Discovering Fitness Everywhere
Throughout my childhood, adolescence, adult life and entire fitness and athletic career I was always accustomed to a regimented workout. My exercises were programmed for me at an early age and my body responded like a robot. Dynamic stretching was second nature and squats and planks were an integral part of my daily routine to the point where I was thinking about what I was going to eat later that night instead of keeping my weight on my heels.
It wasn’t until I was finished with my collegiate athletic career and started CityFit that I discovered just how oblivious I was to the great big world of fitness and all it has to offer.
Sure, I am familiar with all different types of Yoga, CrossFit, Barre, Zumba, P90X, Insanity, and many other forms of fitness classes and programs that exist today. I am also aware of the many different methods out there that fitness enthusiasts are trying: circuit training, interval training, hypertrophy training, cardiovascular training, and so on.
Even with my accumulated fitness knowledge and experience (it’s crazy how much I’m learning about health and fitness each day), my workouts were always structured in a way that never allowed me to think about new fitness variations or exciting exercise routines. Core training – sit ups and planks; Strength training – squats, deadlifts, pushups and pull ups; Reactive training – box jumps, plyos and iceskaters; SAQ (speed, agility, quickness) – sprints, ladders and dot drills; Cardio – running, biking and elliptical. Perform daily and repeat. That was my cookie-cutter workout regimen for the first 25 years of my life.
As CityFit progressed from an idea into a business model, so did my understanding and appreciation for the many different workout variations and facilities that exist throughout our great fitness community. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Monkey Bar Gym in the South Loop. Barefoot exercises, climbing up actual monkey bars and handstands capped off the class. Who would have thought that working out barefoot would make your calves so sore the next day? It was at Monkey Bar that I realized that fitness isn’t always about structure and conventionality.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my first class at the female-only Barre Bee Fit studio in River North. Until I experienced the hybrid kickboxing and bar-toning class called Barre Brawl, I thought I had felt every possible pain imaginable while working out. The discomfort of my heart pumping out of my chest during my CrossFit circuits; the cramping of my muscles throughout my runs; the pain of my legs not being able to physically turn over any faster in my sprints; the feeling of muscle exhaustion while trying to finish a lifting session.
Barre Bee Fit provided my body with a new kind of pain: burning and trembling. While standing on my toes (as if I was wearing my highest pair of heels explained trainer Lina), with my legs bent in a chair pose and my hands gripped to a ballet bar, I was out of my “normal” fitness element. My legs trembled uncontrollably, burning as I tried to focus on my form rather than the amount of time I needed to hold my body in a foreign position. My forehead was dripping with sweat as the shaking in my legs increased with each ticking second.
What is fitness? This was the question I asked myself after I slowly walked up the stairs and out of the Barre Bee Fit studio with my body fatigued and simultaneously energized. This was certainly not the workout I was accustomed to, yet I caught myself explaining this new experience with the same words used to describe my sprints or weight training sessions: painful, breathing, sweating, tired, tough, sore, refreshed. While I struggled through parts of Barre Brawl (yes, I really hate to admit this, but I felt behind throughout the class) I realized that my lifelong perception of fitness was shortsighted.
The balance, core strength and coordination required to execute the kickboxing and ballet bar segments challenged my body and overall strength. My hip inflexibility while performing a ballet bar pose reminded me of how hard it was to execute perfect squat depth throughout my athletic career. My lack of coordination during the kickboxing sequences brought back memories of my inability to perform dot drills while jumping rope at early morning agility practices in college.
While taking the Barre Brawl class, I came to the realization that fitness is not always about what you believe it to be. Fitness is about experiencing new exercises and stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s about feeling the unusual from the ordinary. Fitness is part of our everyday lives, even if we are unaware of it. It can be enjoyed in many different forms. It can be found in many different places and practiced in various settings. The next time you’re at a park, climb up the monkey bars and hang from the poles. While you’re walking down the stairs, grab the railing and hold a squat pose on your tippy toes. When you’re living your life, keep an open mind and discover fitness everywhere. I’ll join you.