I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Even though I have been an athlete for most of my life, and actually get a rush from pushing myself out of my comfort zone, sometimes I still get intimidated when it comes to trying something new in the fitness realm. This happened recently when I found out I’d be going to 212 Health and Performance in Rumford and taking a group class led by the gym’s owner, Kerry Taylor. My trepidation stemmed not only from the fact that Kerry kind of looks the part of a hardcore trainer (I mean, he played football for the Patriots), but also that the class would be a different style of training for me. Kettlebells, ropes, resistance bands, rocks and sandbags are just some of the equipment utilized by Kerry and his team, and my unfamiliarity with those tools had me wondering what the heck I was getting myself into.
212 is located in a historic mill complex right next to Seven Stars Bakery, one of my favorite places to grab coffee and a treat, so as I walked toward the building my urge to make a detour towards the smell of pastries was strong. My sense of duty to The Bay readers was stronger, though, so I mustered up some courage and entered the gym.
The facility itself is small, but every inch of space is utilized to the max, and in an organized fashion. Various types of weights and body bars line the walls. Suspension training apparatus hang from the ceiling. Ropes, tires and punching bags can be found throughout. (Kerry has everyone who takes his group classes participate in an orientation session first so that they are familiar with the tools and techniques they’ll be using.) The music was pumping the moment I walked in, and it was clear that the 10 or so other people there for class were ready to work. I noticed that there was a quote written in chalk on the wall. It was by sport psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais, who worked with Olypmic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor: “Confidence is that little voice in the back of your head that tells you, ‘you belong.’” I hoped that I could find that voice in the next hour.
We began with a short jog outside of the building, followed by a series of movements that got the muscles loose. Then we got to the nuts and bolts of the class. As I said earlier, I’m a long-time athlete, so it’s not often that I get to do a workout that’s so totally different from anything I’ve done before. It’s not that I hadn’t ever strength trained, it’s that I hadn’t strength trained like this. I performed squats while holding a heavy rock. I did back rows with the suspension training equipment, using only my own body weight as resistance. I got a full-body workout just by swinging my arms up and down with two ends of a heavy rope. It. Was. Awesome. And the class had my heart pumping from start to finish, so it was great cardio, too.
Throughout class Kerry would go around to check form, helping people get through a tough set, and making sure everyone was getting the most out of class. The group atmosphere really motivated me because even though we were all working at our own level, we were doing the same exercises and encouraging each other along the way. In the end I was wiped – but totally energized, too. As we closed out class with our hands together in a circle, I realized that I had found that little voice in the back of my head, and it was right. I did belong.