This class is definitely designed for a very fit subset of our membership – and there are plenty of those folks in the Club. The gym floor is chock full of them this morning, mostly women (only one other guy today) and they take the punishment that Carla dishes out and keep on smiling.
The ‘warm up’ is three laps running around the building with one stretch of lunges up Peckerwood Rd. on the third lap. I happen to go outside at the same time as Stephanie Smith and Carla says, “Why don’t you two can run together”. My initial (presumptuous) thought is that I’ll need to slow down for her. Man, when will I learn? She’s a beautiful runner and I have to expend more effort than I intended just to keep up. I’m surprised when she tells me that she’s never run a race. I suggest to her that she try a 5K sometime – just for fun.
Back inside, Carla has set up a special torture chamber just for us. There are four rows running east to west across the gym floor and the program is to move forward one row after completing each station. We divide up into twosomes and I work with a young woman named Nicole Kimmerling. She promises that she isn’t “hard core” but she looks dangerously fit to me.
Each station is two minutes long. Our first exercise is doing pushups with one arm raised up on a step (with 6 risers) and the other on the floor. After the first minute we change directions so that our other arm is on top. I set a torrid pace at the beginning, which I realize too late is over zealous. About 50 seconds in I know I’m in trouble. Turning around (after 60 seconds) so that my left arm is higher doesn’t help – I can’t recover from the first set - and have to drop down and do the pushups on my knees. Even that is hard.
The other three stations are all cardio. In each station, one partner jumps rope while the other does some other strenuous exercise – usually involving jumping – with a raised step (6 risers again), a bosu ball or a “ski” course. Partners alternate exercises each 30 seconds – resting only for the 2-3 seconds it takes to grab the rope and start jumping. After the four stations on the floor are completed we run several laps around the track upstairs before coming back to four new stations. The only “rest” time is while Carla explains what the protocol is for the next four stations and she’s careful not to talk slowly.
And so it goes for the next hour. After about the third station I have to jettison my glasses because they keep sliding off my heavily perspiring face. I keep glancing down at my watch to check my heart rate because it feels pretty high. It maxes out at 157 on a station where Nicole stands with both feet on a stretch band while I grab the handles and jump as high and as quickly as I can for 30 seconds (you might be surprised how long 30 seconds can seem under these conditions). This station is deeply anaerobic so we get to “rest” while our partner works. I’m sucking wind so hard on this one however that I know I won’t recover in time for whatever comes next.
For the last ten minutes of class we do ab work with our partner. In one exercise we grab our partner’s ankles and swing our legs up – the partner catches the legs and pushes them back toward the floor. Fun fun fun. In the other exercise we lie on back and do a traditional full sit up with our partner holding down our feet. I haven’t done these since college and they seem WAY more difficult then they were back then.
Like I said, this class is really tough but I love the “station “ format and it’s fun working with a partner. It’s also nice to do this in a big group where everyone is working really hard together. There’s a feeling of camaraderie that arises and a sense of accomplishment to survive Sergeant Branch's gauntlet.
TBC (Torture By Carla)
Checking my numbers at the end I see that I’ve burned almost 800 calories. My average heart rate is 128, which is pretty high considering the “resistance training” station and the ab work where heart rates drop below one hundred. On most of the cardio stations, when I remember to look, I’m averaging in the 140’s.
There are about 24 or so in class – a bit small they tell me for Friday morning TBC. The $25 gift card goes to Dina Rabata.