What’s Farrell’s like? Part 1: Kickboxing class

21 Jul


Farrell’s is an intense combination of cardio and resistance training, six days a week for 45 minutes. My favorite part is the kickboxing. As my friend likes to say, “kickboxing makes you feel like a badass”.

So true. 

Aerobic/Cardio/Kickboxing class, 3 days a week

The kickboxing classes are the core of the program, designed to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and build flexibility and muscle tone. They usually start with some stretching (about 5 minutes), transition to some warm-up exercises (5-10 minutes) and the remainder on various kickboxing (punches, jabs, roundhouse kicks) interspersed with other drill exercises (pushups, sprints, squats).

The first couple of weeks are tough, if you were mostly sedentary before! Your instructor will find muscles you didn’t know you had. You’ll ache the next day, and that’s a good thing! After that, your body will adjust somewhat, and it won’t hurt as much, but the intensity picks up even further as you continue. It never gets easy. Ever. That’s kind of the point. Even when you’re an old timer, they’ve got ways to ramp up the intensity of almost every exercise.

There’s significant variety, too. There’s probably more than 100 different exercises that are interspersed in different ways, and different instructors definitely have different styles and patterns. I recall the 42nd birthday of one of my instructors, which of course meant we did 42 reps of every single thing – pushups included. Ouch.

Stretching at Farrell’s

Stretching at the beginning is important in preventing injury and preparing your body for the workout to come. As someone who did very little stretching or exercise before Farrell’s, I found the stretches … awkward, to say the least, during the first few weeks. Balance on a few of them is a bit tough, but you quickly get the hang of it, even if I still lack gracefulness on a few, even today.

Do pay attention to the instructors’ comments on technique. Each stretch is designed to target a certain muscle or group of muscles, and you should be able to feel it quite clearly if you’re doing it correctly. If not, ask an instructor later for guidance.

They do add in new stretches here and there, or change the order, but its mostly the same general items.

Warm-up Exercises at Farrell’s

Warm-up exercises are fun, usually because the music is pumping and the instructors get you going pretty quickly. Jumping jacks, jump rope, and front kicks or jabs are the mainstays but there are a few sequences that require some coordination skills to keep up. That only matters if you care about keeping in time with the rest of the class! There’s probably 20 or so variations on those exercises, and the instructors change them around pretty regularly and make them tougher as you progress. But don’t worry, you’ll pick up the warm-up exercises quickly as well. They’re not hard to learn or do, but you will be sweating by the time you’re done.

Sometimes you’ll do the warm-up before stretching, or mix them up, but in any case, by the time you’re done, your heart is pumping and you’re ready to go.


The main event is kickboxing. The first couple of weeks, kickboxing might be pretty straightforward and is perhaps half the class time. But as you proceed, the stretching and warm-ups get shorter and the kickboxing gets more class time, gets more complex, and gets much more intense.

For the most part, the kickboxing consists of you punching or kicking a large punching bag, usually with a partner. I’m not sure I knew precisely what kickboxing was before I started Farrell’s, but it’s fun, it’s energizing, and you’ll enjoy it.

There are a handful of different kicks and punches you’ll use, and like the warm-ups, the sequences require some coordination to master but they’re not too hard. In the very beginning, it might feel a little ridiculous (I, for one, didn’t generally spend much time punching things before Farrell’s!) but after the first few weeks it feels pretty natural.

As you might expect, this is the most intense part of the workout, and so be prepared to be tired before you’ve completed the 45 minutes. Especially the first few weeks, you’ll likely have a reaction to the instructor’s request like I did: “You’ve got to be kidding me…” but once you’ve done it a few weeks, it feels good punching or kicking that bag, and you won’t be tired nearly as quickly during the class.

It’s not all punching and kicking though.  Since the purpose of the kickboxing program is to build your cardio stamina, you’ll often include interval training. Interval training mixes things like high intensity punches with something low intensity like crunches or planks – which are tough but aren’t necessarily pushing your cardiorespiratory system very hard. In other words, even though you’ll be punching and kicking, you’ll also be doing dozens of exercises in between, and switching from high to low intensity over and over.

Often there’s a focus on speed to get up or get down, e.g. alternating situps with punches where you’re standing, which is designed to make sure you have to fully get your body up and down quickly, repeatedly. It’s harder than it sounds. 


So the kickboxing component of Farrell’s consists of those three parts. Together, they make for a fantastic workout for 45 minutes. They’ll get you toned, get your heart rate up, and burn some serious calories (for me, it’s typically 400-500 calories in 45 minutes).

You’ll like the kickboxing classes.


Tip of the day

20 Jul

Today I went to the 5:30 PM class, because I had a meeting in the morning that I couldn’t get around. Right before I went to Farrell’s, though, I ate chips and salsa. Not recommended – I felt like I had raging heartburn and was nauseous the last 10 minutes of the class.

Might not be the same for everybody, but I’m just sayin’, chips and salsa are not the best plan for a quick pre-workout snack.

Not that they would have made the Farrell’s diet plan anyway.

Week 3, Session 2 Checkpoint: 7/17/2010

17 Jul

Beginning weight (6/28/10): 204.6

Current weight (7/17/10): 201.8

Weight lost this week: 0.2 lbs.

Weight lost this session: 2.8 lbs.

Weight lost since beginning Farrell’s: 11.2 lbs.


Well, the result is about as expected: pretty much no movement at all, though I’ll say I’m happy that it was at least in the right direction.

Time to get back in the game in week 4.

Food and Calorie Log: 7/15/2010

16 Jul

Daily Targets and Actual:

Metric Target* Actual* Notes
Carbohydrate (g) 206 291   Ouch
Protein (g) 99-132 162  
Fat (g) 81 109  
Calories consumed <2,500 2,711 576 calorie deficit
Calories burned 3,500 3,288  
Calories burned at Farrell’s 500 290 Shannon-Marie, Resistance Training

*(Where did these come from?)

Food log

Danged candy apple. But it was tasty.


Kashi GOLEAN Cereal

15 Jul

When I’m in a hurry in the morning, Kashi GOLEAN cereal is a pretty decent tasting cereal, and the only one I’ve found that has anywhere near the right carb/protein ratio:


(a 1 cup serving with 1/2 cup skim milk has 17g protein/36g carbs/1g fat/181 calories). Don’t be afraid of the “fiber twigs” – it’s pretty tasty.

Be careful, though – there’s a bunch of Kashi GOLEAN cereals that aren’t nearly this high in protein and most have more carbs to boot! The “Crunch” version with 1/2 cup skim milk has 13g protein/43g carbs/3g fat/230 calories – the carbs put it out of my ideal range and it doesn’t taste that much better to make it worth it, in my opinion.

The Heart to Heart ones are pretty much you standard cereals, like Cheerios but not even as tasty. For Farrell’s, the one pictured above is the only one I’ve found that’s within (or even near) the recommended ratios.

Where can you find it?

At Wal-mart, its in the cereal aisle, but at Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids, it’s in the organic section. Or you can buy it at Amazon, but it seems a bit pricy there.

Week 3 so far: Fail

15 Jul

This week, I travelled to a conference for work in Florida. And they had lobster. And crab legs. And steak. And salad, bread, appetizers and desserts. And that was just one meal. I didn’t keep track. And I didn’t work out in the hotel, beyond a couple of runs up and down 7 flights of stairs. All in all, a pretty bad series of days. I’m guessing that I might be able to claim I broke even on calories in vs. calories out a few of the days, but certainly I didn’t make any progress until today.

Checkpoint for Week 3 is on Saturday, we’ll have to see what the damage is.

Am I discouraged?

A little bit, but it happens sometimes. I’ve never been the sort to dwell on failure or when I make a mistake. After a few days out of sync, I have to get back to the routine of it all: getting up in the morning for Farrell’s, measuring food portions, and entering everything into the Bodybugg web application. Being discouraged won’t help me get anything accomplished, so I have to push it out of my mind, and get back on the wagon.

The routine is important.

When I’m tired in the morning, and I don’t want to get up, I just convince myself that if I can just get to class, I’ll be all set. And it’s totally true: once I’m there, I’m almost always ready to roll. I’m energized and the rest of the day flows from there. You might notice from the food entries that I’m often eating the same recipes frequently. I’ll admit I do like the recipes, but it’s also the habit of knowing the recipes and trusting them.

So, I’m back in the saddle and ready to roll. I got on my bike this morning and rode downtown, perhaps 4 miles each way with a good monster hill and a steady grade on the way back. If I play the rest of the week right – I’ve got today and Friday to make up at least a little ground, I can maybe breakeven for the week or maybe make a little dent at weighin on Saturday.    

Week 2, Session 2 Checkpoint: 7/10/2010

15 Jul

Beginning weight (6/28/10): 204.6

Current weight (7/10/10): 202.0

Weight lost this week: 0.6 lbs.

Weight lost this session: 2.6 lbs.

Weight lost since beginning Farrell’s: 11 lbs.


Week 2 didn’t quite live up to what I aimed for. A couple of blown food days will do that – having a hard time keeping the carb counts even close to where they need to be. I need to do better next week.

Choosing a scale

6 Jul

Choosing a scale might sound like a silly thing to have to write a blog post about, but it’s not. There’s two reasons I went shopping for a new scale:

1. I wanted one with a digital display that showed fractions of a pound. If I expect to lose a pound or two a week, showing fractional pounds mattered.

2. I wanted batteries that were easy to find and to replace. My old scale required watch batteries that were expensive, hard to find and hard to replace. I wanted something with standard batteries, like a 9V.

Oh, and I wanted it to be cheap. I found this one at Wal-Mart, for $20:

Health-o-Meter SDR743DQ-01 Digital Scale, White

I’ve had it for more than a year. It’s simple, reliable and it’s been worth the twenty bucks. Mine says “Health-o-Meter” but I guess Sunbeam is the same thing.


Tip of the Day: Keeping your gloves and wristwraps clean

6 Jul

Tip of the day: Don’t put your wristwraps in a backpack and leave them in a hot car. They get kinda nasty.

At some point you’re going to want to wash the gloves and wristwraps – and I don’t recall them telling you how to do it without ruining them. I’ve washed mine every two to three weeks.

Wristwraps: unwrap them, and fold the velcro back onto itself so its not exposed (it’ll pick up lint and get all tangled if you don’t).

Gloves: Unvelcro the wrists and fold them back on themselves as well, so they’re as open as you can make them.

Throw them both into the washing machine, along with some towels colorfast and lint-free items, and wash normally. I washed on cold, normal cycle.

When done, let them both air dry. The gloves might take two days, so plan accordingly and do it over the weekend.

And remember, don’t leave the wristwraps in musty, humid heat, like in a backpack in a car.

UPDATE: Um, the towels did leave lint all over my wristwraps once, which was annoying but didn’t damage them or anything.

Food and Calorie Log: 7/5/2010

6 Jul

Daily Targets and Actual:

Metric Target* Actual* Notes
Carbohydrate (g) 206 213  
Protein (g) 99-132 175  
Fat (g) 81 102  
Calories consumed <2,500 2,451 721 calorie deficit.
Calories burned 3,500 3,172  
Calories burned at Farrell’s 500 518 Pete again 🙂

*(Where did these come from?)

Food log

I’ve got to find healthier cottage cheese!