Regular workouts keep me in decent shape. But I’m always looking for ways to get faster, stronger, and more flexible. There are a myriad of options out there, which can be overwhelming for beginners and seasoned athletes alike. I’ll play the role of guinea pig and review some of the new and unusual exercise classes being offered around the region, with the hope you’ll find one that appeals to you and gets you moving. If you'd like to suggest a class to try, tweet me @apoztv.
About CRAZY 8'S:
It wasn’t all of five minutes before the telltale symptoms began to hit me. Shortness of breath. Profuse sweating. Rapid heartbeat. No, I wasn’t experiencing an anxiety attack. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was taking part in an intense, new workout at Soul Train in Somerville called Crazy 8s.
The class centers around “high intensity interval training,” also known as “Tabata,” which is the last name of the Japanese researcher whose 1996 research paper upended the fitness world. The reason lies in the results. Short bursts of high intensity exercise send your heart rate and metabolism soaring, which propels you into a fat-burning zone, where you’ll stay for hours after your workout is over.
At Soul Train my mission was simple … or so it seemed. Along with a class comprised of various ages and abilities, I would do eight rounds of eight different exercises, with 20 seconds of intense work (i.e. as hard as you possibly can) followed by 10 seconds of rest. The movements varied. My first stop was kettlebell swings, followed by various forms of sit-ups and lunges. A large timer, equipped with the loudest buzzer imaginable, alerted everyone when it was time to work and when it was time to rest. All the while, an instructor walked around the room to monitor everyone’s form.
By writing down how many reps you do at each station, you can compete with yourself, attempting to beat your number each round. Or, you can take my approach and peek at the sheet of the person you’re paired up with and compete against them. Only they’re oblivious to it.
In general, I tend to have a short attention span, so my idea of a torturous workout is being forced to jog on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Crazy 8s provided the perfect remedy. I never had a chance to lose focus or become bored, because everything happened so fast (unfortunately that also includes the 10-second “rest” break). Loud music, along with occasional words of encouragement from enthusiastic class members, seemed to keep everyone, including myself, pumped up.
By the end of the workout, my body felt like Jell-O and it was hard to fathom how I would muster up enough energy to walk to my car. If you ask me, that’s the sign of a good workout. This is not for the weak of heart, though. Literally. If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend you go at your own pace until your body builds up the strength to tackle it at full speed. Because even for the fittest of athletes, this workout is sure to bring you to your knees.
Soul Train, Somerville, www.soultrainfitness.com. Crazy 8s: Sun. 10 a.m., Mon. 5:30 p.m., Tues. 6 p.m., Fri. 7 p.m. Drop-in rate for a class: $14.