“It’s time to focus and get that body warm!”
If you know those words you’ll probably have read that and felt a mixture of excitement and anticipation. The standard mixed emotions I always felt before the start of an insanity class.
Around this time last year I was introduced to insanity. I had signed up to the University of London gym after a year of travelling around the world and counting the number of gym sessions I’d done on one hand. After building up my confidence again over a fortnight or so I turned my attention to the classes on offer. I turned up to my first insanity class having very little idea what to expect, and feeling very self-conscious when I had to raise my hand to indicate it was my first time. My instructor, a pretty intimidating 6 foot something muscular guy named Cornel, rattled through the format:
6 exercises, 30 seconds each, 3 times through, that’s 9 minutes, that’s your warm up.
That was enough to terrify me! That was just the warm-up?!
After the warm-up the class format consists of 4 blocks:
- Block 1 Plyometrics and speed
- Block 2 Strength and stability
- Block 3 Agility and co-ordination
- Block 4 Abs and core
Each block involves 3 sets of 4 x 30 second exercises, with a 30 second break between each set, followed by a ‘power move’ for 1 minute.
Finally you end with a ‘dig deeper’ section, doing 3 exercises at 1 minute each (usually the hardest ones, usually some form of burpees), followed by a good stretching session to finish.
Needless to say, I struggled. A lot. I couldn’t even get through the warm-up without having to take breaks, and spent most of the class feeling like I was about to die. But I left on a massive high, and so was born a twice-weekly love affair that I looked forward to each time (well, almost – doing the clas with a hangover was an extra challenge!).
Over the course of the year, I noticed amazing changes. Not only did my confidence in class grow to the point where I would always stand at the front, but my body changed as well. I’m not going to show you before and after pictures here, sorry, that’s not my style. What I care more about is my fitness, my abilities, and my functional strength. My weight barely changed, but my body composition did. I was able to do full press-ups (something I’d never been able to do before), I could do a minute of burpees, could climb the 60-odd stairs at my tube station instead of taking the lift without getting out of breath. I managed to push myself to the point where the warm-up was relatively easy and I could complete the entire class without taking additional breaks. It also improved my confidence in my own strength training outside of class.
I was so sad when my gym membership ran out and I moved away. Not least because I’d developed a great relationship with the instructor – we’d have a bit of banter before the class, and he dubbed me an ‘insaniac’. Having that kind of good relationship with an instructor can make all the difference. But I haven’t had to give it up entirely. I still remember the different exercises from the latest round (the moves change every 8 weeks or so), and every so often I do an insanity session in my living room by myself.
If you like a challenge I highly recommend trying an insanity class sometime. But the most important thing is to find a class or a workout that you love and which works well for you!