Just because we exercise every day with high intensity cardio and heavy weights, and conquer the most brutal of classes on a weekly basis does not mean that we still cannot be challenged. I came to this realization recently when some of my hardcore students and I tried something outside our normal routine.
Every Tuesday is our CrossFit-style workout. For an hour, we do endless rounds of burpees, box jumps, kettlebell swings and squats. We are exhausted, but feel good about the hard work we just did and how great we feel afterwards. So when my class was going to start with a fifteen-minute Barre class demo, we naturally thought this would be nothing more than a warm-up considering what we were used to doing every week in our regular, high-intensity class. Boy, were we wrong!
The demo lasted only fifteen minutes, but within three of those minutes, our legs were burning. Squeezing a small rubber ball between our legs while doing plié squats and pulses was a lot more difficult than it looked. While holding a bar, we did standing leg kicks combined with side pulses, squeezes, and holds. Our grimacing faces and fatigued muscles were a clear sign that what we were doing was definitely challenging. Many of us had to stop along the way before continuing.
By the end of the demo, we all felt like our legs were made of jelly (and we still had to do our regular class for forty-five minutes). We applauded the instructor for her great style, positive energy and how she really showed us the effectiveness of this type of workout. Of course, hearing that she took it easy on us for our first time only made the experience even more humbling.
The lesson we all learned that day was a good one—we realized that as good of shape as we are in and as much as we can jump, swing and push ourselves in our high-intensity classes, we should not assume that every style of exercise is going to be a walk in the park. We definitely noticed how differently this type of workout used our muscles as opposed to those bigger movements we are used to doing. With so much focus on strength, speed and power, these tiny, little movements with no jumping or cardio work at all, pushed us harder than we thought it would. And while we never thought of ever going to such a class, we are now rethinking that and exploring how we can incorporate it into our regular program.
Bottom line: Do not take your fitness for granted. You may be surprised to learn that an exercise that looks easy is not despite how fit or strong you may be. This is a good thing, though. You always want to have something to strive for whether it is getting through a high-intensity class or learning to squeeze a small rubber ball without having your legs give out on you. And because we did it as a group, it was an experience for all of us. We learned that we still have more work to do and should always continue to push ourselves. And with that, we began class and did about one hundred and twenty burpees combined with one hundred and twenty kettlebell swings, but with a little more difficulty than usual thanks to our fifteen minutes of eating humble pie.