Losing weight is no walk in the park. But, in my case, it was literally a sweat-soaked uphill battle in one – twice a week and often in the pouring rain or sweltering, 40-degree heat. I just wrapped up a bi-weekly program with Femme Fitale, a hard-core workout inspired by mixed martial arts (MMA). But since it’s designed by the energetic, body-shredding, butt-sculpting top trainer who devised Booty Camp Fitness, Sammie Kennedy, it’s not without some of the usual hallmarks of fast fitness workouts. There were squats, lunges and burpees (the latter elicited the most tantrums and eye rolls from myself and my fellow participants).
The program runs a full eight weeks, and you learn boxing combos each week that layer on those learned in weeks past. The warm-up is tough; there’s no five-minute jog here. It consists of several intervals of skipping interspersed with compound moves, such as lunges, squats and pushups, and that madness lasts a full 20 minutes. For some people, that’s an entire workout in itself! I’m telling you, they don’t mess around here. As our cardio endurance improved throughout the course of the program, the warm-ups intensified: squat jumping up and down a hill six or seven times, running backward, hopping on one foot while throwing punches (I cannot describe how badly this sends rapid-fire pain from head to toe). And then there was my personal favourite, holding plank while hopping our feet to alternating sides.
Once you’re warmed up (read: drenched), you partner up with one of your classmates and start to “fight.” This is when the fun begins. You rotate through a variety of combos that include jabs, crosses, hooks and – my favourite – elbow flurries! Kicks are also added to the combos, which does a number on your abs and your obliques (side abdominal muscles). Then, just when you think the cardio is winding down, your instructor throws some sort of heart-rate-hiking sequence your way. “This burns a crazy amount of calories, because you’re forcing your body to change up between the combos and cardio,” says my instructor, Catherine Villar, whose supermodel-like body and incredibly upbeat ‘tude kept me motivated throughout.
And, if you think you’re getting a break when you’re fielding punches from your partner, you’re not. Holding the pad and providing resistance can be excruciatingly painful and intense. Most of the time, my arms felt like they were on fire. The only time you get to sneak a break is during a brief water sip – and I do mean brief. If you drink too much, you risk feeling like you might projectile vomit on your partner. (And no, that is not an exaggeration.)
The toughest part of the workout is the bear crawls (as seen in the photo above). Your partner provides resistance as you stay low to the ground crawling as fast as you can. It’s downright excruciating. We also tried another version of this move while standing, which I actually found even more torturous. It felt like running from a shark in the shallow end of a pool. (What? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s ever thought of that.)
During the toughest moments, when I felt like I wanted to bellyflop, I’d conjure up how great I’d feel wearing the J.Crew Sailboat Bandeau Tank (which has since sold out) on my honeymoon. I’d envision walking along the beach in Saint Lucia without a towel draped around my hips. I’d think how amazing I’d feel being lighter and tighter on my wedding day and remind myself that I won’t have to worry about Photoshopping 11 chins out of my wedding photos. Also, the support of my instructor and the other women in the class was palpable; there was never a shortage of encouraging chants that propelled me further, even when my energy seemed depleted.
At the last class, I compared my current measurements and weight to the numbers I started with. I had blasted 10.5 pounds and 13.5 inches into the land of where lard evaporates. And I went home and ordered that J.Crew suit immediately.
To register for Femme Fitale, check out the locations on their website. And, while this was a huge help in my weight loss journey, the other (major) component was diet. Check back for my blog post about that next week.
Workout photos courtesy of Femme Fitale; swimsuit photo courtesy of J.Crew.com.