When the Olympics kick off in London this Friday, so many things will leave us in awe that it may be hard to keep track. And it’s likely we’ll be saying this over and over: “I want that athlete’s body.”
It’s not that simple, of course. To look superhuman, these athletes feed themselves well and get their butts kicked every day, often more than once. Actual Olympic-caliber fitness requires substantially more time and energy than most of us have to spare, but Equinox Bethesda is now offering a step in the right direction. It’s called Shockwave, and it hurts so good.
The 45-minute class is composed of eight stations arranged in a circle inside a huge group fitness room on the gym’s second floor. Each station houses four participants who rotate counter-clockwise for four rounds. The first round is a warmup, where each exercise is completed with moderate effort for about a minute. After that, it’s all out for as long as it takes the two groups on the rowing stations to finish their erg (anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds). The real fun from rounds two, three, and four goes as follows:
• Rowing machine sprint (250 meters in round two, 200 meters in round three, and 150 meters in round four).
• Gliding: holding your body in a pushup position with slick pads under your feet, then sliding your feet back and forth one at a time toward your hands.
• Straddle jumps: box jumps on a six-inch box. The box is placed between your legs, so you straddle it to jump off and jump your feet together to jump on.
• Repeat rowing machine sprint.
• Repeat burpees.
• Leg lifts: lying on a yoga mat and bringing legs up to 90 degrees, then lowering so the feet graze the floor.
• Backward lunges with a medicine ball. The lunge portion of this exercise works the quads and hamstrings, while the straight-arm overhead lift works the shoulders and core. Medicine balls range in weight from two to eight pounds.
Instructor Jennifer Beller describes the class as “challenging but doable, and not too complicated” and attributes its popularity—she’s found tons of repeat customers—to the fact that “people always enjoy the challenge of doing something different.”
It’s designed to be competitive without really being a competition, which has made it appealing to a range of members, she explains, from high school lacrosse players to an 86-year-old.
We found the class to be a challenge largely because most of the exercises worked several muscle groups at once. It left us sore in places we might not have expected—the shoulders most of all. Was it as hard as one of Michael Phelps’s 5 AM sets? Probably not. But was it a great use of 45 minutes? Absolutely.
Equinox. 4905 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-652-1078; equinox.com. The Shockwave class is free but available to members only.