Even if the weather is acting all coy about it, summer is around the corner, signifying the moment of truth of donning your bathing suit for the first time and taking stock of your situation. And while this space is usually dedicated to clothes, they're just not as much fun without a healthy body to pour into them.
I'm not a big fan of the gym. It's boring, there's never anything good on the TVs, and trying to read while climbing the StairMaster makes me nauseated. I'm a fan of classes—everything from yoga to boxing to pole dancing—and a firm believer that variety and competitive instinct are key to being able to stick with a program. So I was excited to learn about the arrival of
Fitness Works, a new "boot camp" style workout program that takes place throughout the week in various picturesque settings around town.
The boot camp fitness trend is nothing new, but this is the first independent program of its kind to start up in Portland, and its small class sizes and outdoor settings (choose from courses on the waterfront, Mt. Tabor, or Laurelhurst Park) set it apart from the typical class experience. Headed up by Adrienne Middleton and Christopher Chapman (Middleton has worked in the fitness industry since the mid-'90s, teaching group classes and personal training; Chapman is a lifelong athlete with experience in everything from bicycle racing to hockey), the Fitness Works classes tend to fly by, mixing up jogging with calisthenics, obstacle courses, and circuit training. You're constantly moving, and never doing one thing for very long, making it ideal for anyone who gets easily bored on a machine.
The class is still only a couple of months old, but it's gaining a following quickly due to the friendly tone (no one's going to scream at you to drop and give them 20 here), dynamic program, and frankly, the results. Like any reasonable fitness program, the boot camp is based on achieving a personal, individualized best, rather than reaching a specific marker of success by which everyone is judged. Nonetheless, the natural competition of working out in a group setting, especially once you get to know each other, is usually an effective motivator.
Fitness Works represents the latest thinking in the fitness world, which is moving away from the idea that you need stuff to get in shape (a physical gym building, machines, equipment), and which focuses on what's called "functional" training, which basically just means a program that challenges your whole body, improving overall strength rather than fixating on specific muscle groups. With the warm months ahead, working out just makes sense, and working out outside even more so. With flexible times and commitment levels (you can drop in, or sign up for one to three classes per week), Fitness Works is a fast and fun way to shake up your routine. (fitness-works.org)