On the schedule: METCON 3

Our anonymous reviewer, John Q, navigates the world of Equinox classes and reports his findings.

Before I walked into Scott Katzenstein’s METCON3 class at the Greenwich Village Equinox, I thought METCON3 was somehow related either to DEFCON3, which refers to a heightened state of military preparedness, or some other equally scary construct. I imagined what this would mean in an Equinox setting: a vaguely martial workout including camouflage, pushups, yelling and a soundtrack of helicopters remixed by, I don’t know, DJ Tiesto.

But there were no fatigues apparent among the crowd that waited for Inner Warrior to let out — just a lot of people in good shape. It turns out METCON is a conjunction of Metabolic Conditioning, which, in short, is conditioning meant to improve the storage and delivery of energy through the metabolic systems. The 3 in this case refers to the three types of metabolic systems. Two are anaerobic — phospagen, glycolic — and one is aerobic.

Class commenced and Katzenstein told us to pick up medium weights and a medicine ball, so I did that thing where you look around, find someone who you think (probably flattering yourself) is in about the same shape, and then go five pounds heavier. There’s a term for that: hubris.

Katzenstein explained there would be three series of ten exercises wherein each exercise would be executed for one minute. Exercises would alternately tax one of the three systems: there would be movements requiring short explosive power (phospagen); movements requiring a sustained effort (glycolic) and movements to get the heart rate up (aerobic). Katzenstein wrote the moves, which included things like diagonal lunge chops (using a dumbbell) and plank rows, on the mirror with a dry erase marker. Alone the exercises seemed simple enough, but in this class it’s not just about the movement, but rather how Katzenstein put them together: strength, cardio, repeat.

So, because I’m the kind of guy who likes to grunt, I tend to work out really hard. I’m fairly confident my neighbors in the class thought, “ gym freak!” not because I’m particularly ripped (which I’m not), but because I really push myself. But I figure, the class is only 50 minutes long, which means I have 23 hours 10 minutes not to look like a fool. So why not work out like an insane person and grunt and generally behave like a Maurice Sendak Wild Thing? Their metabolic conditioning, I bet, was great.

Probably my favorite part of the class, and why I recommend it, is that I’m a structure person. My mind is such a mess that external organization is comforting. I like spreadsheets. I love reading technical manuals. I count steps when I walk up stairs. It soothes me. METCON3, though not military, does have a very strong structure within it, something that I can understand: three sets of ten exercises executed for one minute each. There’s no wiggle room and no lack of clarity. The class is like a poem with a strict rhyme scheme. Think villanelle or sonnet.

After a brief stretch we all streamed out the room, more conditioned, very sweaty. Mission Completed.

Looking for more? May we suggest:

The Power Lunch Workout

The Ballet Body