Athlete’s Camp: New sports inspired fitness class gets you back into working out

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When working out, are you a former athlete stuck doing the same old drills? If you’re in a holding pattern, and going to the gym to run on a treadmill doesn’t excite you, you may be interested in fun, new athletic-themed classes, geared to bring back the feeling of being part of a team, and making fitness your new sport.

I checked out the class Athletes Camp, offered at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Grayson Fertig, master trainer and Athletes' Camp head coach at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, says the class is an opportunity “to get healthy, get fit, and play.”

Open to all levels, the class brings back old skills and develops some new ones to get you in shape. Fertig points out that it is a great way to get back into a sport that you loved and even try out something else.

Katelin Sisson, a class regular, agrees, telling that she recently joined a pickup basketball league after playing around on the court during Athletes Camp.

The classes started out with a nonconventional warmup on the rock wall. Fertig told the class to focus on defying gravity by thinking about “how to stop from falling off, twisting, turning.”

“We are getting out of a straight ahead, straight back plain.”

Next up, we got our cardio going with a jog around the track, right into a balance challenge using exercise and bosu balls. The goal was to steady yourself while standing on the bosu first on two feet, then alternating back and forth. The exercise ball was a little trickier. Beginners attempt to balance on top of the ball while on their knees, while more advanced members were able to jump onto the ball and balance while standing. This concentrated exercise really got your core working.

“I call it a reset, finding people’s center, which is what we always want to come back to,” Fertig explains.

From there we moved back onto the track for a weighted sled relay, an extremely challenging drill working your whole body, with emphasis on legs and again working your core muscles. The movement resembles that of the beginning of a bob sled relay where you have to get down low and push the sled.

“Picking a couple high-value exercises, challenging sports and exercises, breaking them down, and figuring out how we do them,” Fertig says, gets you in shape.
Sisson says having been an athlete her whole life, she likes how the class sets up goals step by step.

“In terms of a fitness class, it’s really interesting because it’s not like a go in and push, push, push, harder, harder, harder class -- you are working toward a goal, but you are going to pull, and work this particular thing, then after that go balance and even it out, then do a lap. So you feel like there is a significant amount of balance to everything you are doing.”

“Within the course of four weeks, we have ups and downs, kind of like how you would prepare for a game, or a meet. You have to have a certain amount of days on that are really intense and then easier days when you can just focus on the skill component,” Fertig says.

We hit the basketball court for some more cardio and team fun, engaging muscles that you may or may not work during a standard gym workout.

Stretching is also part of the conditioning. But like the other maneuvers, this is done in an unorthodox way -- on the ropes. Long, hanging ropes looped at the end allow participants to pull and twist to stretch arms, legs, back and other muscles.

The ropes are also used for core and arm exercises -- like push-ups with your legs in the rope loop, and plank positions.

The class was rounded out with another climb on the rock wall and handstands, either on your own or with the help of a wall.

During other sessions Fertig incorporates boxing and more basketball passing and relay drills into the set.

Besides getting fit, the one thing Fertig promises is “you will not get bored and I think you will want to come back.”

Look for sports-themed classes in your area of local gym. Or check out Athletes Camp at Chelsea Piers Sports Center.