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Core Calisthenics: Not Your Grandma's Exercise

Austin Photo Set: News_Caroline Fabacher_grandma excercise_August 2011

As I began my second lap of a warm up jog at the Core Calisthenics class at Jack and Adam’s Bicycles, I found myself wondering, “Why am I here?” No, I wasn’t having an existential crisis in the middle of my run, but rather a reaction to the sudden realization that when the guy next to me said the pavement temperature was 114 degrees, he wasn’t exaggerating. Free or not, it’s really hard to get excited about an outdoor workout when it is well over 100 degrees and you’re running around in circles on hot asphalt.

I had specifically decided to try this class on a Monday evening, after a long day and an even longer (though significantly more fun) weekend, because it sounded easy. Maybe this statement reveals too much fitness-ignorance on my part, but when I saw “calisthenics” in the class title, my mind jumped to one of those public access shows where a senior citizen leads viewers through finger stretches and wrist flexing. At most I was expecting some walking lunges, high-knees, and footwork ladders. Boy, was I way off the mark. According to Wikipedia, calisthenics are a form of dynamic exercise consisting of a variety of simple…movements, generally using minimal equipment.” Well, now we all know.

Mark Saucedo, of The Zone Bootcamp in Round Rock, is a mountain of a man. The kind that can motivate you to stop sand-bagging it just by glancing your direction, completely stone-faced. He serves up the pain every Monday and Wednesday, in the parking lot of Jack and Adam’s Bicycles. I know this is obvious because it’s August in Texas, but it is hot as hades out there, making this class all the more challenging. Saucedo leads the group through 45 minutes of perfectly timed sets of exercises. For those anal-retentive exercisers out there, this methodical class is perfect.

After the warm-up, Saucedo started off the group with core work: 45 seconds of plank and 15 seconds of rest for 5 rounds. The next set of exercise alternated bicycle crunches, standard crunches, and ankle-touch crunches for several minutes that felt like eternity. About the time I was contemplating crying 'uncle,' or sneaking off to my car to sit in the air-conditioning, Saucedo switched us over, alternating between upper and lower body work for the remaining time. Squats, burpees, star-jumps, mountain-climbers, push ups and calf-raises, all ensured that every single muscle in our bodies was exhausted. Frequent laps around the parking lot kept our heart rates up throughout the hour.

If you are looking for an easy start to your week, this isn’t your class. If you're looking for a class where you will spend the majority of your time worrying about following a complex series of unfamiliar movements rather than actually sweating, then this isn't your class. If you’re looking for that show on PBS with the old lady, this isn't your class either.

You should know: Bring your own mat so you have something to do your ab-work on, but make sure it’s not your favorite yoga mat. Your shoes will track the parking lot filthiness all over the place, and even a good mat-scrubbing won’t be enough to re- inspire face-to-mat love. There is a water jug inside but no guarantee it will be full. You would do well to bring your own water bottle.

Class: Core/Calisthenics

Location: Jack and Adam’s Bicycles, 1210 Barton Springs Road

Time: Monday and Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

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