My Shockwave Experience: Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

When it comes to food and fitness, I am a creature of habit. Sure, I’ll try some new foods here and there, but nothing life altering. And fitness? I certainly have my comfort zone. 

Body Attack, Body Pump, Cardio Machines, Weight Room, Spin, Boot Camps, Outdoor Running, Hot Yoga. That just about sums up my fitness preferences these days. Whenever I workout, it’s always one of those options, which have been in the rotation for years. I know that seems like a lot to choose from, and well…I suppose it is. But that’s simply because I’ve been doing all of them for so long that they make me feel completely comfortable.

I hate being the newbie. The confused one. The deer in headlights- someone actually called me that during my first week of teaching, and it has always stuck with me. I also hate not being good at things. Like when I first started skiing or learning to golf. I was used to picking up new sports like nothing, so I really disliked both of these in the early days, as the learning curve is incredibly steep. I like ‘knowing my stuff’ and feeling confident in what I’m tackling. This is precisely why I tend to stick to my tried and true workout rituals.

Sometimes, though, change is imperative. Especially when it comes to food and fitness. We’ve all heard of the “fitness plateau”, which tends to happen after we’ve been doing the same thing over and over, and failing to see improvement after a certain point. This is when we need to reassess our workouts and change something. It doesn’t need to be everything. Even the smallest change could be all that we need to move on to the next level.

I’ve been reading some American blogs lately which highlight the group fitness class, Shockwave. One of my favourite healthy living bloggers, Gina, wrote about it and I was immediately intrigued. It’s apparently all the rage and people are loving the workout. Things like this immediately capture my attention.

Shockwave logo

So what is Shockwave? It’s a group fitness class focusing on high intensity training within a shorter time period (30-45 minutes). It’s been dubbed “the most efficient total body workout in the world”, as it focuses on both strength and cardio training, zapping calories in far less time. The class consists of various functional training stations and revolves around cardio bursts on the WaterRower. Check it out!

My Problem: the WaterRower. The mere sight of it brings me back to 5:00am in grade 11 when I decided to join the rowing club. Let’s just stay that after a couple morning training sessions on the rowing machine, I never made it back to head out onto the actual water. I hated it, and I haven’t used the machine since. Now, since I’m almost double the age I was in high school (ahh!!), you’d think I would get over it and realize that my fitness preferences have vastly changed. Sometimes bad memories from the past stay with you, though! WaterRower…you are one of them.

Anyway, I decided to suck it up and get over my rowing aversion so that I could try out a Shockwave class last week at Fitness First. I’m so glad that I did!



I honestly couldn’t believe how difficult the WaterRower is. The 300m sprints were so tough; much more challenging than any cardio interval training I’ve done in a long time.

Basically, circuit stations are set up around the room and you rotate in-between exercises while people are working on the rowers. Once they finish their allocated distance, everyone revolves around to the next station. One lap around = one “shockwave”.


One of the circuit stations: revolving squat jumps.

When you are on the rower, the goal is to push it to your maximum intensity. So, whether you are rowing for 300m or 150m, you are completely exhausted by the time it’s over.


The instructor marks the row distances and records the top times for each Shockwave. The athlete in me LOVES this competitive addition. You don’t know who has that time (which is good), but it’s fun to have a target and know how you match up to others around you. You can use this info, or disregard it. It’s all personal preference.

I am really happy that I took the initiative to try out a new class and get out of my fitness comfort zone. When you take chances like this, you open yourself up to further opportunities and challenges that otherwise you might never consider. Maybe you’ll fall in love with your new workout, or maybe you’ll really dislike it. Either way, you’ve made that step to challenge yourself and open yourself up to possible failure or success. Taking chances leads us to exponential growth, whether we realize it in or not.



I was lucky enough to have Andrew Conolly, a Fitness First Shockwave Instructor (from the Shockwave video above!!!), answer a few further questions that I had about the class. I was really impressed by his responses and thought you would also find them interesting:

What makes Shockwave different from other boot camp and circuit style fitness classes? 

This 30 and 45 minute circuit-style cardio and strength workout puts rowing front and center in a team environment. Participants are broken up into groups and placed at either the rowing or one of six strength stations. But there is a twist, no one is allowed to rotate to the next exercise until each rower has completed his or her programmed distance on the rowing machine. This means the length of each round is dependent on the speed of the rowers. This creates a fun, interactive and competitive environment.

I’m an advocate of full-body training, as opposed to solely targeting one or two specific muscle groups in any given day (eg: “Leg Day”), which is why I love the idea of this fitness class. Do you think people physically benefit more from total body workouts? (and why/how?) 

Most people require workouts that are both functional and efficient. Total body workouts like ShockWave focus on combining high-intensity cardiovascular interval training with muscular strength and endurance training, allowing all energy systems and many muscle groups to be trained in just one workout. This helps burn the maximum amount of calories in a minimum amount of time. Total body workouts provide participants with a short duration, high results workout.

Stereotypical or not, it seems like more women are on board with total-body workouts and group fitness classes, while more men continue to stick to resistance training that focus on isolating muscle groups. Why do you think this is the case? Do you see this changing in the future? 

I believe many men still think of group fitness classes as aerobics or exercise to music. With that misconception, most men don’t have a great desire to reveal their lack of rhythm and coordination to a studio full of women. However with the rise of ‘boot camps’, I think more men are seeing the value of training in a group. Slowly more and more men are participating in group fitness classes, usually when brought along by a wife, girlfriend, mother, sister or friend. This change is most noticeable in indoor cycling, yoga and circuit workouts like ShockWave. This is great as it certainly adds to different energy and dynamic to a workout having both men and women pushing each other to achieve their best.

The rower is something that I never think to use. How does this machine provide more significant fitness results when compared to other cardio equipment? 

The biggest myth about rowing is that it’s all upper body.  It’s actually an amazing full body, low impact, strength and cardio workout.  You’re working up to 80% of your muscle mass and 9 major muscles groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, core, shoulder, triceps, back, biceps.  This leads to a highly metabolic workout, pushing your aerobic system whilst torching the calories. Rowing also promotes a large range of movement, leading to improvements in posture.

Most programs claim to accommodate all fitness levels, when sometimes it’s obvious that the class is a better suited for either beginner or experienced exercisers. In your opinion, who do you think would enjoy and benefit from Shockwave the most? (and why?) 

ShockWave is best suited for people who enjoy total-body, high-intensity workouts, combining cardio and strength training in a highly energetic and motivating team-oriented format.  Because ShockWave requires participants to work in cooperative teams, it is best suited for people who enjoy socialized workouts with some interaction with other people.  Because of its unique design, ShockWave is perfect for all levels of fitness, but is not recommended for participants who do not enjoy fast-paced transitions, friendly competition, or for people who require high degrees of modification due to pre-existing injuries.  It is perfect for the people who enjoy classes that provide measurement as motivation.

Shockwave is a relatively new program, exclusive to specific gyms, so many people are unable to have access to the classes.  I know it’s not the same as being in the mix of a group fitness class, but could you give us a “Shockwave Inspired” 20 minute at-home workout?  

If you don’t have access to a rower, you could replace that component with any distance or number of repetition challenge. For example, people can do any specific exercises for the length of time it takes a partner to run one lap of the oval or complete 20 burpees. This creates interdependence between the participants thus creating a level of accountability. You will never see your friend run faster or ‘Burpee’ faster, if they know everyone else is hurting until they are done.

*For more information on the Shockwave program or help in finding a training session, please feel free to contact Andrew personally via email at


Thanks, Andrew! I can’t wait to get back to another class soon. {Adam, if you are reading this…next time YOU are coming with me!!!) 😉

Have you tried Shockwave?

When was the last time you stepped out of your “fitness comfort zone”?

This post is brought to you in partnership with Fitness First as part of their #changeforthebest campaign, inspiring Australians to take charge of their health and wellness in 2014.

13 Thoughts on “My Shockwave Experience: Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

  1. Shockwave sounds so interesting. I’ve never tried it before, but I totally would if I had the opportunity.

    Zumba definitely put me out of my comfort zone at first. I was one of those dear in the headlights people you talked about. I had no idea what I was doing at first, but once I did it for a while, I’ve come to love it and don’t feel lost anymore.

  2. Martha on March 5, 2014 at 2:42 am said:

    This post is so timely considering I have done my first 2 (!!!) Body Attack classes …. and going back for another one tonight. I was definitely in need of a change to my regular workouts and since this one is “sport inspired” and being an athlete I thought it would be the right fit for my “i’m not into group classes” mentality. To say that this is OUTSIDE my comfort zone is an understatement. I am very much like you – a competitive athlete who HATES being bad at things and always tries to Out-stretch/Out-Jump the girl in the front row, no one likes to loose right? Insert image of Phoebe Buffay (Friends!) running awkwardly and that pretty much sums up me trying to coordinate my arms with my legs and the hop/switch feet/swing arm thingy that happens in that class! But it was a great workout and learning the coordination will certainly help me out there on the field.

    However, lesson learned? NEVER try and out -stretch/out jump the girl in the front row….. especially on day 1 of a new class :)

    • Kelly @ Femme Fitale on March 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm said:

      Hahah!! Yes, don’t try to out “superman” the girl in the front row. Besides, if she’s travelling 1/2 way across the room, she’s not doing her supermans correctly in the first place! 😉

      Are you talking about the side flick?! Hahah I love you.

      Love the Phoebe analogy!! Too funny. That’s how I felt my first time in Zumba. If I ever move back to Calgary, we are totally doing a Zumba class together.

      But in all seriousness, trying out a different fitness class or changing up our routine is oftentimes the best thing for our fitness!!! Proud of you!

  3. Go girl for getting out of your comfort zone! I’m with you though, I hate being the newbie when it comes to anything because I feel like I’m totally awkward.

    • Kelly @ Femme Fitale on March 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm said:

      It can be super intimidating, but in the long run, it’s so important to put yourself out there!!!

  4. This makes me so happy to read :) You know I know it isn’t easy to step out of my fitness comfort zone but I am so glad that I did. It’s our athlete mentality about wanting to be good right away!

  5. Looks and sounds like a great workout. I hadn’t heard about it! Thanks for sharing :) I wish you could be my gym buddy! It is really easy to get stuck in our comfort zones, and it’s so true, we see the most change when we step out of them!

    • Kelly @ Femme Fitale on March 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm said:

      I totally agree! It is so much easier to venture into new workout situations if you have a friend to go with! Move back to Aussie? 😉

  6. OH GIRL! You and I are twins. I am SUCH A CREATURE Of HABIT and I hate being the newbie in exercise classes because I am just a chicken with no head on! OMG – it’s so annoying and I just feel like I get more frustrated than a work out – so I give up and go back to my ol’ routine! That being said, I clearly have NOT tried ShockWave – LOL 😉

    • Kelly @ Femme Fitale on March 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm said:

      You should have seen me in zumba (once). Epitome of chicken with head cut off…and possibly a broken leg.
      Shockwave is a great one though. Such a nice mix of station work and then hardcore rowing thrown into the mix! Def try it if you ever get the chance :)

  7. Maca on March 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm said:

    First time I hearing about it, but it definitely sounds like something that I’d love to try! It’s a shame that my gym doesn’t have it :( is it exclusively for FitnessFirst gyms?

    Moving out of my comfort zone is one my goals to live a healthier, fitter and happier year, so I tried 2 new classes last week. It is always interesting and challenging to be ‘the newbie’, But I totally agree with you, I don’t like the feeling of not knowing what comes next…. I guess it just part of what being ‘outside’ and I have to learn to enjoy the surprises that it brings.

    Enjoy your weekend!

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