From the name I thought Tabata sounded like one of those classes where it’s all women on lavender colored yoga mats with butterfly tattoos on their ankles. I thought maybe there’d be some graceful dancing and peaceful music. Like Enya. You can imagine my surprise when I was exhausted and out of breath within the first few minutes, dragging myself across the floor like a slug, far behind my closest classmate.
Apparently Tabata is a high intensity interval training work out. And its name comes from the scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata who worked with Olympic speed skaters. That’s right, a freakin’ scientist made this work-out for Olympians. Whoa. Each exercise has eight rounds of twenty seconds at full intensity and then a ten second rest. Each exercise may only last four minutes but goodness it’s a hard four minutes. Supposedly, it can burn between 6-15 percent more calories than other workouts. (http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/02/05/tabata-training.aspx)
On that note, I probably should’ve eased into this kind of class. My most recent work-outs have really just been pushing my newborn baby stroller around the block. But still, I like a challenge and my goal for this year is to complete a Tough Mudder in August.
I walked into the gymnasium ten minutes early. I’d purchased new work-out clothes from Marshalls the day before in an attempt to look like a serious gym-goer. My tank even matched my shoelaces. I felt a little nervous; it had been my first class since giving birth to my daughter three months before.
There was one other woman there, short like me but with arms like she could do one-armed push-ups. I made some awkward small talk: “Come here often?” before she retreated to the other side of the gym.
More people filtered in. There was one older woman with these really cool fluorescent sneakers. Sneakers that said to me: I belong to a serious gym person.
The instructor came in and I could immediately tell she was a bubbly sort. Her voice was loud and it echoed through the gymnasium as she apologized for not having the right music. So then we had to listen to bad 90’s techno. She welcomed us and told us to take out our mats.
I put my mat near one armed push-up girl (about two feet away) because we’d kind of shared a moment. Then big smiley guy put his mat way too close to mine like he had no mat etiquette at all. It’s like those people who sit right next to you on the subway when the car is basically empty. Hello, only six people showed up. There was a whole freakin’ gym to put his mat. When he took a moment to wipe the sweat already collecting on his brow I scooted my mat over just a bit as discreetly as possible.
Our fist exercise was planks. At first it wasn’t so bad but by the third plank my tooth pick arms were beginning to bend in and I silently willed myself not to drop my knees and to hold in my saggy post-baby belly. I thought I might die, here between smiley-no-personal-space and one armed push-up girl. But somehow I survived and then there were squats and jump roping and weight lifting and sprints and mountain climbers. By the end I thought I might have to grab hold of tall guy’s ponytail and let him drag me across the floor like a trash bag.
Without any doubt I was the most out of shape person there. My sprints were slow, my planks laughable and my jump rope looked more like a second grade girl than a serious fitness person. But that isn’t the point. The point is that I never gave up and I finished each exercise to the best of my ability. I finished my first class and this is only the beginning.
Only the beginning.