Confessions Of An Exercise Fad Addict
By Becky Warren
I have a confession to make: I am an exercise fad junkie. I have yet to come across an exercise fad that I’m not willing to try. I convince myself that whatever the newest fad is, it’s the best exercise program ever and that it will burn fat even faster.
Right now, I’m following Jillian Michaels “Making the Cut” book which is a 30-day strength training program. I’m convinced that I can feel myself getting stronger. I’ve totally promoted this book and now my sister is doing it and a couple of friends. That’s my other problem. Whatever fad I’m in, I broadcast it to anyone who will listen and then usually I drop it and move on to the next fad.
While I’m on Day 14 of the 30 day program, I’ve already started looking into the PX90 system. Have you heard of it? It’s a 90-day program of CD’s that I’ve heard is supposed to get you into the best shape of your life. I’m considering checking it out … I told you I have a serious addiction here.
So I thought I would share the pluses and minuses of a few of my adventures in fitness. If there’s a fitness fad that you recommend – please let me know. I can tell you right now that I’ll want to check it out.
Power Vinyasa Yoga
This is one that I do not consider a fad. I started going to Zuda Yoga last February and I am still going regularly. At Zuda, I call their yoga practice “Warm Yoga”. They keep the temperature at nearly 90 degrees so not as hot as Bikram Yoga but enough so that I leave the studio completely soaked as if I literally had jumped into a pool with my yoga clothes on. TMI? Sorry but if you’ve been there you know what I’m talking about.
- Benefits: One of the major benefits of going to Zuda at least 3 or 4 times a week is that you will definitely see more definition in your arms and strengthening of your core very quickly. I highly recommend it!
- Negatives: You may get other people’s sweat flicked onto you. You can’t really go anywhere but home afterwards and straight to the shower.
Last spring I signed up for Action Boot Camp. I really wanted to kick it up a notch and I had heard great things about boot camps. This boot camp was held at Howe Avenue Park but they now offer classes at McKinley Park. I went twice times a week and they really hold you accountable. I was weighed once a week and they really push you the entire time. If you are late or do not keep a food log, you are required to do burpies after class. Anyone who knows me knows that I definitely had to do a lot of burpies for being late. Also once a year they do a “green and lean” 14-day cleanse. Of course I participated and did lose 8 pounds in 14 days but it was hard and I was very grumpy – just ask my co-workers.
- Benefits: Holds you accountable; involves a variety of exercises; good for any level of fitness. Other boot camps that will give you a great workout is the bootcamp class at Capitol Athletic Club.
- Negatives: Need more class options. The head instructor rocks, but some of the other instructors just did not push you to your limit. Don’t waste your time with the bootcamp offered at 24 Hour Fitness. Too many people to really get a quality workout – instead try their 24 Camp class.
At first, I thought these classes would be super easy. I mean.. come on… how easy is it to punch the air. Really these classes are much more than that. You learn combinations that will make you sore – plus there are intervals of intense cardio like jump roping for 3 minutes straight. That may sound easy but those 3 minutes go by slow and are excruciating. The classes also involve abs and really work out your arms. I was impressed with these classes and for awhile was regularly going to them… until the next exercise program came along I had to try. I haven’t tried the real boxing gyms yet… but I’ve heard that these gyms are even more intense.
- Benefits:Intense cardio; good abs and arm workout.
- Negatives:Classes can be crowded; these classes are not well-rounded and you would need to incorporate other cardio and strength training into your workout.
I’ve taken a variety of different step classes. I am not a coordinated person and have no rhythm. Some of these step classes, this was a major hindrance. I recommend the step classes that incorporate weights and do not do complicated dance moves. The combo of weights with intense short cardio really gives you a great workout (i.e. 24 Hour Fitness’s 24 Set class rocks). Short story: I did take a step class that involved complicated dance moves and needless to say 1) I fell off the stepper and onto my butt which made the class stop briefly; and 2) the instructor asked if this was really the class for me during the actual class! So be warned – check out what type of step class it is to make sure it’s really for you!
- Benefits: Good cardio to add to your exercise program.
- Negatives: Some classes really require good coordination.
I really love spin classes. I used to go to at least 4 classes a week. Now I go about once every two weeks. It is really a great workout which is why I still try and incorporate it into my workouts. If you’ve never tried spin – don’t be fearful. It really is good for any level. If you are a beginner, you can go slower and with less tension. If you are advanced, you can crank it up. If you go to 24 Hour Fitness, the best instructor hands down is Mike’s 6 a.m. Wed class at the downtown gym. Also I would recommend Jonna on Tuesdays at 6 a.m. They will both give you a serious workout and won’t let you slack.
- Benefits: Intense great cardio with great music. Good variety to add into your exercise routine.
- Negatives: Not all instructors are equal. If you do not have a good instructor, the class can be painfully boring and difficult to break a sweat. Also, the spin bikes at 24 Hour Fitness are far superior to the spin bikes at the Capital Athletic Club.
Come on… who hasn’t tried Tae-Bo. It was all the rage a few years ago! Of course, I was no exception. I loved this workout… for a short time. For me – it got too redundant too fast. My sister did Tae-Bo for years but I just couldn’t bring myself to continuing the DVDs.
- Benefits: In a pinch, it’s a good cardio workout.
- Negatives: Too redundant and we live in California so I would rather be outside than in my house sweating in front of my television.
OK, this isn’t technically a fad, but it was yet another exercise workout that I did and then dropped. I trained for the Eppie’s Great Race, which doesn’t include swimming. This is great for me since I am the most inefficient swimmer. It’s a 10k run, 12.5 miles bike and 6.5 miles kayak. So I trained and trained – running, taking spin classes and doing arm exercises in the gym. I went kayaking once at Lake Natoma and I thought that it was super easy so I didn’t train for the kayak. BTW – if you train for this race this summer – practice kayaking in the river. River kayaking was so hard – my kayak kept hitting the riverbank and nearly tipped over.
- Benefits:Great way to focus your workouts on a goal.
- Negatives:Once the race is over, it’s difficult to keep up the training.
I started with Winsor Pilates videos and then have taken some of their classes. I was totally into the Winsor Pilates videos and was obsessively doing the videos daily. I really saw a difference and believe it can make you stronger. However my interest subsided and I moved on to the next exercise fad. The classes are also really great and having an instructor help your form makes all of the difference.
- Benefits:Will strengthen your core.
- Negatives: Still need to do strength and cardio with pilates. It really doesn’t make you sweat.
Yes, I did try it. I like yoga and I like pilates so I thought this class is going to be the best of both worlds. Well… my only comment is that I found these classes basically a joke. It wasn’t really intense, does not involve challenging core exercises and didn’t involve challenging yoga poses. Definitely a one-time experience.
I will say that this is probably the best way to get into shape. A really good trainer is worth the money. They cater the workouts specifically to you. There’s no way to cheat on the exercise nor cheat on your eating. They usually will weigh you once a week so there’s no hiding. This was the key for me to get into shape and learn about how to effectively exercise. I really don’t think you need a trainer indefinitely but if you are ready to get serious, a trainer is a great way to get you started.
- Benefits:Accountability; individualized training programs; results.
- Negatives:Expensive; if you do not have a good trainer then its not worth the money.
EDITOR’s NOTE: What do you think? Do you find tennis, rock climbing, bikram yoga helpful and productive or a waste of time? Let us know your fitness tips and advice by leaving a comment below or emailing girlsonthegrid AT gmail DOT com.