Put distractions, excuses and nonsense back there.” – Kristin Kenney
If you’re in need of a little push to help you get going on your 2015 wellness resolutions, I’ve got the kick in the butt you’ve been waiting for. I’ve discovered what could be the Upper East Side’s best kept secret and I am about to fully disclose this information to you, so get ready to rearrange your schedule.
Every Wednesday evening at the Reebok FitHub up on East 66th street, the store clears the floor and opens its doors to the public for a free hour-long fitness class with complimentary refreshments (like Health Warrior Chia Bars). Yes, I said FREE. I’ve done a few of the classes in the past and really benefited from them, but this week’s – though I’m still feeling it in my glutes – was one for the books. Through February 11, the program will host Shock & Ah™ – a fittingly named core-strengthening and meditation class led by A-list personal trainer Kristin Kenney. I’d say Kristin gives you more than your money’s worth in this action-packed, heart-pumping hour, but given that she offers her carefully curated, one of a kind boot camp routine free of charge, this just isn’t the case. That being said, I’d pay good money if I had to. Here’s how it went.
There were ten of us in the class, all of varying body types and athletic capabilities. Now before all you gym rats stop reading, this demographic is a good thing, and I promise, you will get the workout you’re looking for. And for those of you who might have to dust off your trainers before heading to class – Shock & Ah™ is just as effective. Not to judge a book by its cover, but for me, the instructor says a lot about the workout that lays ahead. Kristin, decked out in full cross-fit garb, looked stunning and perfectly tone, and I thought, “there’s no way this woman is going to let us off easy.” And I was right.
Kristin’s 40/20 routine consists of 8 stations, with moves varying from planks to squats to lunges to burpees (also Superman, Spiderman, and Skater for those down with the core-fusion lingo) all meant to create a fast-paced environment where cardio and strength-training work hand in hand to provide a full body workout. Every muscle (especially glutes, for me) is targeted throughout the circuits, sometimes isolated and sometimes in unison. The “40/20″ split means each station lasts for 40 seconds with a 20 second rest period (healthy disclaimer: rest means jog in place) in between, and a 2 minute hydration break after the first 4 circuits have been repeated 4 times each. For those of you still waking up, that’s 32 rounds of 40-second “calorie scorching,” heart-rate soaring, fat burning, muscle toning intervals.
When I said this class is for everyone – I meant it. While we moved along the circuits in groups, every move you make is an individual one. You can push yourself as hard as you’re comfortable with, and will receive the reciprocal workout. Kristin, who thoroughly explained every move, along with variations that make each easier or harder as well as movements to avoid injury, watched each person individually throughout the workout, coaching and encouraging us on a very personal level. For me, she was the perfect kind of coach; she physically corrected my body when my moves weren’t quite right, but not in a way that made me feel defeated or like I’d done something wrong. She pushed me to challenge myself, but not by making me feel lazy; rather, she phrased it as “now try this, because I’m watching you and I know you can handle it.” The workout is what you make of it, and with Kristin’s physique as inspiration, believe me you’ll want to make the most of it.
What was unique and refreshing about Kristin’s workout was the “Ah” of Shock & Ah™. This step, the cool down, is often overlooked or breezed through. There’s a misconception about high intensity workouts and those who thrive off of them, and that’s that the energy level always has to stay up. But how do you go from leaping and bounding and sweating and grunting to a crowded train and back home to figure out dinner and make an assignment deadline, or even just out with friends who aren’t coming off a cardio kick? It’s a rough switch and one that can actually thwart what you just accomplished in your workout. To make the most of the endorphins, it’s necessary not only to stretch, but to relax the mind.
Kristin, a firm believer in the importance of “accept[ing] yourself where you are, now” in order to “go beyond,”accumulated the fame she has in the fitness world because of her holistic approach. We’ve discussed how crucial it is to quiet the mind in general; after a core-strengthening workout, this is even more significant. While Kristin led us through a meditation to end the class, I was able to really feel my body – my breathing, my burning muscles – and appreciate what I had just done for myself, what I had just accomplished, and what position that put me in in terms of my life, my health, and my goals. Like the workout, Kristin suggests mediating on an individual level; if you want to go full on yogi, all the power to you, but if “ohm” isn’t something you’re familair or comfortable with, she doesn’t even ask you to close your eyes.
I left class feeling renewed, refreshed, and ready for the rest of the night. The best part, Kristin has nicknamed her workout “The Hotel Room Workout” as a result of private clients begging her for something to keep them in shape while on vacation. Every move we did could be done on a space as big as a yoga mat, which means we can take our new moves anywhere, especially the meditating part.
So join Kristin and me next week for 8 new circuits and to catch a rare meditative moment in this busy city. Bring your own mat, water, and an open mind.