After the taunting treadmill, that sweet round medicine ball starts to look pretty good.
I NEVER THOUGHT I would say this: Thank goodness for medicine balls.
Of everything difficult and intense at the Lean Bazuka class at Bassline Fitness on Capitol Hill, the rounds with the medicine ball proved the least difficult and intense. I never thought I had a preference for medicine balls, but when faced with a treadmill, I had a change of heart.
Bassline is one of the new fitness studios that challenge you by relying on technology (heart-rate monitors); pumped-up music; and nonstop, intense rep cycles.
I headed to the Lean Bazuka Total Body class and soon was face-to-face with my nemesis: the treadmill. I have discovered the only reasonable way to be motivated on a treadmill is to run in a group fitness class.
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I warmed up and was cheerfully running nicely and slowly when I realized I should have been on a 15 percent incline. Oops.
We moved to biceps curls, followed by push-ups and planks with knee crosses for core. Push-up maniacs will love it, but people who like to skip push-ups (me) might need to put their knees down.
The first round with the 10-pound medicine balls wasn’t my favorite — we bounced them on the ground, caught them, then bounced them again. My biceps were tired from the curls, and the medicine ball taxed them. I was happy to shift to a squat, and lift the ball in a half-circle overhead to challenge obliques, combined with lunges twisting with the medicine ball in hand.
We returned to the treadmill, pushing ourselves sporadically through faster speeds. My heart rate ramped up to the 90- to 100-percent zone every time I was on the treadmill, so sometimes I didn’t increase my speed — going harder seemed unnecessary.
The next few cycles included more push-ups and triceps curls with hand weights, plus plank variations. I loved one particular round of medicine-ball exercises, lifting the 10-pound ball overhead and using momentum and force to slam it to the ground.
But the treadmill always awaited. For one round, we turned off the machine and used leg strength to make the belt spin. I hit 100 percent on my heart rate.
After more floor and medicine-ball work, I was ready for a break. Instead, trainer Molly Kautz amped it up for “burnout” with Tabata, a technique with 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off, starting on the treadmill. I was motivated to sprint faster, knowing it was only 20 seconds, even though my legs were starting to feel shaky.
On the floor, however, after doing arm lifts, we had to hold our arms extended with the weights during the 10-second breaks. Wait; this wasn’t rest. I had seen one woman close her eyes and grit her teeth during the holds, and I soon was doing the same. I also slowed my jumping squats so I’d be able to walk the next day.
We ended with Tabata core with the medicine ball. I was ready to collapse.
I don’t run much, and I was frequently in the highest heart-rate zone on the treadmill. For the floor or medicine-ball reps, it needed to go down to the 80-percent zone. Sometimes, I slowed down for extra, much-needed rest.
I liked seeing what pushed the edge on my heart rate, although I also sometimes felt my circuits overload, and wished for more down time to let my body refuel during the hourlong grind.
But for those who like to push physically on strength and cardio, as intensely as possible, while also tracking data like your heart rate, a Bazuka class definitely can bring you to a new edge.