This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world. I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio. I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.
This month, Physical Therapist, Pamela Robichaud did the testing for me. Pamela graduated with her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2006 from MGH Institute of Health Professions, an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital. After completing an internship at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, she moved to Boulder where she has worked in both an acute care and outpatient setting. Pamela’s strengths include but are not limited to the following: Low Back, Ankle Sprains, Foot Pain, Knee Injuries, Chronic Pain, Balance & Vestibular Disorders, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Brain Injury & Concussion. She currently has her practice at Koa Fit Studio.
Mecha – Hybrid: HIIT + Core
by guest blogger, Pamela Robichaud
About a month ago, Brenna invited me to join her at Mecha for a resistance class. Resistance is basically a group pilates reformer class. You can read more about her experience on her blog and I definitely agree with her interpretation.
The owner of Mecha, Kate, was kind enough to offer me a few complimentary classes as a follow-up to my first experience. As a Physical Therapist I am constantly keeping an eye on what our community offers when it comes to fitness options. I gladly accepted the offer as I have a goal this summer of trying something new each week. I’m a long time fan of Pure Barre and it continues to be my steady go-to for strengthening. As a Physical Therapist, I have a good understanding of my body and safety which makes the loud music + fast pace of Pure Barre fun, safe, and beneficial for me. However, like I said, I’ve been trying something new each week this summer. Boulder has so much to offer from swimming to group fitness to individual training and it’s fun to mix up my usual long slow miles on the bike and the run with an activity that awakens something new in my body.
Mecha offers many classes that address strength and cardio. I decided to try their Hybrid: HIIT + Core class which is a combo of a HIIT work out and resistance training. I’d be lying if I said I incorporated high heart rate training into my exercise routine. Sure, my heart rate gets high when I ride my bike up a hill or do a little pick up when I’m running, but I rarely get to that very uncomfortable place. That place where fitness happens. So, let’s see what Mecha’s Hybrid class has to offer.
I’m familiar with the check-in process and the facility set-up (for more see Brenna’s blog ). However, I had never been to the cardio room; therefore, when I arrived I checked in with the front desk person for guidance. She told me that we would be spending 25 minutes in the cardio room and then walk across to the resistance room, a place I know from the reformer class. She encouraged me to introduce myself to the instructor, which I did. The instructor told me how the cardio climbing machine works (aka VersaClimber ) and the proper posture for effective outcomes. Other than that, there was no instruction or questions about injuries, fitness, experience or comments on safety. Again, I feel confident in my body awareness but the lack of instruction or communication makes me think that this class is not for everyone. Also, the class is done in dim light conditions, which is included in the online description. I felt secure in that setting but people with vision difficulties or extremely poor balance or sensation may be challenged.
We did our 6 minute warm-up on the VersaClimber. Each person is welcome to do their own pace, but the cueing was far from a warm-up. It was a “go for it” kind of cheerleading in order to reach a certain number of steps before moving on. My heart rate was very high very quickly, but that’s fine. After all, that’s the point and the definition of HIIT. The instruction about the next circuit came while we were warming up and the directions were clear and easy to follow.
We broke out into pairs with one person on the stationary bike and one person doing planks. We rotated at 13 calorie burns for 6 min. When the cyclist reached 13 calories on the bike (based on the bike not on heart rate or biometrics so fairly arbitrary), then traded places with the person doing forearm planks. We did this for 6 minutes. We then switched to a combo of VersaClimber and bicep/tricep band exercises. This part was frustrating because there was no instruction about how to use the bands and perform a proper bicep or tricep exercise. If you don’t have a good understanding of how to perform basic exercises, this lack of instruction could be problematic and lead to injury. Just as I was told, we moved over to the reformer room after 25 min of HIIT.
The combo was a killer workout. I felt very accomplished and very worked by the end of it. That VersaClimber made for a severe case of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in my upper body, which I happen to love but it’s not for everyone. Pulling up pants and lifting up my bag was noticeably difficult the next day. I was also more hungry for a solid day after the class which indicates that my metabolism benefited from the HIIT work out, which was the goal.
I’m not sure I’d go to this class 3x a week or anything but I’m curious to continue to throw a true HIIT workout in to my regime. I want to see what some of Mecha’s other cardio classes are about. Next up will be either their straight HIIT class or HIIT circuit. It’s going to be a huge challenge.
Pros: A true HIIT workout and all the benefits that come with it (read more about that here) followed by core strength
Cons: These cardio classes are not for everyone given pace and lack of instruction regarding modifications for injury, expectations, etc. If your fitness level is lower and you’ve never done group fitness, this is not the place to start. It could be a great goal, however, if you have good enough body awareness to keep yourself safe.
Nutshell: If you know yourself and listen to your body, go for it. If you’re apprehensive or have an injury you don’t understand well, then perhaps group fitness is not for you and you should considering consulting with a physical therapist and/or personal trainer for a personalized program or to address concerns or injuries.