Saturday mornings, Tom Williams, the owner of Burn Fitness teaches a private cardio class for his longtime clients. I have heard it is the hardest class at the gym. Even the trainers quake at the mention of this class. But I’ve been feeling like my progress has slowed. I’m still losing weight, but it’s a snails pace in comparison to how quickly I shed weight (almost 30 pounds now) in the beginning of the program. Since I’ve been at Burn Fitness, I’ve been exposed to some of the best and most up-to-date nutritional information and the most qualified trainers, so I know that along with watching calorie intake, upping cardio is the best way to get that insidious fat moving out of the body.

I’m not sure what level of insanity compelled me to request to try the class, but request I did and I was granted entry.

Now you should know something about me; I also report on bands/concerts and as it turned out, the night before this class I was at the Roxy on Sunset and by the time I got home and got to bed it was almost 2 a.m. Five hours, three Advils, and two Tylenols later I was at the gym. OMG!

The hour-long class is organized in 90 second intervals; 60 seconds of an exercise; followed by a 30 second push (an increase in that particular exercise); then a rest of about 15 seconds (possibly less … it felt like less) then right back at it. Williams graciously tells me I should stop at the minute mark and catch my breath, and allows me to modify the exercises so that I don’t collapse.

We start out with legs, doing 20 reps of crossovers — jumping over the aerobic step blocks. This exercise is repeated four times. In between plyometric jumping, we hold ourselves over the aerobic steps in a squatting pose, at a cool 90-degree angle, just holding … (still holding) … that pose. You wouldn’t think holding one position would be so difficult, but in about 60 seconds my legs are burning so much I can’t think straight. Williams is the epitome of encouragement, though, shouting out, “Doing good. 20 more seconds. You got it!” and the one that gets me, “We will all do this together!” He makes you feel like you’re part of team. God knows I don’t want to let my teammates down. I hold that pose.

After our leg sets, the fun continues. Does anyone remember the Reebok commercial that pictured a shapely girl and a hot guy standing at the base of a Mayan pyramid? He looks at her. She looks at him. They nod in secret agreement and then run up the steps of the pyramid, all the way to the top … without stopping. If you think that’s difficult, Williams has us grab weights and run the stairwell. That means almost four flights of stairs, up and down, four times. Isn’t that the same number of steps at Chichen Itza? It feels like it.

Granted, some of the folks in his class are in top shape, so it’s easy for them — or at least it seems to me as though they’re blithely skipping up the steps. It’s honestly not the case. Everyone is getting an intense workout, sweating bullets. Mind you, I’m the only one without a weight in hand, and I’m shot. The class concludes with arms, more stairs, and push up holds.

Maria Alvarez, a pretty, petite brunette who looks amazing, is also taking the class. She’s been with Williams for four years and has lost 10 pounds, using the program and watching what she eats. She says, “The workout is different each week. We do work the same muscles, but in different ways and that makes it more exciting.”

To say that every muscle in my body is sore would be an understatement. I’m sore in places I didn’t know muscles existed. Can you really be sore under your arms? The answer: uh, yes.

“Even though I work out twice a week … I still feel sore for two days after taking that class.” It’s comforting to know that Alvarez feels the same way I do.

What helps get you through it? The music: which on this particular day included some Kid Rock and Shakira.

Williams’ class makes you realize no matter how conditioned you are there’s always room to improve, always something to strive for. You can’t be complacent, folks. You gotta try to make your life better and when you take steps to do so, the pieces start to fall into place.

“He changed my life, helping me to learn how to take care of my body. You just feel so much better. You have so much energy,” says Alvarez. It’s true. I’m running on practically no sleep; but when I get home I feel like I can conquer the world. Carpe diem.

Taylor can be reached at

By the numbers

Starting Weight: 182

Pounds Lost: 27.5

Current Weight: 154.5

Goal Weight: 135

Pounds to Lose to Goal: 19.5

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