Train like a Spartan: Week 2

Celebrity trainers Chris Powell and Heidi Powell take on the Reebok Spartan Race in at Citi Field on April 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Reebok)

Maybe I should have passed up that second serving of kielbasa, tortellini salad, BBQ cheeseburgers and clams over the holiday weekend. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do, but I definitely felt it during Sunday morning’s Spartan training class, and judging by the amount of people who showed up, it looked like some of my team members weren’t feeling 100 percent either.

The class dwindled down to just myself and another Relentless personal trainer, Jess. She happened to be fresh off the Jay-Z and Beyoncé concert the night before, but I don’t think an all nighter affects her the same way it would a normal person. She was in sixth gear all day Sunday.

Or maybe they knew Ross wouldn’t be leading the class this week after becoming a new father (congrats, Ross!) and instead we would have former track star and personal trainer, Ann Marie Banks, coordinating the workout.

Ann Marie happens to be the indoor and outdoor women’s pole-vaulting record holder at Gardner-Webb University. Needless to say, we did a little bit of jumping.

She’s also married to Philadelphia Eagles assistant strength and conditioning coach, Quadrian Banks. I’ll go out on a limb here and say the couple has chatted about fitness once or twice over dinner. 

The workout she developed focused on endurance strength. We did several body weight exercises and a lot of interval running, practically with no breaks.

After meeting at the studio, we went on our brief jog over to Relentless’s stomping grounds – Washington Square. By the time this training series is over, I’ll be able to tell you exactly how many stones make up the walkways around the square.

You could immediately tell Ann Marie put her athletic fingerprints all over this workout, with some warm-up movements like high knees and lateral jumping jacks.

After that, we headed over to our starting point at one of the entrances to the square. The workout was a total of eight rounds. We started with a calisthenics exercise followed by a quarter mile run. It was rinse and repeat from there on out.

The first round was a 20-meter bear crawl, followed by the run. When we reached Ann Marie it was on to the next exercise – this time pushups – then back to pounding pavement. It didn’t take long for my breathing to start getting shorter.

Frog jumps for distance awaited us as we got back to our trainer. Then another lap. 

After a quick swig of water, we did 30 one-leg step-ups on a park bench before our next run. As my legs grew heavier, it became harder to avoid the countless Chanel-donning women walking their schnoodles around the square. Juking them was a workout in itself.

Round five started with bench dips again. The strength part of the training I don’t really have an issue with, but I’m quickly learning my endurance and stamina are not up to par – yet.

Another lap, another schnoodle. Or was that a yorkipoo? Only two more rounds to go!

Ann Marie called this next exercise, “clocks.” What we did was get in a pushup position and with our feet planted in one spot, carry our weight clockwise for a full 360 degrees. It’s like a rotating plank. Then we went counterclockwise for another full revolution.

After that lap, we finished the workout with an exercise that I was really psyched about – park bench hurdles. Zigzagging down one side of the square, we hit almost every bench, climbing up the front and jumping off the back. When the path bent, we logged our final quarter mile and sprinted ‘through the line’ (track jargon) to end the circuit.

A total of two miles and seven exercises completed continuously. I needed a new shirt after that workout.

The jog back to the gym was snail-paced compared to our laps around the square. 

Watching videos on last year’s Spartan Race at Citizens Bank Park, it’s easy to see how short distance running and climbing over park benches will prepare us for the event. 

Two weeks down and I’m already chomping at the bit to do this thing.


Relentless Fitness

249 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 351-6260