I know it’s Monday, and I should be doing a report on my monthly goals… but let’s save that for tomorrow. (Spoiler alert: didn’t hit 100k steps this week. This last week of March I need to get after it!)
Mondays are always tough for me since I get up by 3:30am to commute to work. While I’m usually a morning exerciser, there’s no way I’m setting my alarm any earlier than I have to with that kind of wakeup call! Instead, I usually work my butt off in the car to the airport and on the plane so that I can feel okay about leaving the office early to dash over to a 7pm gym class.
Tonight after work found me headed to one of my favorite studios: Beyond Pilates. The location up at Preston/Forrest, which is only about 20 minutes from my office, has a class called “Reform and Run” on Monday nights. As the name implies, half the class is spent on the treadmills, while the other half is spent on a Pilates reformer. Those are pretty much my two favorite types of workouts, so I love it!
Although I’m now loving Beyond Preston Hollow, Beyond is actually a chain of studios that has a couple different locations throughout Dallas. The location that I tried first, at Knox/Henderson, teaches just one type of class that they call “Beyond 500.” It’s called that because supposedly it’s the hardest of all of Beyond’s classes, and will get you to burn 500 calories in one workout.
500 calories sounds great, but I have never liked classes that claim a certain calorie burn. Everyone’s body is different, and there’s no way for an instructor to know how hard I’m working, what my weight is, what my body fat/muscle ratio is, what my resting heart rate is, and all the other factors that go into how many calories you burn in a workout. So when I first tried Beyond 500, I liked it a lot and thought it was a great workout, but I didn’t really think I burned 500 calories in one class. Now, thanks to my Fitbit, I actually know how many calories I burn in a workout.
Last week, I took a Beyond 500 class on Monday night, and my Fitbit says that I burned 283 calories in 43 minutes (average heart rate: 119 bpm). Today, at Beyond Preston’s Reform and Run, Fitbit says I burned 359 calories in 42 minutes (average heart rate: 142 bpm). So how is it that I burned more calories in a class that’s supposed to be easier?
I think that it all comes down to the workout’s fit for you, and how hard you actually push yourself – regardless of what the instructor is telling you to do. I definitely like the Preston Hollow studio better than the Knox/Henderson studio, in part because I really prefer the Pilates reformer to the Pilates chair. Whenever I’m on the Pilates chair at Knox/Henderson, we seem to do so many more core exercises… and I suck at core exercises. So what usually happens is I take a lot of rest breaks during those intervals on the chair, and just don’t get a great workout.
Another big part of it is the instructor and the motivation they provide. The Monday night instructor at Preston Hollow, Amy, is phenomenal. I feel like she pushes me exactly the right amount to where I am dying after each interval, but then we move on to something completely different and I can work that muscle group to exhaustion. Amy does a great job mixing up the muscle groups we work, and also timing the workout perfectly so that you get a break just when you need it. That means I’m not just taking breaks on my own because I can’t make it through the planned set. (Just me that does that?)
Beyond Preston also seems to attract a slightly different crowd than Beyond Knox/Henderson. There are almost never any guys at Beyond Preston, and despite the fact that the class is half running, most of the students at Beyond Preston seem to hate running and view it as a necessary evil to stay thin. At Beyond Knox/Henderson, it’s about an equal ratio of girls and guys, and there seem to be so many amazing runners who just smoke me on the treadmill. Pretty sure this is where the age group winners in local running races go to train.
While it’s of course good to push yourself, I think there’s something to be said for the confidence boost you get from excelling at a workout. Today, when we were doing kettlebell swings at Beyond Preston, I was irrationally proud to see that everyone else in the class traded down to lower weight kettlebells partway through, but I was staying strong with the heaviest kettlebell. Plus, when it came time for one minute of straight pushups, we were supposed to do them on our knees but I was able to bump it up to full body pushups! (Today is day 88 and I am still holding strong with my pushups goal! I can do 40 unbroken full body pushups in a row, and I’m hoping to make that 50 by day 100.) I felt so strong and powerful after making those comparisons, and that made me push myself harder to keep my “lead.”
So maybe that’s really petty that I look at the screens of the treadmills next to me and compare kettlebell weights. But does it really matter that I’m making internal comparisons if they spur me to push harder and end my workout really proud of how well I did? I feel so accomplished when I leave Beyond Preston, and it really makes me feel great about my (very long) day.
So all this is just to say: it doesn’t take the hardest class to get a great work out. It takes the studio (and the instructor) that will build your confidence and be a good fit for you and your fitness goals.