Circuit Training, or “How to Meet Your Maker in 45 Minutes”

Posted: September 1, 2015 in Gym
Tags: , ,

After a long weekend and an even longer night on Sunday thanks to a whiney, grumpy 10-year-old with a bellyache that may or may not have been a real issue, I was feeling the need to burn off a little anxiety yesterday.  I decided then that I’d test the waters a little and try out the Circuit training class that runs for 45 minutes before my own Masters Spin class that I teach on Monday nights.  After all, I’m starting to gear up for the “big burn” which I know has to happen shortly so I’m exploring new options to add to the routine as per my 2016 goals (click HERE).

My only familiarity with this class for the past year or so, has been sitting on the bench waiting for the ladies to finish up so I can begin rolling out the spin bikes for class.  By the looks of things they were working pretty hard but it didn’t look too  challenging.  After all, I’m a triathlete and past Ironman right?  What real benefit could I gain from a 45 minute workout when my own “easy” workouts typically last nothing less than an hour?  Besides, it’s all girls. It can’t be that  hard.

What an idiot I can be.

I remembered way back when I tried “Crossfit” (click HERE) a few years ago but I realize now that what I was doing then wasn’t really crossfit (which was still relatively new and not as hugely popular as it is now), it was Circuit training.  This became all too aware to me about 5 minutes into yesterday’s workout, but I’ll get there.

The workout, lead by Andi, was designed to be 12 different plyometric exercises (click HERE) to be run for 1 minute at a time with a 15 second break in order to rest and move onto the next “station”.  I opted to start with the jumping jacks.  Yes, they were the easiest as Andi was quick to point out jokingly, but I figured I’d start easy and then build myself into the harder and more intense exercises I figured were to follow and end with the sprinting exercise at the end.  That’s my story anyway.

Remember, I’m an idiot.

Anyhow, 1 minute of jumping jacks was no big deal, but I did begin to sweat a bit.

Good start.

Next, I moved to the V-sit station, otherwise known as “Boat Pose” for all you yogi’s out there.  I have included boat pose into my usual off season core routine for years so I felt I was in a good position (no pun intended) to rock this shit out just as I had done with the jumping jacks.  However, 20 seconds into my V-sit and I was like, “hey, this is pretty fucking hard” as my core muscles began to bitch and complain.  Then it hit me: I haven’t really done any core or upper body strength conditioning since April/May when I switched my training to a more outdoor orientated endurance focused program.

Shit, this might really suck after all and the sweat just definitely beginning to flow.

The next circuit was side-planks which I can do fairly well, not that this prevented any of the sweat from flowing, that’s for sure.

Next up was Burpees.  Oh sweat Jesus, no.  Not the burpees!


If you remember anything about my ranting about burpees before (see link above), I hate fucking burpees.  I even hate Royal H. Burpee for conjuring up this god forsaken exercise.  Couple that with the fact that Andi added this new little kick out with the legs at the end and, yeah, it totally sucked balls.  After the 30 seconds or so, I was sweating like the pig who knows he’s dinner and my bandana was producing a slow and steady stream of sweat down my face.  By the 1 minute mark I felt 100% spent and was wondering how I was ever going to complete the rest of this circuit.  Making matters worse, the other 3 ladies in the class looked like this was just another day at the office and making it all look so simple.

My motivation was definitely beginning to wane some.

After those stupid burpees, it was skipping.  Now I can’t skip to save my life but, actually, it wasn’t so bad and I was able to more or less keep a decent skip going without too much interruption.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Take THAT you Grade 3 playground bitches!  FINALLY!  Something that was better suited to my preference for cardio-related exercise; a singular repetitive action held for a specific duration of time.

By this time the sweat was now volleying off my brow with every hop, skip and jump as my bandana had reached its maximum saturation point.

Next on the Devil’s circuit was push-ups.  Thank Christ!  Something I can do to show off my imminent manliness.

I assumed the position and on the final count of 15 seconds, started to put on what I figured was going to be a total display of upper body uber-awesomeness. “Hey ladies, check this shit out”, I thought.  After all, I like to rock out the medicine ball push-ups in my workout warm-ups, so normal push-ups would be easy right?


I got to about 18 and my arms and shoulders started to give out.  Ho-lee shit.  By this point, a pool of bodily fluid had formed under my forehead where the sweat was now cascading off in a complete Angel Falls-esque deluge.  After 22 push-ups (about 45 seconds into the circuit), I had to take a break.

Not. Good.

Next up was the “Up and Down Plank”; rising and lowering yourself up and down on your forearms which, after all those push-ups ranked up there with dipping my forearms in battery acid.  I think I managed for the whole minute but, truthfully, I also think I was hallucinating by this point so I may not have.  I don’t rightly remember.  What I do remember is that the mat underneath me was a total lake of sweat and tears meaning, of course, that all the other ladies coming into the station after me would now have to do their own routine in a pool of my rankness.

Sorry girls.

The side-to-side bench jump was next; hopping back and forth over a bench.  As much as this sucked, I know from my limited experience with plyometrics that this is an ideal exercise for runners so I tried my best to cinch up the ‘ol apple sack and get ‘em done.  I think I managed about a dozen or so before having to take a quick break lest I suffer a total cardiac arrest and end up doing a face plant into the bench.  By now, I was dripping fluids from just about everywhere and my shirt, shorts and bandanas was now carrying about 10 extra lbs of moisture.  I swear, I think even my eyeballs were sweating.

The other ladies though were still smiling, joking, and chatting amongst themselves.  Me?  I had forgotten what my name was and my motivation was somewhere between “fuck this shit”  and non-existent, particularly since I realized that only 10 minutes had passed.  So much for being an Ironman, ha!

The next 15 second transition couldn’t come soon enough.

Mountain Climbers” were next.   Now, it has to be said, I like my mountain climbers like I like my burpees like I like hot lead being poured down my pants. “Andi, you suck”, I thought to myself.  Luckily (or ‘unluckily’, depending on what side of the tipping point you prefer to look at it), my Morton’s Neuroma didn’t bother me so bad and I was able to do about a dozen without much pain or discomfort.  I confess though, I did cheat a bit when Andi’s back was turned and I assumed the child’s pose for a few seconds.

I was dying.

After what seemed like an hour, she blew the whistle signaling us to move on.

The wide grip “lat pull down” with bungee strap was next on her hit list.  Any thoughts I had of this being easy were immediately shot down when my chest muscles were aching after about 20 seconds.


Stop the madness.

“Bent over row” with 15 lbs weights were immediately afterwards and, while not torturous thanks to my swim conditioning, they certainly weren’t “easy” after two minutes of lighting my chest muscles on fire with that damned bungee strap.  A lake of pain and disappointment was now forming on the floor underneath my brow while I struggled through this second to last exercise.

The whistle blew again and I moved to the last exercise to complete the circuit: sprints.

Well, they weren’t sprints so much as they were a slow, painful shuffle between gym walls.  However, I gritted through it as, like the skipping, this was within my endurance-based wheelhouse.  I will admit though, I’ve never been happy to hear that final whistle blow completing…the first  circuit.

Fuck. Wait.

You mean I have to do this all over UH-again?

For the past 15 minutes, a not-so-small snail trail of sweat and tears was being left behind me in a grosser, moister breadcrumb trail from station to station.  How in the Sam hell was I ever going to do this one more time?  Maybe I would be lucky and Andi would offer us a 13th exercise, a Colt 45 to the temple in order to put me out of my misery (I’d say “We” here, but the other ladies looked perfectly fine).  So much for my thinking that this wouldn’t be “too  challenging” and I made a mental note to never believe myself again.

My realization here is that endurance training is fine and dandy, and I have taught myself to endure long sustained painful efforts, but this short and fast circuit shit really fucking sucks.  Meaning, it’s perfect for what I believe I need right now in order to begin rebuilding my fitness base, lose weight and start preparing for more the focused strength training to come.  I wasn’t terribly happy with this realization at this particular point in time, mind you, but there it was.

Somehow, through the grace of God, I managed to persevere through another round of torture, being mindful to flip the mats after me for the ladies since I was by now leaking profusely from every pour.  So much so, it was hard to not slip and slide all over the place during some of my exercises (again, that’s my story).  As a warm down we had to do 5 minutes of abdominal exercises including reverse and bicycle crunches.  Basically, this was just adding insult to injury by this point as I could barely hold my legs in the air and lied there like a bloated beached whale.

Finally, the 45 minutes passed.

The bad news: I need work…LOTS of work.  The good news: I now have my inspiration to get back at it if any of this Ironman business is ever going to happen in July.  My goal now (as much as I am loathe to say it), is to join this class each week for the next few months to begin burning off all the craft beer and tapas plates I’ve indulging in lately and build back my core strength that, somewhere down the road, I’ve managed to lose altogether.

Yup.  One thing is for certain, it’s going to be a long, upward (not to mention wet) struggle this winter.

God help me.

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