There’s squeaking rubber chicken noises coming from the gym along with a lot of laughter. We’re in the middle of Funtensity, a 45-minute high-intensity interval training group workout led by visiting instructor Jonathan Ross. He’s adding a bit of chaos to our workout through unusual props and exercises at the workout stations.
As a warm up to our class, we partnered-up and formed two lines outside for a relay race with a short sprint. One at a time we hustled to pick up lettered dice with each runner grabbing the letter to spell “Rancho La Puerta.” Everyone else in line is yelling the next letter needed and doing squats.
Once back inside the gym, there are seven stations and each one is a new twist for a workout routine. There’s a water ski exercise where I stand across from my partner and we hold hands while he stands on plastic discs and does a half squat and engages his abs while I pull him skimming across the carpet. At another station, someone is planking on an exercise ball while their partner does shuffle squats in front of the ball and fastly hammers little karate chops on the sides. The vibrations shift the balance point of the ball ever so slightly, forcing the person planking to counter by shifting their weight.
“We bring the aspect of play and fun to the workout,” says Ross. “A lot of people don’t like exercise because they think it has to be like a sports drink commercial, terrible or it’s not working. In Funtensity, the experience is as important as the outcome.”
And with that, I’m launching a rubber chicken across the room and playing catch with my partner. We take turns putting the chicken between our feet then jumping and trying to flick it into the air for each other to catch. We’re snickering with each occasional squeak as the chicken is squished before launch.
Next came a plank squat. As my partner planks, I’m facing away from him and holding his ankles while I squat. It makes the plank more dynamic and offers more resistance to the squat. We switch places often and take a minimal recovery break in between sets.
Each exercise was created to help throw off our regular fitness routine and bring another level of cognitive function and engagement. “Part of the goal,” says Ross, “is to keep your brain healthy. By thinking better now, we can help keep our brains healthy longer. The long-term brain benefit is to give a boost to the chemicals that help protect your brain through exercises that promote reactivity, coordination, partner interactivity, and friendly competition.”
The exercises are designed to challenge our bodies and our brains by giving all the major muscles a workout and giving our minds a bit of mental stimulation. “All exercise is good for the brain,” says Ross,” but the right exercise is even better.” This was a fun class for all fitness levels and any age.