When Personal Trainers Attack
It was bound to happen. The gym can be like a family – both in good ways and bad – so when a personal trainer went on Attack today, I can’t say I was overly surprised. Well, that and he told me he was going to Attack Gym Buddy Allison and I. We even had the time and place set, West Side Story style. Meet me in the basketball courts. 10:30 and don’t be late! I know where you are!
Personal Trainer A wanted to practice teaching Body Attack before his grand debut on Memorial Day and needed gerbils to practice his party tricks on. And you know how Allison and I love to be gerbils! We even roped Gym Buddy Megan into the fun. Side note: you totally want to click thru the Body Attack link, if only to see the wacky photoshopping they did. The poor woman’s arms – she’s a freak of nature!
First things first – despite having the awesomest name ever for an aerobics class (I was having visions of Krav Maga crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer), much to my dismay there is no actual attacking in Body Attack. What it is instead is a boot-camp style interval class that, after I put my Mortal Kombat dreams on the back shelf, turned out to be a decent burn. We alternated tracks of lunging kicks straight out of Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye plyos!) with running in ever tighter circles until my head spun and then we changed directions.
But my favorite part by far was the folk dancing track. Oh, of course it isn’t really called that, and the music was Usher on speed rather than polka, but the moves were totally 6th-grade May Day. We held our hands up and ran towards each other in a big happy circle and then back out again, slapping arms and shoulders all the way. You can’t buy this kind of entertainment, I tell you. We even ended up doing a group do-si-do during which Megan accused me of trying to hold her hand. Which of course I was. Hard to do a decent Reel without holding hands! Plus she tried to spank me.
Personal Trainer A was not terribly amused with our antics but he took it pretty well, even giving us permission to take potty breaks if “we really had to go.” And when you’ve had as many kids as I have, trust me, you really have to go. By the end, silliness notwithstanding, we were all sweaty and beginning to feel the soreness creep in (five minutes of push-ups!!).
My vote: great calorie burn, good interval workout but a class you definitely want to take with people you like (remember that kid in school who always smelled like poo and tried to kiss you behind the lunch room? Yeah.)
The Effects of Cardio?
Mark Sisson and Co. have got me thinking a lot about cortisol recently. Basically it is a hormone that your body makes when you are stressed out and it is bad for you. It lowers your immune system, destroys muscle and actually instructs your body to store fat (cue scary music). The general consensus over at the Daily Apple is that any intense workout over 45 minutes puts you into cortisol production mode. They are particularly against very long sessions of high-intensity cardio.
So today, Gym Buddy Allison and I did an hour-long, brutal Spin class and then Body Attacked each other (see? awesome!!) for another hour. I burned nearly 1400 calories. While it was crazy fun – gotta love those endorphins! – I felt completely destroyed when we were done and had a major crash this afternoon. I have also had nearly uncontrollable sugar cravings all day long. Mmm… cookie dough for dinner.
Which is exactly what Mark & Co. predicted would happen. They also predicted that contrary to popular belief, that kind of crazy excessive cardio we did today would actually prevent fat burning and inhibit muscle growth by causing your body to be in a sustained state of stress. I know, I know, I’m a if-some-is-good-more-must-be-better girl myself but I’m also a numbers girl. Want to know what happened today? After all that major burnage, I gained two pounds.
So I pulled out my trusty book of compulsiveness, er, exercise data and looked back over the last 6 months at how my weight correlated to calories expended. I’ve talked about this before but, call me a slow learner, I guess the lesson didn’t sink in. The more calories I burned per week in cardio, the more weight I gained. The weeks where I focused more on strength training & intervals *cough*crossfit*cough* and less on traditional cardio, my weight went down.
I think it is starting to make sense to me although I’m still bummed that something I love soooo much isn’t good for me in excess (ah, chocolate, parting is such sweet sorrow!). And in case you are wondering what Mark advises for people caught in a fat-loss plateau: up your protein and lower your cardio.
Any of you tried Body Attack? How about Cardio Folk Dancing?? What have you noticed about your body when you do a lot of cardio? Hit me up with your cardio epiphanies!