By Hannah Wallace April 8, 2011

Writing a couple monthly health departments has been pretty good for me—at first, because I could take advantage of the health experts I knew through various activities. But now that I’ve run through my friends, these recurring assignments are generating more local athletic contacts—and most of them want me to come out and experience their fitness wares firsthand.

After I spoke with Maureen Corristan, in search of a recommendation for “Peak Performer” and a quote for “Body Talk,” she managed to rope me in for one of her Adventure Boot Camp sessions.

Maureen’s pretty convincing. Her credentials are a list of certifications for athletic, strength and rehab training, and her resume centers on 20 years working with pros from all the big athletic acronyms—NFL, MLB, NBA, etc. (Derek Jeter’s name did get dropped, but to be fair, it wasn’t Maureen who brought him up.) The Adventure Boot Camps run in four-week sessions, with classes available in the mornings and after work.

I showed up (late, of course, because I’m navigationally special) in the middle of week two of the current session. It wasn’t entirely foreign: A group of mostly professional women in their 30s and 40s (coupla guys, too), following interval circuit training with various dumbbells, kettle bells, resistance bands and so forth. What I can really appreciate, especially coming from a more haphazard, sports-and-cardio-oriented exercise routine, is the precision of the exercises—how they pinpoint muscle groups, and how the hour-long workout is perfectly structured so that you’re never working one muscle for too long, and you’re working a balance throughout the body. And in fact, that’s a microcosm of how Maureen structures the four-week sessions so that each and every muscle group is targeted in various angles and intensities.

Not to mention, it’s always good to have someone with a physiology background there to fine-tune your form. I mean, what’s the point of doing a good ab workout when you’re really just overcompensating with your shoulders and back?

Afterwards, as I mopped myself as best I could (and seriously, I sweat more than most people—especially as compared to a class of women), we chatted about fitness philosophies. Maureen stresses weight training—rather than “long, slow cardio”—for weight loss, pointing out that you may burn fewer calories in the same time period lifting as opposed to running, but a high-intensity weight session burns calories longer, well after you’ve stopped. Plus, muscle burns calories; you want to build more of it.

She also pointed out—which I’ve long wished they would emphasize on The Biggest Loser—that you can lose a lot of fat, build a little muscle and maintain the same weight all along. So being obsessed with the scale can be counterproductive. I told her about how important sports were for dissolving body image neuroses, especially when I was younger. I’ve said it before: Sports gave me another goal—maybe not instead of, but at least, in addition to looking good, I needed to be able to function competitively.

I also pointed out that another thing sports did, which is in a way unfortunate, was condition me to turn my brain off and let someone else worry about what it took to get me in shape. (And we all know how much I like to turn my brain off.)

I thought about that more on the drive home. When I graduated college, I’d had 15 years of athletic coaching, capped off with four years of it being, essentially, my job to show up to practices, weight training, physical therapy, games, etc. I knew how to exercise, but I didn’t know how much to exercise, or what to prioritize—because, after all, what was I getting in shape for? Preseason? Rehab? Off-season conditioning? Everything I did, I heard a coach’s voice saying “One more time”—do one more, and the voice was still there. So essentially, every time I ended a workout, it felt like quitting.

Took me a while to figure that out, and even longer to appreciate exercise for its own sake (though obviously I still prefer just playing a game, where exercise is just a byproduct of competitive motivation). Still, I really appreciate having an athletic authority tell me what to do. Makes me feel like a kid again.

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