Wednesday, January 29

ARC | Champaign, IL

So! For Christmas I got a gym membership to ARC (Activities and Recreation Center at the University of Illinois) so my partner and I could encourage one another to get off the couch and back into shape. Since he is working on his PhD, he already has a membership there... Otherwise we would be going to a gym off campus, for sure. I'm not sure how after living in this college town for almost 18 years (holy cow, what?!?! When did that happen!?) I still get irritated with driving and parking on campus. But I do. ANYWAY! A couple of his colleagues are checking out the group fitness classes offered, so I thought I'd join them for one called BeamWork. Sounds all ballet and pretty and... well, like something I'd giggle falling off of a lot.

LOCATION: The ARC is 340,000 square feet—one of the country's largest on-campus recreation centers. Your standard gym schtuff plus indoor and outdoor pools, a climbing wall, massage, athletic training, cafeteria... it's like a mini-google or something. Parking is free after 5pm, but good luck finding a spot in that lot—and if you're anything like me, you'll curse at about 5 people who you want to Tuwanda the hell out of for being rude. I eventually found a street spot, but be sure to go early so you can park, walk, and still make it to your class on time. <shakes fist at campus>   
STUDIO: The space is like an industrial yoga room—exposed beams/ducts painted black with lights. There are cubbies for leaving your coat/shoes if you don't use the locker rooms, and a small room off of it for the beams, yoga mats, and gliders. This room also does nice at buffering the room on the other side... so you don't hear the music/instructor coming through the walls. Although our instructor was on a mic with loud music, so maybe a gentle yoga class would be different? You face a wall of mirrors, which I'm not a fan of, but I aligned myself up nicely behind the person in front of me so I didn't get distracted by it. Behind you is a wall of windows—I bet that would be pretty during the daytime.      
CLASS DESCRIPTION:  BeamWork is a challenging and complete mind-body workout on a 6-inch wide (padded) balance beam that is just 2-inches off the floor! Whether standing, sitting, kneeling, or lying on the beam, train the body in the way it is intended to move. BeamWork is a core-based workout that focuses on engaging and strengthening muscles, aligning the spine to improve posture, and balancing the entire body. $7 one-time pass (class cards are $50 for the semester for every class, sweet deal). They accept cash + credit cards. Treat this class like a hot yoga class—yoga clothes, no shoes or socks, wear your hair up off your neck to avoid sweat (if you normally would), bring water, and maybe even a towel. No need for your own yoga mat.
INSTRUCTOR: Carla is the regular instructor, but we had Katie as our sub tonight. There is absolutely no bios on the instructors—that's a little disconcerting. Are they certified instructors? Who knows.

So this review will actually be a conversation between me and my two partners in crime—Kelsey and Toyo. Before I launch into it, I would like to give a little more detail to the class. It's basically an aerobics/calisthenics on a padded balancing beam. It moves quickly, possibly too quick for warming up the body at the beginning, and has no sort of meditation/focus segment. Even the cool down was sudden and short-lived. The instructor is on a headset, and with out it you can't hear her over the music. It all felt very rehearsed. You're definitely in a group fitness class. Lots of people like this setting, but for your traditional yoga classes, this doesn't fit in. I would not recommend this as a beginning yoga class at all. I wouldn't even put it in the yoga category, but it's fun and worth trying. It will challenge your core, work your legs and arms, and give you plenty of balance work.

ANNI: Kelsey's second time—Toyo and mine's first time... That was a total sweat fest. 
KELSEY: <giggle> It was very sweaty. 
ANNI: And not as ballet-y as I was expecting.
K: It was a little more ballet-y last time. We didn't do those circle things, the sliders, last time. 
A: The sliders are evil. 
K: Those were evil. I really like the class though—it really shows how... unfit I am. Like, ugh, I can do three of something and then die. 
A: Yeah! Me too! Please, don't make me do push-ups.
TOYO: I can't balance on my left leg as well as my right.
K: Neither can I! 
A: It's common to be different on each side—my left side is better than my right. Except when we were doing those side leg lifts, I'm pretty sure I almost kicked you in the head 2-3 times. 
K: That's ok, I was flailing all around <giggles>
T: Me too!
K: But it really shows how much... you're... 
A: It makes you much more aware of your body. 
K: Very aware—I guess I've always known I lack upper body strength, which is kinda weird. 
A: I love push-ups for that... I like it for a starting point. So when I stick with it  and can finally do a full push-up... it will feel like quite the accomplishment. I can't do a full push-up. 
T: No... I can't either. 
K: I like this class, I'll go again. I got a pass. 
A: <to Toyo> Did you get a pass? 
T: Yeah, I did. 
A: Are you regretting it? <giggles> 
T: No I'm not regretting it—I like it. 
K: It's $50 for the semester, so you can make your money up fast. Last night we did... 
T: KickFit
K: Oh my gosh, that was so hard! 
A: Wait it's $50 for the semester for all classes?! 
K + T: Yeah, for all of them. 
K: You can go to any class you want, and there's a lot to choose from. Monday thru Thursday are a lot of classes. Friday, not as many. Saturday and Sunday, maybe one or two? So that sucks.
A: I guess that can be a gym focus day. 
K: Yeah... but they have early morning classes. Like 6:30am yoga! 
K: I know, it sounds really good... but some people really like that stuff! 
A: It's true—the times I've made the effort for early morning yoga. Best. Days. Ever. 
T: That's true, you like yoga, right? 
A: I do... it's why I'm reviewing this class, because I thought it would be more yoga-esque and less workout class. 
K: Last week was more yoga-like. 
A: It had definite yoga moves in it, but there was no... traditional instruction. And I felt like people could have easily hurt themselves at points...
K: Last week seemed like there was more instruction... well? I don't know, it was the first week and we were all like ahhhh.A: You were all just focusing to stay on the beam, right? Much less on alignment.
K: Yeah, alignment, that's really important. That's why I'm curious to do the yoga classes here. 
A: Maybe I'll get that pass and go with you. 
K: You can join us any time! 

<and then we go on about our work out schedules and timing of things for a bit> 

A: The parking is horrible. 
K: We were circling for awhile before I remembered the lot on Pennsylvania. Did you go there? 
A: I found a street spot on fourth... I think it was a spot. I'm testing the parking gods today. Earlier I parked at a failed meter. <giggles>

<back to schedules... Kelsey would work in the field over the summer for her grad work and then go to the gym after. She's crazy. And I go on about timing out the gym around students' schedules so you can avoided a packed gym. p.s. That's at 9am>

A: Thank you for inviting me a long. It was great incentive to try out a class! 
K: If you ever want to go, seriously, I'm trying a bunch of different classes. 
A: The yoga classes I'm definitely interested in. I guess the other classes too, I need something to push me a little more. Or I just go do the rowing machine, stretch, do the elliptical machine, and then go to the hot tub. <giggle> 
K: It's nice with the classes, because you can't just stand there <giggles>, and you can see yourself in the mirrors! I've been wanting to do the classes for years, but it's kind of intimidating to go by yourself.
A: I like going by myself, because I don't know those people so I don't care if I look stupid. <giggles> 
K: True, but it's nice to go with someone else too. 
A: You're right, I couldn't talk myself out of the class, because I knew you two were waiting for me in the lobby. It never even crossed my mind to skip! 

Then we decided to take pictures! After listening to the recording of our conversation, I realized that Kelsey and I are chatter boxes and should have given more space to Toyo to speak up. Sorry Toyo!!! 

Thank you so much, ladies, for a fun night at the gym. Maybe we'll do a review of the yoga class together too!  xo

Kelsey, Anni, and Toyo


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