Fitness Crawl Studio Spotlight: YMCA of Middle Tennessee

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If you've been following my little Fitness Crawl previews, you know I've been doing all kinds of crazy workouts in preparation for our event next week. When I saw that my next stop was the YMCA, I thought, "Hey, I know the Y!"

I mean, I've been a member of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee for over 10 years. I can tell you which room at the Green Hills Y has the best view of cute guys (duh, the downstairs weight room) and what yoga classes will whip you into shape the fastest (Rachel's Monday 11:30 a.m./Thursday 11 a.m. at Green Hills, Ed's Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Green Hills, and Payge's Tuesday 6:30 p.m. at the Downtown center). I can even tell you which scale in the ladies' locker room at Green Hills is most accurate (the one that looks like a doctor's office scale ... but the step-on scale next to it shaves a few lbs. off if you're having a bad day).

So yeah, I thought I knew the Y. But if you're learning anything from this fitness series, it's that thinking you know a lot about something is often the quickest route to being humbled.

What I didn't know is that the Y offers a bunch of rad classes like Barre and Pilates Reformer at selected locations, so I made a point to check out both of them so I could report back to you on what to expect next week.

I'd taken Barre classes before, and I have to admit that they are as humbling of an experience as an initial hot yoga session. If you're not familiar, a Barre class uses ballet-inspired exercises for precision toning. There's a reason that ballerinas look like that — when you do five million tiny leg lifts, you're going to tone up pretty quickly.

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I took a class with the most entertaining trainer I'd ever met, Amanda. Amanda broke her foot trail running, and I'd heard a rumor that she was being extra tough on students since she couldn't work out. So I was a little scared. Fortunately, she's the kind of tough that makes you want to do better, and she's really funny in that deadpan way, so you're laughing and forgetting that your arms are on fire.

Amanda's class started on the floor with core work involving light weighted balls and a "squishy ball" (I'm sure there's a technical term for this, but I don't know what it is). After several minutes of light abdominal torture, we moved to the barre. The class involves lots of lifts and squats, and you're constantly toning your abs and arms as they're always engaged. The hour flew by. I loved this class. Loved it.

Also, Amanda plays awesome music. This is important when you feel like gritting your teeth and chucking your weighted ball at the mirror.

I also got to take a Pilates Reformer class. (Side note: I just accidentally typed "Pilates Informer," which got the Snow song stuck in my head. And now it's probably stuck in your head. Sorry.)

I was also a bit intimidated, as the Pilates Reformer machines look like medieval torture instruments. I'm fairly certain this is what they tied Cary Elwes to in The Princess Bride, but I could be wrong:

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Anyway, the machine actually isn't scary, and the incredible instructor Christin walked me through every step. Even though I was the lone beginner in the class, I never felt like I was lagging behind or slowing everyone else down (also important). What I loved about this class was the relaxed nature — instead of total silence and grunting, there was light chatter, people talking about their weekends or quoting Talladega Nights.

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And the workout? Woah. Basically, you're doing a bunch of exercises that you could technically do on a mat, but the Reformer adds extra resistance, taking everything up a notch or five. In addition to feeling like I got an incredible toning workout, I felt completely stretched out after class.

These classes are open to Y members and non-members, and there is an extra charge, but it's waaaay cheaper than you'd pay at a studio.

If you want to try the Y during the Fitness Crawl, they are also offering a "Dance It Out" class at Maryland Farms on Monday, April 8 (class capacity is 150 and is first come, first served. Call 228-5525 for details) and a "Circuit Blast" class at the Green Hills Y on Wednesday, April 10 at 11:45 a.m. (class capacity is 50, call 297-6529 to reserve a spot).

The Fitness Crawl Pilates Reformer classes will be held at the Maryland Farms Y on Wednesday, April 10, at 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., and Barre will be at the same center at 4:30 and 5:30 (rumor has it that the 4:30 class already filled up, so get to it!). Classes are limited to 8 students per session, so you'll definitely want to reserve a spot in advance by calling 373-2900.

So, I'll meet you all at the Y next week, and we can weigh ourselves and look at cute boys and everything.

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