Fitness challenge: Core Day

Rachel Grunwell brings you the lowdown on a new form of exercise.

Rachel Grunwell is put through her paces at the Jungle Gym in Browns Bay. Photo / Chris Loufte
Rachel Grunwell is put through her paces at the Jungle Gym in Browns Bay. Photo / Chris Loufte

What is it? A class that targets your entire middle and back.

What's needed? Gym gear, water.

The experience: Have you heard of the term "floor walker"? Well, Gregg Walden, owner of The Jungle Gym on Auckland's North Shore, prides himself on being one. He walks across the floor of his gym a lot so he can check on the technique of his clients and motivate them to get the most out of their time here.

Actually, he's a "floor flyer". He whizzes across the class that I'm at, adjusting limbs here and there constantly. It's like he has eyes in the back of his head, so don't expect to slack off and not be caught out. You want results; Gregg wants them more.

One exercise here is nicknamed "the superwoman/superman". My arms are stretched out like I'm trying to be Superwoman. I pull my arms backwards and forwards with resistance straps and attack my core. Core blimey. It makes me realise my core is made of straw.

I think I need some super powers to survive this class. Gregg has eyes in the back of his head and he's showing me how to do the exercise more effectively. Now my core is killing me.

That will teach me for coming on Core Day when I have no core. I should have chosen Leg Day instead. I think I have some of those.

I love the names of the workout days, by the way: Simple terms for people who like things simple. That's moi.

However, there's nothing simple about the fit-out here. It's full of quirky equipment from the US that pushes, pulls and stretches you. There are ropes, and lots of strange cords attached to devices. It's called "functional training", so you use your body a lot for resistance. It looks a bit daunting, but Gregg soon shows you how to suss each (torture) device. Just don't do what I did when I first waltzed in. I tried some straps (in the nanosecond Gregg wasn't watching) and flipped out of them, a right doozy, and got a mouthful of carpet. Yes, I did laugh at myself. I'm good at that now.

Gregg promotes his gym as "a playground for grown-ups". But kids can hang out, too. At the 9am class, kids stretch out on couches, fiddle with iPads or read books. No need for a babysitter.

Gregg tells me he researched gyms nationwide before he opened his place. He's proud his space is not filled with static, boring gym equipment. And it's becoming a community. And he's as interesting as the gym. He's a 53-year-old former mechanic, military man and marketing whizz. Throw in 25 years of health and fitness experience, and he also represented New Zealand in judo way back when.

Speaking of folk who have represented this country, Jess Moulds (of Mystics fame) walks into the gym just as I'm leaving. She tells me she likes to work out here because "it's different and fun, but also a great place to get fit".

How much? Different price options are available, including a casual class for $25, to membership options from 12 weeks ($22 weekly) to 12 months ($18.50 weekly). Students and over-60s pay less.

Worth it? Nice to be in a gym that's not same-old same-old. No monkeying around here ...

Try it: The Jungle Gym, 748b Beach Rd, Browns Bay, Auckland, ph (09) 478 5403, www.thejunglegym.co.nz

Rating: 9/10

Rachel wears: adidas Stella McCartney Stu Long Tight $130; adidas Women's Adistar Boost Shoes $270, www.adidas.co.nz

Active Intent top $20 from The Warehouse, www.thewarehouse.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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