Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Get In Shape GIRL

Do you guys remember this? Does it still exist?

Anyway, this is not about that. This is about my latest fitness endeavor.

If I had one resolution this year, it would be this: Stop buying Groupons. And so, my story today begins as such: So I bought this Groupon for a place called Get in Shape for Women without reading the fine print, which is pretty typical of the impulse buy that is the online coupon.

[Sidebar: This chat actually happened...
me: what's it called when you buy something without thinking it through
someday my brain will work again
K: impulse buy
me: yes
that is the word i am looking for
I'm here to tell you that this mom brain thing is real.]

The Groupon provided me with 13 sessions of small-group training and two nutrition sessions. I wasn’t interested in the nutrition sessions, but I was intrigued by the small-group training. In hopes that I would beat the New Year’s rush and wouldn’t forget I had the groupon before it expired, which happens basically always, I called in late December eager to get back on the workout bandwagon.

The first phone call was a little awkward. I really just wanted to get a date on the calendar, but I was asked to relay my fitness goals (lose weight, get into a good strength training routine) and my fitness background (pretty extensive actually). Then the owner of this franchise gave me her pitch, which included the following: We don’t accept everyone into our program (Uh. Ok, but I bought this Groupon, and I’d like to use it); We only accept people who have measurable goals (read: weight loss goal, not a health or fitness goal); You can join now or you can join after you use your Groupon (um... I’d kind of like to use the Groupon that I just bought because, you know, I bought a Groupon).

I told her that I was interested in first using my Groupon and seeing how I liked it. Duh. So I scheduled my first workout session.

Here’s how it works: Get in Shape for Women is kind of like a Curves on steroids. It’s pretty one-size-fits-all with a small amount of personalization courtesy of the fitness trainer who is there to guide up to eight women at a time through a workout--four on strength machines and four on cardio machines. The workout is a total of one hour.

The strength workout is pretty straight forward. You either do upper body or lower body, and like Curves, you go in a circle from one exercise to another. There are three machines (on which you can do two exercises each), a weight bench, a mat, and an incline bench, as well as space in front of mirrored walls where you can do squats and lunges. For someone who’s been around the block with fitness programs, it’s pretty straight forward. A recorded voice chimes in every 34 seconds (I asked how long the intervals were), telling you to start, stop or switch to the next exercise (kinda like Curves). The trainers set your weight, give tips on form and provide verbal encouragement.

The cardio workout is similarly simple. You spend about 27 minutes on a cardio machine, either an elliptical or a treadmill. You do three minutes at a “normal” pace and then “kick it up” for one minute intervals. You get to decide what normal pace is, and depending on the trainer, they will either provide you suggested speeds and inclines for the minute interval or you will decide that for yourself.

Here’s what I like about this place:
  • It’s time efficient. The workout is wrapped up in a neat little hour package. I’ve got my strength. I’ve got my cardio. And I’m done. Mission accomplished.
  • I’m being babysat. Sad, but true. The personalization is fairly minimal (so far anyway), but the fact that there is a trainer standing right there, which means I’m not going to cheat (or at least, I’m going to cheat less).
  • It’s simple and easy. Here’s the another thing about breastfeeding... it zaps your energy. While I can definitely run again, I’m not really up for training in the form of a half marathon or even a 10K. This is a totally doable workout, and the trainers aren’t trying to kill you (they’ll actually lower your weight if you tell them it’s too hard).
  • I dig the all-female thing--in this setting. I’m a self-admitted ladies’ lady, but often in a gym-type setting, it’s not really my thing. However here, it’s kind of nice. The people are pretty nice and there’s a sense of camaraderie. Plus working out with a chatty, small group can sometimes make the time go faster.
  • There’s no overcrowding. In January, this is a huge benefit. I know there’s never going to be more than eight people in the room. I’m never going to wait for equipment.
Things I’m less excited about:
  • There’s not a lot of variation. I could see where the workouts could get boring over time.
  • My sense is that some assumptions are being made. When the owner asked me about my fitness background, I told her the highlights: I’ve run half marathons and marathons; I have a group fitness certification; I’ve taught Zumba; I like trying new fitness programs, so I’ve basically done a little of everything. As far as I can tell, that information never made it to the trainers. My guess is that health and fitness level here is pretty much determined by your weight and how much you have to lose (if any).
  • The cost... which I don’t actually know. This is not a long-term solution for me. But it’s kind of exactly what I need right now when I’m low energy due to breastfeeding and sleep deprivation, need some babysitting, and want to get in and out quickly. After my Groupon is up, I’d consider sticking with it, at least through the winter. Unfortunately, when I inquired about costs, I was told I’d need to set up an appointment and was reminded that not everyone is accepted. This bothers me. I’ve been to this rodeo. I don’t want hoops to jump through. I just want to workout.
As for the nutrition sessions, I had planned on skipping this portion of the Groupon. I’m not interested in that portion of the program, but because this is a program, it’s a package deal. This is part of their schtick. So after being pressed to schedule a session a few times, I did it. More on that later...

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