A few days ago I took a class called "Drenched" at Percision Human Performance in the West Loop. Usually I have an idea of what to expect before I take any sort of group fitness class, but realized as I was walking through the front door that I had no idea what the next hour of my life would be like. Drenched. The name kind of speaks for itself. And without giving too much away, my two-toned red and dark red sweat-covered tank is proof that I finished the class, well, drenched (and smiling). I'll tell you all about that, but first I'd like to introduce you to Precision Human Performance!
Precision Human Performance (PHP) opened its doors at 1335 West Lake Street two years ago. Co-owned by Michelle Amore and Johnny Cooke, the pair wanted to create a facility that could prepare anyone for any type of training. Amore referred to the trainers at PHP as "body mechanics." The description fits. Each of the trainers at PHP is highly certified, with half of them educated in a technique called Muscle Activation Technique, or MAT. Where most gyms leave the massage tables in the massage rooms, PHP has a couple massage tables out in the main training area allowing trainers to apply MAT to their clients where necessary. Amore believes that anyone can do any type of training - from Crossfit to triathlons and everything in between. Getting a body to the point where it can handle vigorous types of training is where PHP comes in by improving or correcting muscular imbalances. Muscular imbalances are a big reason many people end up injured after committing to some form of training. In fact, running is one of the more dominant forms of exercise where muscular imbalances become obvious, resulting in injury. Knowing where your muscles are imbalanced before you start training could stop injuries from happening in the first place. It all makes a lot of sense, and it's one thing that makes PHP different from a lot of traditional training facilities.
Clients of PHP include athletes and everyday exercise enthusiasts who want to improve their body's ability to perform better. With a large referral base, membership is not required and clients can simply contact PHP to schedule an appointment with a trainer by calling 312-265-1346.
The class I took is a little unique to PHP in that it was a group format. Drenched was taught by personal trainer Jen Zea. Zea was great and quickly introduced me to the rest of the group - most of whom knew each other. The class is structured in two groups. Group A as high intensity cardio, and Group B as functional body weight training. I started in Group A and warmed up on a treadmill along with a couple other people in the class. As we started warming up, Zea gave a quick run down of what Group B was doing and got them moving. Within a minute or two she was standing in front of us dishing out challenging speed-based intervals. None of the intervals exceeded 90 seconds, but all were high intensity. Loved 'em! None of us started running at the same pace, so Zea cued us to start at a "dog pace," or how fast you'd run if you were to take your dog out for a jog. Since my dog is a complete freak and would probably jump on me if I started jogging with him, I imagined a calmer stick-to-my-side kind of dog. After about 12 minutes of fast-paced speed and recovery, we hopped off the treadmills and headed to the floor where a whiteboard with various exercises stood displayed in front of us. Zea walked us through each of the exercises that were to be done consecutively with no rest - and we were off. Rocking planks, lunges, squats and burpees, to name a few were all closesly monitored as Zea put the Group B through the paces on the treadmill.
After wrapping up about three sets of each exercise, my group was back on the treadmills again, but this time for a hill set of running intervals. If you don't normally run hills, or incline intervals, you should give them a shot. You'll probably run a little slower, but with the extra incline, your legs and heart will get a killer workout. What's more, after you run on an incline for a while, when you come back to running flat, or at 0%, it feels like you're running on air and not nearly as challenging as it was when you first started warming up. Each of the intervals Zea put us through on the hill sets had short rest periods. Before our heart rates got down too low, she brought them back up. As soon as she called time on the treadmill, we went back down to the floor again for another series of completely different body weight exercises. Just when I thought class was wrapped up, Zea had us all stand in a long line. I heard another woman say, "I know what you're going to have us do!" That's when Zea called out 20 side kick squats for each leg. It was really the cherry of the cake. Just when you think you can't give much more, you get pushed that little bit further. It was fun, though, and a great way to end the class.
Drenched is offered on Thursdays from 6 - 7pm and Sundays from 9 - 10am. If you're in the West Loop and want to drop in to a class, call ahead at 312-265-1346 to give this class a try.
Traci D Mitchell is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer and spokesperson. She's on-the-go everywhere trying out new and healthy things with a Chicago appeal. You can reach Traci through ChicagoNow or www.tracidmitchell.com.