Day 11 - You tuck like a BOY!

Pure Barre - Coral Gables

While I'm enjoying pretty much all of these classes for different reasons, I think the one I"m finding most interesting is Pure Barre. Because it's not high intensity and I don't find myself gasping for air or completely dead at the end of the workout. But it challenges me in ways I haven't been challenged before, which is cool.

The whole idea is based on isometric holds. The movements are all these tiny, one-inch pulses and ab tucks. Not unlike that old Ab-flex machine they sold on TV that promised rock hard abs in 8 weeks. As one who's lifted, done ensurance sports, then gotten into high-intensity stuff like boxing, these sbutle, held movements are a completely new thing. And completely hard.

So on Friday, rather than go to Zumba solo I opted for a second straight day of barre. Because why not. The class was almost identical the the one I'd done Thursday, so I got to see some progress. I'm also really starting to hate "It's not Right, but it's OK" since I now associate it with absolutely burning glutes.

That said, the classes here are interesting because some of the girls in there clearly took ballet at some point, and know what they're doing. Others maybe don't have that background, but have been taking barre class long enough they they're pretty damn good at it. Then there's me. Who's holding my own, but am definitely the short bus kid in barre school.

Then there are the girls who actually seem to be worse at this than I am. And not that there's anything wrong with that, really, but I'd have to  image this is the girl equivlanet of bieng out-lifted or out-throw or out pretty-mcuh-anything by a girl at the gym. Like, if a chick is doing better than you, it's like your balls got left somewhere in the locker room.

Is it like that in barre class? Like if I'm able to extend my leg longer or am more flexible than you, is it like, DAMN, the GUY is doing barre better than me?? Or are girls not as gym-competitive as we are? I don't know, somehow I missed that living with the ballerinas.

At any rate, definitely did well in class, broke a serious sweat, and felt  bad for the instructor who came over and tried to help me get deeper into my V-shit and reach when she put her hand on my back. I'm pretty sure she didn't expect it to be completely soaked, and probably told a "how gross was THAT?" story to her coworkers after  class. But whatever, it showed I was working hard, and she was doing a good job as an instructor. So win-win.

Day 12 - Between two bags

Mickey Demos Boxing and Fitness

Full disclosure: I've been doing yoga for about a year prior to this little experiment, so the vinyasa yoga experience wasn't completely new to me this week. And I'd even taken the Vinyasa yoga class they offer at my boxing gym a couple of times. Usually when I didn't bother checking the schedule and showed up with gloves and wraps only to discover a bunch of mats and candles set up between the heavy bags. So this was the first time I'd actually gone to my gym with the express intent of stretchign instead of punching things.

The thing about yoga is, there's like a billion different kinds of it. There's the basic, "recovery" yoga, which is basically just an elongated stretchign session ending with a nap. That's what I'd been doing. Then there's Acro-yoga, which is like some seriosu cirque du soliel shit that my buddy Trevor does. The class they teach at the boxing gym is Vinyasa yoga. I have no idea what the fuck makes it vinyasa, except the Illisa keeps referring to some downward movement we do as "Vinyasa." But I also know it's a lot harder than the recovery yoga I was used to.

First of all, the 730 wakeup today was rough, considering I went to bed at 130, But that aside, I was excited to use the new yoga mat the people at Yoga Design Lab sent me. Yeah, another cool thing about this story is I can finally accept some of the cool fitness products I get pitched all the time, because I have a reasonable excuse to talk about them. This is a mat designed to "grip better with sweat," and given that I get drenched walking to the mailbox it seemed like a logical item to use.

It's a kind of offic-e building grey suede feeling thing, with brightly covered chevrons going throughout. It looks kind of like the interior carpet of an airplane circa 1985. Illissa - the woner-instructor - actualyl gave me a compliment on it.

And because she's a Jewish mother, she also gave me a little guilt trip.

"So you're not allowed to do your regular workouts anymore now that you're doing all these classes?" she said as soon as I walked in. "We never see you anymore."

I pointed out I'd been in the week before, and had been too hungover to come in Saturday, which she didn'y buy as an excuse.

One other lady showed up for the class, and for a good 5-10 minutes we sat on the floor, while they talked about their kids and how they were doing in school, among other things. I had nothing to contribute to the conversation.

Eventually we got started, and all that cool new flexibility I thought I had an nighttime barre class had apparently gotten left somewhere between LIV and dinner last night at Seagrape. I could barely touch my toes from a seated postiion, and had to keep my legs bent on most of the standing positions. Lesson learned: 7pm flexibility and 8am flexibility are very different things. Kind of like wiehging yourself in the morning vs after dinner.

Anyway, the class seemed excessively hard for some reason, and I struggled to hold a lot of the poses. I was, however, able to hold the chair and warrior poses longer than usual, both with my shoulders and quads. And I credit this to all the holds in Barre and Boot camp, plus the crazy shoulder work at SoulCycle.  I broke a pretty decent sweat, and felt sufficiently stretched out and strained by the end. Which I think is the goal. This was definitely a lot harder than Gentle Yoga, and a challenge I'm going to take up more often.

At the end, Illissa asked if I was staying around to box, which I sheepishly told her I wasn't. Then I ran into Mickey outside as I was getting in my car, who talked to me about the Cuban kid he's training, and didn't ask if I was going to class. No, Mickey. I'm all about yoga band barre classes now. But do let me know if anybody wants to spar.

Only in Miami - The Barry's Party

LIV -South Beach

So this isn't so much a post about a workout, or the gym at all. It's about the opposite of a workout: Destroyign yourself with alcohol. And only in Miami does a gym charge $35 for a class, and thank its members with a 90 minute open bar at one of the top clubs in the world. Yep. When I went to barry's on Tuesday I noticed they had a poster for their 2 year anniversary party that Friday. At LIV. With 90 minutes of free drinks from 10-11:30.

Never one to miss a chance to go to LIV for free, and drink for even freer, you bet your ass I hit this up. It didn't hurt that the party was for Barry's, aka the gym of choice for girls in South Beach who have no verifiable source of income.

Of course I got there before 10, because no minute at an open bar should ever be wasted. the club was empty for a while, and just me and my boy Mike were there drinking free Wodka and soda. But then Miami's entire fitness community walked in. I wasn't at the bar five minutes, and Aubrew, my SoulCycle instructor, came up and said hello. In the sea of well-toned bodies I also managed to meet the manager of FlyWheel and Fly Barre, who of invited me in for a class when I told her what I was doing.

Also ran into about a half-dozen people I know, who all suggested other crazy classes I should try. The point is, holy fuck. Going to the gym in Miami is clearly not about health at all, as every single "fit" person in the city was here destroying their livers for the night. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone, I'll add. Maybe we all just work out like crazy so we can justify drinking at a club for 4-5 hours at a time.

I lasted until about 2, then went to Bodega and undid every workout of the week with a plate of tacos and some tortilla chips. Wise move I'm sure. I was home by 3:30 and woke up at noon. So fuck you to all you revisionist history assholes who say stuff like "I can't party late like I used to." yes you can, it just takes some planning. And, apparently, a whole lot of women's fitness classes

Day 13 - Grinding in Da Club

SoulCycle - Coral Gables

I've started to realize the cult-like following instructors get at places like SoulCycle and Barry's. I don't know that it's so much that the workouts are all that different, but it's like your hair stylist or barber, you know? Like once you've signed on with one, there's this sense of loyalty. Like if you stop giong to their class and they see you rolling into somebody else's, that would be right up there with your girlfriend walking in on your tinder date.

I realized this Monday when I considered changing classes, because doing in the morning would have involved going to Coral Gables twice in day (had to be in Wynwood around lunchtime), and it owuld have saved a lot of time to scheudle a class at, say, 1:30 or 2pm. but then I was like "What if Aubrey is there? And is like 'Um,. why aren't you in my class?" and then I'd awkwardly mumble something about having to be in Wynwood, she wouldn't believe me, and if I ran into her again at LIV, things might get ugly.

At any rate, I sucked up the double-Gables day and went at my usual 10:30 slot. And I aligned the bike right this time, with the seat waaaay in the back. Totally not what I'm used to on my racing bikes. On racing bikes, you have this narrow little seat that jsut sits on your ass for hours. And while, yes, it's a pain, it's a constant pain. Just this sharp press on your, well, you know where, that you either get used to or dirves you nuts.
SoulCycle isn't like that.

First off, you don't spend a lot of time in the seat. And when you're out of the seat, a lot of time is spent dropping back for a beat onto the seat, then popping right back up. This gives you the wonderful sensation of having something hard and pointy jabbing right in the, well, you know where. not seomthing guys are used to, at all.

And it occurred to me, not that I'm a guy who would ever do it, but this must be what it feels like for girls when dudes roll up behind them in the club and just start grinding uninvited. Like, um, hey, what IS that, and get it far, far away from my bicycle seat area. Gents, if you are the kind of douchebag who grinds up on girls in the club, go to a spinning class and drop on the seat repeatedly. See if you like it. And if you do, well, there's clubs for that too. If you don't, rmemeber that the next time you think a girl might like feeling your bicycle seat. Hint: She doesn't.

So, yes, the female empathy continues.

On a fitness note, I admitted to myself 5lb weights for the arms portion of this class were too heavy, and just didn't bother swapping out the 2lb weights. So I could just be like "Um, these were already ON here" if it ever came up. At any rate, whiel I still couldn't keep my arms up the whole time, I did considerably better than last week. Partly because I didn't feel nearly as sick, but probably more because I was using lighter weights. My goal is to someday make it through an entire session without having to drop my arms. But given we've only got another week of this, I'm not holding my breath.

Day 13 - Death by Dubstep

Barry's Bootcamp - Midtown

I have a lot of friends who are in their 20s, and for the most part I don't feel any kind of generation gap with them. Excpet when it comes to dubstep. Holy shit, I'm not sure when listening to anamatronic cats burping over car alarms became music, but it might be the one kind of music that will cause me to leave a room. It's like the "Entourage" of music.

And, like, I'm into EDM too. Especially at the gym.

So while I fully expected Wednedays' Butt and Legs class to be brutal, it was made an absolute hour of hell by the music the instructor was playing. The God-awful ambience might have been tolerable, but the instructor also opted to not run the fans during the workout, since there were only about 10 or so people taking the class.

I noticed I was tiring faster than usual when we hit our first uphill sprint, a 10mph run up a 15% grade for 30 seconds. It was tough, but I rarely take more than the 30 second rest inter al to catch m breath. not this time. This time even after walking it out the next spring was tough, and by the time we moved to the floor to do squats and lunges and all that other butt-shapign stuff we do at Barry's I felt like I couldn't breathe.

That's when I reazlied the fans weren't on. And I was drenched in sweat 15 minutes in. Despite that, I made it through the floor work relatively sompetently with a pair of 20 pound weights, though I still found holding them up to be tougher than I'd expected. The next set of sprints went fine (easier to push myself there I guess) but by the time we were done I'd completely sprayed the mirror in front of me, and it looked like someone had take an entire spray bottle and covered the mirror.

I really hoped the guy next to me didn't get hit. But I'm sure he did.

The seoncd set of floor exercises was even tougher, staying on all fours, putting a weight behind your knee, and holding it there with your calf, leg bent. I made it though the first set before my left hip started to fail. I tried to summon a little toughness and motviation, and all I got was

"BWOM....wup wup wup wup wup wup wup wup wup....BWOMP." Which might work well if you're at Burning Man strung out on Heroin. Not so great when you're trying to get your adreneline pumping to crank out some more reps.

I was able to block out the terrible music for the third set of sprints and some really awkward side steps on the treadmill. Made no less awkward or more motivating by the sountrack of the machines taking over through the speakers.

By the time we got to the last floor workout, I was starting to wonder if our instructor had picked this shit to make the workout harder. Kind of like she wasn't running the fans.

As I walked out she gave me a high five and said "Killing the game, Matt." I'm not sure how the fuck these people remember the name of everyone in the class. We're three weeks into the semester at UM and I'm at MAYBE 40% of my students, who I see twice a week. At any rate, the only "game" I killed was the "covering the mirror in sweat" game. And I will most certainly never return to a class this lady teaches. Unless she promises no dubstep.

Day 14 - Vixen

Body & Soul - Coral Gables

You know that Miami Vice episode with Ed O'Neil where he just gets so deep undercover he forgets which way is up? And eventually become part of the underworld he was "pretending" to be a part of and get lost forever?

I feel like the Vixen workout could have been that moment for me.

Sure, women's fitness classes are fun and all. But there's a big difference between an hour of isometric holds and twerking. So, yeah, that line got crossed.

A publicist I know caught wind of my little experiment here and told me "Your tour of women's fitness classes isn't complete with the Vixen workout." If you are unaware, the Vixen workout is an hour-long dance class where ladies come, sometimes in full makeup, and do dance routines based on your standard "Watch me shake my ass and look painfully sexy" moves girls do in clubs. Yeah, whatever you're pictuing, THAT'S the shit they do. All to completely uncensored rap music. But no guys are allowed, except on Thursdays, so girls can feel free to do all the ass shaking they want without fear of anyone trying dry hump them.

Seems fair enough.

I showed up and the waiting area in front was PACKED. Like this was the most people I'd seen for any class I've done this month, by almost double. Girls were wearing all kinds of stuff, but I guess flannel shirts tied around the waist is the trademark "Vixen" look. So if the empty room with lasers and blaring rap music didn't already remind me of a sad middle school dance, the abundance of flannel pretty much clinched it.

The room filled up quick, though apparnetly this was a sparse crowd.

"The last time I Was here I was pressed up against a mirror it was so crowded," my publicist friend who agreed to go with me so I didn't look like a COMPLETE creeper said.

"Nice," I responded as the music started up. "Listen, what happens here, stays here, cool?"

She just laughed.

The class started with the instructor, who looked like she could have been a Miami Heat dancer, if you know that look, started out making everything abundantly clear.

"Yes, this is Vixen. Yes, whatever you heard about this workout is completely true. We do it. All of it, and probably more. So you newbies, get ready." She started by showing us the moves for a "new" routine, implying there were "old" routines, where I would be completely lost. It started simply enough with a shoulder shrug. Then some steps that involved bending over at the waits, grabbing your ankles, and stroking you leg on the way back up.  The girls who knew the class also added an 80's sitcom-esque "oooooooh" as they stroked said leg.

Well, when in Rome.

The instruction continued with some other moves that weren't too tough, including one where you run your hands through your hair while shaking your hips. Or, as the instructor said "Like you're in an Herbal Essences commercial." I chose not to watch myself in the mirror while I practiced that one.

After about five minutes of that, the first real song came on, and I felt pretty confident in my knowledge of the routine we'd just learned. Which would have been great, if the first song had been even romotely like what we'd just learned. It was just all a lot of stomping and fist pumping and arm waving andm, above all else, hip shaking. Which I tried, I really did, to follow along.

After about the first song I figured out I should just watch every time the 8-count changed, and try and pick up the moves by watching the instructor. I totally became that person counting to 8 out loud, desperately trying to keep up. But since I'd literally never done any of these moves before, none of it even felt natural. On some songs I just did the footwork, figuring that was probably the best workout anyway.

One move I did get was on a song called Waterdance, where at one point all the girls put one hand on the floor, bent ove,r and kind of bounced. Seemed kind of like a football drill to me, got a good burn in the quads. I got this one!

I later learned this is known as Twerking. So, yeah, hanks a lot, #VIXENARMY.

The workout itself was technically impossible (we did eventually do the steps we'd learned at the beginning, at the very end I think to Trap Queen or something) so it kept me on my toes, both literally and fiugratively. If you've played a sport at all, there's a lot of it that relates back in terms of agility and jumps and keeping your knees bent, so that part was easy. And in terms of a workout, it was about like going on an hour long job. Got the heart rate going, but didn't make me want to die. Also, there was no dubstep. Thank fuck,

What I think was most interesting about the Vixen class is that it's a fun way for girls to workout without having to worry about a) guys and b) judgy girls. The moves are so tough, believe me, NOBODY is watching anyone but the instructor (except, apparently during my brief foray into Twerking, when my publicist friend said "I just had to stop and watch that shit") so they can be as sexy or dirty or just flat out terrible at dancing as they want, and it's just fun. The class was literally all shapes, sizes and ages, so it wasn't limited to girls who, well, looked like Heat dancers. And to me, I think that's cool that it's an hour out of the day where any girl can feel sexy, without needing the approval of anyone else.

I, myself, did not feel sexy. I think anytime a guy twerks he's pretty much lost any sex appeal he may have had. To women, anyway.  But that's not important, it was a fun hour and afterwards I took the requisite #VIXENARMY pictures, which were absolutely hilarious and seemed well received on Social Media.

Vixen really is the epitome of a women's fitness class (because the name makes it SO ambiguous). It encourages fitness in an atmosphere free of a lot of the fitness pressures and stereotypes, and encourages sexiness without judgment. So while I don't know that I'd recommend guys be regular attendees (unless you REALLY wanna learn how to Twerk) it's defintely worht going to, if nothing else, to give you a better understanding and appreciation.

Here's me post class, doing my best low-carb face and shoulder roll.



Day 15 - The Easier This Gets, The Dirtier I Feel

Zumba - University of Miami Wellness Center

There is something girls don't undertand about guys, and that is that we have to fight, consciously, to not look at noticable tits and ass. Like, I like to think of myself as a pretty respectful guy, but if a girl with a great ass is standing in front of me, or a girl with a large chest is weareing a low cut shirt, it's like a goddam tractor beam for our eyes. Girls like to say we're "objectifying" or "sexist" or whatever, but we're not. It's biology. I won't say we can't help it, we can, but it takes a serious amount of discipline and conentration to do it. And then we're focused so hard on NOT looking at your chest, we don't listen to what you're saying. Then you say we don't listen. So, pick your poison, ladies. Sorry, we're guys, we're just hard wired to look, kinda like you're hard wired to love puppies.

I say this because I go to great lengths during these  women's exercise classes to not look at the sea of backsides in front of me in yoga pants. And I do a pretty good job, mostly because I"m so focused on trying to figure out what the fuck I'm doing, i don't really notice anyone around me. And even on the off chance when I do catch myself doing that, it's only a split second unti I've gota think about the next move.

So my second trip to Zumba was Friday night, and, despite the class starting 10 minutes late (they REALLY hammer home the Latin theme of Zumba class, I guess) I got the moves down pretty well. And, I shit you not, Zumba is definitely the fastest pace, most calorie burning workout of all of these, if you do it right. At any rate, for about the first 3/4 of the class, I more or less knew what I was doing. Which was cool, but it got dangerous.

Apparently Zumba classes are usually filled with geriatrics looking for a low-impact way to get their pulses up. This class, of course, is at a college gym. I'll let you connect the dots there but once my brain was able to relax on learning the moves, it defaulted back to guy brain. And with four rows of girls in yoga pants in front of you, well, you start to nnotice every time there's a hip shake.

I fought it, I really did. And I think I did a pretty good job becuase, well, I'm not a pro and still needed to think about dancing. And also, there's mirrors in there so I spent a good deal of time watching my own form. But I could imagine if I got to a point where I was good at this, I'd need to go to a typical old lady class so as not to look like a creeper. It's not like I GO to class because it's full of girls in dance pants. But good God once you're there, well, it's just realyl hard to ignore.

Anyway, much as I enjoy Zumba this will probably be my last class, at least for a while. I've been told Butts and Guts, which goes at the same time, is good too.

Day 16 - Dancing Blend

Equniox - South Beach

At the advice of yet another friend who insisted I try a popular workout, I found myself at the treny, tony Equinox Fitness in South Beach. Aka home gym to every single person who lives between South Pointe and about 41st street. Whatever you picture that gym looking like, this was it.

Today's class was something called Mitana, which the instructor described as "LIie a hip-hop dance boot camp." I wish, I WISH there had been anything even closely resembling hip hop dance during boot camp. I think during Mess Week we got to turn on the radio a couple of time,s and dude bopped around to Timberland for like, five seconds, before he got absolutely thrashed in the sand pit outside. So, that's about my association with Hip Hop Dance Boot Camp. But more on that later.

Before class I was chatting with my friend about this month of classes and she was listing off all the ones she goes to (I ran into her my first day of Butt and Legs at Barry's).

"I worked it out," she said, "and I think I spend about $450 a month on gym memberships and class fees." Amazing. It's really is true that fitness, especially on this level, has become a luxury item up there with cold press juices and LuLu Lemon pants. At least for women.

Like, guys, we can just hit a stack of rusty weights, a shitty hotel gym, or just run around a lot and we stay looking pretty good. I don't know any dude, aside from elite athletes who have personal trainers, who spend $450 a month on gym memberships. It's unbelievable. Add that with the cost of getting your hair cut and women's clothes, and I'm starting to get why they always expect us to pay for dinner. Looking good for them is just fucking expensive.

About 5 minutes before class my friend got up from our table by the Equinox juice bar.

"We regulars, we go hover before class," she said. "I need to get my space up front. If I don't get my space, I'm fucked for the whole class. The regulars are all super OCD about it."

This is girl speak for territorialism, I think.  But sure eonugh, we walked up to the outside of the classroom, where a class was still going on, and there were probably a dozen or so ladies stading there, waiting to get the good spot when we got in.  Once the room opened, they all rushed to get spots in the front, near the mirrors. Because South Beach.

The back, where  I planned to spend the entire class, was entirely empty save for me, the 3 other guys in the class (couldn't confirm any of them were straight) and some older ladies who probably didn't give two shits about getting a spot in the front row.

And then our instructor, Andres walked in. He looked, I shit you not, like the spitting image of a guy named Blend who works at Thrillist. And I thought, for a split second, Thrillist was fucking with me and bringing him in to teach the class. Then he opened his mouth and said soemthing along the lines of "I"m the dirtiest motherfucker in here. SO don't be afraid to get down and dirty and nasty in this class, this is a no judgment zone and I wanna see you get dirty."

I think he was gay. I don't think a straight guy could get away with saying shit like that.

And then the class started. The entire thing was like Britney Spears video choreography, fast and sharp and hard as hell. Not as dirty as Vixen, and not as fast as Zumba. It was more like NBA dancer routines, which everyone in the class seemed to know already. So I've learned these classes are a lot like line dancing, just more expensive and there's no alcohol..

What was funny, of course, was watchign this guy who looks like blend jump and prance and drink and twerk and do all the shit one does in a Mitnaa class. And every motion in this class is HUGE, there's nothing subles. So when we went to do a spanking motion or a star jump, boy you saw it. And if you know Blend, image him doing all this. I almost stopped and lauged a few times.

I did notice I'm getting a little better at loosening up my shoulders during dance classes. I'm not sure if that's a good thing. And during one of the last songs Dancing Blend told all the guys to come up in the front row, and we literally did a dance where everyone kind of grinded on each other. I mean, there was no actual contact, but it did look like a big, yoga-pantsed orgy if you looked at it the wrong way. He kept us up there for one song, and as much as I thought I'd dread it, it was actually kinda fun. I didn't embarrass myself too bad, and the class was, like the other dance classes, about on par with doing an hour-long jog.

After class my friend and I took a few pictures (none of which she thought she looked cute enough in to post) and I chatted with some of the people from the class. The sub culture of this class was interesting, since there were definite regulars who knew each other, and had territory for spots. Not something I'd noticed elsewhere. Maybe it's just a South Beach thing.

Day 17 - Reality Check

Pure Barre - Coral Gables

There is a big difference between flexibility at night and flexibility in the morning. I think I learn this every Sunday now, since Sunday morning seems to be the time I get all flexibility-cocky, and think I can do full splits and shit. Not so much.

I got a couple of reality checks this weekend. First, when I posted the picture I ended my Vixen Workout with on Facebook, Joe Schwartz, the elder statesman of our tailgate group and a pretty much all-around bad ass who knows everyone in Miami, commented simply "C'mon Matt. You're Better than that." I took it down immediately. Your boys calling you a fag is one thing, joe Schwartz saying he's disappointed it like a kick to the soul. But it was the call out I needed to I didn't fall too deep down the hole of women's fitness.

Then I went to barre Sunday morning, and the girl at the front desk is like "Have you been here before?" Bitch this is my FOURTH CLASS. I'm practically ready to audition for the Corps at MCB. So, uh, YEAH? I'm the GUY who goes here, clearly you haven't heard of me. Or maybe I just said "yeah, I was here last week."

I wasn't ready to do much of anything. The class ran differently than the others I'd been to, and was somehow a little harder. It wasn't as much cardio to start out, but a LOT of isometrics, a lot of time in push up position and the legendary 90 second plank. Lots of shoulder work with the dumbbells. Basically, stuff that's tough for me.

There's one class they do at my boxing gym that's about as close to women's fitness as you get, taught by Angie one of the owners. Angie's classes are light on boxing, but always long on this stuff. And I always wondered how she was able to stay up in push up position for so long, and kept us with our arms over our heads for so long during the non-boing portions. Now I know. It's all barre class stuff, adapted for that class. Not that this barre class was much like that, but I did recognize the aspects.

I once again left feeling burned and toned. They say the shakes are your body changing, and getting the results you're looking for. I'd really like to keep doing barre after this is all over because it's definitely working muscle groups I don't typically, especially abs which I've never been able to master. Today's class was good, but I hope the more I do it it still remains a challenge.

Day 20 - The Push Up Game

Bikram Yoga Miami Central

We used to play this game when I was in high school, where you into a sauna and each person would do one push up. Then 2. Then 3. Then 4. And take turns until one of you quit. It was a great, ballsy, I'm-16-and-gonna-show-you-who's-tougher game for us to play. But if I'd had absolutley no upper body strength, probably would have been something I'd avoid.

If you're ever thinking about going to "hot" yoga, think about it like you would the push up game. As in, if you're not good at yoga, it's probably not for you.

I know some serious yoga people who aren't fans, and I know people who wear by it and say it's the greatest workout ever. And I see how they could both be right. But what I learned today is this: This is for advanced yogis, and maybe not the best idea for a guy dabbling into women's fitness.

I mean, I've done yoga now for a year, but mostly "Gentle yoga" at the wellness center with some vinyasa classes mixed in at Mickey's. Nothing too strenuous, and always nicely air conditioned.

The thing with Bikram, if you weren't aware, is A HUNDRED A FREAKING FIVE DEGREES in the studio. Which sounds like a good, lets-see-how-tough-I-am challenge, But if you're not advanced, it's hard to get anything out of it.

So my friend signed me up to go with her, and when I arrived the people at the desk told me 'Today's class is 90 minutes." But, you know, I'm an Ironman, I was in the Marines, no fuckign problem, right?

Well, sorta.

I was given this nice no-slip yoga mat that I used at Vinyasa, then this awesome sweat towel that even when saturated still takes sweat away. As well as a gripping large towel that also absorbs sweat. Nice, top of the line products, all of them, but about 1/3 of the way through the class I totally looked like that guy on the slopes with 10 grand worth of ski gear who falls down the bunny hill.

First off, I realized I'd need to take my shirt off. Something i don't like to do, especially when i'm forced to look at myself in the mirror for 90 minutes. The exercises weren't really all that much harder in the beginning than other yoga classes I've been to. But once we got to stuff I struggle with - even in normal temperature - the class got really tough.

We did a whole series of poses with arms over our heads, which is always tough. Then we moved into balancing poses, which, forget about it. I can hold those for 5 seconds MAX before I have to put my foot down. And when it's 105, well, you're not exactly in a hurry to get back up. Tree was especially hard since I couldn't get foot any traction on my thigh. So the class becomes even harder, since you use more muscles to keep your body from sliding around.

We moved on to some isometric holds, which are fine when you're in a normal yoga class. Tough when you have sweat dripping into your eyes. The sweat towel did an amazing job, and at one point I picked it up and it easily weighed three pounds. I rung it out and it was like a deluge on the floor. Pretty gross, but the towel was amazing.

The problem was, an hour in I had completely abandoned ship on controlled breating, and because of the sweat and the heat wasn't holding positions for long enough to get anything out of them. Basically what I got out of the class was how to survive in 105 degree rooms for an hour and a half. That's not to say it's a great workout for people who know what they're doing, but if you're a beginner and every pose sounds like "shvannasana" and you have to follow everybody else, it's not really a great idea.

So my advice if you're a tough guy and want to try yoga, but think hot yoga makes you extra hard, remember: Hard is just a four letter word for stupid. Get REALLY good at the basics, do classes that are on the same level as what they'll do in here, master it, THEN go into Bikram. If you're that kind of person, the heat can be a release, and I totally get it. If you're not? It almost becomes counter productive.

Day 21 - This is where you get better

Barry's Bootcamp - South Beach

Thursday went a lot later than it was supposed to. Dinner at Azul turned into drinks at some new craft cocktail bar where I had one too many "Swedish Chefs" (no shit, they had a drink called Swedish Chef. Clearly I couldn't stop at one) and ended up getting home at 230. All well and good, except we were doing a photo shoot at Barry's for this story, and of course it was at the 8:20am class.

But, I figured, I had some hip-hop flow yoga scheduled for later in the day, so I could just come in, take the pics, and then return to my regularly scheduled hangover. Then I forgot I was working with Carlos Miller.

Carlos is a photographer I've worked with since the MB411 days, and the dude will just be shameless in getting pictures. His shots are good, but he's the kinda guy who'll push over a little kid if it means getting his angle, and he'll also stick around a shoot four four hours or more if he needs to.

He actually was late to the class and showed up right as we were finishing our first round on the treadmills. Which was a nice, slow job to start out "Full Body" day. We told Kellie, the instructor, to get up and yell at me for the pictures. which she did a nice job of. Meanwhile, Carlos was standing on my treadmill, the lady next to me's treadmill, in the box of leg straps, like, pretty much anywhere to get good pictures.

Kellie just kept saying "This is YOUR workout, guys. Ignore anything else that's going on!" Hard to do when there's a lens two inches from your nose, but whatever.

About halfway through I started to feel a little less awful, and told Carlos "Hey, if you've got thge shots you need you can go." To which he just nodded and kept shooting. Every round I'd think he'd gotten enough, but, nope, he was still there. But it was funny: After four weeks of legs and butt class, the uphill sprints had gotten easier, and even the brutal hangover didn't mkae it a lot tougher.

The Sudafed I took before I left the house probably didn't hurt either.

But during those sprints, when you run 10, 11, 12 miles an hour, Kellie would yell "This is where you get better!" And it's really true. After doing them for a month, it wasn't hard. And so I feel I've made some good progress in terms of that stuff. I could imagine doing just Barry's for a month the kind of shape you'd be in. Although at $35 a class, you'd be the most ripped homeless guy on the planet.

I'm pretty sure Carlos got some awesome pictures. He posted on on Facebook that wasn't exactly flattering, where I'm literally drenched in sweat looking incredibly constipater trying to do an overhead tricep curl. The three women in the picture look completley calm.
 

Day 22 - Pardon My Reach, there, Rojon Rondo

Green Monkey - South Beach

At the suggestion of a lady I had lunch with last week, I stuck around South Beach after my Barry's shoot do so something called "Hip Hop Flow Yoga" at Green Monkey, which is literally next door to Barry's Bootcamp. It's kind a yoga chain, but  really, I was more intreagued by the challenge of achieving your zen while listening to "Rap God."

So I get there and the room is really small, maybe 15 feet wide from the mirror to the back wall. And it's packed, with about two rows of people. I set up on the far side of the room, away from as many people as I could, fully knowing my logs legs and arms hit people during yoga class all the time. I'm setting up my mat, and this skinny black guy who's about my height than me sets up right behind me. And I'm thinking "Well geez, ok, now the two tallest guys in the room are like, RIGHT next to each other. This won't be awkward AT ALL."

I went to put my gym bag on the shelves and this guy comes up to me and says "Hey you know who Rojon Rondo is?"

I'm a Kings fan. He's the only player on our team anyone outside Sacramento can name. Of COURSE I know who Rojon Rondo is. I just said "Yeah, he plays for Sacramento, right?"

"Yeah, he's about to take class with us." And points to the skinny black guy behind me.

It would have seemed improbable, except it's NBA All-Star Weekend and Rondo wasn't going this year. I guess he was opting to spend the weekend in South Beach. It was funny because I's just had a conversation over lunch with my friend Marco, who was apparently workout buddies with Peyton Manning for a few weeks at his gym at the Continuum, and had absolutely no idea who he was.

So I did a Google image search for Rojon Rondo. And, yep, it was definitely the skinny black guy set up behind me.

That aside, the class was pretty cool. "Beyonce heavy" as the instructor said, I guess as some kind of statement about whatever it was Beyonce did at the Super Bowl. The first 30 minutes or so were pretty easy. But it was a little surreal looking back beinhd me in every downward dog and being like "Oh, there's a future NBA Hall of famer right there. NBD."

Thing was, I was sweating like this was a Bikram class. To the point my back started making those fart noises every time I had to flatten it on the ground for a pose. I'm sure the whole room thought i was ripping ass. And if I ever met Rondo in the real world and he happened to recognize me., he would 100% say something along the lines of "Oh yeah! You was that sweaty farting dude at Green Monkey!"

Awesome. I did manage to do a full bridge, with a lot of help from our instructor. But definitely somethign I couldn't have done a year ago.

But there were probably five or six times during the class me and Rondo kept bumping into each other. Like on Warrior poses and several where you had to kick your leg back. I definitely kicked him in the head at least twice.

Sweat aside the class was great. And, of course, any time you can work a celebrity into a story, it makes it that much better. I didn't bother him after class, because I know these guys don't go to yoga class so you can take a Green Monkey selfie with them. But as yoga classes go, this one may go down as the most interesting.

Day 23 - Old Pro

Pure Barre - Coral Gables

Well, maybe I"m becoming a trendsetter. On Sunday I got to the Pure Barre studio about 15 minutes early, and as I'm sitting there this lady walks in.....followed by a guy. Now I don't mean, like, he was dropping her off or paying for her classes or something. The dude walked in a Heat jersey and sweatpants, so it was completely plausidlbe he's just rolled off the couch to drop his wife off. But no, no. He was there for class.

Ok. Then another five minutes later...ANOTHER guy comes in. I wasn't sure if he was there with girlfriend, or his best girlfriend, if you get the drift,, but by the time class stated at 12:30 there were three times as many guys in the class as there had ever been before.

Of course once we got in the ladies were trying to explain to their male guests how to pick wieghts, rings, and bands. I looked at them and was like "Yeah, you're gonna have your arms up for a long time. So those 5lb weights might look light now, they won't in 20 minutes." They laughed, but they also listened to me. With my newfound confidence I actually took a spot at the front of the class, and honestly it's amazing the progress I've made in just five classes.

The stuff was still hard, and this workout wasn't as difficult as some of the others I've done at Pure Barre. But it was still hard, and I wasn't corrected a whole lot the entire time. I saw the other guys struggling and was like, damn, that was totally me four weeks ago. And still is now to some degree, but I get what the moves are. And they've all gotten easier.

At the end of class Taylor, our instructor, actually said to me "It's reaelly impressive how much progress you've made so fast." Which gave me that little jolt of pride that makes me think I might actually keep at barre class after this is all done.

Which it mostly is, really. I've got some photo shoot workouts set up, and A few days left on my one-month Pure Barre membership, so I'm not done. But this almost effectively ended this month. It's been an education.