UCSF Group Fitness: It Takes Some GRIT™ to Get into Great Shape

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

When it comes to improving your fitness level, a common complaint is the amount of time it takes to get in a good workout. Group Fitness at UCSF has a solution to that problem starting this month, with the introduction of the new Les Mills GRIT™ Series.

GRIT™ is a series of three, 30-minute, high-intensity interval training classes. The classes are taught in a small group format, and each of the three classes has a different focus: Strength, Cardio and Plyo (plyometrics).

The Cardio class will be capped at 15 participants, and the Strength and Plyo classes will be capped at 12, to allow for more focused and individualized coaching.

At UCSF, the classes will be offered on a rotating schedule, so if you go to a GRIT™ Cardio class one week, the same class time might be scheduled for GRIT™ Strength the next week and GRIT™ Plyo the next. Furthermore, GRIT™ classes will be offered multiple times during the week, so you could theoretically do a Cardio, Strength and Plyo class each week.

I had the opportunity to try each of the three classes last month, and they all sent my heart rate through the roof. Like all of the Les Mills classes, the music is fun, the energy is high, and the workout is consistent between instructors.

During the GRIT™ Strength class, we used the barbells and plates to blast our muscles into shape, but also did quite a few burpees, push-ups and squats to get our hearts pumping and the sweat dripping.

The GRIT™ Plyo class made use of the bench steps to help build power and strength in the legs, with a focus on jumps, speed and direction change.

We didn’t use any equipment during the GRIT™ Cardio class, but we did reach out to others in the class for motivation during all of the high knees, burpees, squats, push-ups, side lunges and other fantastic moves that blasted fat fast.

Like any group fitness class, you’ll get out what you put in. If you do the entire class as it’s taught, you will absolutely need to catch your breath for a few minutes before you make it back to the locker room. It’s an intense class, one that will appeal to anyone looking to be pushed hard to increase their fitness level — and that means guys!

It often seems as though guys shun group fitness classes, but I guarantee that 30 minutes of GRIT™ will increase your fitness and strength in ways that 30 minutes of grunting in the weight room simply cannot.

For those of you who’ve ever played on an intense sports team, GRIT™ will harken back to  memories of some of those tough practices. The classes push you to do all of the moves that you know are good for you, but that you just don’t want to do on your own on the gym floor (e.g. burpees galore!).

As great a class as GRIT™ is, it might not be the best option for someone who is new to working out. Despite the small size, the class moves fast, so it’s easy for even the most seasoned athletes to compromise form for speed, which increases the risk of injury and detracts from the efficacy of the workout.

But like anything, practice makes perfect. Even over the short course of the three GRIT™ workouts I did, my form improved dramatically from the first to the third, and the more I went, the more I enjoyed the class.

So, if you’re looking for a quick way to squeeze an explosive workout into a busy day, give the new GRIT™ classes a try. They will be offered at the Millberry Fitness Center (Parnassus campus) on Mondays at 11:15 a.m., Tuesdays at noon and 4:45 p.m., Thursdays at 11:15 a.m., and Fridays at 6:15pm.

A “demo” period will be open to Premier Members only from April 15-26 (you can reserve your spot through BookNow beginning at 7 p.m. the night before, just as with all other group fitness classes), and the class will be fully launched to the entire fitness community beginning on May 1.