Jenna Wolfe

Are you man (or woman) enough for a strongman workout?

Feb. 10, 2012 at 9:03 AM ET

TODAY recently asked me if I’d be interested in doing a story on strongman fitness. After all, I do have a crush on "strong" and I’m sort of obsessed with fitness. No brainer, right?

But up until that point, the only strongman I knew was from those ridiculously crazy competitions that would air at 3 a.m. on cable with big guys lifting bigger cars, dragging airplanes and turning over tires the size of Texas. My initial reaction was, thanks, but I'm not interested in muscles that outweigh my couch.

But I was curious. So we went to Carozza Fitness up in Stamford, Conn., to join a class.

Courtesy of Jenna Wolfe /

My first reaction: Where were all the massive muscled men? All I saw were tractor-trailer tires, a few sledgehammers, large stone balls, and 15 women of all fitness levels eager to start a workout. Nobody looked like they could bench-press the building. Nobody looked like they could squat my car. And nobody had neck muscles that spanned an oceanfront. These were all fit women who had joined this class because they were bored of the fitness status quo. But could they handle this workout?

Does Al Roker know weather?

The class started with a 15-minute plyometric-based warm up: squats, burpies, jumping jacks -- a few fun moves to get the heart pumping and the strongman ego going. I sailed through the warm up fully confident I’d be fine with the workout.

Perhaps “confident” was too strong a word.

It began. One-minute intervals of the following exercises: 100-lb tire flips, sledgehammer swings, walking with a bar on your shoulders twice your body weight, 60-lb stone lifts, monkey bar swings, box jumps and kettle bell swings. You go from one station to the next with no rest until you get through the entire circuit. And then you do it again. (The word “again” quickly becomes your enemy.)

The constant movement makes for a killer cardio workout. The strongman moves mimic chores we do over the course of our day (lifting groceries, putting suitcases onto the plane, pushing boxes, carrying a kid). These women all swear by the class. They stick together and get through it as a team. They have all lost weight and built strength. But they have also fallen in love with working out again. You’re not on an elliptical for 40 minutes reading a magazine, or texting or talking or uphill walking. You are maximizing your efforts, depleting your tank. You walk away from a workout like this knowing you gave nothing shy of 100 percent. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

So how did I do? Let’s just say I came back a few days later (without cameras) to do the workout on my own again. As someone who has tried just about every routine, fitness craze and cardio class out there, this one made me feel the most empowered.

Have you tried a strongman workout? Would you? Let us know -- discuss this story on Facebook

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