This TOJ was searching through the long list of classes offered at our community fitness center looking for something challenging, but not too hard, fun but not wimpy, energetic but not hyper, tiring but not exhausting. You know, the perfect class for my body that particular day. It had been a long time since I'd been in a fitness class.
I was about ready to give up after seeing the umpteenth Zumba or yoga (on the way to having as many flavors as micro brewed beer) class, when I spotted in bold type: RIPPED with a slogan promising "total body shock" or something like that. The class was an hour and ten minutes long. Promising!
The slogan was trademarked, so I Googled RIPPED and found it's a franchise. RIPPED is an acronym for Resistance Intervals Power Plyometrics Endurance Diet. Like Crossfit, their website showed lots of buff younger people, in their case 10-to-1 women to males, with big smiles. They promised muscle confusion, constantly changing routines, no boredom, motivating and music.
Sure enough, when I arrived before the class, the ratio was 10-to-1 women, mostly young. In the mirrors lining the front wall, this TOJ looked like Santa Claus among a bunch of large Spandex elves. I asked the girl next to me if I needed to warm up, she smiled and said, "Don't worry, you'll get warmed up." I was excited to experience the latest and greatest in fitness.
The instructor bounced to the front of the crowded class with her headset on. The sound started up with siren cue, like what you hear from a garbage trucking backing up warning you to get out of the way. The instructor warned if anybody had a hangover, they wouldn't for long.
Then the music started, some rap song, not too fast. We stepped sideways right, stretched sideways left, stepped right lifted the left knee, stepped left lifted the right knee.
Then a new song came on with a faster beat. More double knee lifts. Then we got into a horse stance (she called it a plie, like in ballet) and did jabs, then lunging left and right, we did uppercuts and hooks. Tons of them. I flashbacked decades to boxing and tae kwon do. The instructor, facing the mirror in front of the class, growled at herself.
After a couple songs, we'd take a minute or two break to get water, wipe off the sweat, and walk clockwise in a circle. The instructor walked counterclockwise giving high fives.
More music. We got out the mats and did conventional push-ups to "We Will Rock You." We did some more. Another flasback to junior high PE classes. Then we did crab walks right, then left, push-up, right, then left, push-up, etc. Then we did side planks. Then another walk in a circle, people chugging the water, breathing hard.
More music. Now feet shoulder width and running in place. Instructor advising to bend over and get low, as we went right, left, right left. Another flashback - high school football agility drills. More punching. Then another short walk in a circle, more people breathing harder.
The instructor said "Pick up your weights!" Not knowing how crazy the class would get, I picked 10 lbs. dumb bells instead of the heavier ones a TOJ wold use for real weight training. To more rap and hip-hop, we did rows, flys, lunge presses, more reps than in any strength workout. I heard the instructor yell, "Get it out, all out it. Out!" Then we put the weights down and did some modified burpees, with a jump emphasized (this must have been the plyometrics).
Then we got the mats again and did some dynamic yoga. I don't remember what the music was, but it wasn't something you'd hear in an ashram in India or at the Integral Hatha Yoga Institute in San Francisco, where this TOJ first tried yoga in the 60's. The fitness center didn't smell like incense either.
The instructor wrapped it up with a congratulations to everyone, circulating through the group with more high-fives.
A TOJ's assessment: RIPPED is close to what it says, though more a cardio-workout than anything else. The resistance and plyometrics are tame, probably because nobody could sustain those for more than a few minutes. The class was right at the edge of aerobic, a good place to build cardio-fitness. If you brought your own intensity, like the instructor did, you'd be dipping well into challenging anaerobic, which is beneficial too, in small doses. I got winded and left drenched with sweat.
Truth is, when it comes to exercise, there's little new under the gym rafters. Human movement is very basic - push, pull, lift, squat, lunge, rotate, walk, run. In the exercises themselves, it was deja vu, been there done that. But there were some tunes this TOJ had never heard before - modern, faster, younger.