Spent too long sweating solo? Squad sessions are back! Form a team and pick up some new techniques in the class that gets you intimate with the principles of synchronisation and strategy. Together you’ll swing weights and set pulses racing before getting your hands on some bigger equipment (a worm, in case you were wondering…) Competitive training’s never felt so social and our blogger Kat went to get involved...
Group sets: the kind of class you might want to avoid name dropping in case of a Freudian slip. After 18 months of home workouts and park runs in the rain, this class aims to bring the Gymbox community back together through team-based workouts. For those of us still acclimatising to having a social life again (see: me), it should help get you making eye contact again without feeling a mild sense of panic.
To break my Group Sets virginity, I headed to Gymbox Victoria for Aaron Cook’s Monday class. I was met with the daunting sight of not only 9 complete strangers, but two massive sandbag worms. As Aaron led us through a quick warm up, I wondered what I’d gotten myself in for. I’d seen worms used in events like the Turf Games, but having never taken part myself I had no idea how to use one. Or how heavy it was going to be.
Thankfully, after warming up Aaron was quick to address the elephant [worm] in the room. By giving us a full demonstration and instructions, he made it clear just how essential teamwork is to using the worm both effectively and safely. Everyone must lift it and carry out movements like cleans, thrusters and squats at the exact same time. This requires whoever’s standing at the head of the worm to shout commands to everyone behind them like you’re in some form of army boot camp. Once you’ve completed the moves you have to make sure you drop the worm at the same time, or else risk someone in your team collapsing under its full weight. Sounds daunting, right?!
Aaron split us into two teams and gave us a few minutes to get used to using the worm. I was grateful for this as, I’ll be honest, me and my team were all over the place. I was extremely glad I wasn’t the one shouting instructions as no doubt things would have been even more chaotic. After a few attempts though, we were successfully picking up the worm and carrying out cleans, squats and thrusters in perfect synchronicity. I’ll admit, it was pretty rewarding.
After mastering the worm, Aaron explained that we would be completing two different workouts with each team spending roughly 10 minutes on each. The first would be using the worm, the second would be based around a ski erg and free weights. Simple. My team would be starting on the worm first.
For this workout, we had to complete a pyramid of cleans, squats and thrusters (one rep of each, followed by two reps, three reps...you get the picture.) I won’t lie to you, this was hard. Picking up, lifting and throwing a worm about is the type of functional movement which causes you to hurt in places you didn’t even know existed. Plus, the teamwork that’s required means you’re forced to keep going no matter how much you hurt. This is both a blessing and a curse. By the end of 10 minutes I was a sweaty mess and, much to the relief of my team, unable to string a sentence together.
With the worm out the way, we moved on to the ski erg and free weights circuit. One of us had to stay on the ski erg for one minute before swapping with someone else. At the same time, the rest of us completed 10 reps of single plate thrusters, squats and butterfly sit ups. As with the first workout, we were instructed to complete these reps in time with one another.
While it can be daunting working out as a team - the fear of letting other people down can be real - It forces you to be more aware of how your teammates are doing and give them words of encouragement. This is absent from a lot of other classes where you work as an individual or even compete against each other. I can definitely see how regularly going to a class like this could get you a whole new set of (formidable and very muscly) friends.
Once our two workouts were complete, we ended the class with….burpees. Of course. It’s like you can’t escape them. After a minute of these, I collapsed into a stretch knowing full well I’d be aching in the morning.
As somebody who usually works out alone, resting bitch face plastered on and metal blasting in my ears, I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with Group Sets. However, it definitely showed me not just the importance of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but also how much good teamwork does for the brain.
Since coming out of lockdown there’s not been many opportunities to meet new people and it’s something I’d been really missing. After Group Sets, I realised how much I’d enjoyed getting to speak to some new people and working with them as a team. As the saying goes, nothing brings people together better than carrying a giant, heavy worm...
Book onto Group Sets via the Gymbox App and find our blogger Kat's insta here.