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Sarasota Monday, Dec. 4, 2017 1 year ago

The weight of the (hip-hop) world

One reporter's harrowing journey through a Fly Dance Fitness workout.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Right from the start, I think it’s important you understand my current situation.

As of this sentence, it is noon on Dec. 2. I’m typing this from my couch. There’s a pillow underneath my head and a folded blanket propping up my feet. This is my comfort place, which is good, because wherever I fell when I returned to my apartment from Fly Dance Fitness two hours ago is where I was going to stay for the rest of the day.

For this issue of Health Matters, I was tasked with finding a unique workout and completing it so I can tell our readers what it was like. I did.

Kohn learns the lessons of hip-hop exercise beginning with stretches at the onset of the program.

Fly Dance Fitness offers a class called “Sculpt,” which owner Amy Buck graciously let me attend even though the class on this day was full. From what I could tell online, the class involved free weight, resistance band and body weight workouts, but with a twist: Everything is set to the rhythm of hip-hop songs, so there’s no setting your own pace. The faster the beat (or the longer the song), the more reps you do. The chorus and verses of each song require different movements, with one exception, so it keeps you engaged. Almost like dancing, in a sense, but with weights.

That turned out to be mostly true, but I was surprised by a few things. I was the youngest person in the class by at least five years, based on an educated guess, and was the only male present. Fly Dance isn’t explicitly for women, but it is female-centric.

“It’s good to have some testosterone in the room,” Buck joked as she introduced me to the class. That shouldn’t dissuade any interested men from checking it out; everyone in the class treated me wonderfully. It’s just something to know going into it.

The other thing that caught me off-guard, but probably shouldn’t have, is there were no official water breaks. I had to sneak sips in between routines, and that was difficult when my whole body wanted to cry.

Kohn takes on presses with hand weights during a session.

It’s here I should mention I’ve been to the gym maybe five times in the past year. I prefer walking or doing bodyweight workouts at home, and when your day job is sports reporting, your schedule is wacky, which means your diet likely isn’t going to be phenomenal. Basically what I’m saying is I came into this class with an unprepared ass, and it got kicked.

I came into the workout cocky, and started with 8-pound weights instead of 3 or 5. Big mistake. By the end of the first routine, I was feeling the proverbial burn. The nice thing about the class is it targets different muscles, so when my shoulders were getting tired, we moved on to lats, or hamstrings, etc.

My first real “I’m going to die” moment came during the squats section, set to a seemingly never-ending Big Sean song, because squats objectively suck even though they’re a great workout. I’m not exaggerating when I say my legs were spasming halfway through. It was the first time during the hour-long class that I had to stop and skip a few repetitions to recover.

It wasn’t the last.

"My first real 'I’m going to die' moment came during the squats section..."

During those moments, I was able to look around me. The older women at surrounding stations were mouthing the songs. I would not have guessed the Sarasota population could catch a vibe to Eminem or the Yin-Yang Twins, but I was impressed.

My lowest point was during a weighted pelvic thrust routine soundtracked to Kendrick Lamar yelling at me to sit down and be humble.

Oh, I wanted to, Kendrick. I truly did. For the sake of the article, I persevered.

The program includes walking lunges, to the background music of Eminem's "Till I Collapse."

The class ended with a cooldown stretch session so welcome I whispered “Thank God” to myself. My clothes were drenched. Other participants assured me they sweat every time, too. The sentiment made me feel better about my performance, as much as anything could make me feel better in that moment.

That brings us to now. I’m already feeling sore, and I’m sure it’s going to get worse. Is that the sign of an effective workout? Sure, but it’s like adolescence: Young people often will be thankful for everything their parents did for them later in life, but in the moment, they can’t see that, and they’re madder than hell. My muscles are madder than hell at me right now, and I don’t blame them one bit.

My arms feel like those of the Tin Man without oil.

My legs feel like jelly left in the fridge too long.

I can’t move.

I can’t wait to try it again.

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