"Think about Your Bellybutton": Checking out "Active Break"

This post was originally published in 2011. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

It’s 1:20 on a Wednesday afternoon. I’m standing in the basement of Building 7, where SMA has its own fitness center. Actually, I’m here to take a class called “Active Break”, but there’s nobody else in sight. Oh well, the class isn’t supposed to start until 1:30. That means I have time to look around a little. They’ve fixed the place up nicely. The rooms are bright and inviting. I see a few endurance training machines (i.e., treadmills, exercise bikes, the usual), changing rooms and a massage room. Other people are starting to trickle in. By simply taking off their shoes they’re ready to go because classes during the workday don’t require any special athletic attire.

Christian shows the muscles that are activated

Christian shows the muscles that are activated

Loosing up Shoulders at Lunch Time

Before I can finish my tour, the instructor comes over and says, “Hi, I’m Christian. This is your first time here, right?” “Drat”, I think – now I can’t hide in the crowd. Introducing myself, I explain that I’d just like to try out the class. “Sure, that’s no problem. Drop-ins are welcome.” Great! Here we go, then. I enter the exercise room, where about 15 people look eager to get started.

As the music begins, we do some standing warm-ups. We loosen up our shoulders and backs and drop into a few knee bends. Then Christian leads us through a set of exercises, identifying on a model skeleton the specific muscle groups we’re working. We want our musculature to be in balance, he explains, so it’s important to strengthen both our abdominals and our back muscles. Makes sense to me. Next, Christian launches us into one strength exercise after another. “This one activates your back muscles,”he comments. “And there, where it’s tight, that’s where you’re contracting the muscle.”

Class "Active break"

Class "Active break"

Mat instead of Office Chair

Once we’ve gone through the back series, we lie on our mats to work our abdominals. Doing each exercise along with us, Christian explains exactly how it works. “Think about your bellybutton” he reminds us as he makes the rounds to adjust our positions.
After half an hour, I’m relieved to find that the class wasn’t bad—in fact, I really enjoyed it. Conclusion: I’ll be back, for sure.

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