How to be superhuman

I TRIED two new things this month and here’s what I learned: no one has an excuse to be a slob anymore. There are fitness programs for everyone! There are free Zumba sessions, fun runs, and bicycle events happening everywhere. Gym memberships are also becoming cheaper, too!

This month, I tried CrossFit and Plana Forma. My musings:

Beast mode?

CrossFit was all the buzz in fitness earlier this year, and being a “healthy living newbie,” I wasn’t one to be close minded about it. I grew skeptical after reading all of the debates about it on the Internet, but I decided that finding an answer by trying it out myself would put an end to all the “to CrossFit or not to CrossFit” argument (which I was having with myself and my friends).

It was my best friend Levi’s second time and my first. I was witness to how he couldn’t move his arms after his CrossFit debut. The workouts must be really intense! We were on our way to CrossFit DMA near SM Lanang Premier. I said yes to Levi’s invite because I was sick of going to BeeFit alone (I have no gym friends *slashes wrist*).

When we arrived, I didn’t see any sort of elaborate gym equipment; I later learned that the only equipment CrossFit needs is my own body. Our class instructor, Inigo, was kind enough to walk me through the 101s of what they do.

“Is CrossFit for everyone?” I asked. He said yes.

CrossFit workouts combine elements from various exercise and physical disciplines (like olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, etc.). These specially designed high-intensity workout sets called the workout of the day (WOD) focus on varied movements—from push-ups, to running, to dead lifts, to pull-ups, to burpees, and handstand push-ups. WOD permutations change every day. Whew!

CrossFit promised a full-body workout that I never thought I’d find myself doing. (I’m relatively new to all this fitness stuff and for starters, I focused on upper body workouts at the gym.)

Inigo said that a regular CrossFit class comprises a set of warm ups, some stretching, a skill exercise, and the WOD.

Our warm ups shocked the very muscles that I don’t work on: my legs. I do walk a lot but I wasn’t prepared for three rounds of 11 air squats and 11 jumping jacks. The skill exercise involved having to learn butterfly pull-ups. It is crazy because I can’t even do a lot of regular pull ups.

My endurance was tested when we started my first ever WOD: six rounds of 10 burpees, 10 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and running two flights of stairs. I had to complete it within 30 minutes.

“That doesn’t sound so difficult,” I thought to myself. I was further relieved when Inigo said that beginners like me can do some sort of TRX rows if I can’t do pull-ups. The first round went well. I get jolts of strength every time Inigo calls “Nice one, Jesse!” But then again, he says that to everyone which makes me sad (*slashes other wrist*).

I was panting the second round, but I kept going. By the third round, I lost my pace. I felt my legs wobble. I took a break by standing and staring at the timer. I still had a lot of time but I was running out of energy. I gave round four the last of my energy; I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

Eventually, I did (Boo! Wimp!). I found myself staring at the timer again. No more round five and six. I wrote my progress I a whiteboard and was awestruck at how others were able to finish the WOD in less than 15 minutes. Some superhumans they are!

My realization at the end of the session: CrossFit is good because it works out your whole body and makes you learn new skills. It can work best for people who already have some background on fitness. But if you’ve not exercised in a long time, like ever, don’t jump into the CrossFit bandwagon immediately. You’ll forget you have limbs when your muscles become sore. I did when my legs were.

Fierce and fabulous

At another time, I tried Plana Forma, which sounds like a really fancy name for a workout. I imagined that people sweat glitters in fancy workout outfits there.

“Are you into fitness?” Plana Forma co-founder Julie Alagde Carretas asked me before our intro class started. She was in Davao for a pop-up which lasted for three days in the Royal Mandaya Hotel.

It was going to be my first Plana Forma workout ever. “I do some weight training,” I answered.

Plana Forma draws inspiration from Julie’s extensive experiences in dance, pilates, yoga, sports and Physique 57 (which she had trained for in New York with Van Manalo and Celine Encarnacion); it was created with an objective to come up with “one highly effective and dynamic workout that is highly addictive, fun, intense and challenging to the core.”

According to their website, Plana Forma defines thighs, tones arms, and strengthens abdominal muscles to create a lean and sculpted physique that is strong and efficiently mobile. Plana Forma makes you reap these benefits: an increased lung capacity and metabolic rate, improved body awareness and posture, increased bone density (which is crucial to health maintenance), stronger core and back muscles, which reduces lower back pains, and better stress management.

A few minutes later, a workout playlist started playing in the background and Julie started the class.

We were standing in yoga mats while Julie paced back and forth the long “classroom” with a head-worn microphone on her. “This is going to be fun,” I thought to myself.

I remember Julie telling us to pick up a pair of water bottles for weights. “But these are too light,,” I thought.

Clearly, I was blind and didn’t see things coming. Julie made us work our upper arms with the bottles; at some time, I noticed that my muscles grew tense as we did these tiny, tiny repetitive movements which looked super easy to do. Nothing about Plana Forma is easy. I learned that the program is driven by concentration, good posture, and grace. “Keep your core tight,” she told me as we started doing some planking and push-ups.

Later in the class, we worked on our legs. I heard Julie say something like “we’re going to do this 100 times!” I paused in horror as my thighs hardened doing the same tiny, tiny repetitive movements. “Just kidding,” Julie continued, counting down from 10.

We eventually did some ballet-esque stretching, some butt exercises, and more leg stuff (oh, my legs!). Plana Forma worked my whole body with such pizzazz, making me feel strong and flexible.

I couldn’t move my legs the next day. Maybe I should do more lower body workouts. I want to be ready for Julie’s next class.

(CrossFit DMA is located in Kilometer 6, JP Laurel Avenue; like Facebook.com/crossfit.dma. Plana Forma will have another Davao pop-up before the year ends; regular classes will be held by next year; for updates, follow @PlanaFORMA on Instagram.)

CrossFit workouts combine elements from various exercise and physical disciplines (like olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, etc.).

CrossFit workouts combine elements from various exercise and physical disciplines (like olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, etc.).

Plana Forma co-founder Julie Alagde Carretas

Plana Forma co-founder Julie Alagde Carretas

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