Time to get pumped and see all that UoA hasn’t torn down yet – for the next few weeks, Sweat Drops is going to be exploring the fitness classes and quirky characters at the campus’s rec centre!
With the second half of the semester upon us, I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one whose New Year’s resolutions have gone out the window. January’s sunny days were great for getting in some outdoor cardio, February’s free time meant that I cooked healthy meals (nearly) every day, and I even managed to keep up a decent sleep schedule when UoA started back in March. Unfortunately, spending the study break lounging on the couch scrolling TikTok and only moving to refill my snack pile of leftover Easter chocolate means that my good habits have gone out the window.
In an attempt to remedy this (and not be the most out-of-shape person on the UoA cheerleading team by such a large margin), I’ve decided to try every group fitness class on offer at the UoA Recreation Centre – and hopefully find one that’s fun, challenging, and won’t make me puke in the Albert Park fountain like that one time I tried CrossFit in first year.
First up on the agenda is BarreFit. I’ve chosen an easy one to start with – I attended this class sporadically when the rec centre wasn’t quite so far away. There’s nothing to put you off doing exercise quite like the prospect of having to walk up a steep hill back to campus afterwards, which is probably why this class only has half a dozen people in it rather than the 20-odd that there used to be. This class location was also quite hard to find for a first-time attendee. While the main gym area and group fitness studio is on the ground floor of the new Stanley Street location, the “Mind Body Studio” is upstairs (I couldn’t find the stairs, so took the lift) and through a foyer that is shared with an office.
My previous experience with BarreFit was with Lisa, a firecracker of an instructor who was equally at home on a weight training bench or a ballet studio. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed to see that it was a different instructor, but Sophia turned out to be just as great (even if the class was structured totally differently to what I was expecting).
Though BarreFit is done (mostly) at a ballet barre and utilises some ballet-based movements, previous experience is 100% not necessary. The instructor explained everything in plain language, demonstrated movements, and provided modifications to make the exercises easier or harder. The class was set to music, but unlike Lisa’s class, where each track had a set routine to be done to the beat, Sophia’s was more free-flow, allowing everyone to go at their own pace (translation: I could slow down to half the pace of everyone else and take twice as many drink breaks without being made to feel out-of-place).
The first half of the class focussed on leg exercises at the barre, while the second half was Pilates-style arms and core on the floor. I kept up with the leg section alright (even though I retired before most UoA students started high school, I spent my adolescence as a rhythmic gymnast and a lot of the movements were in my muscle memory). Unfortunately, two shoulder surgeries and five years of avoiding upper body conditioning – like intoxicated me avoids good decisions – means that I have arms like cooked Indomie noodles. Suffice to say, I could not do the push-ups (though I managed a few on my knees) and the side planks were a highly unpleasant experience. Thankfully, the mix of experience levels in the class meant that I wasn’t the only one taking breaks every ten seconds. Sophia was very kind about it.
The class ended with a few minutes of stretching, which is always my favourite part – my awful posture means that any excuse to stretch is always welcome.
Discovery of the week: The rec centre disinfectant we used on the mats after class smells exactly like my favourite raspberry gummy lollies. Making me crave sweets after exercising was a little counterproductive re: the whole “healthy habits” goal, but it was certainly a whole lot better than the usual “Hospital Bathroom” scent.
Fun: 7/10. The music was energising without trying to be Bar101 at 2am on a Saturday, the atmosphere was friendly, and I got a decent dose of endorphins from it.
Challenge: 5/10. Not too cardio-heavy or fast paced, but I could definitely feel it in my quads the next day.
Would I go again? Definitely.