Mixing It Up Through the Winter Slump

It’s the end of February, which means we’re not quite over the winter slump. We’ll have a few more nice days here and there, but the Chicagoan me knows not to get my hopes up. There’s still one solid month of left of the biting wind, knock-you-on-your-butt ice, and I-wish-it-would-just-stop-already snow.

To push me through these last unglamorous days of winter, I’ve been switching up my workouts here and there. I’m a scheduled person: you’ll find me at the gym at all the same times on all the same days attending all the same classes.

Since I’m stuck indoors, I wanted to jazz things up a bit, challenge different muscles, and try some new classes. By trying new classes, I met new teachers and learned (and embarrassed myself) a lot. Since I wasn’t familiar with many of these classes, I often set up shop in the front so I could follow the lead of the instructor. So I apologize to all the regulars who had to watch me flail about as my uncoordinated self tried to get the hang of “Step up! Lift! Step down! Lunge!”

As an avid biker and cardio junkie, I’m a fan of spin. It’s especially good during these and blustery, icy winter months when I can’t make it outside as much to run. Since I bought my spin shoes, I’ve expanded my spin class repertoire to try new teachers. One thing that surprised me was how many spin classes CAC offers. If you think there are no spin classes that fit your schedule, you’re making excuses! They’re available at all hours of every day. Every class I tried adequately kicked my butt. Some classes I liked more than others, mostly because I liked some music more than others. But there’s definitely a variety, so something for everyone. I especially liked Gaelyn’s Sunday morning class at WPAC, which was unsurprisingly packed. She threw in some new variations I hadn’t tried before. My one request: More lunchtime spin classes at WAC! I’d be all over those.

Cardio Core Challenge
I hate all things abs. I turn into a whiny baby after 1 minute of sit ups. I wouldn’t have attended this class if a friend hadn’t dragged me into it, and I am thankful she did. Stephanie Marie teaches this Wednesday night WAC class, which uses a combination of the step platform and a medicine ball. I liked that this class was a combination of cardio and strength. I will admit she challenged my lack of coordination. I was kind of relieved the only open spots were in back so no one could see how frequently I was off beat or messing up. But I just tried to keep moving, so even if I didn’t get in as many lunges or shoulder presses as everyone else, at least I kept my heart rate up. My one request: 6-lb. medicine balls! That might just be me being a wimp though. I used the 8-lb. ball and struggled, but survived.

Full Body Blast
Donna is not messing around. I would not want to fight her. Donna means business, so if you’re planning on slacking in her class, you might as well not attend. She teaches several classes at WAC, and I attended some of her evening weeknight classes. I really appreciated Donna’s instruction, because she explained everything in detail and gave the class a heads up about what was coming next. I haven’t attended many Body Bar classes, so the more explanation, the better. Her awesome music helps to take away the pain a little (but just a little). I also attended her Workout Challenge class, which included a little bit of the Lebert Buddy System and was the first group exercise class that’s included burpees. So you know it was hard. My one request: I wish Donna’s classes weren't so popular! They’re always packed, and there’s always the inevitable shuffling around to make space for late-comers. Thankfully, Donna is punctual, so class always starts on time for the people who are in position and ready to go.

Workout Challenge
Once again, I attended this weeknight WAC class on a whim with a friend. This one was a tough class, even for the fittest among us. How can Arnold be sporting such a big smile and be so enthusiastic when he’s responsible for so much pain? Only he knows. I’d compare Arnold’s Workout Challenge to bootcamp. He covers a large variety of exercises and muscle groups in just 45 minutes. He has you doing stuff you’ve never heard of and working muscles you didn’t even know you had. He got us moving across the entire studio, using almost every piece of equipment available. His class definitely requires focus, because he’s switching up the exercises so frequently and introducing new pieces of equipment that you have to be paying attention. He puts the “challenge” in Workout Challenge! But even as I secretly begged for the class to end sooner so I could just sit and rest, I had a blast. And since everything moves so quickly, it’s over before you know it! My one request: More classes at WAC with Arnold! I could use more of his energy and positivity in my life.


Betsy Mikel | betsymikel.com