Since moving to Shanghai I’ve been a bit lazy and have run a fraction of what I used to do in London. I have lots of excuses: I didn’t know the city, it’s impossible to run to work without a shower at work, it’s hot (it maxed out at 45 degrees), it’s raining (rain here is heavy – I don’t mind getting wet but the roads flood and there are huge storms), my stomach is bad, etc. But a lot of the time I’ve just been lazy.
I’m in a running club, which meets once a week and runs along a pedestrianised stretch of the West Bund. It’s a nice bunch of people from all over, coordinated by a 2m tall Dane. A great dane, if you like. The West Bund has no cars, bikes or scooters, which is heavenly (the rule of pavements in Shanghai seems to be that if you can fit your bike/scooter/car then it’s fair game). Lots of people come here to make the most of it, a lot of whom seem to be lacking any idea of space or direction. These include: old people out walking/clapping, young people walking 3 abreast, kids on rollerblades, kids doing martial arts, stupid little yappy dogs, a group of men playing the saxophone, old men flying kites, extremely large groups of women doing square dancing, big dogs scaring the shit out of people, joggers running extremely slowly, grandparents walking their precious darling… At first I tried to dodge people and then I progressed to shouting at people and I’m almost ready to graduate to what one of my club members does and implement a points system for shoulder barging people.
Much as I love running club, it’s only once a week and I need to do more :( Matt told me about a new gym opening in Shanghai, with a 2 week free trial. We signed up for the trial without reading too much about it.
Last Monday we turned up at F45. It was a room full of random equipment in Jiashan Market in the french concession. F45, it turned out, is HIIT training, where you go around a circuit laid out and do each activity for a set amount of time (for example: 30 seconds, 15 seconds rest, 20 seconds, 10 seconds rest and move to the next activity). The activities are stuff like burpees, weights, cycling, squats, mountain climbers and sadistic things like battle ropes. Oh yeah and there’s banging music. It’s 45 mins long.
Slightly dazed at the end, we showered (using the delicious Eco&More shampoo!) and then had a little chat with Lauren, the trainer. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, less shouty and motivational, and it didn’t matter if you couldn’t do something very well (hello, press ups) as it didn’t get in the way of anyone else as they were all busy doing their own things. Matt and I went to Happy Buddha (amazing veggie restaurant nearby) afterwards and stuffed our faces.
The next day I was pretty sore but managed a run. On Wednesday we went back to F45, and again on Thursday and Friday. Thursday was more resistance based, whereas the other days were cardio. By the end of the week we’d got to know quite a few of the other people and felt a lot more comfortable with the format. I’d figured out that the TV screens at the front showed what each activity was meant to look like, or what it could look like if I was about a thousand times fitter and also a man with a half sleeve.
We didn’t go over the weekend but I was back on Monday. I was asked where Matt was and I forgot his excuse so just said he was in bed, which he was, but he was going to football later and also had a medical excuse that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone and am probably not allowed to blog about.
On Tuesday I got up at 6am, jumped on the metro and went to the 7.15 class. Although we don’t live in the french concession it’s super quick and easy for us to get there. I did a resistance workout then cycled to work HQ for an exam. And then ate a pastry and an icecream.
I didn’t make it again until Friday due to work, though Matt went on Wednesday and Thursday. Our final exercise of the final workout was jumping over a box, which Matt and I managed to totally synchronise. I thought we looked pretty cool, but evidently not as cool as my friends Casey and Catherine, whose endeavours on the agility ladder ended up filmed and on the F45 instagram.
Part of me would love to sign up now my trial is over. I definitely wouldn’t push myself to do all those exercises on my own, and I like the camaraderie. The trainers are really lovely, super supportive, friendly and fun. 45 minutes is enough time to get a proper workout in but not so long that you think you might die before the end. However, it’s 1600 per month (that’s about £180!). And I have a feeling that the vibe probably should be more shouty, to fit the overall brand.
I’m really glad I did the trial. If money was no object I’d absolutely sign up. But I’m soon to be unemployed so I can’t really justify it :( You can do individual sessions for 200 a go, so I will do one every now and then, especially with Matt or with my friends. And in the meantime I’m going to try to stop being such a lazy goose and work on press-ups so that I can impress the trainers on my next visit!!