March 5, 2014 | by Gerard Burley
Indoor infusion
RunDC, fitness, bicycle, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

If you’re like me, you’ve had enough of the cold D.C. winter weather.

I want to get outside and do what I want with my body, but I can’t because it’s freezing.

The silver lining, though, is that being forced to keep my fitness training indoors has opened me up to try some new classes that were just the shot in the arm my fitness regimen needed.

Remember, getting out of your comfort zone is where all good things happen. It never feels good while we’re there, but afterward it always makes us better. One of the biggest problems I see with new clients is that they continue to do the same routine over and over and wonder why their bodies never change. So get out there and be more versatile — with your fitness of course! Here are the two I tried.

Reformation Fitness Steel Bell Class

I decided to jump into this class for two reasons: It’s down the street from my house and I, like many of you, have never heard of a steel bell workout.

I honestly thought these girls had a really bad typo for “kettle bell” and me being a good gay, I should come help them out. I was wrong. When I walked in, I saw a good sign — everyone from the prior class was barely moving and very sweaty.

Class gets started and I quickly learn what a steel bell is and that it can be used quite well to kick my booty. A steel bell is a small sack filled with tiny steel pellets that some gyms are using as an exercise tool. I’ve used almost every type of gym equipment and free weight that’s out there, so it was fun for me to try something new.

The best way to describe it is like a smaller softer version of a sandbag, which you can use like a medicine ball or a kettle bell without the handle. The cool thing about using the steel bell was that in the class we were able to add it to all the functional moves that I’m used to doing, but this challenged my core like crazy, making each exercise even harder.

Especially for my athletes out there, this can be a great new tool for you because unlike many other machines and some free weights, it requires a lot of grip strength to hold on to the steel bell. Grip strength is key in all sports including the in home sport I love, called “opening the red wine bottle.” Steel bells are relatively small so you can store them at home with no issue or bring them to the gym with you to show off your skills.  This is a great way to mix up some of the normal exercises that you do and spice up the routine.

Ride D.C. Cycle Class

I go to many spin classes around the city and around the country. Some are good, some are bad, but they basically are the same thing, riding a bike as hard as you can while an overly energetic person yells at you for 45 minutes.

This one intrigued me for one reason only — they add a competitive visual aspect to the ride. As soon as you walk into the room you see that your bike number is on a huge screen in the front of the class. Intimidated yet? You then see that you are ranked up against everyone else in the class based on revolutions per minutes (RPM), power and energy expenditure.

Even for me this was slightly intimidating, but it made me work so much harder than I usually would. They keep the class encouraging so you never feel like the slowest kid in class, but knowing where you are ranked with the class gives you that extra push to do better. Before starting the class, they take your height, weight and age so when the class is over you get an email that accurately shows your calorie output and distance traveled. This is perfect because sweaters, long islands and Instagram pics may lie, but the numbers never do.

Remember during this polar vortex season to stay committed to your goals and be open to try new classes that push you out of your comfort zone. The polar vortex is no reason to start looking like a polar bear. If you can’t push yourself, then hire someone who can. Your mid section will thank you.

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