When The DePauw asked for someone to write an article on the new “Battling Ropes” class offered this semester, I jumped at the opportunity. Always eager to find new ways to pursue my fitness journey, I cleared my work schedule for Tuesday during lunch and prepared myself for a thrilling muscle-toning experience.
I’d never been to a Battling Ropes class before, so I had no idea what to expect. The phrase “Battling Ropes” conjured up images in my head of insanely intense muscular bodybuilders somehow fighting each other with giant woven cables. The reality was much tamer, but still quite exciting.
A friend who’d tried the workout for the softball team cautioned me that it required a lot of arm strength. Never having been well-endowed in the arms department, I was nervous that my upper body would give out in the middle of class and I would have to sheepishly pretend to need to tie my shoe in order to get a break.
When I stepped into the Lilly gym, I was greeted by Niki, the smiling instructor, and two Battling Ropes regulars, other staff members. I seemed to be the only newcomer in this class of four. Now I knew that if I couldn’t survive the workout, everyone would see my wheezing face and pitifully limp arms. But I had nothing to worry about; luckily, I was able to power through.
Though Battling Ropes does exercise the arms, it also challenges the shoulders and core muscles, and, depending on the instructor, it can be a pretty good cardio workout, too. Thankfully, Niki certainly introduced us to some rougher cardio moves.
The class consisted of two circuits, each with about ten different moves that we did for 32 seconds each. In the two basic movements, “waves” and “snakes,” we tossed the ropes either vertically or horizontally. The ropes are anchored to a weight in the center, and between each move, we shuffled between the sets of ropes to get our hearts beating a little faster.
In the first 30 seconds, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to endure the class. But once my arms got used to the movements, I was able to enjoy the novel workout opportunity. We switched between snakes and waves: alternating both arms, then with both arms together, then just one arm, then the other, then balancing on one leg while snaking and waving. The class culminated in the most cardio-intense exercise, in which we pounded the ground with a strong wave then dropped to the floor in a burpee, running from rope set to rope set between each one.
Though I certainly felt the pain in my arms and shoulders, the short 30-second intervals helped keep me motivated and mobile. In fact, when Niki called out that we were done after the second circuit, I was a little surprised that it was over so quickly.
Overall, I felt powerful watching the ropes smash into the floor. Even with my puny arms, I could still make the ropes shake. For anyone who likes taking out a little pent-up frustration during a workout, Battling Ropes is a healthy outlet.
I didn’t actually get to fight anyone with ropes during the class, though the name might cause someone to believe otherwise. I think maybe the ropes were battling each other as they hit the ground, and the mesmerizing movement of the ropes distracted me from the enduring ache in my arms.
I left the class feeling satisfied and vaguely sore around the shoulders. Its short length made it doable even for a beginner, and after just 30 minutes, I got a substantial workout. The class was perfect for someone like me: always up for a unique fitness challenge, but cognizant of limited physical capabilities.
In the end, I would advise anyone who’s interested in smacking ropes into the ground to give it a try at least once. I enjoyed the opportunity Battling Ropes gave me to step outside of my comfort zone and work out some new muscles, and I’m glad that my sweaty (but glowing) face can be plastered on the pages of the newspaper for the student body to enjoy.
Niki teaches Battling Ropes from 12:30-1 p.m. on Tuesdays on Lilly Court 3.