Every year, I put on my finest sweatpants and prepare for one of the greatest nights of the year: the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Like the rest of the world, I sit there with my jaw dropped (occasionally closing it for obvious popcorn-chewing reasons), mesmerized by the models’ mile-long legs and sculpted-to-perfection abs. How is it possible for these women to look so damn good?! Well, let me be the first to tell you that what they do to look so good is not easy, and I would know. I was given the opportunity to train with Michael Olajide Jr., cofounder of Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City and the trainer responsible for some of the sick bodies we see on the runway.
Going into this, I considered myself relatively fit. I played sports consistently growing up, and as a 20-something now, I work out three to four times a week doing mostly cardio. But the workout at Aerospace, which the website describes as “the most savage and serene fitness experience on the planet,” was the complete opposite of everything my body was used to. The machine-free fitness experience was fast-paced, engaging, and tough. The only downside? I didn’t leave the hour-long gym session magically transformed into Adriana Lima. Whatevs.
Luckily for me, I was able to get a taste of a few of the Aero workouts that the gym offers, aka workouts leading to a whole lot of soreness the next day and the realization that my habitual hour-long elliptical workouts don’t even begin to work all the muscle groups I should be working. The gym offers five different workouts: Aerobox, a full-body boxing workout; Aerojump, a jump-rope-focused workout; Aerosculpt, a full-body toning workout; Aeroimpact, a contact boxing or kickboxing workout; and Yoaero, a yoga workout. You can opt for 60-minute sessions of each class or combine to classes together, doing a 30-minute sessions of each.
After warming up with jumping jacks and twisting movements that somehow already had me sweating, we were ready to take on the first challenge, Aerojump mixed with Aerosculpt moves. Aerojump is basically your elementary school recess jump rope session, except incredibly more intense, and instead of the teachers enjoying their time to mingle, we had Michael pushing our limits and challenging our speed with The Rainmaker, the gym’s own jump rope. Not trying to get graphic here, but let’s just say my sweat was making it rain, so I understand the name. After the jumping and the sculpting exercises with glide disks, my legs were loosened up and my quads – well, they were burning.
Going into this workout, I was so excited to box. The second Michael took out a pair of pink gloves, I was ecstatic. So much for preconceived notions, because nothing about this routine was cute. I wrapped up my hands, put on my now-not-so-adorable pink gloves, and put my fists up with a vengeance. We started with straight left, right punch combinations, eventually moving faster, then moving into sets of uppercuts and jabs at “fight speed.” I felt like a badass . . . until I couldn’t really lift my arms anymore. My daily pre-elliptical three-pound dumbbell weight routine was not helping me here. The pace of the workout combined with Michael’s unwavering excitement just encouraged me to move as fast and as intensely as I could.
Then, it was time to work my abs. Unlike other toning exercises I’d done in the past, Michael uses his own body to work the client’s abs. He calls it “handcrafting,” and if you’ve seen Adriana’s abs, those bad boys are absolutely handcrafted. Lower abs have been a unattainable goal of mine since high school, but Michael swears by his technique, doing what weights and machines aren’t able to do. Confused? Intrigued? Here’s how it works: by laying down flat on my back with my core tightened, I raised my legs up and down with Michael pushing down, resisting the curl, and pushing back on my legs.
At the end of the workout, I was out of breath and sweating, but it was during the final stretch where I had to take a moment to give those Angels a moment of my appreciation. The next time you think “maybe she’s born with it” when you see a Victoria’s Secret model, just know that it takes a LOT of work, stamina, and determination to keep up with their intense workouts.