. I can hold positions longer. I don't know how long this new fad workshop mechanism will keep me satisfied, but I'm enjoying the ride. Once over the steep learning curve, the TRX has quickly become the mechanism with which I will transform my body. And it definitely passes the time more quickly than the elliptical machine ever will. And that's good enough for now.

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