Last night's class didn't introduce a lot in the way of new songs, but I did mix up the order that I played them for a change and, more importantly, a challenge.
Back in high school, my cross country coach used to yell at me for my kick at the end of the race. Fueled by the crowd and that final burst of adrenaline, I'd blast through the last 100 yards and across the finish line. I felt it made me look impressive and of course, if I could pick off a few more runners, all the better. But my coach was not a fan. She said, "A kick like that tells me you didn't run hard enough during your race."
Since then, I'd like to say I've matured as an athlete. I no longer require that final sprint to prove my strength or athleticism, but that's not to say that it doesn't feel good to throw in a fast, loud, butt-whooping song at the end of a spin class or run.
The problem with always doing that at the end of a workout is that your body may come to anticipate that last push. Some people will work hard the entire hour regardless of which drills I do when, but I did notice a few people seeming to conserve their efforts for the last song. Suddenly, I found myself in my coach's shoes. She was.... right. *grumble*
Muscle memory is an amazing thing. It tells us that stairs need to be 10.5" high (I love the things I learn on "Holmes Inspection"), helps us navigate our living rooms in the dark, makes us able to memorize songs on instruments, and much more. But this also means that our bodies can become really used to a workout and when you always do the same drills in the same order, you run the risk of not pushing yourself harder. So on the bike, do the hardest drill halfway through your workout. On a run, try to throw in a faster mile somewhere in the middle. You can even mix up your routine by starting with cardio at the gym, stopping to go lift weights, then coming back to do the rest of your aerobic workout.
But of course, don't think that just because you challenge yourself more in the middle of your routine that you can just cruise until the end. A mid-class sprint doesn't mean I won't push my class to do something challenging at the end. I'm evil like that.