I embarked on a six month adventure to lose weight, get ton and feel more energetic with a goal of losing 20 or so pounds after dining out far too much. To be honest, I’ve always been thin — my nickname in high school by some was Twiggy (I think it was even written on the back of my Powder Puff football shirt in my sophomore year). I had skinny legs as a child with nobly knees and smaller than average wrists and for most of my twenties and thirties, I was on the average to thin side. It wasn’t until I hit my forties that things began to sag a bit more and a little weight appeared around my middle that was foreign to what I had always known.
Up until last year this time, I was still fitting in pants I wore in my twenties, until we drove across country. Over five weeks of food events and restaurant reviews with not enough exercise baked into the schedule and I ended up gaining close to 25 pounds. Quite frankly, I felt not just a little chunky but fat and the worst part was that none of my favorite jeans or shirts fit me anymore.
This called for drastic measures. I approached CRUNCH Gyms to begin my weight loss and getting fit journey. The road was a tough one — those of you reading this who are over 40 know what I’m talking about. Getting back in shape later in life after you let things slide for awhile isn’t easy. Because I had always been in shape, how I responded to being short of breath after 15 minutes on the Elliptical Trainer was more dramatic than someone who was brand new to exercise.
Photo credit: communitytable.parade.com.
Be sure to read my extensive write-up about the nitty gritty details. Here, I share my routine over the 4-6 months, which includes a change of diet, the types of exercises I did, what I stayed clear of and why and little tricks to help keep you motivated should you want to try my method or a variation of it. Your body metabolism changes as you age, so you need to modify your diet and exercise to fit the less fit you until your body catches up again. Remember that your muscle has memory, so if you focus on things your body is most likely to remember, it will make it a little easier to get into the swing of it.
While I’ve never been a gym addict, I became very fit in my thirties through regular lifting when I lived in Boston. The problem is that many of the machines I used back then no longer appealed to me. The good news about CRUNCH is that their network is fairly extensive and so is their gym equipment selection — from machines that work your abs, but, calves, thighs and strengthening your back to ones that firm up your triceps, biceps, pecs and more. It can be overwhelming if a gym hasn’t been part of your daily routine for a couple of decades.
I had to retrain myself how to work certain muscle groups and which machines would be most effective for my body type, metabolism and preference. The truth is, there are some machines I just don’t like and others I love. I realized that doing weights without cardio wasn’t going to do much to shed the unwanted pounds and so I started with what I knew I’d love right off the bat — the Elliptical Trainer. The nice thing about the CRUNCH location where I spent most of my time — Daly City California — was that they have a ton of machines, so you rarely have to wait for a machine unless it’s during the two prime hours in the evening, immediately after work.
As I sadly wrote in my Getting Fit Over 40 article, for the first month, I felt defeated. Five pounds came off but I looked the same and my clothes still didn’t fit. I was about as disciplined as I could be — 4 or 5 times a week, I headed off to CRUNCH. spent an hour on the Elliptical Trainer or participated heavily in a Zumba class. I had to try several classes before I found a couple of instructors I felt aligned with and know this before you get started. If you try a class or two and don’t like the pace, the music, the style, or the instructor, then try another one. The key is to not give up.
Humans are creatures of habits after all, so finding an instructor that gels with you is half the battle. I also tried a few yoga classes as well and while I love the power of yoga for building flexibility and body core strength, my core objective was to lose weight, then tone and strengthen.
I found two instructors who combined dance and cardio with muscle toning so that during class, Dance wasn’t new to me so Zumba was a bit like a side cousin to what I could already do well. When you’re shooting for such a large number (25 pounds was significant for me), it’s easy to get discouraged. Finding things you love to do makes it easier to get focused and stick with it.
I luckily met a few girls who began to motivate me along the way. Engaging with others is a great way to share best practices — by exchanging stories of what worked and didn’t work for you opens up a window for others to do the same. In this exchange, trust grows and so does community. A gym is a great place to build a community even if they don’t end up being close friends. That community can encourage you, even if it’s only at your weekly class, to keep going and not give up.
Diet was a big part of my program so in addition to regular exercise at CRUNCH, I focused heavily on proteins and nuked as many carbs as I could from my meals.
Photo source: CareerThinker.com
While I love my Zumba classes and don’t really vary my Elliptical routine, I started to build new exercises into the program six months later. For four months, I was fairly strict about what I ate, when and how often I exercised.
I began to work on machines that would tone and build body strength in the fifth month, focusing largely on my inner and outer legs, my but (what woman over 40 doesn’t want a great but?) and a few machines that worked my triceps and biceps. Luckily my shoulders seem to still be tone, perhaps from carrying around heavy camera equipment for so many years or typing far too many hours on a keyboard monitor.
Frankly, CRUNCH has so many machines, you likely won’t try them all. The key is to start with 5-6 core machines you know that will effectively work the muscle groups you care about most. Then, build on your routine after you start seeing results from those muscle groups. As I’ve emphasized earlier, the idea here is set up easy win’s. If you try to do too much and fragment your time, you won’t see the kind of results you’ll get if you stay focused and start small.
Photo source: www.healthwantcare.com
Personal trainers can be great motivators and CRUNCH has a boat load of them. My recommendation: don’t be afraid to interview a personal trainer — find out if their goals are aligned with yours. Do you like their style? The way they look? (how they train and tone their own body) Do you like the way they view the world? Do you agree with their value system on diet and exercise? Do you like their voice? As silly as some of these questions sound, getting aligned with the right personal trainer is 80% of the battle.
Photo source: Daly City CRUNCH
Once you find someone you’re in sync with, you’re more likely to be motivated and show up. CRUNCH has a great page of useful personal training tips and their trainers use a wide array of personal training tools such as battle ropes, kettlebells, TRX Suspension Straps, Bulgarian Bags, and MMA equipment to name a few. These functional training tools help to provide an array of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts that are effective in getting results.
There are also circuit training routines you can do on your own at the gym. The machines are lined up next to each other (above) and you simply move from one to the next spending an allotted period of time at each. This is particularly useful for people who are on a time crunch but want to get a nice combo of some cardio and toning into one session. I’d recommend alternating this with straight cardio over the course of a week. Repetition and building on what you already know is a great way to improve your spirit and increase your level of exercise. Suddenly, you’ll be able to do twice what you did the month before and hitting another milestone will start to feel more and more significant as time marches on.
Crunch Fitness on Your Mobile
CRUNCH has an app called CRUNCH Fitness which tracks your progress by week so you can get an idea of when you’re slacking off and ramping up. You can also make reservations on your phone, which is handy especially when you have a busy schedule.
For exercises and classes, you can also view them by category, such as Action Sports, Chisel, Mind Body Burn, Dance, spinning and more.
Then of course, you can monitor your workout progress by week, by month and so on, which is particularly useful for keeping you on track.
Want to find a class? The mobile app has a cool Class Finder feature so you can see what classes are on each and every day by location. If you want to see where there’s a spin class within a 15 mile radius, you can check all the classes in your immediate area and it will show you each location’s classes for the day with the times and instructors listed next to them. Handy is an understatement!
Classes: Add Some Fun To Your Life
While I’m committed to the routine that works for me, which is a modification of what I started with six months ago, I like to add new things to spice things up and keep things fresh. From a heartier yoga and pilates mat work to core work outs, spinning classes, Chisel and Killer X training, CRUNCH has a number of classes that will keep you enticed for months.
I found the class offering to be more comprehensive at CRUNCH than other gyms in my area, including Yoga, Spinning and Zumba classes and I found their instructors to be professional and fun. There are even fabulous swimming classes and aquatic classes that can add cardio to your day at certain locations. If you live in a warm climate, swimming can be an incredible way to increase the heart beat without putting any strain on your knees and joints and if you don’t, find a CRUNCH with a swimming pool and get started.
Photo credit: Yerba Buena CRUNCH Gym in San Francisco
Remember, it’s never too late to get your heart pumping again and while you may never be as buff as you were at 21, especially in a bikini, there’s no time like the present to tone up and have fun in the process. Here are some fun classes to keep you engaged regardless of your interest. More class choices below….
- 360-3X: The 360-3X workout delivers a serious heart pounding, calorie burning workout designed to push you to the max using a signature formula of three 60 second work efforts grouped in rounds, 360-3X provides a total body workout.
- AntiGravity Yoga: With the fabric as a soft trapeze, you learn suspension techniques to move into seemingly impossible inverted poses to relieve compressed joints and align the body.
- Aqua Cross: This is a wet/dry cross-training class held in the pool with cardio intervals and butt-blasting kick-board work.
- Barre Bootcamp: Inspired by ballet, this high intensity barre class targets your arms, core, thighs and booty to help you create a long, lean dancer’s body.
- Barre Brawl: Here, you strengthen and lengthen at the ballet barre and then round out your workout with a cardio kickboxing brawl.
- Bendable Body: This dynamic flexibility class will increase range of motion and mobility of connective tissue while targeting the hip flexors, hamstrings, neck and back.
- Buff Yoga: With dumbbells as the prop of choice, Buff Yoga takes traditional yoga postures and adds a layer of targeted strengthening exercises to help you get stronger for yoga without weights.
- Burn & Firm Pilates: Burn and lengthen muscles faster and more efficiently by combining fluid, large muscle, low-impact pilates-inspired standing moves with hand weights and body bars to get your best Pilates body.
- Cardio Dance Blast: A hot and sweaty dance party with the best hip-hop, reggae and popular music, they offer a non-stop, 60 minute workout will melt away fat while boosting your dance skills like never before.
- Cardio Kickboxing: Easy to follow, drill based kickboxing exercises set to music. This class is designed to elevate your heart rate as well as challenge your muscles and mind.
- Chisel: Here, you’ll use weights and calisthenics to sculpt and shape muscles.
- Flow Yoga: A challenging body/mind adventure incorporating asanas, breathing and mindfulness for a complete yoga experience.
- Hatha Yoga: This yoga class integrates the postures, breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation to harmonize you on every level – body, mind and spirit.
- Inflow w/ DISQ: Strap on, step in and flow with strength and grace in this Vinyasa inspired class using the wearable DISQ.
- Iyengar Yoga: This traditional yoga system stresses precision, alignment and awareness of body mechanics in a variety of poses.
- Killer X Training: Prepare to be taken to the limit in this bootcamp styled strength training class.
- Mind BodyWeb TRX: Combine the TRX ropes with traditional Yoga & Pilates movements to bring a whole new dimension to your workout.
- MOTUS: This class continuously moves you through flow cardio, yoga inspired strength, and deep tissue self-massage.
- Off-the-Wall Yoga: Here, you use the wall as a prop to help you achieve deep stretches, balance, and inversions to improve your overall positions and posture. I loved this class.
- Pilates Fusion: Based on traditional pilates exercises, this class also incorporates athletic training moves to provide a workout that will improve core strength, balance and flexibility.
- Pilates Mat: A series of exercises based on the work of Joseph Pilates to strengthen and lengthen muscles with a focus on the body core.
- Ride Yogi Ride: This spin and yoga combo session gets your heart pumping and limber you up all in one session.
- The Athlete’s Workout: Going from station-to-station, each training you to enjoy better fitness while improving speed, agility, and power, all necessary components to be the best athlete you can be.
- Top it Off: Shape and sculpt every muscle in your upper body in this two-part, heart-pumping workout. Using weights and isometric exercises, you’ll work through a series of sweat inducing exercises to tone and chisel your arms, shoulders, chest, and back.
- Yoga Body Sculpt: This strength-building Vinyasa flow class focuses on sculpting your buns and thighs while flattening your belly and strengthening your core.
- Vinyasa Yoga: In their Vinyasa Yoga classes, you focus on synchronizes movement with breath, linking the postures together into a dynamic practice.
- ZUMBA: This class fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a high energy, calorie blasting, total body dance based workout.
They offer something called CRUNCH Live, which is an online extension of the collective energy that has been happening for over 20 years in their gyms across the country. It’s an approach to fitness that gives people the tools they need to reach their goals. No Judgments is their motto, which I love — we especially need to hear that over 40!!
I have to admit, I loved the fact that CRUNCH had a combination of cardio, sculpting, yoga, Zumba, dance and pilates all baked into their schedule, with classes as early as 6 am through around noon during the week and after work for those with a less flexible schedule.
I didn’t have a chance to try out CRUNCH Live yet, but my hope is to experience it now that I have reached my most critical goals and have a routine in place. It includes cutting edge fitness classes, where you can experience 75+ online workouts inspired by Crunch Gym’s most popular classes ranging from total body Bootcamp and dance cardio to pilates, yoga, barre and more. Workouts are led by Crunch’s top instructors and feature real members.
It’s mobile so no matter where you are in the world, you can access CRUNCH Live on any device, including your laptop, tablet, mobile device and more. I love this feature particularly before avid travelers and if you’re reading this, then you likely fall into that category. They offer customizable workout plans and playlists to keep you motivated, on track and having fun. They also have bonus 15-minute “Quickie” workouts to get you by when you’re in a time crunch, which we often are when we’re on the road.
So, Where Can I Work Out?
For U.S. travelers, CRUNCH has locations in throughout the United States. Currently, they are in the following states:
- Washington DC
- New Jersey
- New York
- Puerto Rico
Note that they have a significant number of gyms in California and New York States and in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are several in the South Bay and in the city itself.
Disclosure: I am not a doctor or a healthcare practitioner so this review is based on my own personal experience with diet and exercise over the course a couple of decades of trial and error, including the last six months of a diet/exercise regime with the primary goal of losing unwanted pounds and a secondary goal of improving my cardio and body tone.
I don’t work for or have any affiliation to any of the products or services I mention in this post. I reached out to CRUNCH Gyms letting them know I was interested in writing an article about getting back in shape using their gym as my playground. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have had access to a variety of gym locations in their system as their standard membership tends to focus on one gym or a few gyms within a certain mile radius. That said, my experience with CRUNCH Gyms only included the following locations simply because I didn’t have time to test other locations out: New Montgomery Street, Yerba Buena and the Embarcadero in San Francisco, and Daly City and Redwood City in the South Bay. They did not stipulate what to say or ask me to write this article. The idea for the article was entirely my own as was using CRUNCH to meet my goals. I did not use a trainer although would consider it in the future. All opinions expressed here are my own.