As One Effect : The Power of Ten

On Monday morning, I headed to one of my favorite places to kick off the week: As One’s 8:45am class. Not only are George Vafiades and Mark Merchant so very good at what they do, but that specific class on Monday mornings is filled with a group of kick-ass, inspiring people. Between George and Mark kicking my ass every single time and that great group, I always leave completely inspired. Is there a better way to start a week? Every time, though, I leave and think to myself – “That was the hardest class EVER.” One of these times, that has to give but for this last class, George and Mark once again planned an amazingly intense workout that tested my limits. They are so good at keeping an eye on form and keeping the workout safe that every single time I go as hard as I can to try and live up to their challenge. I don’t always succeed but I try.

This week, the workout was called “The Power of Ten”, or at least, that is what I think Mark said at the beginning. They don’t normally give fun names to their routines, so I might have made that up, since I am never fully awake when we start! As with most As One classes, we were paired off, with each partner sent to their section to start in. I started on the floor while my partner, my awesome super fit friend, started on the evil Airdyne bike. The floor section was 10 reps each of squats with the sandbag, a split squat (10 per leg) where your back foot was up on a box, alternating back lunges (10 per leg), burpees, pushups, pull-ups, weighted back rows with the sandbag, rotational planks, and situps. The ten pull-ups smack in the middle of the rotation were killer from the very start.  We moved from pushups to the bar but we were given our own bars to go back to every time, so we could have the right band to help us. Mine was a heavy, single black band and the first set I flew through, only lightly cursing the last rep.  In that first rotation on the floor, I was super confident in my ability to rock this workout. When we finished, we then swapped out with our partner, who moved to the floor. The Airdyne section was a deceptively simple 30 seconds of going as hard as possible, 30 seconds off, and then repeat until our partner was done on the floor, again, the first round of that section gave me a bout of “Oh, I’ve got this!”.  That didn’t remotely last through the next round, though. By the middle of the second round on the floor, my cursing on the last rep of the pull-up had gotten a little more intense and I was sweating up a storm. My super confidence was fading fast and by the time I moved through the Airdyne section and back to the floor for my 3rd round, I was totally wiped out and only 1/2 way through. My new goal, get through the workout without throwing up, suddenly seemed like a really solid goal. The fourth and final round was brutal but I made it through, and more impressively (for me anyway), completed all 10 pull-ups… although,they were accompanied by a very loud “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck” as I struggled to get my chin over the bar that final time. Thank goodness, George was there to help me get my foot out of the strap at the end since I was pretty stuck, too tired to manage to pull the strap down to lift my foot out of it. As he helped me, George did a mighty fine job of not actually busting out laughing at me being totally stuck. I managed my final round on the Airdyne with slightly more grace and was grateful for my speedy friend who was the first to finish of her group, meaning we were totally finished.  After a high five, we toweled off and went over to grab our foam rollers. It is always amazing to me how rolling out after class feels like such a sweet reward for all of your hard work! It doesn’t hurt that it basically means you get to flop down on the ground, and really, at the end of one of As One’s classes, I almost always just want to fall down. Rolling out is so much more dignified than the falling down that I envision in my head every time!

I am inordinately proud of making it through that class… and those 40 pull-ups. My goal is to be able to do them without the band. For the first time ever, I think that goal is totally possible… Mark & George make me believe.

 

(Top image, one of my favorite quotes, bottom image of the new As One space from a recent Daily Candy deal)

As One: The Work of Believing

On Monday morning, bright and early, I made my way to As One in it’s new home, fully prepared to have George Vafiades kick my ass again. I wasn’t really awake when I finally got there and it took me a minute to realize that Mark Merchant was there as well, geared up and ready to go – and both Mark and George looked worrisomely devilish.

The class started off with the normal As One warm up, which George took the lead on. After the warm up, Mark split us into pairs, with each pair alternating exercises. 3 pairs started on a box jump/jump rope split and then 2 pairs were sent to start with a circuit that involved the evil Airdyne bike. I was in that second group, paired with my friend (I so love having a buddy in my class) and Mark paired George with one of the superstar regulars. Our circuit was 40 seconds on the Airdyne, split squats with a sandbag on our shoulders, pushups, bent-over rows with the sandbag again and for good measure, seated rotations.  Somehow, I ended up doing the entire rotation, basically just doing whatever George was doing. He fixed my form in my pushups (so not low enough…) and would look at me sideways when my split squats slowed down and I would kick it up again. I didn’t even pretend to try and keep up when we went to the Airdyne though… he is a beast on that damn thing! After our roughly 4 1/2 minutes, we swapped with the box folks. This round was deceptively easy at first, 20 box jumps and then swapping out with your partner to jump rope while they box jumped.  Even after the first 4 1/2 minutes, this seemed like the easy portion but by the time the 3rd round came around, it was starting to seem ridiculously hard. Mark was, of course, super precise about form and anytime time he mentioned that I had good form on some move – mostly the back row, once, on my jump roping form – I got slightly, irrationally proud of myself. Of course, being proud of myself when jumping rope meant I would totally lose focus and then whack myself solidly with the rope… I really am so smooth. The funny thing was that I didn’t really notice when Mark was explaining the routine to us, how there was no rest in it at all – or as Mark called it “40 minutes of straight work”.  By the fifth and final round, my partner and I were cracking up because really, it was either laugh or cry at that point. It always amazes me how good they are at As One.  Kicking my ass with things that seem so deceptively simple at the onset.

We ended the day with three rounds of pull-ups. It is amazing how much better I have gotten at them since I started training at As 1. For the first round I figured I would need the heavy band for help since I “suck” at pull-ups.  Turns out that isn’t quite as true anymore! After that realization, I dropped down a band with each round. That last round was a little pathetic but it was awesome to test myself and really know how much I have improved.  Next time, I won’t doubt myself so much. I totally see full-unassisted pull-ups happening soon!

Top picture from Daily Candy Deals which is having an AMAZING deal for As 1 -check it out! Bottom picture just a little motivational reminder…

As One’s amazing new studio & the joy of synchronized burpees…

On Monday morning, bright and early, I went to As One – it was their very first day in their new space and really, I just couldn’t wait any longer to check out the new studio.  So, my friend and I made a date to see it the first chance we got.

The new digs are just around the corner from the old space, and are actually ON Broadway now. When I first heard they were moving into this building, I had assumed they would be on the first floor, so when I got there, I was a little confused by the still empty storefront.  They are actually on the third floor. The new studio is easily twice as big as the old one, with exposed brick walls, thick, nice mats covering the floor, lockers, and bathrooms with showers in the studio.  No more traipsing down a hallway to an office floor’s shared bathroom! My favorite new addition, though, are the pull-up bars hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the studio – although it does mean there is no more wall to help you anymore!

Our class was small, only 6 of us.  I think most people probably thought that the move wouldn’t actually be finished by Monday, so they were giving it a few days, but I am sure the numbers will swell again. I loved getting to scope out the new digs with so few people, though!  George was a little sleep deprived, since apparently he had been up all night finishing the move and for a brief moment, I thought that meant the workout would be a little easier. That wasn’t the case at all. It was by far and away the hardest As 1 class I have been to yet.

The first section was 1 minute rounds of the evil Airdyne bike, squats with a sandbag on your shoulders, box jumps, planks, bike (again), deadlift with sandbag, box jumps (again) and finishing with pushups – this circuit was repeated 3 times. George, although a little goofier than normal due to sleep deprivation, was on all of us about form, as always.  There wasn’t even a moment of slacking allowed. Even though the new space has a great cross-breeze, by the end of that section, I was wiped out and dripping in sweat.  I also knew we had too much time left to actually be done. The second section was a circuit of 30 seconds of burpees, pull-ups and my favorite, the heavy whacking ropes. We paired off and my friend and I managed to get through the first round pretty straight-faced and focused, but by the 2nd round, things got a little goofy. I mean, seriously, synchronized burpees are just funny. George called us out, telling us “Ok, keep the routine going!  Now let’s see you tap feet on the pull-ups!” which we proceeded to do, although, it made that round of pull-ups just silly hard. The ropes are always fun but after burpees and pull-ups, they felt ridiculously heavy. By the third round, my pull-ups were sort of sad and pathetic but I did manage to do a few and not just hang there, which I was totally proud of.

After this especially challenging workout, I was glad that every workout at As 1 ends with a dedicated recovery session with the foam roller – I am pretty sure it is the only reason I was able to move the next day! Once again, As 1 kicked my ass and I can’t wait to go back…

 

Photo of George from As One’s Facebook page and bottom picture just a little internet goodness. Photos of the new space will be in my next As One post, since they weren’t finished completely setting up yet!