On the Schedule: METCON 3

Our anonymous reviewer, John Q, navigates the world of Equinox classes and reports his findings.

Before I walked into Scott Katzenstein’s METCON3 class at the Greenwich Village Equinox, I thought METCON3 was somehow related either to DEFCON3, which refers to a heightened state of military preparedness, or some other equally scary construct. I imagined what this would mean in an Equinox setting: a vaguely martial workout including camouflage, pushups, yelling and a soundtrack of helicopters remixed by, I don’t know, DJ Tiesto.

But there were no fatigues apparent among the crowd that waited for Inner Warrior to let out — just a lot of people in good shape. It turns out METCON is a conjunction of Metabolic Conditioning, which, in short, is conditioning meant to improve the storage and delivery of energy through the metabolic systems. The 3 in this case refers to the three types of metabolic systems. Two are anaerobic — phospagen, glycolic — and one is aerobic.

Class commenced and Katzenstein told us to pick up medium weights and a medicine ball, so I did that thing where you look around, find someone who you think (probably flattering yourself) is in about the same shape, and then go five pounds heavier. There’s a term for that: hubris.

There’s no wiggle room and no lack of clarity. The class is like a poem with a strict rhyme scheme.

Katzenstein explained there would be three series of ten exercises wherein each exercise would be executed for one minute. Exercises would alternately tax one of the three systems: there would be movements requiring short explosive power (phospagen); movements requiring a sustained effort (glycolic) and movements to get the heart rate up (aerobic).  Katzenstein wrote the moves, which included things like diagonal lunge chops (using a dumbbell) and plank rows, on the mirror with a dry erase marker. Alone the exercises seemed simple enough, but in this class it’s not just about the movement, but rather how Katzenstein put them together: strength, cardio, repeat.

So, because I’m the kind of guy who likes to grunt, I tend to work out really hard. I’m fairly confident my neighbors in the class thought, “ gym freak!” not because I’m particularly ripped (which I’m not), but because I really push myself. But I figure, the class is only 50 minutes long, which means I have 23 hours 10 minutes not to look like a fool. So why not work out like an insane person and grunt and generally behave like a Maurice Sendak Wild Thing? Their metabolic conditioning, I bet, was great.

Probably my favorite part of the class, and why I recommend it, is that I’m a structure person. My mind is such a mess that external organization is comforting. I like spreadsheets. I love reading technical manuals. I count steps when I walk up stairs. It soothes me. METCON3, though not military, does have a very strong structure within it, something that I can understand: three sets of ten exercises executed for one minute each. There’s no wiggle room and no lack of clarity. The class is like a poem with a strict rhyme scheme. Think villanelle or sonnet. 

After a brief stretch we all streamed out the room, more conditioned, very sweaty. Mission Completed.

Looking for more? May we suggest:

The Power Lunch Workout

The Ballet Body