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I Tried The Workout LeBron James Swears By For A Week And This Is What Happened

A total body workout in 30 minutes.

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Hi, I’m Christopher, and I love the NBA (go Spurs!).

I'm also a huge fan of LeBron James, not just because he's incredible on the basketball court, but because he strives for greatness off of it, and is seemingly always in the gym.

Instagram: @kingjames via @KingJames

LeBron has managed to remain healthy through 14 NBA seasons, and at age 32, he doesn't appear to be slowing down any.

So when I spotted the best basketball player on the planet (don’t @ me) frequently working out on an unfamiliar machine, I was intrigued.

instagram.com via @KingJames

I figured, if LeBron loved the machine enough to call it his girlfriend, it must be legit.

I did some in-depth research (aka I googled “What's the deal with that machine LeBron uses?") and discovered that it's a Versaclimber.

instagram.com via @risenation

The Versaclimber is a vertical cardio machine that mimics a climbing motion, while working the major muscle groups. Most appealing is that it has no impact on the knees and ankles. I also found that there's a place called Rise Nation that was designed by celeb trainer Jason Walsh, and it offers 30-minute full-body workouts on the Versaclimber. Sometimes LeBron actually takes classes there as part of his training, and it's not just him...

I discovered that a lot of celebrities utilize Rise Nation's workouts when getting in tip-top condition. Lady Gaga did it to prepare for her Super Bowl performance, Alison Brie did it to get ready for GLOW, John Krasinski used it, as did Jennifer Aniston — the list goes on and on.

Rise Nation offers three different classes of increased difficulty: Level 1: Intro, Level 2: The Climb, and Level 3: Extreme.

Rise Nation / Via rise-nation.com

The plan was to begin with a Level 1 class, then take the Level 2 class three times, all in preparation for the grand finale — a Level 3 class. In the days leading up to the class, I prepared by doing 30 minutes on a stair-stepper, to ensure that I didn't embarrass myself the first time I met LeBron's girlfriend.

Here's how the week went:

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Workout #1: Level 1 — Intro

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At the start of the workout, I was so distracted by the cool, colorful lights and Kings of Leon tunes blaring through the speakers that I wasn’t focused on how difficult the workout was. By the time I realized I was sweaty and out of breath, I figured a significant chunk of time must’ve passed. NOPE. It was, like, four minutes in, and I was gasping for air.

Eventually I caught my second wind and began to get the hang of the Versaclimber. Chandler, the instructor, guided the class through various movements at different paces, all while giving helpful words of encouragement along the way. The music that played throughout the workout was on point, never failing to keep me pumped up. I wanted to keep track of how many total steps I’d taken during each class, but I was just so thrilled to survive the first workout that I forgot to. Level 1 was super challenging, but not so overwhelmingly strenuous that you'd want to give up entirely.

Workout #2: Level 2 — The Climb

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The jump in intensity from Level 1 to Level 2 was evident in the faster pace maintained for lengthier stretches. Once again, the music was legitimately better than anything I've heard at a club in recent years. The instructor, Courtney, had such incredible energy that you'd have to be dead inside to not feel hyped up and motivated. She instructed from her Versaclimber, she danced, and she hollered inspirational things, all to a straight fire playlist.

Afterward I felt the general soreness you feel after a good leg workout, which let me know I pushing myself to a higher level of cardio than my body was used to.

Workout #3: Level 2 — The Climb

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I was extra motivated for this workout because shortly before it, LeBron James posted on Instagram that he’d just completed a class at Rise Nation. Sadly, I missed LeBron by an hour or so, but I made note of his step count so I could see how mine compared.

Note how LeBron says "One down!" indicating that he's planning on doing more working out after this.

Instagram: @kingjames via @KingJames

After the first two Rise Nation workouts, I sat around and didn't do additional exercise for the rest of the day. However, seeing that LeBron was doing multiple workouts made me want to, so I told myself I'd go to the gym again later on. Unfortunately my sore legs were like, "LOL bitch you ain't LeBron," so I was limited to light weightlifting.

Workout #4: Level 2 — The Climb

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This was the last workout before moving up to Level 3, so I wanted to push myself in preparation of the final class. Adam instructed this class, and he delivered a super-fun, challenging half hour, and of course he had all of the magnificent music as well.

It was interesting taking the Level 2 class three separate times with three different instructors and getting awesome, unique experiences in each one. Some featured more quick and explosive stretches, while others had more slow and concentrated motions. Some involved more core, while others involved more arms. Nonetheless, they ALL provided an efficient serving of cardio.

Now, it was on to the final class — Level 3: Extreme.

Workout #5: Level 3 — Extreme

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Shortly before it began, I learned that Level 3 was 40 minutes — 10 longer than the other classes. When you wake up and there are 10 minutes left before your alarm is going to ring it ain't shit, but 10 minutes on a Versaclimber when you’re already exhausted can feel like an eternity.

Luckily, Loui, the class instructor, was so energized and enthusiastic that he provided a mental boost along the way. There's no doubt that the classes before had fully prepared me for Level 3, but the different movements, the ever-changing pace, and the desire to push oneself ensures that these workouts don’t get stale.

Shockingly, I didn't quite turn into LeBron James, who can take multiple classes in a day or supplement Versaclimber workouts with basketball practice and whatnot, but after a week I could fully appreciate Rise Nation's workouts for a number of reasons.

Instagram: @kingjames via @KingJames

* If you’re super busy, it’s only 30 minutes.

* If you hate cardio with a burning passion, it’s only 30 minutes.

* If you’re injury-prone, it’s easy on the body. (I have really bad knees, but I didn’t experience any pain during or after these workouts.)

* If you’re competitive, you can use each workout to try to beat your previous step counts (or even eyeball other people’s machines and try to outdo theirs).

* The Rise Nation workouts also motivated me to eat more nutritious foods before class, so I'd feel well enough to perform during them, AND after class, so I wouldn't waste all of the hard work on empty calories.

Even though I only took five classes, I feel like I legitimately made progress in my conditioning. And the progress isn't just physical, it's mental.

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My mentality in my personal workouts has changed significantly because now I'm aware of how much further I can push myself. Sure, it's difficult to match Rise Nation's levels of intensity when I'm solo, on a lowly stair stepper, in a crusty gym, without flashing lights or an inspiring instructor, but I can still plug in my earbuds, play some bangers, and go harder, reminding myself of the extremely intense classes I survived when I need confidence or motivation.

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