I am by no means a fitness expert. To some, I’m going to be a terrible yoga teacher: I eat (Halal or organic) beef and lamb, I’m not going to give up wine and coffee…that’s a given. I run but don’t really follow a training plan, and I hate spin classes because I loathe authority and someone yelling at me to exercise is more likely to result in an expletive being hurled their way, rather than working harder.
So when I met Levi James – Mister Abs, to the world – and he mentioned he ran a boot camp, I think I actually started laughing, not at this talented, knowledgeable individual, but at the mere thought of my participation in such an event. Then, over our pretty neat conversation about fitness, nutrition, the New York City workout culture and life goals, he said, “you should come to my class one day.”
“Sure,” I said, laughing a little to myself. Boot camp. What the heck was that, except maybe something for brides-to-be, middle-aged women, and massive dudes? I know a couple of friends who tried something a little like this – and no, none of them fit into the aforementioned categories – and they used it as a break from marathon training. I’d tried Insanity, and after one session couldn’t sit down, I hated P90X because the instructor made me want to curse at him, and I lacked the funds and anorectic physique for Barry’s Boot Camp; the sleek elite I imagined attending these classes would firmly insert my “normal” self in the “obese” category by my mere presence in their vicinity.
However, this boot camp was different – it’s held outdoors in a playground and at a normal, after work time where you imagine normal people going to get their sweat on. Fortunately for me, I was right. The group were extremely friendly and not insouciant towards a newcomer such as myself. In fact, after wanting to barf after the WARM UP, I was encouraged and reassured that this was entirely normal for someone’s first time.
“But I run! Lots!” I said, laughing, because I suddenly felt like I’d never worked out in my life. This kind of activity was different. You’re constantly moving, bouncing, jumping and generally throwing yourself around in ways that challenge the body. Running is very repetitive unless you try fartleks – randomly sprinting for indeterminate distances, not like it sound – or if you’re trying speed workouts, one of which left me in the same “I’m going to barf” state as the boot camp’s humble beginnings.
Fortunately for me – and my yoga arms – there were plenty of upper-body strengthening activities that reminded me of chatturanga, regular old push ups, or worked the same muscles needed to balance in crow, or push back into downward dog. However, this HURT. Clearly, I am not as physically developed as I would like to believe, but it must be said, the whole thing was so much fun. Yes, I couldn’t do every kind of workout, no, I didn’t feel comfortable doing some of the jump-ups (still scared about le post broken foot) and yes, I wanted to keel over many times, but this was fun. We were always doing something different. I usually felt a little silly, puffing and panting and trying not to fall over. And everyone was certainly in the same boat of exertion and slight hilarity at the way we were pushing ourselves.
After the workout, let’s just say the endorphins were running rampant and I felt wonderful. One day post-workout, everything hurt, which I knew was natural, so I did a bit of foam rolling and I tried to avoid sitting down quickly or going down stairs – a feat if I ever did attempt one being that I am reliant on subway transportation in this fine city. That all being said, the biggest thing for me was to try something new, scary and one that I had thought beyond me. Because as I’ve learned and I keep learning in my yoga classes, you never know of what you are capable especially when your mind tries to tell you otherwise. Listen to your body, not your head…and just go for it. I was surprised, pleasantly, and one of these days I will be going back for more.