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Gym Belle  - noun  one who enjoys pull-ups, push-ups, lifting things up/putting 'em down, PRs of all kinds, racing, jumping, spinning, daring and blogging re same (more here)


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Carry a Big Stick

I love my job and all, but sometimes it makes me want to hit people.  Or decapitate them.  Just a little.  I'm kidding.  Mostly.

Fortunately, the Equinox at 76th and Amsterdam has the perfect Saturday lineup for getting all that workweek angst out of my system:  Impact at 1pm and Forza at 2pm.  Both are taught by the incomparable Ilaria Montagnani.  The woman has multiple fan groups on Facebook, so it should come as no surprise that sign-ups are required.  The sheets go out at 12:30 and, last Saturday, Impact was full within minutes.

This past Saturday was actually my first time at the recently opened 76th and Amsterdam location.  The gym is stunning.  It's also full of beautiful people, which made the 30 minutes between sign up and class very pleasant.  (Apologies to the guy I was drooling over - I hope that kind of thing doesn't make you feel awkward.)

Saturday was also my first time doing Impact and Forza in about four years.  It was probably overkill to attempt both on the same day, but I just couldn't choose between the two. 

Impact is a kickboxing class that's taught on a bag.  There are two people per bag, one on each side.  You wear bag gloves (the smaller, softer kind that don't require wraps).  Boxing gloves are gross and sweaty by definition.  If you use the gym's, be sure to also grab a pair of latex gloves to wear underneath.  Ilaria's class is fast paced.  After a quick warm up, you do various combinations of jabs, cross punches and roundhouse kicks.  I was drenched in minutes and had a blast.  Class ended with 50 pushups.  My arms hated me.

If you've never kickboxed, this particular class probably isn't the best class to start with.  The class is packed with regulars, and it's geared to people who do this a lot.  There are lots of good instructors, but I really like Steve Feinberg's classes to learn technique.  He's tough, but he'll teach you. 

Forza is a samurai sword fighting class.  I started taking it when Ilaria first brought it to Equinox and it was new to everyone, but I didn't stick with it.  Now, there are regulars.  And some of these chicks (and some dudes) have their own swords.  Seriously.  I want my own sword!  I also want the ridiculously cute pink carrying case that this one woman had. 

The swords are wooden.  If you blister easily, like me, consider gloves.  (The woman with the pink sword case has matching pink gloves.) 

Class is structured like a lot of aerobic classes.  You go through some basic moves, practice those, and then learn various combinations.  The basic moves in Forza involve lifting the sword overhead and bringing it down in front of you.  When done correctly, which I cannot yet do, the sword stops on a dime at the bottom of a movement.  It looks so cool.  You will feel this in your shoulders.  It's Tuesday night and I'm still feeling it.

While this class is also fast paced, newbies should jump right in.  Unlike Impact where you're facing a bag and can't really watch what's going on around you, in Forza everyone faces the front of the room.  The front row should be comprised of the kickass regulars.  Stand behind them, and watch what they're doing, and you'll start to pick it up. 

My Saturday morning volunteer activities put me on the west side, so I'm planning on making Ilaria's doubleheader part of my fall routine.  Maybe I'll even get my own sword!  I'll keep you posted.

-Gym Belle-


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