Christina Leronymidou of FitnessMagpie fancied trying out one of our toughest new classes, Mad Skills – but how did she get on? "What do you do when you’re being faced with the edge of your comfort zone? Put on your most outrageous leggings and just go for it, of course!".
One of my favourite pastimes is to pick n’ mix my fitness and I spend most of my free time sampling the diverse fitness class scene in London, with the latest Gymbox Studio offerings always featuring at the top of my list. My first experience was Ninja Warrior with Firas Iskandarani and I absolutely loved it (read my review here). When I heard that Firas had developed Mad Skills, a new concept class, I was immediately intrigued. Of course, I booked a slot immediately, but having looked more into what the class entails, I soon began to doubt my own sanity at signing up!
Firas very helpfully gives us the low down on the blog here, and from what I can tell, Mad Skills is pretty unique in that it is a purely skills-based class. It focuses on developing the movement, strength and control required to master basic gymnastic skills. Now, in theory I’m familiar with basic gymnastic skills, because, in keeping with my restless fitness nature, I’ve been doing CrossFit for a couple of years. Now CrossFit is probably THE sport for those who want variety in their fitness routine, with its ‘jack-of-all-trades’ attitude and constantly varied programming. However, I’ve not been all that religious about it (commitment issues? Me? Nah!), and hence I must admit I’m not that strong or powerful, not that fast or endurant, and certainly not that flexible or agile. So, I was a little worried about how the theory would look like in practice and about the very real possibility of falling flat on my face during the class.
What do you do when you’re being faced with the edge of your comfort zone? Put on your most outrageous leggings and just go for it, of course!
Firas, encouraging and energetic as ever, started the class off with some dynamic warm-ups and mobility work, including shoulder openers and some of my favourite animal walks: bear crawls, frog jumps, squat walks, etc. I love this kind of stuff, because it helps alleviate a lot of the stiffness that comes with sitting down at a desk and looking at a monitor all day, by getting your body to move in a way that feels simultaneously new and primal.
At this point, I became aware that my fellow Mad Skill-ers ranged in ability quite widely. Some were very fit, while others were just starting out in strength, conditioning, or gymnastics, and I fell somewhere in the middle. I felt I was in a good place, because I do have some foundational strength and with the expert guidance to scale the exercises to my ability, I was able to get the most out of the class.
The class format was structured as blocks of time spent at different stations and each person working as a pair with a partner. We worked on core strength by practising hollow holds, seated pike lifts (where you sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and lift your legs using your core), and V-ups (where you use your abs to lift arms and legs off the floor to create a V shape with your body), upper body strength by doing wall-facing handstand holds (exactly what it sounds like), and lower body strength by working on pistol (one-legged) squats using the rig for support. We also worked on some progressions on the gymnastic rings, including ring rows and ring dips.
If all this sounds a little complicated, have no fear: Firas demonstrated every move and then made sure everyone in the class got a lot of attention to ensure we were all working with good form and to the best of our individual abilities. Firas also uploads video tutorials of the movements on his Facebook page, so no excuses for not doing your homework!
As a skills-based class, it wasn’t super sweaty, but, boy was it hard work! I don’t often get an opportunity to push myself technically like that and I realised that hyperventilating and being soaked in my own perspiration is not always the mark of time in the gym well spent. Practising skills – Mad Skills, no less! – is actually a fantastic way of improving accuracy and coordination. After all, quality of movement is just as important as how much you can lift or how fast you can run! Try it out for yourself
Go on, do it! Full info on all our classes right here.