Big city workouts

What’s a girl without a full-time job supposed to do during the day but try out new group fitness classes?

I’ve enjoyed lunchtime classes most weekdays since I’ve been in San Francisco.

As a group fitness instructor, I’m a true believer in the power of working out with others, so the opportunity to take new classes is a treat for me.  And, lucky for me, San Francisco is one of the test cities for a new program direct from NIKE called NIKE Training Club (which I believe started out as an app).

I’ll add this to the list of reasons to move to a big city.

Now that I’ve taken the NIKE Training Club class three times, I think it’s fair to offer some commentary.  I say this, because the first experience in a new class can be a little intimidating if you don’t know what to expect, so you have to go again to make sure you really understand the essence of the class and can make a decision if it’s for you.

Disclaimer: I’m definitely biased as a Les Mills instructor, but I’m always open to trying new things.

NIKE Training Club is inspired by the principles of training done by NIKE-sponsored athletes, so it’s definitely not a yoga, dance or step class — in fact, it’s more like boot camp.  The moves themselves are very simple; the format easy to follow; and you can push yourself as hard as you want to.  I‘ve walked out fully exerted after all three classes.  Each class is different, but there is a mix of short cardio bursts and short resistance moves, mostly done with low-weight dumbbells or your own body weight.  As a participant, all you need to do is show up and listen to the instructor.  There is no choreography pattern to know ahead of time, and there is very little equipment to set up.  (I’m sure it doesn’t hurt your performance if you wear NIKE apparel, which coincidentally I have done all three times!)

CLASS FORMAT: This 60-minute class can be done in stations, where each participant starts at a spot in the circle and does a certain move for a 45-second period before moving to the next station.  Or, the class can be done with participants in their own spot, following the instructor in the front of the room during supersets of short bits of work for 30 seconds each.  The moves include burpees, hovers, lunges, jumping jacks, high-knee runs in place, pushups, single-leg deadlifts, bicep curls with dumbbells, squats and variations of crunches.  The good thing about these moves is that they don’t require a lot of explanation, which works well for setting up each short set.  Not to mention, the short sets make each exercise seem achievable, because mentally you can always tell your body to push for less than a minute.  I’ve had the same instructor all three times, and she has been excellent.  She models each move with perfect technique (as she should), she offers low-impact modifications for nearly every move (a must to keep everyone feeling successful) and she always wears NIKE.

I know that one hour of burpees, jumping jacks and simple exercises doesn’t sound like fun, but the NIKE way includes movement in between each exercise as well to keep the class flowing.  It also takes a page out of the NIKE brand book to encourage camaraderie and teamwork.  The instructor continually reminds participants that they are a team working together, and no one gets left behind.  That means that there is no downtime, and you pay for other people’s mistakes.  Participants are asked to run in place and keep in motion no matter what, or the whole class has to do ten pushups when someone is caught standing still.

I’ve enjoyed the addition of this training class to my workout regime because it’s challenged me to do exercises that aren’t always included in my BODYPUMP or other regular routines.  However, as a die-hard Les Mills believer, I must say that the entire NIKE Training Club experience is not as polished as a Les Mills program, because the music is not set specifically for the work being done.  Therefore, the songs chosen by the instructor may or may not match up completely with the mood needed for each exercise, and the song could end during a tough set.

I’ve always enjoyed branded experiences, and this is one that I can see growing in popularity because of the name behind it.  Perhaps it will bring a few more people into the group fitness room that hadn’t been there before.

They say part of the beauty of group fitness is being accountable to the other people who may be watching.  If that is true, then I’ve been taking class in the ideal location.  That’s right.  This 24 Hour Fitness location is one where the group fitness room has clear glass on the main street, so people can see everyone sweating it out and walk right next to the class windows.

No cheating in the back of this classroom!

2nd Street Gym
Group fitness and the sidewalk, separated by a thin piece of glass.
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