No Mercy.

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No Mercy Tae Bo: A Non-Stop Routine of Cardio-Boxing
Cherise Curby, Dale City Patch
I knew I was in trouble when I started feeling my legs in the warm-up. I knew I was doomed when I realized, this instructor doesn’t give water breaks! You just have to snatch a sip if you are dying and jump right back in. It was going to be one of those kind of classes.

This was my first Tae Bo class, held at the Woodbridge Sport&Health. Tae Bo is a cardio-boxing program, combining punches, knee raises, kicks, lunges, and all manner of martial arts and boxing stances, all really, really fast. And, if you were in my class, all many, many times over.

Our instructor was energetic and enthusiastic, but she admitted at one point that, “No one ever makes it through a whole Tae Bo class without stopping.” I felt justified when I saw the people who were in way better shape than me dripping sweat and having to stop for breaks. A couple girls in front of me actually slipped out half-way.

If you think holding a lunge sounds easy, trying holding a lunge while punching an invisible foe, twisting your abs (held tight all the time) back and forth. If that sounds easy, try doing it for two minutes, holding that same lunge on the same leg. If that sounds easy, you must be a robot. Our instructor seemed to thrill on having us do a move over and over and over until we were ready to drop. No rests and no smiles in that room (except for our ever-cheerful, sweat-dripping instructor). And any move could be made harder by adding jabbing arms.

The instructor took blocking pads around to various students throughout the class, encouraging them to swing harder and twist further as they hit her hands.  

“Why is everyone stopped?” she asked, looking up from concentrating on one student all of a sudden. And it was true: almost the whole class was trying to catch their breath. “Let’s go!” she called and sent us into another move.

“You have a couple choices here,” she called out. “You can smile and enjoy this, or just grit your teeth and endure. Cuz you are here either way!” Most of us were certainly gritting our teeth. But I couldn’t help admitting it was fun. In a maniacal sort of way.

Sit all your weight into one leg and tap the other foot front and back while jabbing your hands back and forth. Punch, leading with the left leg and hand, to the right “corner” and then the left “corner;” now double time it; now add a cross punch; now add a jump (few people in the room jumped). Take three steps with three jabs to the right; step behind and kick to the side; lift your knee; kick again; knee; cross punch; repeat. Over and over. And then faster.

The room would count down the eight reps, bolstering morale and courage: “Five, four, three, two, one.” Only problem was, you never knew how many sets we were going to do. Eight more. And eight more. And eight more.

Of course we all knew it was coming, but oh my gosh, she’s doing the whole thing over again on the other, already tired leg!

Just after starting part two, the pumping techno music stopped all of a sudden. “Don’t stop moving,” our instructor begged as she ran to the stereo and tried to figure out the problem. “Don’t stop moving.” After we finished that rep, however, she gave in and said, “Ok, take a quick water break. That’s divine intervention right there.” She switched to a different CD and I wasn’t sure if the class was hoping it would work or that it wouldn’t.

But it did. She led us in some quick high knees and butt kicks to get the heart-rate back up, and then right back into it. The lost time meant we didn’t go through the entire routine a second time, but I didn’t hear any complaints on that count.

We ended with squats, characteristically holding the last one for over a minute. “How low can you go?” she encouraged. “Don’t lose focus, don’t drift off, stay in the moment.” It seemed like an eternity.

She wrapped it up with a gentle cool-down and stretches. I could have used more...
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