A coworker friend of mine has recently taken up Forza, which is a... how to describe it... class she takes at the gym that involves rhythmically swinging giant, wooden swords around as exercise. (You can see it on Martha Stewart on Tuesday this week, or go to youtube for a piece that aired on the Today show.) She's lost a ton of weight through this class and always raves about it, so I was down for trying it.
I was also down for trying her gym - when we moved to New York, we joined the closest gym to us, the NYSC. NYSC is... okay. Just okay. It's affordable and our branch is close, convenient, and new, which means it's nice. Other branches, which we have access to during off-peak hours, are older and are not as nice. But, it's less intimidating than a hole-in-the-wall boxing gym, and the classes are good.
Anyway, this friend goes to Equinox, the nationwide chain of fancy-pants gyms (they have KIEHL'S in the bathrooms) that is notorious for its amazing classes. I wanted to try the class and, let's face it, I wanted to see how the other half works out.
I'm not sure what to say about the class itself. I think it was instinctual of me to want to dismiss it as a gimmick, but my friend has lost more than 40 pounds doing it, so there's got to be something there. Partly it was gimmicky, sure - but whatever it takes to get you moving for an hour, I'm not going to criticize (says someone whose only workout yesterday was the Wii Fit) (ahem, and yes, I get that that's not a true workout) (but I totally ROCKED the snowball fight!) (whatever, yes, moving on).
I might enjoy watching So You Think You Can Dance, but "appreciation" is where my relationship with choreography ends. I'm notoriously bad at any sort of even basic choreography, so parts of the class were truly mentally challenging (and kinda humiliating) for me, once the class picked up speed. The most fun part for me was trying to avoid the guy next to me, who drifted closer and closer to me with each and every step. We were supposed to stay in place, but somehow he was moving around, a lot. I never did figure out how, despite watching him pretty intently - he was wielding a heavy, wooden sword, I had to watch out.
Bottom line, by the end of the class I had sweat buckets and had blisters on both my thumbs. Maybe I was gripping too hard. I kept picturing the sword flying out of my hands and hitting someone. I'm not sure that I felt empowered, or stronger, or more fierce like the clip on the Today Show promised, but Forza is an interesting alternative to a generic aerobic class, for sure.
But the gym! The gym! It was luxury! It made me want to stay for hours! The shower was great. The towels were fluffy. The mat area was sectioned off with some sheer curtaining, creating a breezy and almost middle eastern effect that was completely conducive to sit-ups. The lobby had comfy chairs and I just wanted to sit in the steam room for hours. The cardio machines were still just cardio machines, rows and rows of treadmills and bikes and bored people zoning out while getting their mileage in. BUT THEY HAVE KIEHL'S.
I totally should have snuck all my empty travel bottles in to siphon extra Kiehl's. Maybe next time.
On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"