On Monday morning, I met up with three of the fittest women I know at one of my favorite spots in the city, As 1. Of the 4 of us, we had two newbies, but I was absolutely sure they would both love the workout. I knew they would kick ass! I found out that George wasn’t going to lead the group this time, Mark Merchant would be. It would be my first time with Mark. I had heard he was amazing but tough, and I was a little nervous about whether or not this would change my love of the As 1 experience. In pictures, Mark looks far more like a drill sergeant than George does, and I was a little worried that he was just going to be very, very serious. Turns out, in person, Mark is very warm, open and just very committed to what he does – exactly what I should have expected from one of the founders at As 1. I liked him immediately and then he proceeded to kick my ass.
The first half of class we did a routine based on a plan Mark had designed for Esquire magazine. It was 5 rounds of 20 seconds-on-5-seconds-off of the following moves: squats with a sandbag on your shoulders, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, split squats, bent-over rows with the sandbag, a move called the Dolphin (basically a plank with a raising up to a pike –over and over), and then another set of burpees. It sounded simple enough, but proved to be a killer! As with every workout, there we were, all watched like a hawk and throughout the whole thing, Mark made constant corrections to form as we went through each round. The second half of class was made up of another 5 rounds. This time, it was pull-ups (to failure or 8,) one-armed rope whacking while squatting (this was virtually impossible for me, sort of like patting my tummy and rubbing my head is,) switch arms-repeat, then end the round running down 7 flights of stair and back up. Those stairs ARE hard, but the best part was that my partners in crime kept hooting and hollering as they passed one another – which made it wildly more fun than it should have been! Plus, I was really grateful every time they passed that they weren’t just cursing me for getting them into that crazy stairwell!
I was crazy wiped out after class on Monday (As 1 was my 5th class in just 48hrs) and was really sore and really just wanted to lie down. Instead, I headed off to see Dr. Gregory Shure at Madison Square Wellness to talk about the importance of stretching and preventative wellness care. Turns out that really, it was such a random stroke of good fortune that his office had contacted me about coming in to talk to Dr. Shure last week! I have a lot of people I know and trust completely who have been saying pretty amazing things about Dr. Shure, so I jumped at the chance to go talk to him. I was fully expecting an office lecture (I don’t stretch nearly enough) and that maybe if I looked like a total hot mess, maybe he would crack my back (I have never been to a Chiropractor, so really, I didn’t know what a first appointment would entail). I just really didn’t know what to expect but knew it would be interesting at least. Mostly, he didn’t lecture me at all, but gave me a lot of solid advice. He also didn’t call me a hot mess but did go on to give me a massage/realignment thing that was just out-of-this-world amazing. It wasn’t scary or aggressive cracking that I thought might be what happens in a chiropractic office, but more pulling and pushing to straighten me out a little. It was amazing!
I left feeling a hundred times better than I had when I walked in and feeling like I had found a really great resource for staying healthy and on my feet. The very next day in my mailbox, I received an email from Dr. Shure as a follow-up that included a variety of stretches that I should incorporate into my daily routine, with links to demonstrations of the moves. It was such a cool and thoughtful follow-up and I was shocked – and completely grateful. I totally see why my friends have raved about him, since obviously, now so do I!
(Image of Mark from As 1’s Facebook page. Image of Dr. Shure from Madison Square Wellness Facebook page )