K’s Corner: Exercise Class

K's CornerIt’s sometimes hard to find time in your busy college schedule to workout. It’s hard to find time at any age! Believe me, I’ve tried the usual “Okay, this week I’m going to go to the gym every day.” Doesn’t happen. Things come up; exams, an assignment I forgot to do ahead of time, a friend asks to go out to dinner, my dog misses me so I go home for the afternoon. This stuff happens every week (well not all of this… but you know what I mean). So I got smart this semester and signed myself up for a fitness class at my gym. It’s called “Split 20/20/20”, and what it comes down to is the best workout you can get in a 60 minute chunk of time (perfect for my busy life). It’s only 2 days a week, but for now that’s fine with me. My plan for the blog is to talk a little about what we do in one of the classes each week. I’ll try to pick the best day of exercise of the week and I’ll discuss the type of exercise – the sweat, the sore muscles, the benefits, and anything else I can think of. I’ll also talk about how to do it just in case you’re inclined to try it yourself. I’m not a personal trainer, so if you want detailed explanations I would suggest going to a personal trainer or a fitness class. So here goes…

We began by jogging for 10 minutes. Not too bad. Then came high knees for a minute, followed by butt kicks for another minute. I liked this part of the class because high knees and butt kicks are both great exercises, but they’re also things I might think are silly to do by myself at the gym. Then my instructor told us that we would be completing what she referred to as a “fitness test” to get a baseline of our personal fitness levels at the start of the semester so we can compare them at the end and see all the progress that we’ve made. Great, I’d love to see my progress – it will be motivating. Each station would be a minute long exercise. Fair enough, shouldn’t be too hard. Here’s what we did and how to do it:

  1. Seated rows
  2. Mountain climbers
  3. Lunges: Squat down so that you look like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Don’t let your knees go past your toes, and keep your back straight. I like to hold my hands out in front of me just so I keep my balance.
  4. I don’t know what to call these, but we were on our hands and toes and walked our bodies back and forth from left to right (sounds easy…but it’s not…)
  5. Butt raises: Lie down on your back with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Lift your hips off the floor so your body is straight from your knees to your shoulders. Squeeze your butt and go back to the starting position (your butt on the floor).
  6. Use an exercise ball to work your legs: Lie down with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and your calves on the exercise ball. Balancing (carefully!) pick your butt off the floor and roll the exercise ball along the back of your legs (the ball goes towards your butt and will be touching your heels) and back to its original position.
  7. Stairs: Up and down stairs
  8. Squats: Squat down in such a way that your knees are over your feet (not past your toes). Keep your back straight. If you aren’t sure if your back is straight, stick your butt out a little as you squat down and this should help.
  9. Push-ups (yikes!)
  10. Jumping jacks
  11. I’m not sure what to call these either, but we started standing up, and then bent over to touch our hands to the floor and walked our hands out until we were just on our hands and toes. From there we pulled one knee towards the opposite elbow, squeezed our abdominal muscles, and out again. We did the same with the other knee and then walked our hands closer to our feet until we were bent over again. Then we stood up and started the process over again.

At the end of the class we all came together and sat on our individual mats to stretch and do planks. The secret to planks is to keep your body completely straight (don’t have your butt in the air or toward the ground). You can either be on your elbows and toes or on your hands and toes (push up position). This is my favorite core exercise. You hold your body in a straight line and squeeze your abdominal muscles. It might seem simple, but it’s a great workout. We also did side planks, which is when you’re only balancing on one arm with the other on your hip (the one that faces the ceiling), and you look to the side. This is tricky, because you have to make sure your hips are up for the duration of the plank in order to get the full benefit from the exercise.

Now for the fun part. The next day, oh my goodness, I was sore. Arms? Yes. Legs? Yes. Butt? Yes. But it was great. Soreness tells me that I’m working my muscles and getting the most out of my workout (It also tells me that I’m out of shape, but I’m clearly working on that).