Group fitness classes buff up

If you happened to stroll through University Yard last week, you might have stumbled upon four athletic-looking guys jumping around on the grass, muscling their way through sets of push-ups and balancing on inflatable blue spheres. The demo might have looked like it belonged to the ROTC Navy, but then again, there is nothing quite like GW Extreme Training.

Extreme Training is a series of high-intensity workouts intended for students looking for something outside of group fitness classes, said Gina Ekmekjian, a graduate student involved with the program.

It is no coincidence that the classes are held in the fourth floor gym, far away from the peppy aerobic instructors and bouncy pop music. The Lerner Health and Wellness Center is attempting to attract not only athletes and motivated students, but that elusive species rarely found outside of the weight room – GW men.

Anyone who has attended a recent group fitness class will note that among the dozens downward-dogging on their yoga mats, there are few, if any guys. While extreme training doesn’t exist solely to change that fact, it does provide a change of pace to the typical spread of gym activities.

The classes are designed to kick both athletes and regular folk out of their workout rut, boot camp style. Run by GW’s certified personal trainers, a typical hour includes everything from circuit work to agility to strength training with medicine balls. There are three different classes: Explosive Conditioning, Extreme Core and BOSU Strength and Stretch, which utilizes those blue spheres to work on balance and strength.

“It’s an athletic approach to conditioning that has the advantage of face-to-face time with the personal trainers,” said Alex Parr, the graduate assistant heading the program.

The classes exist in two five-week blocks and are designed to increase in intensity. This minimizes midway drop-ins and allows for class consistency.

“A workout will begin with a dynamic warm-up,and then move on to plyometrics and agility work, with the trainers focusing on individual improvement,” Parr said.

But while the classes are targeted to be more difficult than group fitness, there is no reason the average gym-goer should be intimidated.

“I tell my friends that I get just as much a workout from laughing” said Ekmekjian, who describes the classes as “a lot of fun” even for those less athletically coordinated.

In addition, Extreme Training is also highly useful to a variety of sports, be it swimming, running, ultimate frisbee or martial arts. Because the classes are not skill specific and target general fitness with speed training and full-body strength, they are perfect for the casual or intramural athlete, Ekmekjian said. n

Interested students can check out the free classes held at the Health and Wellness Center this week on the fourth floor. The free classes run from Sept. 11 to 14, and after that students can sign up for $30 per session.

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