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YMCA Octagon Lunch Circuit Class: Review

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this review because I enjoy this class and it has a 10 person limit. On Mondays when you would think the gym would be starting to empty the class hit that limit and more. Wednesday’s class doesn’t get as full.

Octagon equipment at the YThe flip side of this is if the class is popular, then maybe it will be offered more often.

The class is 45 minutes long and consists of up to 10 stations per round. If the class is full, then it’s 3 rounds. On the day in which it was just the two of us, it was 9+ rounds. Each round start with a runner who runs 1 lap around the track (9 laps per mile), expect for a few of the faster runners, they do 2 laps and sometimes the runner walks a half lap (depending on their limitations). They act as the timer, during that time you do the exercise station you are at until the runner returns. Then everyone moves up a station, the next person runs, and the class continues until everyone has done each station.

This class works multiple region of the body, and alternates between exercises using resistance techniques, free weights, or your own body weight. Modification of an exercise is an option if there is a limitation, and there is no pressure to push yourself until injury. There is encouragement to try a little harder, to do 1 more rep, but encouragement is not pressure. We all started at a different level of fitness, a different levels of ability, and we all have our own goals.

Dr. Johanna’s Goals: My goals for this class are to cross train to enhance my running ability, and to increase my speed. I’m training to run Gate City marathon this year and cross training is often forgotten when trying to run 4 times a week. I’ll be honest I do not push myself as hard as I could at the class, but one day a week I am doing this class and running 3-4 miles. I prefer a slow gradual improvement with minimal risk on injury and I know patients would prefer I stay injury free as well. The strength work is hard but is getting better.  The stretching we do at the end is a good start, but honestly if you are taking this class plan to spend 5-10 mins after class stretching or foam rolling.

Alex’s Goals: My primary goal is to be healthier, to that end I’m exercising in this class to improve my stamina and lose some unwanted pounds.  Plus, I enjoy working out in groups.  I tend to get bored if I’m alone at the gym and work out less.  Having a class to attend, gives me accountability. Having an instructor picking the routines, also gets me doing exercises I wouldn’t normally do if the choice was up to me. 

Overall this is a good whole body workout class that works on strength and is small enough to get some personal attention when you need it for form or modification. After 4 weeks of the class, we have both learned new exercises we can do at home to continue the forward momentum.

You can learn more about class and other at the YMCA. If you have a gym or host an exercise class you would like us to review, please contact the office and we’ll do our best to accommodate.

Group Strength Class at YMCA Review

This time we are going to do something a little different, Alex and I will review the class as we took it together.  Alex regularly takes a strength training class with the Octagon equipment, and I regularly run on a treadmill.

Friday 10:15am Group Strength with Meredith at Nashua YMCA

cartoon holding barbellJohanna’s Comments: I avoid weights, I’m always nervous that I’ll hurt myself if I do it wrong and I’ve studied enough about musculature,  to know all the ways I could get hurt. I love running(very slowly), so I knew this class would be a challenge to me. I selected the lightest possible weights with the opinion, I can use heavier ones next time.  I made the right call, as we did 100+ reps of some of the exercises. No region of muscles was missed.

When we showed up I asked the instructor what equipment we needed, it was obvious to me, that many of the people there had done the class before.  We grabbed a step board, yoga mat, pair of dumb bells(lots of weights available, I chose 3lbs each), bar bell, bar weights(I chose 2.75 & 5.5) and clips. Setting up over by the mirror was great, since I could check out my squat form. Meredith did a great job of calling out the different exercises and since there were so many reps, I was never really behind if I had to figure out what to do. She also gave the right amount of time and warning when we needed to change the weight on our barbell or switch equipment. There is a chance I was the most clueless of everyone n the class and I certainly did the least amount of weight(far less than the seniors in the class). Never did I notice anyone looking at me like I shouldn’t be there and Meredith encouraged us to come back.

This class was a lot of fun, extremely challenging and something I will do any, possibly weekly until it becomes easy. According to a friend the workout style is called Body Pump and I should expect to cry over climbing up stairs tomorrow.

Alex’s Comments: I like lifting weights, I find it to be a fun way to exercise, but I don’t really enjoy doing it alone.  It’s more satisfying, to have someone with you, to cheer you on, to spur you into that one last set, but that might be because I’m competitive, stubborn, and sarcastic. I lift once a week (more often than not I’ll get in a session once or twice a week on my own), in a class at the Y around the equipment called “The Octagon”.  We’ve been focusing on, form, heavier lifting, in 3 sets of 12 repetitions.  Accompanied by some cardio, some stretching, and resistance against our own body weight.  This Group Class, was as different to my Octagon class as sprinting is to a marathon.  In one hour, we do 9 sets of different exercises designed to improve strength and stamina.

Entering the class, our instructor asked us to grab a bar, and some weights.  I almost dropped the bar when I picked it up, because it weighed next to nothing.  I was expecting a 45lbs bar, not a bar best measured in ounces.  I grabbed my usual weight amounts, assuming that with the lighter bar they would be enough for a simple class.  Was I ever wrong.  After my first set of reps started, I counted until I hit 12, then we kept going.  Easily did 100 repetitions for each exercise grouping.  Some of them involved holding a pose with your arms extended for 30 seconds, was I ever glad that the bar didn’t weigh 45lbs.  30 seconds is a long time, even if you’re only at a third of your usual weight amounts.  I debated swapping my weights out, to be more in line with the rest of the class.  But, I’m stubborn.  I enjoyed the class, it was more cardio vascular exercise, with weights attached to your hands, than it was weight lifting.  Which made it challenging.  I’ll be back, because it was a different form of workout, and I’m too stubborn to quit.  Even if I hate planking.


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All Out Cycle Review

Last Friday Dr. Johanna had the opportunity to experience a cycle class at All Out Cycle to benefit Girls On the Run.

(added 2/6/2018: Support Carolina’s Boston Marathon fundraising for Impact Melanoma)

The class was led by a staff trainer, Valerie, and lasted approximately 50 minutes. When I arrived, I had to register for the class, as I hadn’t done so online. I picked out my bike for the class as well. Apparently most people there liked to hide in the back. Valerie helped myself and a few others unfamiliar with the bikes, with adjusting for seat height, handle bar distance, and pedal clips. Valerie’s shoes clipped into the pedals, she attached straps to the pedals for me to strap to my sneakers. Taking the time to help with the bike set up, was a great help at putting the new experience in a new location awkwardness at ease.

As for the actual class, the lights went down, so being in the back didn’t matter. Valerie was pretty much the only one you could see. We turned on the small monitors on the bikes that synced up with Valerie’s bike, and kept track of our relative distances with each other. We went through a routine that my friend had designed, that was as close to biking a 7 mile race without leaving your spot. Valerie did a great job explaining each change of the routine along with making everyone feel comfortable. Due to a meniscus injury last year, I found position two cycling, standing on the cycle, was more difficult and opted to stay seated for most of those parts of the class. I never felt out of place or singled out for doing so. I never felt in anyway as I was failing at the exercise because I had difficulty with some of the activities. I absolutely felt challenged. The music helped get through the moments when I’d look at the timer on my bike and calculate how much longer I had.

Overall I had a great experience and will likely be back again. I recommend trying this out, a lot more fun than sitting on a bike at the gym alone and more social than playing the dragon catching game on my bikes at the YMCA. As of writing this post, there is a code to try a free class on their website.  The regular cost for the class is $17, and at that price, I’m sure I’ll be back to take the class again.

Important things to know before you go. Booking online will likely speed up your check in process. Bring a water bottle, you are going to need it. If you forget, they have bottles for sale there. Sweating happened for all of us, they have towels to grab(and hampers to ditch them in). I didn’t check out the bathroom to see if they have showers. Ask for a seat pad. I saw them innocently sitting on a bench by the door to the studio, but failed to ask for one. That would be my one regret, many of the regulars have pants designed with padding already, my natural padding was not enough.

Christine is running the Boston Marathon this April and raising money for Girls on the Run.  This class was a fundraiser to help her raise money, I’ll make sure to support Christine’s continued fundraising through fitness classes.

Do you have a fitness class you want Dr. Johanna to review? Contact the office with details.


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How to Rehab an ankle, “that always seems to sprain.”

Simple ankle sprains, the ones that you “walk off” or heal in less than two weeks are rarely properly rehabilitated.  Often once the pain is gone and you are able to resume normal use, the problem is considered gone, until the next time it happens.  This guide is to help strengthen your ankles to avoid a repeat sprain.

Before we start to discuss rehab, let’s look at the anatomy of an ankle sprain.  The most common ankle sprains are Inversion Sprains. Wherein you stretch the lateral ligaments of the foot, or in more common terms. The injury happens with the foot turned in, damaging the ligaments on the outside of your foot. Most commonly is the anterior talofibular ligament.  Typically with these sprains there may be minor or no swelling at all.

Below are some suggestions for strengthening the ankles to avoid re-injury. These are not for treatment immediately following an acute sprain. If you have an acute sprain contact a healthcare professional for the best type of treatment for your injury. These instructions can also help improve balance.

Test for your starting point:

 one foot

Stand on 1 foot for up to 60 seconds.  Stop as soon as you start to wobble or become unstable.  Note the length of time.  Then, repeat the exercise with the other foot.  If the amount of time was less than 60 seconds start at Beginner, if more than 60 seconds go to Intermediate.

Note: For safety always do these exercises near a wall or chair you can hold onto, if you suddenly need support.  This exercise is best done barefoot if possible.

Rehab Beginner:

3-4 Times a day: attempt to stand on each foot for up to 60 seconds.  If you start to wobble consistently, put the other foot down, rest for 30-60 seconds and try again.  You are likely to have small wobbles during this exercise those are OK but remember the goal is to strengthen the ankle and large wobbles might re-injure it instead.

Once you can stand on each ankle for 60 seconds without wobbles move to the Intermediate level.

Rehab Intermediate:

3-4 times a day attempt to stand on each foot for 60 seconds with your eyes closed. Everything is the same as the Beginner exercise except you will have your eyes closed.

Once you can stand on each ankle for 60 seconds without wobbles move to the next level.

Rehab Advanced: with variations

Start with same exercises as above on an uneven surface such as a Balance Pad.

Variations are: Doing the exercise with eyes closed; holding weights in hands; or moving arms in circles while holding weights

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