For years, the lunch-hour workout has eluded me. If you think about it, an hour isn’t much time to get to the gym, change, fit in a good workout, shower, change again, grab something to bring back to your desk and make it back to the office. Something has to be sacrificed: a worthwhile workout, punctuality, or, um, a decent body odor. Still, I'm not one to admit defeat in the face of a workout challenge, so I embarked on a mission to find a viable lunch hour workout.
Running outside isn’t an option -- jogging in the summer heat leaves me looking like a tomato that got thrown through the sprinkler. So I checked out some local gym schedules and found that Crunch’s schedules several classes targeted towards lunch-time workouts. The Mile High Club immediately caught my eye -- yes, because of the amusing name, but also because it was a half-hour class. Factoring in just under 10 minutes to walk to the gym and change, and 30 minutes to take the class, I would be left with a reasonable 20 minutes to clean myself up and get back to the office. The 12:30 start time was early enough that I knew I wouldn’t be famished and would have plenty of energy for the class.
My lunch-hour workout endeavor was off to a promising start, but I still had two looming questions: One, would I be able to get in a decent workout in 30 minutes?; and two, with the Mile High Club a treadmill workout, would I, an anti-treadmill runner, find the class enjoyable?
Taking Off Treadmill-Style
I was greeted by my instructor, Marc Santa Maria, who explained that the Mile High Club was intended for everyone from power walkers to marathon runner, and that he'd help adjust each of our workouts to set and reach individual goals. The class was small, but the three other runners helped keep me motivated to push myself.
As soon as we hopped on the treadmills, Marc asked us to set our incline to 12 -- I guess they don’t call it the Mile High Club for nothing (I didn’t even know inclines went that high!). We started at a walking pace and went through some warm-ups, stretching out our legs with large strides and walking sidewalks to warm up the inner and outer leg muscles.
Then it was time to ramp it up. The first 15 minutes were filled with intervals: one-minute sprints with about 90 seconds recovery. We each took turns calling out the start of the upcoming sprint. After each interval, we slightly decreased the incline as we increased our speed.
Generally, I find it tedious to run on a treadmill without music, so I was thrilled that Crunch played a nice background of pop music during the class. Marc kept us engaged by asking us questions and giving us tips. After about 10 minutes, we took turns sharing our breakfast (thank goodness I had gone with a healthy yogurt-cereal combo that morning) -- not to out the croissant eaters, but to monitor our breathing through our ability to speak. Marc determined that we were not “breathy” enough and asked us to increase our speed. I liked this -- it kept me from slacking off or pushing myself too hard.
The second half of the workout allowed us to focus on our goals: time, distance or speed. Marc came around and asked us what we were going for and suggested variations accordingly. I was aiming for 30 minutes with a few sustained sprints at close to my max speed. The woman on the treadmill next to me challenged me to go faster and finish strong, which wouldn’t have happened if I was on the treadmill on my own.
Finally, we ended the class with a series of stretches.
The class definitely met my workout expectations: It was challenging, and thanks to a great instructor, even the normally monotonous treadmill was never boring. The half-hour flew by, and I was pretty sweaty at the end. And although I now know what to expect, I might push myself even harder next time since 30 minutes is condensed enough to give it your all.
I also really liked how interactive the class was -- we kept each other engaged and focused throughout the workout. While we all had different goals and fitness levels, the small class size allowed the instructor to tailor the workout to each of our individual needs, making it more personalized than most workouts.
Touch Down without Delay
But the real question is, did I make it back to work on time and in a presentable fashion? Yes, within a couple minutes. I probably could have left for the class a little later, as I arrived about five minutes early. I also forgot to factor stretching into the 30 minutes, so the class was closer to 35 minutes. But since the gym was only a couple minutes from my office, I still had time to put myself together and get back there within the lunch hour time frame. As long as I have a packed lunch waiting for me in the office fridge, the occasional midday workout is definitely achievable.
Melissa is a NYC resident and workout junkie. She keeps motivated to stay fit and active by trying out new workout classes, signing up for races, and keeping an eye out for a fun fitness challenge. She hopes to complete the New York City Marathon for the second time in 2011. Read more about her healthy adventures in New York City at her blog fitnessnyc.wordpress.com.