I love a challenge. And I have found a class at the gym that has me completely jazzed. Well, first it has me in complete, utter, I-can't-walk-for-24-hours pain, but after that I'm jazzed.
It's called Fusion and it rocks. It's every Tuesday morning and I've made it 3 of the last 4 Tuesdays (I missed last week to go to Sesame). Essentially, it's a lower body toning and strength class, but you sweat a good deal and huff and puff a bit too, so I'd guess there's some cardio benefit as well.
The class starts with a light warm up and then the instructor (who has one of the most kick-ass bodies I've seen in real life on pretty much anyone) begins the tort-, I mean *ahem* exercise.
Begin with squats. Lots of them. You'll be squatting pretty much non-stop for the next 45 minutes so get used to it. I knew I was in trouble in the first class when she referred to a set of pulse squats as "recovery." Recovery? Is this woman insane? This is usually what I call "good toning."
You'll squat with both feet on the floor both slow speed and then pulse (double time). You'll squat on your right foot as you tap your left first forward a bunch of times. Then to the side a bunch more. Then to the back. Then touching all three points. Then with just the little bitty tips of your left foot touching the ground. Then with your left foot off the floor. You'll do all this for a long time and start thinking, "OH. MY. GOD. My butt muscles are spasming. My quads are on fire. And we still have to repeat this whole sequence ON THE OTHER SIDE!"
But that's still many, many minutes away. You've got to do lunges. Lunges where you step forward. Then back. Then squat lunges to the side. Then squat lunges where you lift your knee up in front of you. Then more where you lift your left leg to the side.
Every so often she'll throw you a bone with one of those pulsing "recovery" periods, which truthfully do start to feel pretty good after a while. I mean, it's like if you're arm is being sawed off and someone comes along and says, "Oh we'll stop sawing it and instead just slam it in a car door a couple of times," you'd probably think that was a pretty good trade off. Hence why the "recovery" squats actually work.
At some point, you will be asked to stand on your right leg, which is so tired it feels like you may never be able to move it again, and hold your left leg out (doggie pee pee style) to the left. You will stand like this a very, very long time. And then - with no break whatsoever - you will be asked to start doing leg lifts with that left leg. Leg lifts, people!
The amazing thing about this class is that every time you think it cannot possibly get harder, it does. Every time you think your body cannot possibly burn more, it does. And for some reason, you keep pushing through. I think part of it is the music - a funky new age CD with an afro-Cuban beat that makes you feel very much in touch with your inner Earth Mother/Goddess.
The two crowning jewels of this class are the bent over leg lifts and arabesque leg lifts. The bent over leg lifts consist of you standing on that right leg (still) and bending at the waist with your hands on the floor a few inches in front of your toes. Your left leg is either A. out to the side, or B. behind you. You will lift it. Many times. Fast and slow. And then you'll be asked to remain in that position, KEEP THAT LEFT LEG UP and squat on the right leg. A lot. Again: fast and slow.
The arabesque sequence involves you standing on your right leg with your hands out to the sides for balance and your left leg out straight behind you. Again - repeat the whole thing. Leg lifts, squats, etc. Only this time you add the extra element of trying to keep your balance, which so far for me is ridiculously impossible. I wobble and bobble and put my foot down about 28 times during this part. And curse under my breath. A lot.
In the middle (before switching legs) and again at the end, she does a series of push-ups and plank poses to work the abs. These both pretty much suck, but by that point you are so happy not to be working your legs, that you'll pretty much agree to anything.
There are women who have obviously been taking this class a long time and can do the whole thing without ever stopping to take a break. No wobbles or bobbles or foot touches for them! I am not one of these women. But I will be. Even if I spend every Wednesday for the next three months limping around like I am today. I. Will. Conquer. This. Class.