derryX Trains: FocusMaster


You all know I’ve been training hard. I’ve been dedicated to hitting the gym 5-6 times per week for some old fashioned cardio and weight training. It took me a little over two years, but I lost 75 pounds between exercise and diet.

Since last year, I’ve been really interested in checking out the FocusMaster training class offered at Vent Fitness (formerly Golds Gym of the Capital Region). As described by the creators, the FocusMaster training system is a “30-minute Mixed Martial Arts inspired total body workout that incorporates basic striking combinations, functional body weight exercises, intense circuit training, and coach-led motivation.”

I bought these awesome MMA gloves (to match my other gear) just to do this class!
I bought these awesome MMA gloves (to match my other gear) just to do this class!

My good friend, Crystal, has been taking FocusMaster for a while, and she invited me to join her at the Latham club one night. I took her up on it. Aside from tang soo do during my teenage years, I’ve never done any group training, so having a friend there for support (and to copycat) really made me feel a lot less self-conscious being there.

On the night we went, another good friend, Marc, whom I had met years ago at Aquilonia Comics and whose family owns an epic pizzeria a stones throw away from Vent in Latham, was there pulling a double FocusMaster. Marc and Crystal were familiar with one another from other group training, so it ended up being a workout with friends!

We had to get there pretty early because, with only 12 slots, these classes fill quickly. Lucky for us, we all got in.

The actual workout is remarkable.

The instructor for the class the evening we went is the daughter of the man who designed the equipment and routine. She had lots of energy, provided a more-or-less awesome music playlist (including DMX’s “Party Up (Up in Here)” which could easily be one of the greatest songs to workout to), and circulated through the room to help motivate and guide people with their form.

The workout starts with a mixture of plyometrics, push ups, and core exercises. Then the instructor demonstrates the various punches (jab, cross, uppercut, etc) and kicks employed throughout and has everyone mimic the motions. The meat of the routine focuses around six stations with punching and kicking pads. Everyone is paired off, and while one person executes the punch and kick combination on the pad for 30 seconds, the other person is “on the mat” doing some sort of fairly rapid calisthenic exercise. At each station, each person completes a circuit of hitting a striking combination on the pads twice and doing two different calisthenic exercises.

Then there’s a momentary rest where the instructor cheers you on and demonstrates the next set of calisthenic exercises.

After you’ve done all six stations, they have you do “burnout,” a full, uninterrupted two minutes of jab/cross punch combinations on the pads. Two minutes seems like a short time, but, take it from me and Crystal, it’s an eternity when you’re hitting those pads!

After a short cool down, the instructor walks you through some basic stretches and even crosses into some very basic yoga-like stretches (which I’m only familiar with because of something else you’ll be reading about here very soon).

It seems like a high intensity workout, and it is, but it’s tailored so that people from all levels of expertise can adapt. Our instructor was helping to motivate some people, but wasn’t pushing people. I hear that other instructors may push a little harder.

I had a lot of fun with the workout, and I am going to incorporate it into my regular weekly routine. What I liked about it is that it incorporates various different types of exercises that I don’t normally do. It activates muscles that I don’t normally train (like the inside of the quad, the outside of the lats, and the core). Also, the group is small and everyone is focused on their own form, so there’s really nothing to be self-conscious about.

I can’t fathom how the hell Marc made it through two FocusMaster sessions back-to-back, but I guess he’s paying the price!


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