Thirty Days Of ... KRANK NASHVILLE!
Thirty Days Of … KRANK NASHVILLE
When we women experience big life changes, we tend to experience big weight changes, too. Weddings, childbirth, high school reunions, divorces, etc. — any of those events can send a girl into a panic, forcing the needle on the scale careening in one direction.
We can be so hard on our bodies mentally, which translates into the way we treat our body physically, from what we put in our mouths to how many miles we clock on the treadmill. There’s a fine line between living a healthy lifestyle and letting it take an obsessive control of your life. And even for those of us who are active and generally “healthy,” we’re not immune to committing hate crimes on our bodies.
After years of running (let me pause to brag on the fact that I recently ran my best time ever at this year’s Country Music Half Marathon — take that, aging!), my body is starting to feel the effects of constant pounding on the pavement. Like many girls, I’ve also struggled with balancing a healthy diet and the amount of exercise I commit to (i.e., how far do I have to run to burn off those cupcakes?). Since I’ve been adhering to the same run-yoga-run-run-yoga-run pattern for a while, I don’t feel like my body is responding to the same kind of exercise, no matter how much I’m doing. I’m in a bit of a rut.
Ergo, in light of my own big life changes — a recent divorce, and, obviously, a subsequent move, I decided to change up my workouts. You may recall the Nashville Fitness Crawl we did in partnership with our dear friends at lululemon earlier this year, which gave participants the opportunity to try classes at different studios around town free of charge. Inspired by a week of action-packed, diverse sessions, I decided to extend my journey and commit to a month each of different workouts, from boot camp to hot yoga. And then, I will report back to you, because you guys keep me honest. Also, I hope that it will inspire you to get moving, or change up what you’re doing, because we really have a ton of great options here in Nashville.
So, Month One, Krank Nashville. Here we go.
Krank Nashville opened in January in the Bandywood area of Green Hills. The women behind Krank Nashville — Sarah-Jane Hill and Kelly Dunn — already knew they could work together before they launched a business, as Sarah-Jane was Kelly’s trainer. Kelly recalls how much she enjoyed training with Sarah-Jane, as every session was different and challenging. Sarah-Jane, who hails from the northwest and worked in the entertainment industry in L.A. before moving to Nashville, naturally segued into personal training. A big believer in mixing lots of different elements, Sarah-Jane combined cycling, boxing, yoga, and one-on-one training in her own workouts, forming her own unique personal training style.
Sarah-Jane noticed a void in the Nashville fitness scene — while there was no shortage of gyms and studios to choose from, nobody had opened a cycling studio. She initially intended Krank Nashville to be cycling only, but she knew that she’d feel a similar void in her active life without offering another option to her students. This is where the popular Krank classes came to fruition.
Krank is a 60-minute class comprised of aerobic strength exercises using fun toys such as sandbags, equalizers, Ugi balls, TRX and Halo Bells. Because the exercises are performed in short bursts — 30 seconds to one minute — and in rapid succession, you’re getting interval training, strength training and cardio all within one workout. A 60-minute cycling class will give you similar benefits, as the instructors use hand weights to provide a full body workout, with an even more intense calorie burn. Also, cycling has tons of extreme intervals, which are customizable for each individual’s level of fitness (as Sarah-Jane says, “If you don’t want to get out of the saddle, you don’t have to get out of the saddle!”).
My first Krank class with Sarah-Jane was smaller than our maxed-out Fitness Crawl, so each of us got plenty of personal attention throughout the hour. All ages and fitness levels were well represented in the class, and Sarah-Jane is exceptionally, sincerely motivational, pushing you to push harder, and offering modifications when necessary.
Maybe this is a runner thing, but I’m one of those people who worries about — and even mentally calculates —how many calories I’m torching during a workout. In a Krank class, there’s no way your mind will wander in that direction. You’re too focused on whatever move you’re doing at that exact moment, and you’re constantly on your toes for the next drill. I found this extremely liberating. (Side note: Sarah-Jane says a Krank class burns around 400 calories, while a cycling class can burn 500-600. Obviously, it depends how hard you are working, so turn it up!)
After 60 minutes of old school calisthenics, TRX pull-ups (ouch … just ouch), sandbag slams and more, I left that class feeling like I had really accomplished something. I felt like I had used every muscle in my body (especially abs … wow), and there was no question that calories were torched. How many, exactly? I didn’t even care.
Sarah-Jane and Kelly want all Krank/cycle participants to have fun — and even “act like a kid” — while they’re working out and to leave feeling good about themselves. Sarah-Jane explains that she didn’t originally intend for the classes to be too results-focused, but fortunately that’s a natural byproduct of effective exercising. She recalls how one student, a girl in her early twenties, lost 10 pounds after integrating cycling classes into her life. Another woman shaved a minute off of her mile after consistent training at Krank. She laughs when she tells the story of a student who, while driving, had her arm on resting on the open window, when she caught a glimpse of herself in the side mirror and couldn’t believe how toned her arm looked. How’s that for results?
The next day I headed back for a cycle class. I have to admit, I was dreading this, as I’d taken Spinning back in the day and wasn’t so into it. Also, I have a rather irrational fear of bicycles — as a kid, I had a major bike accident that left me somewhat toothless and, naturally, suspicious of every bicycle that crossed my path. That being said, Sarah-Jane convinced me to try it again, so I hauled myself out of bed for the 5:45 a.m. (!!!) class.
Thankfully, the room was dark, and I quickly discovered that cycling is like yoga — nobody is really watching what anyone else is doing, because they’re in their own zone. I heard another participant comment about how cycling classes enabled her to “work through a lot in her head,” which I could totally relate to. I’ve definitely found clarity in a downward dog before.
The class was fast-paced, with lots of fun music and ample instruction from Sarah-Jane. I loved all the standing-up-sitting-down action — partially because my arse was really starting to hurt from avoiding bikes for so many years, but mainly because it felt like a really good caboose exercise. (I like to think that coming to peace with the fact that you can’t grow bigger boobs, but can tighten up your caboose is reaching an enlightened level of acceptance with your body.) The hour whizzed by, and I didn’t even lose any teeth this time.
To close out my first week of Krank Nashville, I hit another Krank class with Kurtis, and this one was packed. I think he even said we broke an attendance record? Awesome. I like being part of history. Anyway, I’d just flown back from a short vacation, so I felt like hiding in the corner and dialing it in. I figured the big class would allow me that luxury.
Not so much! Again, Kurtis was really great about working with the different ages, and levels of fitness, and even genders. (The classes are predominantly female, but there’s a good amount of boys in there, too. Not that you’re going to want to flirt with someone when you have mascara running down your face.) He also cracks jokes the whole time, threatening to count down (nooooo!!!!) or add 15 seconds on if we’re slacking (thank goodness for motivated classmates). Also, his parents come to class, which is rad.
So, week one done. I feel like I’ve been working my muscles in ways that they’ve never been worked. Is that possible, in your thirties? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, just a girl trying to be her best, mentally and physically.
Despite the fact that I had to pick tiny pieces of gym floor out of my hair in the shower that evening, I was back the following night for Krank class. Usually, Wednesday night is yoga night for me, but I admit to being 100 percent hooked at this point. So far, each class had been completely different than the last, and tonight was no exception. This session had tons of TRX, equalizer drills, sandbag throwing (so much fun and such a great release), and jumping on and off a big box (I’m sure there’s a proper fitness term for this, but I don’t know what it is).
On Thursday I had all good intentions to go to Sarah-Jane’s 5:45 a.m. cycling class, but I just couldn’t pull myself out of bed in time. No worries, I saw that there was a Krank class at 6:00 p.m. so I knew I could hit that after work. What I didn’t know was that I had inadvertently walked into a Krank-O class, taught by Kurtis and Mindy. What is Krank-O? A 60-minute Krank class followed by an optional 30-minute cycle class. Aye. Unfortunately (or maybe not-so-unfortunately) I had dinner plans so I was not able to stay for the 30-minute cycle portion at the end of Krank, but I’ll let you know what happens when I attempt that. This class was packed, so it was great to have a lot of personal attention from both instructors.
Despite some aching arms — Mindy was working us with those Halo Bells, bless her heart — Friday morning I was back for more with the 9:15 Krank class with Devin. At this point I realized that I’m completely obsessed with TRX, the bungee-like contraption that enables you to use additional resistance with your own body weight to enhance moves such as jumping jacks, biceps presses, and even burpees. (Oh yes. Your nightmare from middle-school gym class is back, and it still sucks. But now you’re doing it on your own accord, so isn’t that nice?)
Recovery day! Skipped Saturday to hang at the pool. Do I totally love myself in a bikini yet? Honestly, no. I’m a girl, and we’re hard on ourselves, but I really think there’s a little less jiggle after nearly two weeks of this. By Sunday I was missing my Krank so I hit the 4:00 p.m. class and felt right back on track.
I couldn’t make it to a class on Monday, but I noticed some changes in the schedule, which Sarah-Jane and Kelly did to allow for more versatility for the summer (no excuses if you have to drop the kids at summer camp — they’ve got a class for that!). Sarah-Jane and Kelly also introduced a new class, Krank Lite, which is just like regular Krank, but slower (this is a good intro if you’re a little intimidated by the regular Krank class).
On Tuesday, after another day off, I was dying to hit the 6:00 p.m. Krank class with Matt, who taught our Fitness Crawl class back in March. I really enjoyed my first session with him and was ready for more until it became clear that he was going to work our abs into oblivion. Seriously. He revealed that one of the other students had requested lots of abdominal exercises (ask and ye shall receive!), so I guess we'll have both of them to thank when our six packs fully develop.
So, what have I learned after two weeks of Krank Nashville?
1. Do not be afraid. Every move can be modified, and everybody else in class is too focused on what they're doing to watch you.
2. Never, ever watch the clock. It makes the time go slower (I'm pretty sure that modern physics proves this theory).
3. Do not eat Sweet CeCe's immediately before a class, unless you want to feel like hurling yogurt and Golden Grahams all over the wall.
4. This is fun. Exercise should be fun. OK, moving planks and triceps dips are never fun, but just pretend that they are.
5. Make sure you look in the mirror before you go to the grocery store after class. Just trust me.
I've got two weeks left, friends. Check out the schedule and join me for the fun!
Photos by Stephen Gilbert and Michael W. Bunch
“I was putting up my Christmas tree when I got the phone call,” says Teri Johnson-Hiett, referring to the moment she found out she had breast cancer. It was right around Thanksgiving in 2005, eight short months after losing her mother at age 51 to the same disease. Teri was only 29.
To read this and other Her Well-Being stories, click here.