I’m still adding to my list of fun offseason activities, a project that has basically turned into “buy every discounted gym pass possible and try to keep them all straight” and “don’t fall in love with anything because you won’t be able to afford the time or money during marathon/triathlon training.”
Anyway, we’re going to ignore that for the purposes of this post. On Saturday I attended a TRX/Kettlebell class at Stroga in Adams Morgan, which I’ve heard great things about but haven’t been willing to pay for. Thanks, Groupon, for giving me a 10-class pass for $29. I appreciate it. The first thing to know about Stroga is that it has every other studio ever in history beat on coolest spaces in which to train. Yoga in a ballroom:
Right? OK. This seemed like a really good idea before I ended up with purple knees and ran a lung-killing 5K, so I was a little nervous that my body would totally freak in the middle of this class. Minus a few sprints and some agility exercises, it wasn’t high intensity — there was a fair amount of downtime between sets for instruction, no freakouts necessary.
After a quick warmup jog and some pushups, we split into two groups. One worked on TRX and the other with kettlebells — and we switched after each set. But let’s back up a little bit.
The Internet tells me that kettlebells come from a specific variation of Russian weightlifting (how fitting!) though they may also have been used in ancient Greece. Anyway, a kettlebell is basically a round weight — of varying size — with a handle:
They are still used today as an Eastern European sport, as well as for conditioning for athletes and armed forces. Note to self, don’t get into an altercation with a Russian soldier. In the U.S., they’re mainly a gym tool. TRX also has its origins in military training (Navy SEALs, to be exact) and is based on using suspension and body weight as resistance, as well as balance and flexibility.
I was a big fan of TRX. We did exercises that simulated squats and rows, as well as planks and pushups (with our feet in the loops and hands on the ground), and the extra challenge in the balance required for each of these was great. With kettlebells, we did a lot of swings, some tricep work, some squats and lunges and something called the Turkish Getup, which was less than pleasant on my scarred knees and elbows. We only went through a few different variations for each apparatus, but when I talked to the instructor after class he said the possibilities are endless and that he changes it up at each session. I thought the class I attended did a good job of introducing the basics, and it made me want a faster-paced, higher intensity workout next time around.
[My biggest fear with kettlebells, aside from not having a clue what to do with them, is dropping one on my head. This only almost happened once, it turns out you have to be careful when you’re doing exercises on the floor.]
In the end, I loved the TRX portion and was just eh about the kettlebells. I think a harder workout with them — more variety, heavier weight, closer attention to form — would be really great. But with both of these things, you can work pretty much every muscle and joint you have with minimal equipment, and I love the idea of having a TRX set — which is light and portable — for use at home and while on travel. Christmas is only a few days away, people.
I’ll be back to Stroga nine more times, likely for another TRX session but probably also for group strength and yoga. I also need to find a way to use five Yoga District classes (before next Friday), a Barre session, five climbing passes, and a Washington Sports Club month-long membership. I think there’s another pass I’m forgetting. Time to get busy!
*Note: I do actually go back to places I get Groupon/LivingSocial deals for if I like them. Yoga District, for example. But I really appreciate the ability to check these things out without a big financial commitment just so I can switch things up every now and then.