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just another 20-something stumbling through life, one mile at a time.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

training with fitmob: barre, boxing and booty shaking, oh my!

i'm one week away from my first marathon. the last couple of weeks have been hectic with more work hours, training, changing my diet (and CONSTANTLY eating) plus gearing up for the holidays. i joined the fitmob campaign through my sweat pink ambassadorship  for cross training to increase my overall strength, as well as challenge myself to new experiences. it was a challenge alright, both physically and emotionally.

all the classes are in san francisco and at first i was excited to spend more time in the city even though i knew i'd be commuting back and forth between workouts and work. i went to new neighborhoods and took muni for the first time. i got lost several times. i walked into studios and immediately assessed my surroundings to not bump into anything of anyone. i was often rushing from place to place, running to bus stops and through bart stations. i've dealt with commute crowds which is one of my anxiety triggers. i survived.

i tried out four different types of of classes/studios: barre at Elevate Fitness Group, sambo at FitFight Inc, boxing at Hit Fit SF, and pole flow at Cardio-Tone. there were more i wanted to try but after my first week i found that some classes filled up FAST, like aerial conditioning at Circus Fitness. and given my schedule i couldn't always reserve so far in advance. regardless, i was happy with the experience i had. even the getting lost in a not so great area of SF and then finding a muni station only to get on the wrong train and have it break down. at night. i was definitely ready to cry and call an uber but thankfully i have some really awesome friends, and one of them calmly and so patiently talked me through finding my way. and then even bought me dinner to sooth my frazzled nerves. 

at the beginning of each class i let the instructor know i had no peripheral vision and each person was really great about trying to understand my limitations and accommodate me so that i could have the best experience possible without being weird or awkward or overly sympathetic about it. they were professional and respectful and super nice. 

what i learned from each class:

Barre-  sounds simple but damn I worked up a sweat. for those who are unaware of barre type classes they are a mix of yoga, pilates, ballet barre work and strength training. the studio i went to had personal barres that could adjust to different heights depending if we were doing standing exercises or floor work and used resistance bands for strength training. i used blue, which was their highest level of resistance and thought about how far i've come from using yellow bands in physical therapy.

sambo- this is russian martial arts developed in the 1920s for military hand to hand combat. i thought this was going to be another hour long class...until an hour in the instructor said to get ready for the real workout. gulp. i survived, albeit sweaty and sore. i was the smallest person in the class but still learned to knock someone on their back. i felt awkward and clumsy for most of the class until we had a tumbling session (to gain spatial awareness for falling) and when the instructor was going over the steps for a cartwheel i smirked. i was the last one in line to tumble across the mat and after my first cartwheel the the instructor asked if i was gymnast or a dancer. nope, i just cartwheel on beaches! (proof on my instagram loverunpink)

boxing- i got up at 5:30 am to make it to boxing. i also got some pink gloves =) i did kickboxing in high school so i had enough experience to skip the usual mandatory beginner classes and went to intermediate. turns out i'm a bit rustier than i thought. and i suck at jump roping. but the instructor did notice i had good form, especially in the freestyle period of the class. it was weird to not add in kicks to the combos. this made me realize i really miss kickboxing as well and am looking into getting back into that again. my dad fully supported kickboxing in high school and paid for my membership because he liked the idea that any guy who dated me would know i could throw a punch if i had to. 

pole flow-this class reinforced my clumsiness. i've wanted to do a pole fitness class for a few years, since i discovered a youtube video of the world pole dancing championships. the ladies were incredibly fit and graceful, true athletes. i signed up for this class and had a lot of fun and earned a few bruises. most of what i do is static work outs, and this one is well, flowy. i went to a beginner/intermediate class and there were other first timers there, but i was most clearly the least graceful. and those previous classes where i thought i was so strong? ha. pole flow put me in check. i would do it again though because i'm stubborn and always want to get better at whatever i'm not good at.

some classes, like boxing and sambo, had some partner exercises which were more difficult for me. with my tunnel vision i couldn't easily see where to punch/move/etc when working with someone else. it's a little nerve wracking trying to overcompensate and be hyper aware, as well as properly execute moves. the people in the classes were really great about being patient and offering advice. i guess that's the thing about the fitness community- with all those feel good exercise hormones we help and encourage each other to do our best. 

i think i've covered most of the pros of my fitmob experience. one more thing is that while $99/mo is still a bit pricey for me (especially when i already have a gym membership in the east bay close to work), it's a really great value considering the variety of classes you can try out. drop in rates for the classes i took range from $20-30, and i was going to classes at least twice a week. plus there's the value of exploring new fitness options so that you'll never get bored with your work out routine,

recently they added some gyms to passport and a lower monthly rate for a year commitment ($59.mo for 12 months) so it's becoming more accessible and affordable. as a start up there's a lot of room for growth and changes so i'm curious to see how it evolves.

now for the cons:

right now fitmob is only in SF/Marin area and Seattle. if they expand to the east bay I think I would jump on board immediately. right now i'm on the fence. there's an app to use but it's only for iPhone and i'm a die hard android user. thismeant i had to use the not so great mobile site and also had a few technical difficulties, such as random classes being added to my schedule that i didn't sign up for and trouble cancelling a class. the very first class i signed up for was a cardio dance class and when i showed  up to the studio no one was there. i waited around a bit and then the owner arrived and said the class had been cancelled so she emailed everyone the night before. i never got a notification and thought i contacted fitmob i still don't know if it was on the studio's end or theirs. it was pretty shitty since it was my first weekend off in months where i wasn't travelling for a wedding, bachelorette party, birthday party, etc and wasted a morning rushing to the the city for a cancelled class. another thing is i could immediately tell the website is not very handicap accessible friendly, especially on mobile. i made these comments in a feedback survey so hopefully the technical parts will improve.

overall i am really glad i challenged myself to break out of my comfort zone to do this. plus i'm also stronger than i've ever been before, and probably in the best shape of my life. i've had to really focus and commit to my training, which means my social life has suffered a bit (my parents text me to make sure i'm still alive since i don't have much time for phone calls). i signed up for CIM four weeks ago and i feel confident i've done the best i could in that training period and now i have one week to go.  i'm cautious, nervous, excited, hopeful among other things. strangely, pre-race week will probably be the hardest part. i just need to not psych myself out or burn out.

and keep reminding myself that there will be beer and brownies at the finish.

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