I Broke Out of My Workout Comfort Zone (and Actually Liked It)

Free People

As much as I pride myself on being up for adventures in various facets of my life-traveling, moving to new cities or countries, knowingly putting myself in awkward social situations-I am also extremely prone to getting locked into a daily routine. I have the same smoothie for breakfast every day, I rotate through the same three or four lunches, and I always end up committing to one fitness routine at any given time. Once I find something I like (or can muster up the mind over matter to do regularly), I typically stick to it. Yes, this can lead to a rapid decline in interest and motivation-as well as what some have called an "exercise plateau"-but once I get into the groove of things, I typically don't make changes until forced.

I've always been one for keeping it simple with running and weight lifting. After moving to L.A. almost a year ago, I did the most L.A. thing I could do and joined a yoga studio. Before long, I was hooked. While my love for yoga hasn't faded, I'm still curious about the gamut of fitness classes offered around the city that I'm missing out on by committing to a year-long membership at a single studio. So when Aerospace High Performance Center opened its doors in L.A., I had the chance to take classes with its founders, and I was all in (but also scared).

Victoria's Secret

I arrived at my first class with a healthy dose of apprehension. The participants there before me-warming up, chatting with the co-founder Michael Olajide Jr. (who happens to be a middleweight champion boxer and responsible for such Victoria's Secret bodies as Adriana Lima's, Constance Jablonski, and Romee Strijd), and generally looking like seasoned pros in the slick, open studio-were a challenge to my confidence as I strolled in in my yoga leggings, picking up my resistance bands and jump rope.

I came into the class with the understanding that it would kick my butt, and it was no more than a few minutes in that this was confirmed (wholeheartedly) by the first set of unforgiving uppercuts and southpaws. Within the first several minutes of the session I was sweating, but I was also putting in 110% effort to not to look like a fool following along to what I was trying to translate into dance steps in my head but were really exhausting maneuvers incompetently executed by my lackluster upper-body strength.

Despite the many hangups, I powered through the class. Funnily enough, the area I struggled with the most was simply jumping rope, but Michael had a way of making it fun. The hour-long class left me sore for days and slightly insecure about my level of athleticism, but it didn't deter me from breaking out of my workout comfort zone for future occasions. In fact, since my initial intro to Aerobox workouts, I've ventured into other workout realms as well-testing out hip-hop cardio and Pilates with fewer reservations and a more open mind. Head below to read what Aerospace co-founder Michael Olajide Jr. says about the space and switching up your workout routine.

BYRDIE: What was your mission when founding Aerospace?

Michael Olajide Jr.: The purpose of founding Aerospace High Performance Center was to give people an incredible workout. One with a purpose, in a space that was built exactly for our methodology, a unique look for a unique exercise. I would walk into all these gyms, and they would have all these machines with lights, bells and whistles, weight scales that talk to you, TVs, radios, and screens, and it was like,В stop already. This isn't what fitness is supposed to be about. It's not about distracting yourself for an hour. You can get so much more out of your workout than what you are when you participate in something that allows you to build a skill as well.

BYRDIE: Can you please describe the method?

MO Jr.: I call it AeroMethodology. It's a cardiovascular-based muscle endurance. It uses attributes like timing and reflexes instead of machines to benefit your body and mind. Time is the greatest opponent we will ever have, and we have to learn to fight it. The ingredients we use in our workouts fight what time does to our brain and bodies. That's good for the ego and the soul.

BYRDIE: What should someone know before coming to a class at Aerospace?

MO Jr.: AeroMethodology is a new way to move. Patience and repetition leadВ to success. You can't come in and expect to master a move immediately because each move is based on a real skill and ability that a fighter has done every day of their life, for years. So yes, if you come in and you're open to learning, you'll do amazing things. You'll blow yourself away. We have a saying, "you walk before you run-jump before you fly," and to me, that says it all. Let yourself evolve.

BYRDIE: What advice do you have for individuals breaking out of their workout comfort zone?

MO Jr.: Your first class, go in to learn. That's all. Whatever you approach, if you approach it to learn, you will be so much more successful, and it will be that much more enjoyable. It's a balance of ego and fear of failure. The benefit is always in the effort. You'll get more benefits out of starting something new than you will byВ doing the same old same old.

BYRDIE: How important do you think it is for someone to switch up their workout routine or challenge themselves to try something out of their norm?

MO Jr.: There is a lot to be said for repetition because that's how we learn everything. Those who don't have to repeat to remember are called geniuses. I'm sure if Einstein did Aerobox, he would have lived at least 10 years longer with strong health benefits. I think challenging yourself is important to living a full life, and I think it is always important to upgrade. Programs do become stale, and like computers, we have to install a new operating system.

BYRDIE: Do you have advice for someone who's stuck in a workout rut or who's hit a plateau with their progress?

MO Jr.: Seek out a former athlete who is still passionate about what they do. You will find the real reason to move again. There is no such thing as a plateau when you're an athlete. The motivation is to learn.

BYRDIE: Boxing has become a popular workout, especially among top models like your clients. Why do you think this is? Can you please describe the fitness benefits of boxing?

MO Jr.: Boxing has become a popular workout because the benefits are incredible. The benefits are physical, mental, and immediate. There is no other major sport in the world where you can emulate the training of an athlete by yourself and get those benefits. You either need a running facility, other people, machines, or money. Boxing, like every other martial art, is about knowing yourself and the fight within you. It can be done anywhere on your own. I call it, "aggressive meditation." The benefits of boxing include increased cardiovascular capacity, timing, speed, reflexes, core toning, and strength. There's nothing boxing doesn't do. It's the perfect exercise for the human body because it moves exactly the way the body was meant to move, nothing contraindicated, at elevated speeds. When a trainer truly knows boxing and its drills, there isn't a muscle on your body it cannot complement.

BYRDIE: What's the number one piece of fitness advice you give to your clients?

MO Jr.: Cardio is king. That is the one essential building block of fitness that the human body needs in order to heal and remain efficient and strong throughout time. Put cardio before everything else.

BYRDIE: What's the biggest fitness mistake you see individuals making most often?

MO Jr.: They allow themselves to become distracted. I call it cardio theater with the use of cell phones and sometimes even music. Working out is the only way our bodies and minds can communicate with one another. It's a way to get to know yourself. Why distort the message? Your exercise should force you to do that. It should ask a question every time, and you should come back with an emphatic "yes" every time.

Hitting the gym soon? Discover the seven things you should never do after a workout, from Aerospace's other co-founder, Leila Fazel.