My very first reaction when I got the notice that one of my fitness icons, Gabby Reece, would be leading a workout at the always awesome Exceed, was that there was absolutely no way I could miss it. Held on the Sunday morning just before the Sports Bra Challenge, I knew it would be a lot to do on the same day, but really, how often is the chance to train with Gabby going to come along?
After checking in at Exceed, I made my way to stash my stuff and caught my first glimpse of Gabby. She is a tall, striking presence and as I watched her explain the workout to the 2 Exceed trainers who were going to be assisting, I knew this was going to be even harder than I expected. Her program, BodyWise, is a 75 minute total body workout that combines cardio, resistance training and functional movement in a rigorous training circuit and is a workout that Gabby leads in a large warehouse space near her home in Hawaii. This event was capped at 30 people, but in Hawaii, it apparently can swell to 75 people! The group that had gathered on Sunday at Exceed was a fiercely fit crew and as she ran through a demo of every move we were going to be doing that morning, everyone seemed a little in awe of the fact that we were going to get to work out with her. There were 22 different moves for the 75 minute class and as I watched her go through each one in succession, I knew I was in trouble…not just because each one looked challenging but mostly because I was NEVER going to remember all 22! Gabby paired us off and we all made our way over to the first station. In my head, I thought we were doing the same exercise as the people we were following. So not the case! Less than a minute in, she came over and yelled at us –“WHY are you all doing the same exercise??” and all I could think was “Oh damn, I am already in trouble with Gabby!” After sorting out what exercise we were supposed to be doing, and understanding that we were moving to whatever station the people we were following behind just finished, we got down to business.
Due to the size constraints at Exceed, the stations were in both the main classroom and the personal training area, so the stations couldn’t really be laid out in any sort of pattern that might have made it easier to see where we were going next. But there were 2 extra Exceed trainers in there to help make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing at each station. Still, there was a lot of peering across the room to try and see what the group we were following was doing… but I was lucky the pair we were following included Claire Gould, TRX trainer at Pilates Pro Works, who was amazing. She would wait briefly before moving from her station and give us a quick demo of the two moves that station consisted of – seriously, I could have hugged her for that.
Gabby moved constantly around the room, correcting form and pushing us to work much harder at every single exercise. There is absolutely no slacking allowed around an athlete of her caliber – and it was like she could spot when we were not giving it our absolute all from a mile a away and would be in our faces or by our sides pushing us to be our best. We worked with body weight, kettlebells, battle ropes, stability balls, and weights and moved to a new station every 3 minutes. It felt like the class was flying by, which is always the sign of an awesome workout. The BodyWise workout was challenging and seriously crushed me but I loved every minute of it… but the best part was getting to workout with Gabby Reece. She is amazing – pushing everyone to be the best we can be at every moment because really, she always believes we have a little more to give and won’t take less than our best.
I walked out fired up and inspired.
All photos by Eric Stafford from Stafford Sports Media