Remember when I got the deal of a lifetime? 5 classes via Class Pass for $20? $4 a class? Well, turns out I had a brain fart and missed one of the classes. So instead, I only got to try out 4 classes. C'est la vie.
For my last class I attended BFX Build at BFX's Chelsea studio (555 6th Avenue - between 15th & 16th streets and conveniently RIGHT next to the FM subway).
BFX offers a ton of different membership and class options. Their website, to be completely honest, is confusing and overwhelming. There are Cyc classes, BFX Burn, BFX Build, BFX Barre, Box & Strength, BFX PTC Endure, BFX TRX, BFX Friction and BFX PTC Lift. Not to mention there is a personal training area with tons of cross-fit-esque machines like the air bike and True From treadmills.
On top of all that, they market their use of heart rate monitors pretty heavily on their website despite the fact that when I showed up and asked for one to use during class I was told that, "They don't usually work." Heart rate monitors weren't mentioned once during the class - not even a reference to what percent of your heart rate you should be working at throughout the circuits.
To me, it seemed that BFX is having a little bit of an identity crisis. They're trying to do it all. Trying to be a crossfit box, boutique group fitness studio, gym, cycling studio, Orange Theory amalgamation. And to be quite frank - they're not only failing to be good at all of the above - they're failing to be great at any one of those things.
The class I took is described as
A combination of TRX, kettlebells and UGI balls, this dynamic, full-body workout will build lean muscle, develop your core, improve your strength and fuel your body and mind.
And to be fair, it did all of the above. Except maybe fueling my mind.
BFX Build was set up as a circuit after a short warm up of jogging in place and jumping jacks.
:60 Walk Out Push-Up Ladder - start with one walk-out push-up, work your way up to as many reps as possible within a minute.
2 Minutes Single Leg Dead Lifts (:60 each leg) - for PT, I've been doing a lot of unweighted single-leg dead lifts and its been challenging because balance and glute/hamstring strength are not my specialties. Seeing people doing single leg dead lifts with 35 pound kettlebells was a real wake up call as I struggled with an 18 pounder.
:60 TRX Pushups - These not only burned my arms, but my abs!
:60 Burpees - I found myself completing 13-15 burpees in the 1 minute time frame.
We completed this circuit three times through with no rest for a total of 15 working minutes.
This section was really called "ab blaster" or "ab burner" or something like that but I can't seem to remember the exact terminology. Semantics.
:30 Slow Mountain Climbers With Sliders- the instructor, Derek, really encouraged us to do these slowly and focus on using our abs to draw our knees in without moving our hips. I really appreciated the fact that he made it clear that form was more important than anything else.
:30 Up and Outs - Leg lowers/raises with a booty pop at the top to really hammer home the lower ab work.
Again, we went through the circuit 3 times without stopping for 3 minutes of ab work. 3 minutes straight of ab work will really give you a nice burrrrn.
:30 TRX Row Right Arm- These took some getting used to and while they don't appear like a big arm workout, once you get the form down right you're sure to feel it!
10 Reps Kettlebell Row Right Arm - going from TRX row to kettlebell row on the same arm was a big challenge.
:30 TRX Row Left Arm
10 Reps Kettlebell Row Left Arm
:60 TRX Back Lunge Left Leg- these were really hard. With one leg in the TRX strap, you had to go into a back lunge until your back knee touched the ground. Then, to make things even harder, on your way up, Derek encouraged us to add a hop. These were killlllllller.
:60 TRX Back Lunge Right Leg
:30 Kettlebell Thrusters - These are a pretty common Crossfit exercise and one that Derek came around and helped me out with form-wise. I always love getting tips during a class - it's like a mini personal training session!
:30 Kettlebell Swings - Derek told me I should be using the 35 pound kettlebell for these instead of the 18 pound one I swung on the first round of this circuit. EEK! I hated how hard it was, but liked being challenged and pushed.
We repeated this circuit 3 times for 15 minutes of work.
We finished up with another 3 minute ab circuit.
:30 Army Crawls With Sliders- Oh boy, I don't think I ever realized how hard these are when your feet are on sliders!
:30 Jack Knifes
Total: 36 minutes of work + Warm Up + Cool Down for a total of 50 minutes.
Derek was a good instructor who helped with form throughout the class, was full of encouragement, and explained each circuit ahead of time. He had a laid back yet "work hard" vibe about him.
WHAT I LIKED:
- I love a class that's broken into circuits. These went by fast, though I didn't love repeating the same circuit three times in a row without a break.
- This class encouraged you to use heavy weights.
- Derek was attentive to form and offered corrections throughout the class.
- The ab circuits hurt like hell, and I've been slacking in that department so it was a nice change.
- I liked using TRX, Kettlebells AND gliders since I don't use them a ton on my own.
- I was sore as hell the next day, which made me feel like even if I didn't love the class, it had been effective.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
- Unfortunately, I disliked more about this class than I liked. First of all, I didn't like the fact that they advertise as using heart rate technology and that was completely non-existent from my experience.
- The room was pretty damn crowded and they ran out of some sizes of kettlebells that I would have liked to use.
- I understand that this was a strength focused class, but I prefer classes with a little more cardio.
- I didn't really love any of the exercises. I know, I know - it's supposed to be hard and challenging, not "fun." But there are some exercises that while tortuously difficult, are also somehow enjoyable. You know what I mean? I think you know what I mean. It's different for everyone. For me, this class didn't have any of those "ouch but yay lets do it" exercises.
- I didn't get any sort of community vibe from the studio.
*Based on a scale of 1-10
The Studio - 8
The space was large and had two studios along with an entire separate gym area with tons of equipment - air bikes, rowers, spin bikes, a True Form treadmill, etc.
Class Size - Large
The class was packed and I do think it affected the experience.
Sweat-Scale - 7
I was definitely sweaty by the end of this but like I said - it was a much more strength-focused workout so I didn't have that "holy cow I'm sweating buckets because I just did sprints and burpees" sweat.
Fun-Factor - 5
Unfortunately, I was very very solidly "meh" at the end of this class.
Amenities - 7
What you would expect from a boutique fitness studio. Nothing over the top, but very luxurious for us New York Sports Club regulars.
Cost - $$$
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$)
If you're looking for a circuit based class - I would look elsewhere. I've taken classes that I leave SO excited about. There are classes that I can't wait to share with readers because I want them to go and feel the same endorphin-induced high that I got from the class.
BFX wasn't one of those classes. It just left something to be desired and was lacking that extra "oomph." I really think it has to do with the fact that they're trying to do too much.