After devouring the Hunger Games trilogy in one week I was so excited to hear about the “Train Like a Tribute Workout” at a local gym. It’s a competitive Cross Fit-style workout, so it sounded tailor-made for me. And it’s free.
Originally I had convinced about 8 friends to join me. But I knew I would end up going alone – which was fine as it cut down the competition. I wanted that Mockingjay pin.
I arrived to find that the competition was already pretty thin. Despite a ton of local and national press for this workout, only seven contenders showed up. And only three of us had ever read the book or seen the movie.
Two of the girls looked like they worked out regularly. One proved that by randomly doing a handstand before the class started. The other girl positioned next to me was very thin but admittedly not a gym rat. And the three guys who worked at Comcast looked like they rarely left their cubicles.
To precede the workout we were meant to do a couple of laps around the room while the soundtrack blared in. When the first notes of Evanescence cued in I kinda wanted to leave. But, really, what did I expect? We continued with a short but pretty intense cardio warm-up to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger.”
Then it was time for the workout. We all took our spots in the “arena,” behind sets of risers. When it was time to start, we were meant to sprint to the “cornucopia,” pile of bows, dumbbells, weight plates, mats, and towels. We had to grab all of our materials and head back to our stations to begin the workout which would essentially be as many rounds as possible of the following:
10 Katniss Killers – 20 pull-backs on a bow, which was disappointing because I was convinced we’d be doing actual archery
10 Capitol Crunches – sit up and press with weight plate
10 Jabberjay Jacks – cross-legged jumping jacks
10 Peeta Presses – these are actually thrusters
and a sprint around the arena – maybe 100 meters.
I saw that the weight options only went up to 10 pounds, and even though I knew Id have the advantage with the lowest weights, I just couldn’t bring myself to take 5 pound weights. It just felt like cheating because during a normal workout I’d be grabbing 15s. So my ego had me stupidly grab the larger weights while everyone else – men included – grabbed the little weights.
When the workout began I had no idea how to pace myself because I wasn’t sure how long it would actually be. So I sprinted as fast as I could, taking my cues by looking around the room to see that I was safely ahead of the competition. We kept track of rounds by piling up the risers, but I couldn’t see how the handstand girl was doing because she was hidden behind a wall.
Occasionally the trainer would blow a whistle and we’d all have to circle up and do 30 seconds of some burpee variations or mountain climbers. Apparently this was to dodge fireballs and tracker jackers.
Meanwhile, I was furious with myself for having the heaviest weights in the room and asked if I could switch out because there were still lighter ones in the cornucopia. The trainer said no. But about three rounds in another trainer came around and gave me the lighter dumbbells saying he was my “sponsor.” I was thrilled.
About 20 minutes in a whistle blew and that was it. They counted up the risers and I was tied for first place with handstand girl – 11 rounds. I was ready for some kick-ass tiebreaker when the trainer asked us how many additional reps we had. I had none. Handstand girl had a few. That was it. She got the Mockingjay pin. And I was pissed!
Wahhhh! But I had bigger weights! And I couldn’t see what she was doing so I didn’t push as hard! But, alas, there can only be one victor.
Overall, it was a decent workout. And I just might have to go back to win that pin, now that I know the strategy. But I guess there is only one chance to win in the real arena. I learned the lesson that when I am competing against myself in my real workouts, that’s when I should use the heavier weights. In a game like this, I should just grab the easiest options and run. After all, second place is not an option when it’s life or death.
Philadelphia Sports Clubs will offer the class through the end of April free of charge every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Market Street gym.