01/09/2015

Sweating out the holidays

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Like any party animal, I rang in the new year watching an episode of My 600-lb Life in my favorite pajamas. The episode featured a blonde woman who started crying on her treadmill because she saw her sister eating strawberry shortcake. It was, as you can imagine, sad and awful. It also hit home a little harder than I thought, so I asked my mom, “Am I that fat?”

And I guess her 2015 resolution was to be more earnest, because she said, “Not yet.”

As soon as I got over the woman’s treachery, I realized that it was well-deserved. The last time I was probably at the peak of physical health, Fidel Ramos was president and I was eating Cerelac on a high chair. The holidays, this last one included, make it even worse thanks to the steady stream of parties and dinners.

But the guilt is always there, sitting uncomfortably with the Adelina’s ham and Toblerone in my gut. So when I was given the opportunity to test a couple of workouts to ease the holiday binge shame, I grabbed it tighter than I ever would a box of Shakey’s mojos. From the blood pumping CrossFit, the graceful but deadly pole dance, to the utterly relaxing anti-gravity yoga, I try out a few ways to help us all push those #balikalindog resolutions forward. Lifting weights and hanging upside down were harrowing and life-changing, for sure, but I can assure you has changed the way I react to the sight of strawberry shortcake. Well, almost.

Crossfit

Cliff’s notes: Founded in 2000, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, and more.

My experience: I don’t exaggerate when I say that my CrossFit classes were the most painful four hours of my life. They’ve had me do jumps, squats, weight lifts, and other things I’ve only ever seen Arnold Schwarzenegger do. I was ready to cry and give up, so when I asked them if it was over, they said yes. We were done… with the warm-up.

(Insert pistol emojis here.)

I could barely get through the workouts, and to think they were giving me the kinder, sissified version of what everyone else was doing. I tried to tell myself that I was Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby or Michelle Rodriguez in any movie she’s ever starred in, but all that personal motivation can only go so far when you can’t even find the strength to push yourself off the ground as you heave for your life.

Overall verdict: While this is definitely something everyone can try, CrossFit is perfect for those looking for a little bit more intensity. Plus, everyone at CrossFit Infinitas is so nice and encouraging without a hint of fakery, kind of like how your parents loved all your art as a kid that they hang it in their office, even if it’s honestly kind of crap. So if you do go for CrossFit, expect a bunch of good looking and fit people to offer you a high-five after you struggle with your deadlifts.

Best for: Developing endurance, body building, and the ability to outrun (or even defeat) zombies.

Work that butt off at CrossFit Infinitas, located at #79 Mother Ignacia Ave. Quezon City. For inquiries, call 412-9004 or 0917-8617145. Rates start at Php 2,500 a month.

Pole-dancing

Cliff’s notes: Originally associated with night clubs, pole dancing has recently become a popular form of fitness around the world.

My experience: Finding the grace to be flexible while having the strength to carry your weight is no joke. I watched my classmates in Polecats Manila maneuver through tricks as I tried to hold on without hitting my chin against the pole. Even the first timers I was paired up with got the hang of it within minutes, although they were wearing some pretty cute outfits so I think the mafia sent them in to torment me.

The fundamentals of pole dancing involves the ability to support yourself with just your arms or your ankles—neither of which I could do. Imagine a rhinoceros trying to spin around a pole in a ratty H&M t-shirt. That’s exactly how I looked like. I have also learned that you can only use the “I can’t hold on because the pole is slippery” excuse for so long. Eventually your teacher and classmates will realize that you simply can’t do it.

Overall verdict: Burlesque dancers have made pole dancing look so easy—now that I’ve actually tried it, I think those singles they’re thrown onstage should come in buckets. (New resolution: tip your strippers better.) I recommend taking up pole dancing with friends; it’s a social workout and kind of gives you a feeling of sisterhood. There’s nothing like bonding with your besties while Sam Smith is playing in the background.

Best for: Improving balance, increasing flexibility, and a really great topic for small talk.

Climb the pole with Polecats Manila located at 22nd Floor, Strata 100, F. Ortigas Jr. Road (formerly Emerald), Ortigas, Pasig City. They also have classes at The 360 Fitness Club branches in Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Timog. For inquiries, visit http://polecatsmanila.com or call +63 (917) 700-7653. A walk-in class starts at Php500.

Anti-gravity yoga

Cliff’s notes: Inspired by traditional yoga, anti-gravity yoga combines traditional yoga poses with pilates, dance, and aerial art with the use of a silk hammock.

My experience: My stomach flipped at the sight of those harnesses. How can those things support me and the breakfast I just had? It felt impossible, but miracles have been known to happen.

Yoga’s a lot more chill than other workouts, but it still gives you a good sweat—either from actually contorting yourself into various positions mid-air or simply from the thought of doing so. There are some poses that will be bruising to your body and others that’ll make the blood rush straight to your head. But even after a particularly intense inversion (a pose in which you are hanging upside down for a few breaths) where a few capillaries burst in my forehead, my back felt amazing.

That marginal success made me feel so good that I didn’t feel bad when I couldn’t perform a flip. I also loved the last few minutes of class, where we all just lied down the hammock and meditated. It was a lot like being a fetus again, if I can remember how that felt like.

Overall verdict: If there’s any workout that’s a little more my speed, it’s anti-gravity yoga. It’s a great way to start and end the week because it puts you in a great disposition, both physically and mentally. When you just want some time to get away from all your homework or the office gossip, some quiet time on the harness might just be the thing.

Best for: Physical and spiritual relief, core strengthening, and great Facebook profile photos.

Get stretching at Beyond Yoga, with branches in Bonifacio High Street Central, Quezon City, Alabang, Greenhills and Rockwell. For more details, go to http://www.igobeyondyoga.com/. The single class rate for anti-gravity yoga starts at Php650.

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