I (Melissa) am bored with the gym. Bored with deadlifts and pull-ups, back squats and presses, rowing and running. I re-discovered the bench press and the Prowler this summer, which peaked my interest for a few weeks, but all in all, I’m bored. Not with exercise itself, but with all of my exercise coming from gym-related CrossFit-esque training protocols.
So I decided to look up a Muay Thai place in Salt Lake City. Back in NH, I took a half-cardio, half-kickboxing class based on Muay Thai. It was not a true martial arts class – we didn’t spar or anything – but we worked on the bag and with partners holding pads and got a lot of personalized attention to make sure our punches and kicks were properly executed. We also did some crunches and push-ups and listened to an awesome music mix (made by yours truly) while we trained… so I’ll say it was 70% kickboxing and 30% cardio. Worked for me – the class was a great workout, and a lot of fun.
Dallas and I found a gym nearby offering both a Thai boxing program and “aerobic kickboxing”. We went over last week so I could do a cardio class and he could check out their boxing program. I came prepared to sweat, in my CrossFit Stamford “Do Work” tank and toting extra bottles of water. The instructor appeared to be a fairy wood sprite about as big as my left leg, wearing a straight-up leotard and scrunchy socks with white Reeboks and a Time Life Operator headset. This should have been my first warning sign.
The music was ear splitting- what I call “circus techno” (you know, it goes ,”uhn-CH-uhn-CH”). Our warm-up was a series of stretches I recognized from my Mom’s Jazzercise routines and about 17 minutes of “jab cross” on the bag (timed, of course, to the techno). The instructor had boundless energy, maintaining the pace while talking everyone through the movements. She was fit, I’ll give her that, but she continued to drive the class bus straight into the Billy Blanks Memorial Tunnel, and we were all just along for the ride. (What were my options? Either sit out the lame stuff and risk looking like I can’t keep up… or kick major aerobic ass, and pray that no one in class has ever heard of Whole9. I chose the latter.)
The combinations were executed so fast, there was more bouncing off the bag than actual technique. The number of jab-crosses we were told to do to “keep our heart rates up” started to make my shoulder hurt, probably because we were never told to switch guard. (I started to on my own.) At one point, I looked over at Dallas, who was talking to one of the instructors, and attempted to telegraph my dismay while doing a step-cross-knee-UP! dance routine across the gym floor. He studiously avoided my eyes and pretended not to know me. I felt abandoned.
Finally, when I thought my aerobic lows could sink no lower… out came the Body Bars. The first movement consisted of about 1,500 sumo deadlift high-pulls, which we don’t do because they’re stupid and potentially injurious. I stood those out, but did participate in the standing skull-crushers (true story) and weird “jam your body bar into your hips and bend over” squat-like drill. I wish I had photos, but Dallas had his back to me at this point, and was edging slowly towards the door. Traitor. We ended with about 500 crunches, which I did as full sit-ups until my abdominals actually gave out, because 500 of anything is stupid.
We left as quickly as possible, Dallas smirking and me sweaty and disappointed that my Thai adventure wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Don’t get me wrong – while I’m poking (all in good) fun here, there’s nothing wrong with an aerobics class, or most of the movements and drills they put us through. It was wicked on the lungs, and a damn good cardio workout, and if you want to add Zumba or pole-dancing or Tae-Bo to your CrossFit routine just for fun and variety, you get two thumbs up from me. It’s just that my particular class wasn’t at all what I was looking for.
But least it wasn’t the same old deadlifts and pull-ups… and it did make me realize that I needed way more than just a cardio workout to keep me interested. So on Monday, we signed up for the actual Muay Thai program – the full deal, including sparring, if we are so inclined. Our first lesson was awesome – we spent time learning the punches, elbows, knees and kicks on the heavy bag, and then we actually got in the ring with an instructor and pummeled the crap out of him as best as we could for a couple of three-minute rounds. It was exactly what I was looking for – a fun new sport, outside of the gym. But there was a little something missing… I wonder if they’ll let me make a Muay Thai mix tape for this afternoon’s class?
Do you try to get outside of the gym for fun AND exercise? Post your activity to comments.