I wasn’t really sure what to expect from As One, but on Tuesday night, heading to the studio, I was a little nervous. A friend on Monday warned me that she could barely walk for days afterwards, which, having just taken Barry’s Bootcamp with her, scared the bejesus out of me; she seemed fine after that! Calling As One a studio is a little weird, though, since really, it is just a box with pull up bars and a few exercise bikes, some benches, sandbags and two heavy ropes cutting the room in half. I wasn’t really prepared for that sparseness, so made the rookie mistake of needing to change when I got there. Big tip: come in your workout gear since changing involves a tiny office bathroom down the hall! On the plus side though, I got the chance to talk to one of the women in the class who was older, and not really someone I would have pegged for this workout, and she RAVED about it – although she also warned me about not being able to walk after. Seriously, people. Stop it! That isn’t so helpful to hear before you go into a class!
My instructor, George Vafiades, was really welcoming, although admittedly, had a slightly mischievous glint in his eye as he did a quick run through of what the program was about. He was passionate about the program but clearly knew he was going to kick my ass. The warm-up involved a bar that you held while doing roll-downs, squats and side lunges. Then it was on to 5 rounds of 25 jumping jacks and 5 burpees. Normally, I really hate burpees with a passion, but for some reason, they just seemed fitting in that setting and didn’t annoy me at all. Go figure!
After the warm up, we were split up into 2 groups of 5, which at first seemed random but once the groups were together made a lot of sense. It was based on fitness level. We were put in groups that mirrored our strengths so that each group pushed each other to be stronger. I loved that – it is good for the strong and good for the still working on getting there. This section of the class was made up of 5 exercise stations that you cycled through before doing a stair run. George went through each station, explaining proper form for each. 3 of the 4 were using really heavy resistance bands making the squats, backward rows, and deadlifts super challenging to keep correct form on. My favorite thing about the whole class was how on top of everyone George was about maintaining form. Making tiny corrections and adjustments whenever you were slightly off, which makes ALL the difference -it means the day after you will be super sore, but not hurt and that is key. The other two stations were a seated twist with a sandbag, where you lifted the damn thing from side to side while holding your feet off the ground and pushups. The fact that the pushups seemed like the break in the round was just so wrong! After the first round we headed to the stairs. Holy Moly! As One is on the 7th floor of the building, so you run down to the basement, tap the wall then run back up all the way to the top, which is on the 12th floor and then down to 7th for the next round of stations. I was pretty speedy on the first round and made it back in the top 4, so we were told that next round we had to go down to 5th Floor before returning. Eek! All in all there were 4 rounds. They were crazy hard but I love being pushed like that!
The last part was with the ropes. I have never used ropes before although I have seen them used and was really excited to try them. George came over and gave me a brief description of how to do it, which basically boiled down to use your whole body when trying to get the wave going, because if you just use your arms you are screwed. Got it. I was really good at the ropes, mostly because I really liked the thwapping sound they made when you did it right! What can I say? There is something sort of cathartic about whapping big heavy ropes against the ground. Then there were sit-ups, more burpees and a little rest before your rope turn again. I really, really liked the rope section – so freaking fun!
The class ended with rolling out on foam rollers, which was painfully amazing and I am pretty sure made all the difference in how mobile I was after the class. I am also pretty sure that As One is the hardest class I have ever taken – which I had been prepared for. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I loved it. 75 minutes after I walked into that room with such trepidation, I left on a complete high. It was truly a kick-ass, hardcore sweat fest that pushed me and made me feel like a rock star by the end. As One was totally, awesomely addictive and I can’t wait to go back.