In Fitness matters I firmly remain a Luddite . Happy with a Barbell ,an ageing bench and some rusty weights , my Trx , my medicine and Swiss balls and my copy of Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength.
When driven by necessity , I will lug myself to the local PSOI or CSOI and marvel at the machines ; paying them an obligatory homage for their ability to keep alive the appearances of fitness :) But even so , I concede that not everyone can be a solitary fitness reaper .
There are five kind of people for whom joining a club or a fitness center can be the start of an exciting journey.
And I am sure most of us fall in one or the other groups at some point of our lives .I certainly did - during college days and during post- second- baby days .Hence , I want to take you all for a peep into the world of plush fitness centres and tell you the best way to get your money's worth from them .
The first in this series is Fitness First : Delhi ,located in CP ,Saket and Gurgaon.
The CP branch has acres of fitness equipment besides steam,sauna,spa ,cafe spread over two levels.One level is devoted to only treadmills and cycles,spinning machines and ellipticals.One level has weight training machines of every conceivable kind and even a small area devoted to free weights.My heart leaps at the sight of the sole TrX hanging from a high bar ; and sinks at the sight of the Smith Machine masquerading as the Squat Rack. It is very easy for a layman to get waylaid in this dazzling garden of equipment .I see that the treadmill corner and the cafe are the most popular spots. Now if all you want is a walk and some coffee why not take a round of the inner circle ? But is that all that a membership gives you ? What should a person who wants to enhance their fitness and self -care skills do to maximize their gains? Do they have any in-house coaching apart from the treadmill technicians ? Nutrition counselling ?
Thats when I am guided to the Studios where the Group Fitness classes are held . This piques my interest . I have attended enough of bend and stretch ; and squeeze and relax ; and take a deeeeep breath sloooowly type of aerobic classes in my salad days to be easily taken in. So my queries are pointed .
As I gather the classes are aimed at three levels
As you can see the stuff that is highlighted in Red is what any person who is interested in getting fitter should have a more than a passing acquaintance with , and it will help them to perform better in their step ,Yoga or Zumba class also ! As I always say - the real purpose of Strength and a Strong Core - is to enable you to revel in whatever Aerobics you love . I take a peek in the Dance studio which has a lot of PYT's and some middle aged men Zumbaing : its a PT class with a difference for sure .
I decide to participate in the session on Muay Thai of which I have heard good things .The trainer , 26 year old Ricky Ranjeet Singh, is a Delhi Guy who fights matches in Mumbai and choreographs fight scenes in Bollywood. In Off -season he freelances as a trainer . MT is a mixed Martial Art form and while we all do not aspire to be fight directors , the basic boxing,punching kicking moves along with extensive conditioning drills make it a SOLID workout. I am glad to note that there are two girls (apart from me) and one fifty plus gentleman in the group .The men here include young and not so young men , all who I can recognize as belonging to the TrIBE ( Truly Involved Brothers of Endorphin ) . Nobody is here to gawp . In fact once the class starts , there is no scope for anything except trying to get as much air in and keep moving.
Ricky drives us seemingly easy - with skips and bear crawls and hand walks around the studio in a circle but after a while most are gasping .Especially because of his proclivity for barking out a ten push- up command at random points .There are audible groans when he wants twenty push ups . Many give up.I conk off at seventeen . He doles out a minute (pun intended) break . Sadist. And then comes the punch and Burpees combo.When we are freely sweating he decides to go for deep flexibility stretches.These will also give us rest - he says. These are a prelude to the kickboxing part .All I can say is : when you have to hold a deep forward or reverse lunge for 100 counts it can make Yoga seem like a party.The MMA person needs strength but with complete flexibility so that his legs swing freely for the kicks and his punches keep coming fast and furious .Hence this .
The Kicks are done in groups of three with a kickpad. they are high : straight ,diagonal ,out ,in backwards with external and internal hip rotation. The deep stretches were a saftey net - thank God . All the while we have been hopping right and left in a circles while kicking and punching .So you are not likely to miss the Cardio either.
And just when I thought thats about it - came the core session .Two hundred punches on a pad with situps . Brutal - especially as I am not a fan of situps. But what the heck .I am competitive.When he saw that I was nearing the end - just to spice things up , Ricky started shifting the bag right and left : Cross punches.
But the good thing was all of us did the whole workout.Some stopped at some point or got it wrong maybe ( twenty pushups ,three way kicks) but the trainer carried us all through with some pushing ,some correcting , some ribbing. We young old middle-aged,men,women- all made it . That in my view is a major advantage of a group class . You dont mind doing silly things - like going on all fours and you are spurred on by the collective courage .
So my advice for members and clients and especially women is : go for skill and Strength enhancement Group Classes of your choice . What we all need at times in fitness and in life is a bit of pushing . When we train by ourselves we often do what is easiest and tend to stay there . In Group Classes ; you seek to learn something new and the enthusiasm and dint of the whole Group carries you through to levels you never dreamt of. Of course you should not join MT if you are in Rehab or recovering Rheumatic arthritis patient :)
Girls you will appreciate that increasing real strength and deep flexibility is a big plus at tough times in life : like childbirth, taking care of infants and toddlers and when some hoodlum takes a swipe at you. Thats when you can thank your stars that you took that group class to hone your kicks and punches.