Written by Ashley Dier | Academy Of Lions Media Team | Toronto

Meet the MetCon (or metabolic conditioning if you wanna be all proper), a high intensity, fast paced workout completed in a short period of time (typically 30 minutes or less). MetCons are difficult and leave you sweating, but they're meant to. By design, MetCon training pushes your cardiovascular threshold making them a perfect form of cross training and a great supplement to your current fitness regime or training.

Coach Richmond Lo breaks down the structure of a MetCon class:

The coach will guide you through a functional warm-up specific for the movements being performed in the class.

Strength or Skill
As a class we will practice a movement outside of the workout. This allows us to focus on the specific details of the movements. Examples: pull-ups, Turkish get ups, wall walks.

MetCon (metabolic conditioning)
The coach will go over the movements you will be doing for the workout prior to the start of the clock. The goal is to move effectively, so getting the right weights is important. The demo is the time to try out movements and ask any questions. The coach is always there to help so don’t feel too shy to ask, performing the movements correctly is important. The class always starts together and finishes together until the last person is done. You may be moving through movements individually, as a group, or a class.

We end off with either a ‘fun burner’ or a stretch as a class to close it off. Feel free to as the coach any questions in regards to movements or specific stretches.

Typical movements often performed in a MetCon class include burpees (so.many.burpees), wall balls, kettle bell work, skipping, push-ups/sit-ups, and movements with free weights (lunges, presses, snatches). Richmond explains the advantages of adding MetCon classes into your program. "Including Metcon classes to your training add a different layer of training stimulus to your overall regime. More and more athletes from monostructural sports, such as running, cycling, swimming, rowing and even martial arts are prescribed CrossFit in their training program because it takes the athlete out of their regular training environment," he said.

Adding,  "We focus our programming to provide athletes with a general aerobic conditioning workout lasting anywhere between 20-40 minutes with a mixture of bodyweight, light to medium weights and basic plyometric movements. It is designed so a new member to the gym can jump into the class without prior experience in CrossFit but scalable for the most advanced athletes, allowing everyone to get the benefits right from the first class."

Meet James Koka, a runner, snowboarder, rock-climber and cyclist.  Looking for a different approach to his cross training, James began taking MetCon classes in November and despite the burpees, has been coming regularly ever since. Prior to starting the classes, James had just finished a half marathon and remembers the toll it took on his body. "Running a few half marathons felt like a great accomplishment, but when I would finish, I remember thinking that a marathon would NEVER happen - who would want to run that far? A half-marathon would take everything out of me - I would struggle through those last 5 kilometers and barely be able to walk the next day," he said.

 James Koka running the GoodLife Toronto Waterfront Marathon Photo: Daniel Bach  

James Koka running the GoodLife Toronto Waterfront Marathon Photo: Daniel Bach  

The old adage of “never say never” rings true again - earlier this month James completed his first marathon. "Since doing the MetCon classes I've completed a half-marathon, Around-the-bay (30k), and my first marathon.  All three races were PB's in their own way: I've never felt so strong running a half-marathon, Around-The-Bay was a 20 minute PB, and the Goodlife Marathon was my first time completing that distance," he said proudly.

Cross training of any sort can be difficult and like anything when not done correctly increases your chances of injury. Richmond describes how the coaches help ensure you leave injury free and reap the rewards of your hard work "Our job as coaches in the gym is to make sure you can workout hard without injuring yourself. This is why we pride ourselves with ensuring everyone moves with great technique making sure everything is done safely and effectively," he said. He continued, "On top of that we want all the training benefits gained within the gym to transfer over to your specific training, whether that is gaining strength in different positions, resiliency in joints or movement patterns that allow to do your daily tasks more effectively."

For James, that hard work perfecting form and movements and more burpees than one could count paid off, "I honestly believe that the MetCon classes were one of the single biggest contributors to my Goodlife Marathon results.  It gave me the leg and core strength that I don't think I could have achieved by just running.  At no point during the race did I think that my legs wouldn't be able to make it, a big change from racing a shorter distance only 6 months earlier," he said. Adding, I lost a bunch of weight, became so much stronger, drastically improved my running, and met some really great people in the process."

Like most other members, the Lions community makes the challenging workouts seem just a little bit easier and makes coming back a breeze. "The best part is the 6am crew family.  Doing 8 million wall balls at 6am, and still being able to share a laugh, and look forward to the next day... it says something about the people you work out with," he said.

Congratulations on your accomplishment James, we are all incredibly proud of you!

Interested in MetCon classes. Click here to find out more.