Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Class # 25 Power Pump Tuesday 5:45 a.m. (Kris)

I’ll admit right up front that this was one of the classes I was nervous about taking. Weightlifting is not something I gravitate toward, which won’t come as a big surprise to those who have noted my wiry (that’s the most generous adjective I can think of) frame. And this class, i.e. Power Pump, is nothing but the lifting of weights – over and over (and over) again.

Power Pump has been on our schedule for the past six or seven years but I’ve managed to avoid ever taking a class before today. Making my first class a Kris Mougeot production, at 5:45 a.m. no less, is probably not the smartest strategy but intelligence is overrated on “the quest”.

To set up for the class, one needs a weight bar, several denominations of plate weights, a weight clip (to keep the plates from falling off the bar) and a mat (see photo of a typical class, though not at LRAC, below). Like many of the group ex classes, participants can self-regulate degree of difficulty by choosing a particular weight amount, bench height, gear level (in cycling), etc. Since this was my first dance at this rodeo it was no time to be brave or proud, I chose some fairly light weights.

After a brief warm-up – using the weights of course – we take an exhaustive tour of the main muscles of the body. We begin with squats, working on the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings, wearing out the biggest muscles first. Have I mentioned that we do lots and lots of reps? We do. Somewhere in class I considered counting the number of reps per muscle group but thought better of it – did I really want to know that number?

Between sets, Kris cues us for the next muscle by saying, for example “prepare for triceps”. That’s the signal to adjust one’s weight amount for that particular muscle. At the first of these changeovers I had a slight panic when I was too weak (or dumb) to get the ding-dong weight clip off. Oh the shame of it all – but then I figure it out and I’m back with the program.

Because of the large number of repetitions, it’s hard to underestimate the lightness of weights required to wear out a singular muscle. That said I did a pretty good job of keeping my sights set low enough to get through everything. Nonetheless, there were a few moments where it was touch and go.

One thing I’ve noticed with classes in which I’ve been a regular participant is a growing familiarity with my ‘edge’, which allows me to work harder without fear of overdoing it. By edge I mean the point at which the level of work is most efficiently increasing my fitness without causing excessive strain on my body. With a new class or routine what is ‘enough’ and what is ‘too much’ isn’t known. My advice for newcomers to a class or to exercise in general is to ease into things by gently approaching your edge until you become more comfortable with that particular class or routine. The key to exercise is to become a regular practitioner allowing the body to gradually increase its capacity. If we push it too hard, too soon, we risk having a negative experience that may discourage us from continuing.

As I write, some three hours after class, I can feel the afterglow of work in my triceps and shoulders. That’s an indication that I’ll be a little bit sore tomorrow. If I judged my weights correctly the soreness won’t be extreme just a gentle reminder that the edge was approached.

This marks my third Kris Mougeot class in as many weeks. Since she teaches daily M-F at 5:45 a.m. she has a loyal and long time retinue of followers. Because they exercise together frequently the Mougeotians have become friends and developed a group identity. They even do things together outside the Club. For instance, this weekend, for the 8th year in a row, this group will ‘man’ a water stop for the Little Rock marathon. It’s an early mile marker stop (3rd one on the course) so they will gather early at 6 a.m. and be finished by 9 a.m. before heading to breakfast. Currently the group has around 12 but they’d like to recruit a few more. If you’d like to volunteer or want more info contact Kris at kmougeot@yahoo.com or call her at 425-2860. The LRAC water stop is located in downtown LR at Ferry Street between 3rd and 4th streets. (All LR marathon volunteers must register at www.littlerockmarathon.com/Information/Volunteer Registrataion.cfm).

I mentioned last time I wrote about Kris that she likes to ride horses in her spare time. For proof she sent me a photo of her leading an equine cardio sculpt class.

Final word on Power Pump: If you’re looking for a challenging high repetition weight workout, in a fun group setting – this is the way to do it. I give it two weights (light ones of course) up!

The $25 gift certificate in this morning’s class goes to Sarah Wesseman.

Now that I’ve shortened my muscles by lifting weights this morning, I plan to lengthen them out some in Beverly’s 11 a.m. Yoga Stretch class…I’ll check back in after that.

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