Although I am far from a marathon runner, cardio workouts have always been much easier for me than my biggest fitness challenge — strength training. While some women may strive for size-2 skinny jeans, I find myself envious of ladies who can effortlessly lift 25-pound weights. Continually on the lookout for a way to build muscle, I was intrigued when I first heard of EPIC Hybrid Training (AKA the “Monkey Bar gym”) through Living Social — where else? So I tried it, and true to name, it was EPIC. (Like, could-barely-stand-up-the-next-day epic.)
The Gist: The EPIC workout was specifically designed to prepare you for obstacle course events like the Spartan Race, no matter your fitness level. Each day of the week is devoted to a different workout and concentration, like your lower body or core. The workouts change every month, but the concentrations remain the same. The best part? One hour-long session burns 900 to 1,100 calories.
The Experience: I attended a “Spartan Inspired” Monday night class that revolved around obstacle training techniques and functional fitness. I was warned to not bring sneakers, but was still a little wary about working out sans shoes (hygiene anyone?). Nevertheless, the rest of the group seemed less than fazed, so off came my socks and sneakers.
As Alex Nicholas (my instructor and the owner of EPIC) ran through the day’s workout, I fought the urge to bolt out the door — particularly after his third mention of the word “burpee.” I perked up a bit, however, when he said we would also be swinging from ropes Tarzan-style and using monkey bars. Fun!
After our warm-up, we were each assigned a color that corresponded to our team. Over the course of the workout, you went with your team to four different stations, where you had 10 minutes to complete AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of four different obstacle-oriented exercises. After completing each round, you tried to shoot a ball into a bucket. If you made the shot, you earned a point for your team. If you missed, you had to complete 10 burpees before starting the exercises again. (Ugh.)
Sound confusing? Between trying to figure out how the system worked, and attempting to remember how to perform each exercise, I was more than a little lost. Luckily, my team helped me out, and after my first round I got the hang of it (kinda). Over the next 40 minutes I completed ball slams, plank to elbows, squats, rope kicks, bicycle crunches, and more burpees than I want to remember (really, who invented those?). The 10-burpee penalty certainly encouraged me to try really,really hard to get that ball into that little bucket.
When the workout was finally over, whichever team had the most points didn’t have to complete the penalty (burpees, what else?). Shockingly, I was NOT on the winning team — like I said, still trying to block out the burpees.
My Take: Although I wasn’t technically victorious, I was proud I made it through and could already feel my muscles aching. EPIC certainly pushed me further than most strength training classes, but I loved how the group dynamic (and workout itself) mimicked the obstacle course atmosphere. Plus, the playground props added some fun to a normally grueling routine. A full 24 hours after EPIC, I was still wincing in pain when I tried to change my clothes or even walk.
It’s three days after my EPIC Hybrid session and I am finally no longer sore.
Next up…Spartan Race?