I was recently invited to experience a new exercise program called IntenSati4Men & Coaching. According to press materials, "IntenSati is a revolutionary workout fusing high-energy cardio, martial arts, yoga, strength conditioning, AND spoken affirmations (optional). Originally created by fitness guru Patricia Moreno, it is fitness at the highest efficiency and empowerment — physically challenging and spiritually mindful. Courage, confidence, willpower, enthusiasm, self-respect, and a strong healthy body are all the results of this practice."
The coaching part was "a partnership that supports achievement of extraordinary results, based on goals you seek. The group and leader set the focus of the conversation, while the Coach listens, contributes observations and questions, and uses coaching concepts and principles to open up awareness, new perspectives, brainstorm, and facilitate Accountability. The whole group contributes to the success of the individual."
Fortunately I like to exercise and I keep myself in fairly good shape, so this was something that I approached with curiosity more than apprehension. During the summer the classes are held outside, near the gigantic Chelsea Piers facility. I was told to arrive in my workout clothes and to bring water, a small towel and a snack.
I met up with the group in a small grassy area just off the bike path and was introduced to both Gregory, who would lead the exercise session, and Jeff, who would lead the coaching session. It was a small group of men of varying ages and body types. Gregory is one of those high-energy types with a smile perpetually on his face. He also currently performs in Naked Boys Singing, so you can probably imagine where his body fat percentage hovers. He greeted everyone individually, had us spread out wherever we chose on the grass and began the class. The entire program is just as it is described, a cardio workout with bits and pieces of various other forms of exercise woven into the movements. We threw punches, did lunges, jumping jacks, kicks and various other moves to an ever-shifting soundtrack. The moves were repeated in sequence with new moves added one by one until we had established a full routine. On top of all this, each move was partnered with some kind of self-affirming statement.
I will confess that I am not a huge fan of self-affirmation techniques. For me it too often veers into Stuart Smalley parody. I was initially a little uncomfortable shouting out how awesome I was or declaring my lack of fear (ironically enough, I suppose). However as the workout grew more intense and my breathing more labored, I found it impossible to simply mouth or mutter the statements (so as to look to Gregory as if I was fully participating) and almost by default I was reduced to loudly pronouncing the affirmations. Plus, as I was red-faced and drenched in sweat, there really was no longer any point in trying to look "cool" or "dignified."
We concluded the workout with a cool down and switched over to the coaching part of the evening, led by Jeff. Jeff is an amiable and easygoing presence and passed out index cards, instructing us to write down an area in our life that we wanted to explore for improvement. Over the course of the next hour we discussed issues such as relationships, work, personal finances and family. While Jeff would get the ball rolling, he deftly pulled others into offering observations that helped each person organically come to some form of resolution or next step regarding their area of focus. Again, this is not my all-time favorite activity, but there was never any sense of coercion and in fact I was able to discover some helpful insights for myself. Although I may have preferred not to have them while marinating in my sweaty workout clothes.
At the end of the coaching session, we bid each other good night and headed our separate ways. I headed to the shower in my apartment because I was all kinds of nasty. The next day I definitely felt the workout in my muscles and even incorporated some of the coaching insights into my daily routine.
IntenSati4Men & Coaching may not be for everyone, but if you like to sweat and are seeking changes both inside and out, this may be an ideal fit for you. The next classes are July 12 and 26. Summer rate is currently $15 (although it will raise to $40 when the classes move indoors for the fall and winter). You can RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Facebook page.