Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nike Training Club

I (mostly) love Nike Training Club.  Mostly.  It's been around for quite a while now, but it's drastically changed since the first iteration - and for the most part, I love it.  For the past three weeks, I've been going an NTC training program, which is also, for the most part great.  And I'm super psyched to finally have a strong enough base to complete it.  (Mostly! More on that later)
So let me tell you about how awesome NTC is, but also a few issues I have with it.

The biggest winning point for NTC+ is the wide array of workout lengths, types, intensity levels, etc etc etc.  You can choose anywhere from a 12 minute intense blast to a 45 minute full body workout.  There's yoga, there's stretching, there's cardio... Given my tendency to get bored easily, there are so many options.  I can focus on just abs, just butt, just arms.  I can give my whole body a workout.

The workouts have beeps to cue the start of each exercise, a small amount of guidance throughout the move and videos you can click on (it pauses your workout) so you can figure out what the hell a Crazy Ivan is.  In general, I like the workouts but they're generally a bit tough, so I found I wasn't yet strong enough to complete them a couple of months ago, when I wrote about rebuilding the base.

But then I decided the base was there (or at least, just strong enough) and I decided to jump in.  And not just do a workout, but do a plan.

Now, I've completed an NTC plan before, but I've also failed a few of them.  While I enjoy having a workout plan feature, I have to say, I have a lot of problems with out the NTC ones work.
The plans are all 4 week plans.  To begin with, you select your focus (Get Slim, Get Toned or Get Strong).  Then your level:  Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced.  Then you decide if you want to add running and sync with Nike+ (I love this feature) and then you get your plan.

However you're then stuck with the plan based on the day you start it.  It is not in the least flexible.
This time, I selected Get Toned and Beginner and also synched with my Nike+, which adds two runs a week.  My schedule was then as follows:

  1. Monday:  30 minute Body Flexor workout:  This workout is great!  30 minutes seemed intimidating at first but after the 5 minute warm up and the 5 minutes of stretching at the end, it goes by so quickly.  The workout is an array of 1 minute workouts that cover the whole body - lunges, pushups, ab stuff and more.  I loved it, which is great, since this workout repeats every week.
  2. Tuesday:  3 mile run
  3. Wednesday: Rest
  4. Thursday:  This is the tough one.  A 45 minute workout (different one each week) - they seem to be mostly from the beginner levels of Get Toned.  They are Tighten Up, Dream Team, Body Buffer and Pump Station.  And they ALL include about 50,000 lunges (of all sorts) and lots of push ups.  Each week, this workout killed.
  5. Friday:  3 mile run
  6. Saturday:  15 minute Dynamic Yoga.  This one is also deceptive, but in the opposite way from the Monday Body Flexor.  It's tough! It's a good thing it's only 15 minutes and to be honest, to know, I still haven't been able to complete the multi-side planked series at the end (though each time I've gotten further along)
  7. Sunday:  Rest.

On the whole it's been great.  The problem with this program though is that there is zero flexibility.  You can't change a workout day, so if you miss one workout or hope to swap days of the week, you fail the workout.  It doesn't work.  This pissed me off when I first did the program several years ago.  Then I learned to (sorta kinda) cheat:  I run the app even if I'm not doing the workout.  Then I feel awfully guilty.  Then, I make sure I still get the workout done at some point that week, so I feel better.  But I still feel guilty.  It would be great if the program allowed for a grace period within each week so that you can make up a missed workout.  

All things considered though, it's a great app, and it's free.  The workouts are demanding.  They seem to post new ones pretty frequently (if you check out the Get Focussed section of the workouts, there are all kinds of new workouts of different types:  stretch guides, core strength, barre, tabata and yoga...)

I finished the program last week and it felt awesome.  I still have trouble finishing the yoga side plank section at the end, but on the whole feel pretty great.  I'll probably do an intermediate level program in a few months, but for the next few weeks, am on a holiday mini break and then in January I'll be starting the Self Challenge as well as a Nike+ coaching program for 10k.

(Today, I just snuck in one of my favourites:  Alpha Abs.  It's a super satisfying 15 minute workout for when you don't have that much time.)

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