For years I’ve exercised by myself. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely phenomenal. I don’t have to worry about attending to somebody else or worry about being judged by that same person. Wouldn’t it be so awkward if you’re in a position that’s moving your underwear all around underneath your leggings and you can’t exactly reach down to fix it because you know that your friend or partner is right next to you and is bound to see you toy around with your panties? You know what I mean. A little too TMI? Okay, movin’ on.
But truth be told, I rarely ever attended group workouts or classes. I did grow up attending my mother’s kickboxing classes when trying to lose weight in middle school and I did attend a few POP Pilates classes, but overall I just never bothered to sign up for them–definitely not because I don’t like them or anything or I don’t get in as good of a workout! The main reasons I never actively participated in group class workouts are because they usually cost a lot of money (even for one class, let alone a membership of that same program), and I was held back by my ever-so-strong skepticism of how good of a workout I’d receive from them. I always thought: I am my best trainer. I’m too strong for these workouts that always cater towards beginners of fitness!
Oh, ho, hooooooooooo….I was in for a big awakening after each of these workouts. Every individual group class I took impacted me physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically in its own unique way.
I’ve been following Sophie Gray for about one or two years since I’ve opened my Instagram account, and I’ve continued to support her as her platform blossomed into the success she holds today! I just fell in love with Sophie’s positivity and frequent posts of before and afters, inspirational quotes, mini workout videos, food photography and empowering messages for young women to take action to value themselves. When I found out that she was hosting a small group workout with the LIVESTRONG community in Santa Monica, I knew I had to reserve a spot! While I did sneak in a morning workout before I attended this class (which I arrived early for too!), I did not anticipate the thrill of vigor and energy I ended up experiencing upon the start of the class!
The workout was divided in three sections: warm-up, main exercises and cool-down, all of which were divided in twenty 30-second intervals of completing a certain move. Most of the time, the moves we attempted were not easy! We’re talking burpees, squat jumps, mountain climbers, push-ups, ab flutter kicks; basically think of any move that you could ever possibly hate, and we probably did it. Now that may sound easy, but as the intervals added up more and more, my stamina totally went in the opposite direction! By the end of the workout, I was thrilled to let the sweat evaporate from my body as we all gathered to take pictures with Sophie, try some deliciously fresh-pressed juices and make our own granola trail mixes!
What I really did not anticipate was my new friendship with Clara! We instantly clicked upon setting our mats in the front and chatted about how we discovered Sophie Gray, where we found our love for exercising and so much more. Plus, we had a blast motivating each other during each rep and sting of pain during the intervals and relievedly recuperating afterwards!
However, the main takeaway is way more significant than just a booty-kicking workout and a newfound friend. It’s the importance of opening yourself up. I’m going to be the first to say that I knew NO ONE coming into the class. Most came as a pair of friends, sisters and there was even one couple! But not me, not for this single lady. Looking back, it was actually better for me to come by myself because I was forced to open myself up to making new friends. It would have been so unhealthy for me to socially isolate myself as I’d attempt to have a good time, and it was so rewarding to have fulfilled my inner void of connection this way. I learned that by opening myself up to strangers and the unexpected, I would appreciate life so much more.
Now it would be a MAJOR shocker if you don’t know who Kayla Itsines is. So many sources have crowned her as the queen of all the fitness communities on social media with her flourishing platform and ever-growing fan base. Starting as a gym instructor teaching a cookie-cutter exercise regimen in a small Australian town, Kayla experimented with different moves and techniques that eventually morphed into her bikini body guides (BBG) that got her clients into serious shape, transforming not only their bodies but also their confidence in themselves. and their capacities. While I found Kayla way after I dove into the deeps of the health and fitness world, I enjoyed her bikini body guides so much and felt so energized from the strength and endurance I gained after every workout along with the positivity she executed through her Instagram. Once I discovered that Kayla was coming to Pasadena to host a BBG workout, I got a ticket to the event seconds after I saw the post. I felt so fortunate because tickets sold out in less than an hour!
The actual experience was much different than that of the WayofGray workout. I had to wait in an extremely long line in the sweltering heat despite arriving half an hour early. I was far away from my instructor rather than up close, hence the workout seemed less intimate. I didn’t really make any close connections minus some small talk with fellow BBG girls. I broke a serious sweat and seriously questioned if I should’ve exercised that morning! I had to wait forty five minutes just to take a horribly lit photo with Kayla and spend about thirty seconds pouring out how much she impacted my journey. But regardless, I wouldn’t have traded this day for anything.
Thanks to Kayla’s workout, I learned that group classes still require intrinsic motivation. Earlier in this post, I did say that communal motivation is important, but just because you have one voice pushing you doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to bring you towards your goals. You are your ultimate vehicle that is stopping you from accomplishing what you want. I didn’t give a care about what my fellow BBG girls were doing beside me and got in one of the best workouts of my life. I exceeded my own expectations by pushing myself past Kayla’s guidelines and knocked myself out in the process. Regardless of leaving the exercise class without another phone number, I felt so energized and accomplished. I didn’t need a new connection. I got in a fantastic workout and met one of my biggest inspirations. Plus, leaving with a free towel and foam roller was an added bonus!
This was actually my third encounter with Cassey Ho, third POP Pilates class and fourth IDEA World Fitness Convention, and all three of these experiences were utterly wonderful. Despite having to walk to a different building and exposing my face towards the scorching hot weather, it was absolutely worth the trip.
I felt so invigorated when I saw the fellow POPsters in their bright attire, holding their yoga mats and expressing such excitement–almost as much as mine–all while stepping into the disco-lit room. My heart stopped once I saw the beautiful, bright and bubbly Cassey step on stage as she began to lead the Pilates workout!
Meeting Cassey started off on a really flat note, unfortunately. One of the workers at the convention gave me the wrong directions to her meet-and-greet station, which led me to make TWO rushed trips in and out of the Marriott hotel (where the workout took place) and then to the L.A. Convention Center building (where the actual IDEA event was). And when I did come, I was only further disappointed to see that the line to meet Cassey extended almost to the end of the entire building! Because I also had a mini high school reunion lunch at Little Tokyo, I thought that I’d have to abandon the plan to snap a photo with Cassey for a third time, which was seriously devastating. However, I took a few seconds to physically recuperate because I was a sweaty mess, and got the courage to ask the girl at the front of the line if I could take the photo before her because I had to leave, with the offer for her to say no. I was so shocked to hear that this girl was so kind and gracious to let me do so! I thanked this girl probably three thousand times and Cassey and I ended up taking the most adorable photos together!
For the recap, since I’ve been following her videos for pretty much four years and counting, it was a bit too easy for me to consider it a really killer exercise session; it makes sense because Cassey’s following has boomed in the past year or two, hence she does have a lot of new beginner fans who can start off with these easier exercises and then move into her older videos that are more advanced. But I still had a blast. I was so delighted to have encountered such a generous and considerate POPster who understood my stress. Sharing a smile and laugh with Cassey, one of my most important role models to this day, was also such a beautiful exchange.
The overall experience brought me so much enlightenment on how important it is to 1) speak up and not be afraid but be prepared for rejection, and 2) to be grateful of what you’re given. I could’ve complained about the weather, the girl who gave me the wrong directions and the stress I endured that day, but all I thought was, “Man, I’m so lucky to have met my role model and to have been reminded that this community is so positive.”
Unlike the previous three exercise classes, I did not know the trainer who would be leading the class. However, I knew quite a few people who attended the class because they are my coworkers! I didn’t have a shift this day, but I knew I had to come for this amazing workout that came with some beauty and pre-workout workshops as well as an epic giveaway of free swag! I did try my first pre-workout drink from Arbonne, and I actually loved its fruity and delicious taste! Plus, it was completely vegan, banned substance free, gluten free and kosher! I don’t normally take pre-workouts, but because I loved this drink so much, I just might convert myself into a fan someday!
I’ll be the first to say that I did underestimate what I was setting myself up for when attending this workout. Because I did not know of the lovely Melanie Becker prior to this workout, I wasn’t entirely sure how her programs work. Upon arriving to the store, I met her and discovered that she is a health coach, personal trainer, Athleta ambassador and Arbonne consultant! I fell in love with Melanie’s perkiness and welcoming personality, UNTIL the training actually began. It’s because of one reason: she TOTALLY kicked my butt!
The workout was divided into two rounds consisting of HIIT intervals with different moves ranging from kettlebell squats, plank jacks, burpees to box jumps. I was so shocked to hear from Melanie that I killed the workout because every single move exhausted me more and more–and I started off with box jumps, which aka are my worst enemies besides burpees, haha! However, being around girls who are also on the same path towards getting fitter and healthier was so motivating, and simply being present in a location and environment that I knew well brought more comfort and drove me even further throughout the suffering in the exercises because I wanted to prove to myself and to my coworkers that I am talented in something besides work.
As a whole, this has to be one of my favorite group workouts I’ve ever experienced! I got to see my coworkers as friends rather than professionals, I was introduced to an amazing brand and trainer, and I developed a sense of strength I’ve been searching for the longest time! This whole event gave me the understanding that by valuing what’s around me, I can use anything to my personal advantage. In this case, it was the positivity and familiarity surrounding me. Those two elements proved that I can be strong and energetic in anything I pursue.
Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this post that recaps all of my group workouts as of now and what I’ve taken away from each of them! I cannot thank these women enough for hosting such phenomenal events, uniting a lovely community and sharing such beautiful and happy energy! You bet that I will be attending more group workout classes and will be challenging myself in so many other ways, and I cannot wait to share them with you.
Do you love group workouts? What are your favorite ways to move with others?