This week’s fitness class reviews: Yoga and Ab Attack

Every week, the Florida Gulf Coast University Fitness Center offers 14 diverse exercise classes in its group fitness room. The classes appeal to a variety of students with interests that range from self-defense to cycling.
Each week, I’ll participate in one or two group exercise classes and then report on my experiences. Below is a reflection of the time I have spent in two of the classes.
Yoga
Taught by three-year instructor and former cheerleader Emily Hawkins, yoga was very refreshing. Having done yoga in the past, I was pretty familiar with the poses, like most of the other students there. However, I’ve been out of serious practice for a few years. I was pleased to find that it started out pretty basic and was a nice re-introduction to the art.
There’s a large emphasis on technique and breathing, with a range of modified and advanced poses demonstrated for newbies and veterans alike, so no matter your skill level, you’re in good hands. The breathing is an often-neglected part of yoga, as a lot of practitioners worry more about their flexibility and strength than the centering, meditative purposes behind the poses.
That said, I still had a difficult time with some of the leg stretches, mostly because of my tight hip flexors, so that won’t be a problem for everyone. Just remember to keep your back straight and chest open. The second day, I made the mistake of doing a pull-up regimen just before the class, so the shoulder-intensive outing starting killing me after.
Verdict: Yoga is a great way to decompress after a busy schedule or to perk you up to start the day.
Ab Attack
OK, I do core work three times a week, including one day that’s devoted entirely to it, and I’m in the middle of training for a 10k race. That said, I underestimated this class big time. Three exercises in and my stomach was on fire. Another thing that took me by surprise was the fact that I was the only guy in the room.
“There’s some guys, sometimes, but normally all the girls come in,” said first-semester instructor Raphael Oladejo, who also teaches “Boot Camp.”
The weirdness/creepiness of me being there notwithstanding, it was actually kind of fun. There was some stuff like mountain climbers, which I knocked out with no problem, and exercises like single leg holds that made me think I’d rather just be stabbed. For sure it’s an effective workout, but maybe bring an extra towel to put under your tailbone.
Verdict: Get ready for some pretty intense core work. “Ab Attack” is an assault on your midsection. I’ve never been indoors and sweaty so quickly.