Body Combat Release 65 – Informal Review!

The latest Les Mills Body Combat choreography launched at our gym on Saturday. (For those who don’t know, a Body Combat workout is a group fitness class consisting of an hour of cardio with choreographed martial/fighting arts moves done to high-octane music. We get a new choreography release every… six weeks, I think…?)

ETA: New releases happen every 12 weeks. Thank you, Izzy!

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-BodyCombat

 

So Les Mills released Body Combat #65, and I thought it would be fun to give it an informal review, because why not? I routinely blather about movies, T.V. series, food, cosmetics, pulp fiction, etc., so targeting Body Combat for my blathering seems like the next natural thing to do. I go to this class three times per week, after all. It’s kind of a big part of my life.

I went to class on Saturday with the idea that I might blog about the release, so I activated the voice recorder on my phone and left it on the floor, off to the side. I wanted to be prepared, and I knew there was no way I was going to remember everything we did after just one class if I didn’t document it somehow.

Enough of the pre-blather blather… without further ado, here’s what I thought of Body Combat #65!

(Disclaimer: These are my first impressions, and that includes the music. I may feel differently about all of it after a few more classes in this release.)

 

Les Mills Body Combat #65

Overall impression: Some unexpected combinations and variations in pacing necessitate attention to your mental game. The methodical, slower sequences feel awkward against the fast-paced, high-energy music, and at other times, when given the option to speed up without limitation, you’re again working with the timing. All of this incongruity heightens the challenges expected when learning a new release, and the choreography encourages precision in striking, for those concerned with their technique. This release features some advanced attacks (i.e. flying knee strikes and consecutive jump kicks), power moves (i.e. jump squats and explosive push-ups in the middle of the workout), and High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) (i.e. sprint options). The workout is plyometrics- and conditioning-intense.

After Saturday’s class, I went online and found the music track-list (which also gives me a guide for the workout tracks):

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-LesMillsBCrelease65TrackList

 

Here are my “nutshell” first impressions of the actual tracks.

1a). Upper-body warm-up: (Decent song for an opener – “We Came to Bang”)

First impression: Kind of a mind-bender.

Warming up with your basic jabs, crosses, uppercuts and hooks

 

1b). Lower-body warm-up: (Also a pretty good song – “Levels”)

First impression: Robot-like moves? Different!

Throwing roundhouse kicks, side kicks, front kicks, and teeps (Muay Thai push kicks)

(Do my quads usually burn this much during the warm-up?)

 

2). Combat 1: (Decent music – “Ah Yeah So What”)

First impression: They should re-name this track “A million kicks.”

Combination of strikes and kicks, including consecutive jump kicks and lowered front kicks for a major quad burn

 

3). Power training 1: (DISLIKE the music – “Lifting Me Higher”)

First impression: They chose this song because it’s so terrible, we’re being forced to exercise our minds to overcome it.

Endless upper-body strikes; running (including high knees)

It’s only track three and I don’t think I can throw any more hooks…

 

4).Combat 2: (Good song – “Enemies”)

First impression: We need a mat for this? Push-ups, like in the last release!

Combination of kicks and knee strikes, then on the floor for push-ups (including explosive push-ups)

 

5). Power training 2: (Good song – “No Problem”)

First impression: Love this Drum & Bass track!

Running, striking combinations, more running, jump squats in ascending sets

Nooo don’t take away the pause in between jump squats! My legs are done. I’m out.

 

6). Combat 3: (Okay song, but not my favorite – “The Day is my Enemy”)

First impression: This is the capoeira track wanting to be capoeira, but not quite committing to it.

Typical combination of lunges and kicks; atypical pivoting, robot-like pseudo-capoeira move; knee strikes

 

7). Muay Thai: (Decent song – “Party Monster”)

First impression: Muay Thai!

Punching combinations, ascending and descending elbow strikes, knee strikes variations, 4 levels of running man

Flying knee strikes!

 

8). Power training 3: (DISLIKE the first of the two songs – “Heart Bleeds Re-Con & Demand”)

First impression:  They’re trying to kill me with this music. The music is the real test here.

Running, striking combinations, scissors, striking combinations, jacks, running, striking on crack

 

9). Conditioning: (Okay song – “Black and Blue”)

First impression: The kind of ab track that works your neck as well as your abs.

No push-ups, since we did them in track 4… a series of “C” crunches and modified bicycle crunches (“cross-crawls”)

 

10). Cool-down (Whatever. I’m done.)

 

 

In summary, I like release 65. We had another class last night, and after a few more, the parts that feel strange won’t feel strange anymore. That’s what new releases are for!

Body Combat was cancelled on Wednesday. Here’s what I learned.

My passion is martial arts and combat sports. It’s the only reason I go to the gym, as I found out on Wednesday after work when we got there and discovered that Body Combat had been cancelled (due to a misfortune that befell our instructor. Thank goodness she’s okay! That’s the only important thing, of course).

There were other choices. Another group fitness class was scheduled to start within the hour, and another class after that… not to mention the tiny detail of the gym, itself, full of weights, weight machines and cardio equipment.

Callaghan works out with weights two or three times a week on the regular, so he was game to stay for some lifting. On the other hand, he had design work to do at home, so he was also fine with heading out to get an early start on that.

On my part, all I could think was, which combat sports gyms have sessions scheduled for now, and what are their walk-in rates?

Presented with the conundrum without warning, I was surprised to find that I had ZERO interest in doing anything at the actual gym, even though I’ve been going around saying I’d like to find time to lift weights. It’s not like I don’t enjoy lifting weights, either. I do… or, I did. In the past, I’d spent years dedicated to strength-training. But I’m not doing it now, and I couldn’t see how the benefit of doing it one, random time could outweigh the benefit of getting home to my furbabies, a bowl of popcorn mixed with salty pumpkin seeds, and the latest episode of The Whispers, as mediocre a series as we’re finding it to be.

I wasn’t keen on doing straight-up cardio, either. Without being committed to a regular-gym regimen, even the idea of spending 30 minutes or an hour on a piece of cardio equipment bored me. I knew I’d be bored, too, because that was the situation before we discovered Body Combat… I’d go to the gym with Callaghan and force myself to walk on the treadmill, my mind lagging miles behind and scattered in all directions like a fragmented weight tied to my legs with many lengths of rope.

What I’m getting at here is the crux of the issue: Goals, and, driving that, Passion. I used to be passionate about strength-training at the gym, and working out on cardio machines had been a part of that picture, so I enjoyed it. There was a time in my life that I lived for all of that.

Anything I do at home is ancillary to martial/fighting arts. Push-ups (which I did do when we got home on Wednesday night), pull-ups, stretch kicks, ab-work, shadow-boxing, bag-work, even working with the dumbbells that we have – in my mind, it’s all a part of the same thing, which is not weight-lifting, even if the dumbbell part technically is.

 

This pull-up bar in the door-frame of my home office is a great way to keep from getting bored while I'm walking down the hall, haha!

This pull-up bar in the door-frame of my home office is a great way to keep from getting bored while I’m walking down the hall, haha!

 

Having a goal is a driving force, and passion works as the fuel that gets you there. You could have passion without goals, and, I suppose, goals without passion, but more often than not, they go together.

For me, getting in shape again (after years of sitting on my butt) was a by-product of indulging my passion for martial arts and combat sports. My sense of purpose in Body Combat is about making sure my muscles remember everything, and maintaining the shape I’m in isn’t a vanity-driven objective… it’s a stay-in-fighting-condition one. Likewise, when I walk to work, my purpose is to get to my job, not to “work out,” even though that mile and a half brisk walk does constitute a workout.

It’s how you look at it. Fitness is a mental game.

What I realized on Wednesday night is that these days, I don’t go to the gym to “work out.” Maybe I will again in the future, but for now, I’m going for the joy of doing what I love. This is what I’d suggest to anyone wondering how to go from sedentary to active when the thought of working out leaves you cold: Find a physical activity you love, or at least enjoy. Bowling, dancing, hiking, tennis, swimming, whatever it may be… go for it, and suddenly, that is what you’re doing to be good to your body. Rather than “working out,” you’re engaging in something you love. Psych yourself out. Improved fitness levels will be the icing on the guilt-free cake.

BodyCombatversary!

It’s the last weekend of March. You know what we did last year on the last weekend of March? We went to our first Body Combat class! This is momentous, guys. On March 29, 2014, I finally got off my ass and ended the longest period of inactivity in my adult life. Planners and agendas are useful like that… you can look back and note such things. I love celebrating -versaries of all kinds. There has to be one for everything! Happy BodyCombatversary to Callaghan and me!

The idea of getting established in a workout routine was hard, but it hurt my brain more than my out-of-shape muscles. I’d been sedentary for so long, and out of training for even longer. We’d actually signed up at our gym a few months earlier, but I hardly went because zero motivation. Callaghan had way more determination than I to get to the gym. When I did manage to drag myself there to half-heartedly walk on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes, all I felt was this weird mixture of boredom and accomplishment and more boredom. Like, YAY, I went to the gym, go me! OH NO… I just spent 20 minutes of my life on a piece of cardio equipment. I could have been doing laundry. The struggle was real, folks, as they say. It’s HARD to get back into habitual exercise once you’ve fallen out of it for any length of time!

Then I decided to check out the group fitness class offerings, and everything changed.

According to my 2014 agenda:

–Tuesday, March 18, 2014: I went to a Body Pump class, just to try it. I didn’t hate it, but I never went back. I think I’m too lazy to do Body Pump. The very idea of making numerous trips to the equipment corner and hauling things over to the floor and then having to quickly change the configuration of the weights in between sets and then hauling all the stuff back to the corner at the end makes me feel annoyed (and bored)! Conclusion: I’m not badass enough to do Body Pump.

(Side-note 1: You know who’s really badass? THE PEOPLE WHO DO BODY PUMP IMMEDIATELY AFTER BODY COMBAT. I marvel at all you guys who do the classes back-to-back! When I’m done with Combat, I’m done. I got nothing left.)

(Side-note 2: I really should start some kind of strength-training routine, though. Shadow-boxing with dumbbells in my garage for five minutes once a week ain’t cutting it.)

–Wednesday, March 26, 2014: I tried a boot camp class. It was super hard. I loved it. Conclusion: Yes!

–Saturday, March 29, 2014: I tried Body Combat. The word “combat” on the schedule caught my eye, and my interest perked up immediately. I hadn’t thrown a punch in almost seven years. Okay, I thought. Let’s try this! So I went, and that was it. I was hooked. Body Combat is simple: I go in and follow the instructor’s commands until we’re done, and that’s it. No fuss, no muss, no equipment! You’re in and out and home before you know it, dripping sweat and feeling accomplished.

Overall conclusion: I made a standing date with the gym for Monday evenings and Saturday mornings (Body Combat), and Wednesday evenings (Boot Camp).

There was no reluctance from that point on; I surprised myself with my 180 turn-around. I’d been against the idea of group fitness classes before I even saw the schedule, because even though I really wanted to work out, in my advanced state of workout apathy and gym-self-motivating-brain-cells-atrophy, the notion of committing myself to a workout “schedule” seemed about as appealing as escaping from jail by digging a tunnel with a teaspoon. Sunken deep in my routine of sitting on my ass, I was perversely comfortable in my little prison cell of inactivity.

Of course, doing Body Combat brought back the old obsession with actual training (the sweet science addiction never really goes away once it bites you), and this led to the equipment in our garage. We went out there to play a little late last night. Callaghan took pictures.

Excuse the demon eyes. It was late and we had to use the flash in the dimly-lit garage... plus, these pics were taken with my phone, as usual. I still haven't replaced my camera since my last one died.

Excuse the demon eyes. It was late and we had to use the flash in the dimly-lit garage… plus, these pics were taken with my phone, as usual. I still haven’t replaced my camera since my last one died.

Elbows on the WaveMaster

Elbows on the WaveMaster

Jumping rope

Jumping rope

Elbows on the ground

Elbows on the ground

 WaveMaster, bare fists

WaveMaster, bare fists

Now, we do three Body Combat classes per week and no Boot Camp, because the Wednesday night Boot Camp went away and was replaced by the third Body Combat.  I’m not complaining about the extra Body Combat, though I do miss the Boot Camp! In a perfect world, I’d be able to get away from work one morning a week just long enough to do Suzy’s Core, Cardio & More class (Wednesdays), or Geeny’s H.I.I.T. class (Thursdays). If I’m ever off work on either of those days, that’s where I go! Huge shout-out to those ladies, and to our phenomenal regular Combat instructors and friends Izzy, Rebecca and Amelia, and also to our sometimes-instructors Jessica and Diane!

That’s the best part… in the last year, I’ve gained much more than a higher level of fitness with increased energy, strength and balance. I’ve gained new friendships with other class participants and the instructors, themselves.  I’ve also gained something concrete to look forward to, three times a week (looking forward to stuff is so important if you have clinical depression, by the way). Each time we leave the gym, I can’t wait for the next time, and that is awesome.

Happy Friday, Everyone! =)

1:30AM Post. File under “I’m Even a Bigger Dork than I’d Thought.”

Hi. You must be here because you wish to read about last week’s Fiasco of the Week, because you know there was one.

This one involved a stench hovering like a putrid cloud near the corner of our bedroom, near my side of the bed. I noticed it as I was falling asleep one night early in the week. It was a distinctively organic smell, so I just assumed that either Ronnie James or Nounours had had an accident or sprayed, neither of which they’d ever done (since we’ve had them, anyway), but it wouldn’t have been surprising; their demeanors had been somewhat off-kilter due to recent, albeit temporary, changes in their routine. You know how cats are about their routines.

We sniffed all around the corner of the bed, trying to identify the odor’s exact location and source – up near my pillow, where it seemed to be the strongest. We stripped the bed of its sheets, mattress cover, pillow cases, bedspread… and threw the whole shebang in the wash. We cleaned the bed’s headboard and side planks. We pulled the bed away from the wall and sprayed pet odor neutralizing carpet cleaner on the carpet, though there was no stain to be seen. Just to be sure, we scrubbed the pristine brick wall behind the bed with soap and warm water, and then went over it again with a “green” all-purpose cleaner.

The smell didn’t go away. In fact, over the next few days, it worsened.

We weren’t angry with Nounours and The Wrah-Wrah, because we understand How Kitties Are. But by Wednesday evening, I became convinced that the kitties weren’t the culprits, after all. The odor seemed to be coming from something that had died. It had that sweet/sharp cloying dead smell. We performed another exhaustive search and found nothing.

On Thursday night, I stood near the bed, utterly perplexed. We’d done absolutely everything, but the odor was stronger than ever! I couldn’t bear the idea of sleeping with my nose in the ghastly fumes another night. There was only one thing left to do. It was drastic, but it had to be done. Obviously, the odor was either coming from the carpet or the wall, and it was being very stubborn. I would have to outsmart it. I would have to move the bed to the opposite wall.

Moving the bed entailed the rearrangement of pretty much all the furniture in the room, which I did by myself, because Callaghan and Chantal had gone out to Rawhide and elsewhere.

Honestly, though, I enjoyed the chance to get more exercise into my day. Because our queen-size bed is a sleigh bed, it’s heavy and ungainly, and I had to get all the other furniture out of the way before I could re-position it. I moved out the chest of drawers, the two night-tables, the long under-the-window table (aka the kitty window seat), my desk and chair, the corner shelving thing (no idea what it’s called), the vanity-less vanity stool (the vanity itself is outside on the balcony, having been re-purposed as a table for plants) and the clothes hamper. I shoved it all into the hallway, the bathroom, Callaghan’s studio and the main room, along with the objects that had been on the floor and on the furniture surfaces. Then I worked on moving the bed, which had to be turned around 180 degrees. I did some dragging and pulling, but I mostly sat on the floor, planted my feet on the bed and used it as a leg press. Great work-out! Once the bed was situated in its new spot, I could move all the furniture and stuff back in.

In the end, I’d basically flipped the room around, putting the bed and one of the night-tables against the wall opposite from where they used to be, and the chest of drawers, my desk and chair, the other night-table (there’s no room for a table on both sides of the bed now that the bed is against the wall with the door) and the vanity stool on the long wall where the bed had been. I returned the long, low table to its spot under the window, so the kitties could keep their window seat… it’s a tight squeeze getting around that side of the bed, but it works. I folded the corner shelving thing, leaning it up against the wall, since there’s no longer an available corner for it.

I stood back in the doorway to examine the new configuration, and I liked it. The room still looked good, and the mysterious awful odor would no longer be next to my head at night. Plus, I’d gotten an amazing impromptu work-out while I was at it. I’d worked quickly for a full hour, taking no breaks, pushing, pulling and carrying furniture, removing the heavy drawers from the dresser and hauling them out and back in, holding each one high up in front of me to get around stuff piled up in the hallway. I’d maneuvered the cumbersome queen-size sleigh bed around to the opposite wall, and moved everything else back in. I’d vacuumed along the way, working up a sweat and getting my heart-rate up (great cardio-respiratory work-out in addition to strength-training)!

I must admit, it was gratifying to discover the extent of the progress I’d made in regaining my strength and endurance since dedicating myself at the gym in Body Combat and Boot Camp classes (and the occasional hour on the treadmill) over the last few months. I was happy to feel more like my old self again while making strenuous physical effort. My fitness levels are getting back up to where they were before I moved to France – check! The bed was no longer against the wall with the horrid odor – check!

I felt quite satisfied and pleased with myself.

I went into the kitchen to wash my hands before going around the apartment to collect the random objects that belonged in the bedroom, and… the dead smell was in the kitchen. It hadn’t been there before.

It hit me the second I got there. I stood still and inhaled the offensive odor as my disbelieving eyes followed it to the counter by the sink. The flowers that Callaghan had given me 10 days ago were sitting there where I’d placed them before moving the bedroom furniture.

The dead flowers. The flowers that I’d set on my night-table back when they were fresh… the night-table next to my side of the bed. The flowers had expired, and they reeked. I cautiously bent my head to smell them. The dead flesh odor was unmistakable. There was no doubt about it. I’d found the source.

I couldn’t believe it. All along, the offending odor had come from a vase of dead flowers!

All I had to do was remove the flowers.

But I do like the new room arrangement, and so does Callaghan (who is still laughing at me for this, by the way). I’m enjoying my new office corner even more than my previous one, as well.

 

My new office corner in the bedroom!

My new office corner in the bedroom!

 

 

And I got in a great work-out.

And the room is more in keeping with good feng shui principles now that our feet aren’t facing the open doorway while we’re lying in bed.

And in the end, I did manage to get rid of the odor.

And I learned to be more mindful of flowers that have died and require disposal!

 

I put the noxious flowers out on the balcony so I could present my discovery to Callaghan when he got home. As Johnny Ringo (Tombstone) would remark in perfectly bad taste, "Smells like someone died."

I put the noxious flowers out on the balcony so I could present my discovery to Callaghan when he got home. As Johnny Ringo (Tombstone) would remark in perfectly bad taste, “Smells like someone died.”

 

They were lovely when they were alive, though.