What started as one gym in Sydney in 2013 has grown to over 850 studios in 22 different countries and “coming soon” locations popping up constantly. So why are so many people drinking the F45 Kool Aid?
There are only a few fitness fads that I haven’t tried, and a handful that I’ve tried and just haven’t really enjoyed (Barre – ow! Yoga – ugh! Zumba – womp!)
There are no fitness fads that I’m not willing to give a shot (still need to make my way to a “flirty girl fitness class,” aerial yoga, trampoline and trapeze!) Even if I look like a spaz and make a fool of myself, it’s only for an hour!
Feeling like a total spaz was par for the course during my first boxing class at Work Train Fight – but the challenge fell into the land of “motivating” instead of “demoralizing” (which is how I felt attending a step class full of 60+ jazzercisers before I walked out of the only class I’ve ever quit).
Since then, I’ve taken a few classes at NYSC at have found them to be pretty enjoyable. My arms are always so sore the day after a boxing class and I love that feeling of “OH SHIT I did WORK yesterday.”
So I thought it was time to throw some legs into the mix and attend a kickboxing class – an intimidating idea for someone with little to no coordination when it comes to things that require choreography.
After looking around at some studios, and really wanting to use the 2nd Avenue Subway – I came across The Kickbox Haus on the Upper East Side. Not only did they offer kickboxing, but fusion classes with kettlebells!
I talked to studio owner and instructor Michelle and it sounded like a pretty challenging class – so I signed myself and a friend up and hoped for the best.
Kickbox Haus is a very small studio with about 10 punching bags set up in very close proximity. There’s really nowhere to put your things – I had to shove my winter coat, boots and backpack behind my punching bag which was odd but worked out fine.
It’s $5 to rent gloves.
Michelle was teaching our class and she was full of personality and energy – she gave lots of instructions and soon we were set up by our bags with kettlebells of varying weights and a mat to get started with some glute and core work.
The bulk of the class alternated between kettlebell exercises and bag work.
Michelle is extremely qualified to teach all about kettlebells – a piece of fitness equipment that’s typically misused. She was very adamant about proper form for kettlebell swings which was very helpful. Kettlebell swings tire me OUT, man. I eventually got the hang of them, but 30 seconds straight of kettlebell swinging is no joke.
We also worked on some cleans and I was a little less graceful with those – banging up my elbows, shoulders and wrists pretty well in an attempt to get the kettlebells into the racked position.
My favorite part was the bag work – incorporating not only jabs, crosses, uppercuts, hooks etc. but straight and roundhouse kicks. We did a ladder with roundhouse kicks that sounded simple, but by the time I was up to 10 kicks I was beat!
WHAT I DIDN'T LOVE & WHAT I LOVED
My favorite and least favorite part of the class was actually the same thing – Michelle took a lot of time after each set/exercise to explain what was coming next.
As someone taking my first kickboxing class and still new to Kickbox Haus, I really appreciated the in depth instruction and attention to form and proper technique. That being said, my heart rate kept coming down during the instruction, and if I were a regular I would have been irritated by all of the talking!
The periods of work were hard, don’t get me wrong – but the class overall could have felt like a much better workout if the moves had been explained at the beginning of class and then we powered through them all with less rest.
I still left feeling really glad that I had attended – and wanting to add kickboxing (with an actual bag) to my regular workout routine – as well as using kettlebell swings in more of my DIY gym workouts. They’re a great power+strength+cardio exercise!
The Kickbox Haus offers a variety of classes in additional to kickboxing and kettlebell – there’s TRX training, Muay Thai, American Boxing, and more.
If you’re looking for real training and instruction on proper technique I highly recommend taking a few classes at The Kickbox Haus.
Just bear in mind – there are no showers or changing/locker rooms – it’s a small space with the bare minimum.
After reading about Body Space Fitness on one of my favorite blogs, Kayla In The City, I knew I wanted to check it out and review it for myself.
Founder Kelvin Gary's boutique fitness studio first specialized in semi-private (small group) training and personal training sessions but has recently expanded it's offerings to include various group fitness classes.
Torn between Body Camp and Metabolic Burn, I made a last minute decision to take the two classes back-to-back. One at 5 p.m. and the next at 6 p.m.
Read on to find out if I survived - and what I thought of the Body Space Fitness!
Body Space Fitness is super nondescript from the outside. When you open the door on the 5th floor of a building, you're already in the thick of things - with kettlebells being swung, sleds being pushed, and medicine balls being slammed all around you.
Though the space itself isn't extremely large, it is packed with functional training equipment. There's not a stationary machine in sight - something that I absolutely love. There's an entire area where clients can get stretched out and rubbed down, an ALTER-G TREADMILL, and the main work-out floor complete with sandbags, medicine balls, TRX, sleds, kettlebells - they've got it all.
Classes take part on the back half of the "turf" and while things got a little congested during the Metabolic Burn Class, the workout is expertly designed and executed to make things run smoothly and for the space to be shared effectively.
It's as if the instructors are performing choreography in the way that they explain circuits and exercises, set stations up and dismantle them, and keep things flowing.
BODY CAMP FORMAT
On Body Space Fitness's website, they describe Body Camp as a "55 minute, strength based class in a small group setting features stations of functional exercises designed to sculpt lean muscles."
100% accurate description.
The class was comprised of a warm up followed by two different strength circuits.
I loved this warm up. Lots of agility/cardio exercises to get the blood flowing. There were only 6 of us in the class and we did high knees, caterpillars, lateral shuffles, karaoke, and more including a few torturous moves with the resistance bands around our ankles.
We performed each exercise :42 ON | :18 REST for 3 rounds.
RFE Split Squat - Fancy terminology for "Rear Foot Elevated" Split Squat. These are more like lunges and we performed them hold a kettlebell (weight of your choosing!)
JB Slam - "Jam Ball" (Medicine Ball) Slams
TRX Hamstring Curls- These bad boys BURN and I struggled to do them for the full :42 seconds, especially with proper form (hips UP)
SB BO Row - Sand Bag Bent Over Row (There were tons of different weight options!)
1/2 Knee DB Press - Kneeling shoulder presses with dumbbells
Again, we performed each exercise :42 ON | :18 REST for 3 rounds.
KBDL - Kettlebell Deadlifts! I appreciated the fact that the instructor, Dean, came around and encouraged me to up my weight. It's always nice when an instructor pushes you!
Lateral Box Step Up
SB FS - Front squats with the sandbag!
Floor Chest Press
The instructor, Dean Sheremet, was absolutely the best part about the class. He took this from just a circuit workout to a great group fitness class.
He was encouraging, enthusiastic and extremely helpful in terms of describing the format of the class, demonstrating each exercise, challenging people individually, offering advice on form and was also a great DJ (hi, Spice Girls!)
WHAT I LIKED
I loved that you could make this workout as hard as you liked based on the weights that you chose for each exercise.
I thought it was a great mix of leg and arm exercise with abs thrown in their as well. None of the exercises were too difficult to get the hang of, but all really effective!
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
For some of the exercises, I wanted to challenge myself by going up in weight - especially since this is marketed as a strength focused class. But I found :42 seconds was a long time to perform a strength-based exercise with heavier weights. With the interval set at :42 seconds, it's clearly a more high-rep scenario which means lower weights.
It would be interesting if the amount of time you performed each exercise changed throughout the circuits so that you could experiment more with "going heavy."
METABOLIC BURN FORMAT
Described on their website as their "cardio and endurance based class," Metabolic Burn promises to be "filled with high intensity, calorie burning, low impact exercises using a wide variety of toys such as, but not limited to, sleds, battleropes, ViPRs, sandbags and Airdyne bikes. This class, focused more on endurance than strength, gets your heart rate up with 40 second intervals where you do the most amount of reps possible in the allotted time."
THE WARM UP
We did a lot of the same things for Metabolic Burn's warm up as we did for Body Camp. I like this kind of warm-up because it's not static stretching and actually warms you up- I was definitely breathing a little heavy by the end of it!
We performed the following exercises for :40 seconds with :20 rest as we rotated to the next exercise. We completed this circuit 4 times.
Single Arm Kettle Bell Swings
Sand Bag Shoulder Press - You essentially lifted the sandbag from one shoulder, up and over your head, to the other shoulder. It was deceptively difficult!
Burpee Bear Crawl - Bear Crawl to the front of the turf, burpee, bear crawl backwards to the wall, repeat. I looked like a total spazz doing the Bear Crawl.
Lateral Shuffle With Resistance Bands
Medicine Ball Jack Knifes
Sandbag Shoulder Squats - Starting with the sandbag on one shoulder and switching it to the other halfway through
Lateral Medicine Ball Throws
As you can see, these exercises were much more cardio focused than Body Camp.
The class finished a a 5 minute "Cardio Blast" where we performed the following exercises for :30 with a :12 rest - 4X through.
Hand Release Push-Ups
Nicole Bunyan taught Metabolic Burn and she was great! Supportive, attentive and great at keeping things moving. She had a more difficult job than Dean in terms of keeping things organized since there were so many more people in the same tiny space.
Nicole gave some great tips on form - like keeping your nose pointed up at the ceiling during the medicine ball jack knifes.
WHAT I LIKED
To be fair, Metabolic Burn is just more my style. I like the cardio aspect of classes like this - I like feeling like I'm going to die in a pool of my own sweat because I'm a freak.
I also realllllly liked the fact that a lot of these exercises are low impact. My shins have been bothering me a lot (shocker) and not having to be constantly jumping yet still getting in cardio was great.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
There wasn't anything I didn't like, really! I didn't love love love it, but it was a very good class all around.
THE STUDIO - 7
What the studio lacks in space and "sparkle" it makes up for in phenomenal functional training equipment, cleanliness and organization. They pack a LOT in the space that they have - and it's all things that help get their clients a killer workout.
After speaking with Kelvin, he explained that they've had some growing pains since incorporating group classes. They're working on expanding and after some renovations, the space should be a lot more conducive to all that Body Space Fitness has got goin' on.
CLASS SIZE - SMALL
Body Camp was a teeeeeny class with only 6 of us. It was great, and we got tons of attention from the instructor because of it.
Metabolic Burn was larger, but in the grand scheme of fitness classes, 12 is still a small class and allows for lots of personal pointers.
SWEAT SCALE - 7
Both Body Camp and Metabolic Burn are the type of workouts that are as hard as you make them. It really depends on how hard you push yourself! I made it through 2 classes without feeling like I couldn't go on - but I also didn't go balls to the wall during Body Camp knowing that I still had another class coming up!
FUN FACTOR - 7
This place had good vibes, great instructors and jammin' tunes. As I changed and got ready, the class prior to Body Camp was RILED UP about something - it sounded like a competition of some sort. My point is, people are happy and having fun here which makes a workout a lot more pleasant!
AMENITIES - 6
They aren't out of this world but they have everything you need. Including a hair dryer in the locker room so that you don't need to lug one in your bag!
I will say that when I got out of class, every single locker in the locker room was being used!
COST - $$$
Unfortunately, this is just the cost of a boutique fitness class in NYC - $32 a pop. But if you're a ClassPasser, you can sign up for classes at Body Space Fitness!
This is the kind of fitness studio that I love. They care about putting together a quality, total body workout that is well designed and not just about having people do burpees until they puke for the sake of it.
They offer a ton of different services, classes and packages and are filled with the type of functional equipment that's most effective (in my humble opinion).
Every time I go to a studio like Body Space Fitness and have wonderful instructors like Dean and Nicole, I'm tempted to cough up the money and time to get my personal training certification!
Definitely stop by BSF if you're looking for a great workout that will leave you in a good mood.
Everyone always tells me they think I would love Flywheel - SoulCycle's equally trendy and expensive but less cult-ish and more performance-based counterpart.
The class was held at Flywheel's Chelsea location (on 17th Street between 7th & 8th Avenue) but they have many throughout New York City (9 to be exact) and throughout the US. They've even gone International - hey, Flywheel Dubai!
Everything looked new and sparkly clean but walking in was totally overwhelming. It was PACKED and I was surprised to find that there were no locker rooms - just shower/changing rooms and a bathroom. The lines were long and class started late because there were still so many people waiting to change.
There were lots of things around the waiting area that were convenient - like hair ties and mints, apples and bananas but I wish there had been locker rooms.
The cycling studio itself was large and set up stadium-style so that no matter where you were sitting you had a great view of the instructor.
Flywheel offers 45, 60 and 90 minute classes and the one I took was 45 minutes. For me, that's a good amount of time for a spin class because I typically am able to push myself realllly hard and am completely dead after those 45 minutes.
WHAT I LIKED:
-The shoes all seemed brand new and the bikes were nice as well.
-Focus on Metrics: Each bike has a small computer that lets you know metrics throughout your ride including RPMs, torque (resistance) and an overall score.
-TorqBoard: Another thing I loved about the class was that if you had a username registered with Flywheel, it appears on a leaderboard (the "TorqBoard) that comes up on the screens throughout class so you can see how your score stacks up. They also give you the option of opting out of the TorqBoard, which I think is great since some people might not feel comfortable with it.
Having metrics is HUGE for me in a spin class. It's why I love SWERVE and Peloton so much. Not only does it ignite my competitive spark with the other people in the class, but it drives me to do better each class that I take and to compete against myself.
-What I appreciate about Flywheel is that while they have you "tap it back" a number of times throughout class, that's pretty much the extent of the movement on the bike. There's no crunches and squats and other weird bullshit that you would never do on a bike (I'm looking at you, SoulCycle and Cyc!)
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
There was one song that focused on arms during the class - using 2 or 4 pound bars instead of free weights. As usual, I half-assed this portion and focused on keeping my legs going.
The instructor was great about letting you know how much resistance should be on your bike and how fast you should be aiming to spin during every song.
The music choices were solid as well and there was just the right amount of inspirational babble. I'm not being sarcastic - there really is a sweet-spot for that kind of stuff during a class.
THANKS RACHEL & JORDAN!
After class, we all got goody bags from Rachel and Jordan filled with chia seeds, Justin's peanut butter and other treats. There was also free Suja juices and samples of Barely Bread awaiting us in the lobby. I was so surprised by how delicious the odd-sounding red-cabbage, lemon water concoction was! (It was the Lavenade that I tried). The Barely Bread grain free loaf was ok, but the bagels were downright disappointing.
THE STUDIO - 6
The amenities were gorgeous but it was a real bummer not having a separate girls locker room where I could change. Instead, tons of people were waiting in line for the changing rooms. The line was so slow moving because people from the previous classes were showering.
CLASS SIZE - Large
There are probably around 50 bikes per class so you definitely won't be getting any personalized corrections or attention from instructors during a Flywheel class, but spin is one of those things were a large class doesn't really make or break the workout. You've got your own space so it doesn't feel overcrowded.
SWEAT SCALE - 8
I always leave spin a sweaty, sweaty mess. This was no different at Flywheel.
FUN FACTOR - 7
The fun factor here didn't really come from anything that Flywheel did, but rather the fact that I just generally enjoy spin classes. Give me a dark room with loud music and some stats to push myself and I'm having a good time.
AMENITIES - 9
Free apples, bananas, water bottles, hair ties, mints and shoe rentals earn Flywheel a big thumbs up.
COST - $34
It's expensive, but standard nowadays in NYC.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everyone who told me I would love Flywheel was right. And if I could afford it, I might become a regular. Flywheel is a no-nonsense on the bike spin class that uses metrics and a competitive atmosphere to push you to a great, sweaty, workout. Flywheel has secured itself a spot in my top three spin studios and I'll certainly be back.
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After a month as a quasi ClassPass member, I won't be signing myself up for a membership - but here are some key take-aways in case you're weighing the pros and cons of a gym membership vs. becoming a ClassPass crusader!
WHY YOU SHOULD SIGN UP FOR CLASSPASS
YOU NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE
ClassPass has a pretttttty unforgiving cancellation policy that leaves no room for excuses. If you're signed up for a class and feel a little lazy an hour before you're supposed to show up - that don't fly. Unless you've got unlimited money and aren't concerned with a $15 late cancellation fee.
But for us cash-strapped twenty-somethings over here - you better be cancelling by the 12 hour cut-off or getting your booty to the studio.
Not only will you face a $15 charge if you cancel less than 12 hours from your scheduled class, but it counts as a visit to that particular studio (the Unlimited plan allows up to 3 visits to any one studio in a month time period) and if you have a membership allowing a certain number of total classes - you've just lost one even though you didn't actually go.
To me, this cancellation policy is a deterrent. Life happens. Things comes up. But if you're someone who needs consequences to encourage you - ClassPass is a great motivator.
YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR FITNESS NICHE
ClassPass allows you to take classes at SO MANY studios in New York City. It's very rare, in fact, that a studio doesn't partner with ClassPass in the Big Apple. ClassPass is essentially the Tinder of the fitness world. You're free to browse an endless amount of boutique fitness studios and classes until you find the ones that are the right matches for you.
I know I love boot camp classes and HIIT. Hence, I didn't use any of my ClassPass sessions for a yoga class. But if you're lacking the knowledge of what you like and what you don't like when it comes to working out - ClassPass is a great way to try a variety of classes until you find your favorites.
YOU LIKE TO SWITCH IT UP
Some people know what they like in terms of fitness - but that doesn't mean they're content to go to the same class over and over again. If you like to avoid fitness fatigue and mental burnout from doing the same routine week after week, ClassPass is a great way to find yourself boxing one day, doing speedwork at a treadmill-based class the next day, and stretching it out with a hip-hop yoga class the next day.
This is by far the biggest draw of ClassPass to me. I've tried creating a schedule for myself - "Monday BodyPump, Tuesday Speedwork, Wednesday Bike Ride, Thursday Swim, Friday Yoga, Saturday Long Run, etc. etc." but it only ever lasts about a week until something in my schedule changes of I wake up and just don't feel like doing the same thing yet again. ClassPass keeps the boredom at bay.
YOU LIKE WELL ORGANIZED WEBSITES
Alright, so maybe this isn't a stand-alone reason for you to join ClassPass - but it is a major perk. The website is extremely well designed and allows you to search for classes in a lot of different ways depending on what your priorities are.
I love me some search filters. Anybody else?
You can search ClassPass's databases by studio name, class name, location, amenities, class types, etc. This came in handy so many times even in the short month that I used ClassPass. Some nights you're trying to fit in a class after work and before dinner plans with friends - you can use a map to figure out a studio that's conveniently located. Sometimes you're going straight from a workout to your office and need to make sure the studio has a shower. Sometimes you're really looking to get a yoga class scheduled. #Filter!
YOU'RE A PLANNER
Your Google calendar is a work of art AND you carry around a physical planner too. If you're all about keeping a schedule and staying organized - ClassPass will be a breeze for you. Many of the more popular classes around NYC fill-up on ClassPass really quickly.
Typically one week in advance the classes open up on the ClassPass website for registration. If you're organized and have a list of the classes you want to register for - kudos to you. For me, my workout plans tend to happen a little more sporadically and I don't always know a week ahead of time what I'll be feelin'.
I wasn't able to try a few studios that I intended to during my trial because they were all filled up by the time I got around to trying to register (I'm lookin' at you Tone House and Fhitting Room). The other thing I found is that even if there were classes available, they were for the most obscure times that wouldn't work for most people's schedules.
And what's up with Barry's only opening 5 a.m. classes for ClassPass users? Lame, Barry.
GROUP FITNESS IS YOUR JAM
A lot of times, I'm totally fine with doing my own workout at the gym. I have enough motivation to get myself there and to push myself. Many times, I'll use a routine borrowed from a class I've taken in the past. But there are some people who do much better in the motivation department if they're in a group fitness class. (And trust me, many times that gets me a hell of a lot more motivated too).
If you constantly find yourself backing out of gym plans because you don't feel like going alone, don't know what you're going to do once you get there, feel self-conscious or just feel like you aren't pushing yourself hard enough - ClassPass and group fitness classes in general are a wonderful antidote.
YOU'RE OK WITH THE COST
Most importantly, you need to be OK with shelling out a good chunk of change for a ClassPass membership. You can look at their different options here but plans range in price depending on the market (available in many cities including Austin, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Vegas, London, LA, Melbourne, Miami...you get it - basically every major city). In New York the cheapest membership gets you 5 classes per month for $75 ($15/class). In a market where boutique fitness studios easily charge $30/class, you're getting a good deal per class BUT you're only getting a workout 5 days out of the month whereas a gym membership allows you to workout every day if you want.
Recently, the cost of an unlimited ClassPass membership jumped up to $200. Yes, it's a lot, but if you were to take a class every day of the month - the cost would work out to less than $7 per day/class.
You can read the reviews of classes I tried during my month-long ClassPass trial membership here:
*ClassPass didn't pay me to write this blog post. I signed up through their trial offering and cancelled at the end of the month.
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My Class Pass free trial continued on Saturday morning with my first trip to a CrossFit "box." While I've never ventured into the world of CrossFit, I'm familiar with a lot of their terminology, (AMRAP, WOD, "for time," etc.) and have always thought I would love their high intensity nature.
But belonging to a box is not a financially feasible option for me. Luckily, BRICK offers a bootcamp-style class called B|X that's available for sign-ups through Class Pass. B|X incorporates some basic principles from crossfit without the fancy Olympic weight lifting moves that take months to work up to.
Strength-building movements, dynamic explosive movements, cardio, endurance - this class was a non-stop sweaty challenge.
BRICK has two locations in NYC and I visited the one near Grand Central. The space is massive for Manhattan, with three floors, a full-service coffee shop (with fancy, health-fad drinks like coffee with butter and MCT oil), protein shake bar, and tons of different gym areas for their variety of class offerings.
Everything is very...orange - but organized, spacious and clean. Not to mention they have top of the line equipment like the TrueForm Runner treadmills that were incredible!
The locker rooms had showers with complimentary razors, Q-tips, hair ties, etc.
After checking out the digs I went into the room where B|X classes are held. There were about 20 of us in the class and I will say that it felt a little crowded at times - though there were plenty of machines and equipment to accommodate everyone.
Our instructor, Scarlett, started class right on time (which is something that I always appreciate).
A quarter of the class started on the rowers, a quarter on the treadmills, a quarter on the spin bikes and a quarter on the mats for burpees. We did two minutes of cardio before switching to another station for another 2 minutes.
Lucky me, Scarlett came over to let me know that I was on the bike which was permanently set at the heaviest resistance. After 2 minutes of that torture device, I got to complete around 30 burpees in 2 minutes. Warm-up? I was excited/petrified for class to start.
Next was an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible). For 6 minutes we rotated through 10 alternating straight leg marches each leg, 10 alternating back lunges each leg, 20 Russian Twists, 20 mountain climbers (knee to elbow).
As we mentally prepared ourselves for what was to come next, Scarlett walked us through the set-up for the rest of the class. B|X works by splitting the class into 4 groups who rotate through 4 different 7-minute working stations. There's a 1 minute break in between each station.
Scarlett was great in her explanation of each station and demonstrated each movement in case there was any confusion.
STATION ONE - COMPLETE AS MANY ROUNDS AS POSSIBLE IN 7 MINUTES
- 10 Calories on the Rower - this took around 1 minute to complete
- 15 Push-Ups - while Scarlett was very specific in how we should be properly performing our push-ups, I fully admit that I wasn't feeling up to it and instead floundered around on my knees in a pathetic attempt at correct push-ups
- 20 Later Jumps - there were different sized hurdles that we could use and I opted for the lowest one
STATION TWO - COMPLETE AS MANY ROUNDS AS POSSIBLE IN 7 MINUTES
20 Sit-Ups - I don't normally struggle with sit-ups but these were brutal after Scarlet showed us how to ensure that we weren't using our hips to help lift ourselves up (bend your knees and put the soles of your feet together, forming a diamond between your legs. On the way down, make sure your hands touch behind your head and on the way up maybe sure your hands touch out in front of you).
40 Mountain Climbers
STATION THREE - COMPLETE AS MANY ROUNDS AS POSSIBLE IN 7 MINUTES
- 10 Push Press - A little bend of the knees before straightening to push dumbbells overhead
- 10 Kettlebell Swings
- 10 Wallballs - These are a typical crossfit exercise that look simple but are deceptively killer!
STATION FOUR - LADDER FOR 7 MINUTES
- 100 Meter Sprint
- 5 Squat Thrusts - another go-to crossfit move, this is a front squat with two dumbbells into an overhead press and they are HARD
- 100 Meter Sprint
- 10 Squat Thrusts
- 100 Meter Spring
- 15 Squat Thrusts
- Continue until 7 minutes are up
During this station I climbed onto a TrueForm Runner treadmill and let me tell you - those things are like MIND READERS! At first, I couldn't quite figure it out. The belt was moving slowly even though I wanted to run faster - you don't input a speed - it just intuitively knows when to speed up and slow down based on where you're standing.
Eventually, I figured out that as you run closer to the front of the treadmill, it will speed up. After class, I spoke with Scarlett about the TrueForm and she explained that it's designed to make you run with perfect form - high knees, butt kick, almost as if you're falling forward. Even people who are extremely in shape say that it's extremely difficult to run on the TrueForm - but I found it to be pretty comfortable! Granted, I only ran 100 meters at a time, but I'm really interested in finding some other gyms and studios with these machines to give them a spin for a longer run.
WHAT I LIKED:
- Again, this class was a huge butt-kicking in the best way possible.
- You get to use SO many different things - a rower, treadmill, bike, kettlebells, dumbbells, etc.
- The 7 minute stations make each set of exercises seem possible - "I can do anything for 7 minutes!"
- Scarlett did an amazing job at explaining each exercise, correcting form throughout the class, encouraging us to finish each station strong, giving us a heads up when the clock was counting down, and letting us know when it was time to start back up.
- There's no way you can be bored during this class as you're constantly doing something new.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
- So far I'm 2/2 on classes that I've tried through Class Pass exceeding my expectations. B|X had everything I look for in a workout.
- The one thing I would say is that the space was ever so slightly cramped.
*Based on a scale of 1-10
The Studio - 9
Spacious, packed with shiny, top of the line equipment
Class Size - On the larger side
There were about 20 people in my class and though space was a little limited, there was plenty of equipment and everyone still got personal attention from the instructor
Sweat-Scale - 9.5
Soaked through my sports bra for SURE.
Fun-Factor - 7
Constantly doing new exercises and only staying at each station for 7 minutes meant that you never had time to feel bored or wonder "are we done yet?" Perhaps B|X could add a little bit of competition or team-work to the stations to bring up the "fun" score. I was in a group with 4 other people during the whole class but there wasn't much encouraging each other or bonding over our shared pools of sweat.
Amenities - 8
Cost - $$$
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$)
If you can't commit to crossfit full-time but still yearn for a workout that will leave your feeling sweaty and STRONG B|X might just be the perfect solution for you.
BRICK also has locations in Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. You can get your first class free on their website!
HAVE YOU EVER USED THE TRUE FORM RUNNER? WHAT DID YOU THINK?
DO YOU LIKE CLASSES WITH DIFFERENT STATIONS OR WOULD YOU RATHER DO ONE ACTIVITY LIKE SPINNING OR BOXING?
HAVE YOU TRIED A CROSSFIT CLASS? WHAT DID YOU THINK?
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It's another Workout Wednesday, where I give you the rundown on a different New York City fitness class.
But before we jump into things, I'd like to make an important announcement that I can't believe it has taken me so long to post - I am the proud owner of a brand spankin' new Bianchi road bike! I am just as excited as I am panicked about this latest development.
I'm panicked about actually riding the bike.
I'm panicked about clipping into the pedals.
I'm panicked about being SO POOR.
I'm panicked about how many things I need to buy other than the bike.
I'm panicked about how little I know about bikes.
So any and all advice is welcomed and needed!
I'm signed up for this year's 5 Borough Bike Tour and looking into another long summer bike "race" (ha, ride, lets not get ahead of ourselves) but that goal of an Olympic Distance Triathlon is still intimidatingly unscheduled.
I have yet to be on a bike ride on my bike and I've owned it for oh, I don't know, 5 weeks! Pedals, a helmet and gloves have all been ordered so - the time is approaching. I'll keep ya posted.
Despite not being out on my bike - I have continued to go to spin classes. I had the chance to take a class at SWERVE and was really excited to try it out - mainly because they require you to clip into the pedals and I know it completely changes the feel of cycling. It's something I'm really going to need to adjust to after countless NYSC rides in my Nike Frees.
SWERVE is located on 18th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues. When I walked in, running late as usual, I was given a pair of spin shoes and told my bike number. After quickly changing, I walked downstairs to the actual spin studio and was helped with adjusting my bike and clipping in. The room was super dark, so clipping in was a challenge and the help was greatly appreciated.
I was impressed with how many bikes SWERVE's studio has - at least 35.
SWERVE's "thing" is that each class is split into three teams which compete for first place. Your personal and team score is based on your RPMs, Watts and resistance. Each bike has their own mini computer which lets you know all of this information and the team score is displayed on two screen in the front of the room.
At first, I was a little iffy about the two screens in the front of the room - I was under the impression they would show the whole classes score. But nope - it just shows a general team score along with the person who is performing best for each particular team.
I'm a big fan of numbers and data in my workout - so being able to hear that I should be within a certain range of rotations per minute was really helpful - it usually was right in time to the music as well. In the past, I've had trouble performing at the level that the instructor was expecting, but I found that the RPM and gear ranges that our instructor, Seth, suggested were a challenge, but doable.
Knowing that I was riding as part of a team pushed me to give that little extra kick at the end of each interval. There were many intervals throughout the class - which is my favorite type of spin class. Seth was always encouraging and had some great things to say about both competing for your team and being there to improve yourself as an individual. He turned off the screen a few times so that we couldn't see who was in the lead and we had to just push ourselves without that visual to motivate us.
The one thing I didn't love about the class was the song during which we picked up those little 2 pound weights and did so many pulses and straight arm holds that I felt like I was gunna die. I still don't understand how such tiny weights can kill so much. And I also am still not sold on why this is necessary in a spin class. But, at least there was no bike-squating or crunching while we were spinning.
By the end of class, our team came up victorious! And I was absolutely DRIPPING in sweat. My face was bright red and I was shaky. The stretch was a little short for my liking, but in that short time I managed to completely slip and wipe out - cycling shoes are slippery people.
There are both men's and women's locker rooms as well as a big central room with more lockers. The women's locker room was fairly small though well stocked with products and a shower. On my way out, I looked around and one thing really stood out to me was the smoothie bar! You can even place an order before class and it will be waiting for you when you finish!
I had a great time and really liked the competitive aspect of this class along with the numbers and data provided by the computers on each bike. At the end of class, they email you your statistics and you can see how you stacked up in the class.
Like I knew going into it, riding with clip-in cycling shoes is a lot different and really gives you the ability to focus on that upward pull motion of your pedal stroke just as much as the push down.
So often, the quality of a spin class is dependent on the instructor. Seth was great - he was motivating and clear in his explanations what what we should be doing.
SWERVE Instructor Kate Bailey was kind enough to answer some questions - enjoy! (*My comments are in italics).
When was SWERVE created?
SWERVE Fitness first opened in Fall ’13. Founded by a trio of best friends and former Ivy League athletes, the studio inspires you to achieve your best workout by creating a community of people who inspire each other to continuously redefine their best.
What do you think is the appeal of a cycling class where participants ride for teams?
Well, let's be honest. We all have a little bit of that competitive spirit in us. I think when people hear "teams" that is what gets them into class! They want to win. Who doesn't. But once they leave they have gained so much more. The team aspect at SWERVE encourages a sense of community and drive that, for me, makes me feel like I can conquer anything that comes my way! And I think that is what keeps people coming back. You gotta show up for your TEAM!!!
How did you get involved with SWERVE?
I took a class with a friend and the rest was history! I wasn't even looking to be an instructor, but after one class I just had to be a part of it. That was about two years ago and now SWERVE has become my second home in NYC.
What’s your favorite song to sweat to?
I have so many! But my favorite song to sweat to right now is, "Wait For It" from the new musical Hamilton on Broadway. I know... I know... HAMILTON? I don't usually play showtunes in class, (although that is all I listen to outside of SWERVE) but the music of Hamilton is something everyone in NYC should hear. Truly awesome and inspiring stuff. (Who is going to have a Hamilton themed spin class? Anybody? Bueller? PLEASE!)
Do you like peanut butter? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it?
I love peanut butter! Hmmmm... I have to say my favorite way to enjoy peanut butter is with Apple Slices or Celery Sticks. It was my favorite snack as a kid, and still such a great go-to for me today.
*Based on a scale of 1-10
The Studio - 6
It's clean and there's lots of lockers, but the locker room itself is very small for a studio where the class size is 30+ people.
Sweat-Scale - 8
Spin classes always get me the sweatiest. I'm talking full on puddles underneath my bike by the end of class.
Fun-Factor - 8
If you're like me, you'll love the little "gimmicks" that SWERVE offers - teams, competition, a chance to be "#1" and data that you can track from class to class to monitor improvements.
Amenities - 7
Forgot hairspray? SWERVE's got ya covered. Need a smoothie waiting for you when you get out of class? Yup. Get on that.
Cost - $$$ (Single Classes are $34 but new riders can buy one get one free! OR sign up as a new member and receive 1 month of unlimited classes for $150!)
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$)
I love trying new things. It’s one of my favorite qualities about myself (am I allowed to say that?) From a young age, I would eat anything put in front of me at least once. But I wasn’t always willing to put myself in situations that I knew would cause discomfort.
There aren’t many things that terrify me more than the awkwardness that ensues when I attempt to dance. To say I have “two left feet” is an understatement. Actual dancing skills aside (which I assure you are dismal) I am just completely, 100% uncomfortable and embarrassed when I dance. I feel insecure and self-conscious. I don’t “dance like nobody’s watching” because I am sure that everyone is watching and everyone is thinking, “this is just like a car crash that I can’t turn my eyes away from.”
Step Classes, Zumba, Kickboxing – these are all fitness classes that have pushed me out of my comfort zone and left me feeling defeated and self-conscious because they rely on things that are way too closely related to choreography and dancing.
Suddenly, tons of friends were attending classes at “Broadway Bodies” to learn the dance to Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” It looked like a ton of fun – but nothing I would ever be confident enough to attempt.
While doing research for my Valentine’s Day Fitness blog post, I stopped by the Broadway Bodies website where I immediately saw they were offering a class to learn the choreography to Spring Awakening’s “Mama Who Bore Me” in a class titled, “Broadway Cardio.”
Now, I’ve expressed my love for Broadway on the blog before but I don’t know that you understand the extent of it. For 5 or 6 years it was my passion, obsession, social life. And Spring Awakening was my favorite.
Somehow, that all came rushing back and I was clicking “send” on an email asking if I could take the class and write about it on Peanut Butter Is My Boyfriend. They said yes, and then I had to face the fact that I had indeed just signed up for a dance class.
Not a class at a gym with some steps resembling dancing. A full-on Broadway choreography dance class.
I was panicking. But I was also weirdly excited. I recruited two friends who always loved Spring Awakening and on a Tuesday night I checked my dignity at the door and entered Broadway Bodies.
Our class was held at Pearl Studios – where each and every day, real Broadway stars show up for auditions and rehearsals. This was not your typical gym class, which was very obvious when we walked down the hallway and saw people who were clearly real-life, serious dancers.
We signed in, and entered the studio. In total, there were about 20 of us, which was a bit of a squeeze.
To start, Broadway Cardio classes do about a half hour of some easier, cardio-centric routines to Broadway classics. I actually worked up a sweat and my heart was pumping – but the most shocking thing of all was that somewhere between a Hamilton song and “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray, I had realized there was a huge cheesy grin on my face. Despite the missteps and extreme concentration required to remain semi-on beat, I was truly dancing around the room as if I were alone in my apartment blasting some showtunes (a very common occurrence). Every time a new step was introduced I would send a panicked look across the room to Carolyn or Roseanna, we would crack up, and just keep moving our feet.
Our instructor, Natalie, was so sweet and put the whole room at ease.
After the cardio wrapped-up it was time to learn the dance to Mama Who Bore Me. After learning our “first 8 count” (I learned so much new lingo…) I was feelin’ pretty confident. But that didn’t last long. I found that whenever we were instructed to do something with both our arms and our legs, I was a lost cause. It was like asking an infant to rub their stomach and pat their head.
But again, I had fun.
Once we got through the whole song, the room split into two groups so we had a little more room to get our groove on. I sprinted to the side that Carolyn and Roseanna were on which the instructor good-naturedly pointed out and laughed at.
It was a total disaster but I rocked those stomps and angel wings as best as I could and soaked up the experience.
At the end of class we were dripping with sweat – though that was due more to a stuffy hot room than my intense dancing.
We spoke with Natalie who was SO awesome – it was no surprise to her that it was our first class, none of us were dancers, and she just kept commending us for trying, for smiling and for never quitting.
So while I know I was uncomfortably terrible at this class, it was so so nice not being terribly uncomfortable. Broadway Bodies welcomed us with open arms and gave us a unique, fun experience. While I doubt I’ll be returning for another class anytime soon, they do offer BYOB Birthday Parties which definitely intrigue me…
I never in a million years thought I would smile through a class like that – never once feeling frustrated or embarrassed. (Okay, I was a little embarrassed, but not in a sad/terrified way).
The program director of Broadway Bodies, Rebecca Bradford, was kind enough to answer some questions for me. I can’t thank them enough for this experience!
How did you get involved with Broadway Bodies?
I had just moved to New York and am an actress/singer/dancer who was working in the food industry (so typical haha). I was desperately looking for a way out of the restaurant when I stumbled upon a Playbill.com listing from Broadway Bodies and they were looking for new cardio instructors. It sounds right up my alley and I am so happy that it worked out. From there, I took on the position of program administrator and, in addition, teach Bieber Fever classes. I just love this company and how much happiness it brings to people.
What's your advice to fans of fitness who may be scared to venture into the world of dance?
Dance, in my opinion, is the best way of expressing yourself. I would say don't be afraid to try new things. We are ALWAYS thrilled to have newcomers at Broadway Bodies. We really try to create a shame-free environment to encourage people to take risks and try new things. We truly do not care if you nail the choreography or completely trip over your feet. Dance is all about having fun, letting go and living.
What's your favorite song to sweat to?
Ah, right now I am OBSESSED with "Hands to Myself" by Selena Gomez. I'm also one of Taylor Swift's biggest fan, so basically anything from the 1989 album.
Can you give me some history on the creation and mission of Broadway Bodies?
Around 9 years by two amazing men, entrepreneur Jeff Vilensky and choreographer and director, Stephen Brotebeck. It began with Broadway Cardio and grew into a pop culture phenomenon in New York. The idea began when Jeff was watching a Broadway show and wanted to do what the performers were doing on stage. He thought to himself that he wasn't a dancer, but there was still a way to do what they were doing on stage. Broadway Bodies is a shame-free, inclusive dance community that teaches original and custom choreography to the music of movies, musicals, and music videos. Our only goal is that our participants have fun and unleash their inner superstars.
Do you like peanut butter? What's your favorite way to enjoy it?
I love peanut butter. How can you not?? My favorite is to slice up a Honeycrisp apple and spread peanut butter on each slice, but like a super unhealthy amount of peanut butter.
*Based on a scale of 1-10
The Studio - 5
This isn’t your typical fitness studio – it was a room in a building which was incredibly stuffy and hot. Everyone just piled their bags up in the back of the room. That being said – it’s a legit Broadway studio – as we were leaving we apparently passed the winner of last season’s So You Think You Can Dance. I joked that I just danced in the same building as Idina Menzel but…actually…that’s where she goes for auditions and rehearsals just like everyone else.
Class Size - Small
Though the class had no more than 20 people, it was a tight squeeze which made any arm motions a little difficult.
Sweat-Scale - 5
I was pleasantly surprised that the first portion of class had my heart rate going. But, overall, it isn’t a very physically demanding class. However, my sweat scale was about an 8 just because the room was so hot.
Fun-Factor - 8
This is where Broadway Bodies shines – this is a unique, fun experience that makes for a great story and some laughs. Whether you’re a great dancer or an awful one, this class is no doubt fun.
Amenities - 4
Since our class wasn’t at the Broadway Bodies Dance Studio – I can’t speak for their amenities. But be sure to do some research about where your class or workshop will be held – I wouldn’t recommend going to a class offered at Pearl Studios before work because there really isn’t anywhere to shower/change/etc.
Cost - $
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$)
I’ve been great about getting myself to the gym despite the cold, despite work trips, and despite my lack of anything major to train for. There is no marathon on my horizon and my next half marathon isn't until May. Yet I've still been showing up.
But once I get to the gym, I haven’t been great about doing much. I leave feeling like I more or less wasted 50 minutes.
As they say - when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Walking into the gym with no idea of what I want to accomplish has resulted in, well, not accomplishing much. Shocker, right?
So I thought it was time to have someone else kick my butt – since I certainly haven’t been kickin’ my own. A group fitness class was just what I needed. Preferably one that was slightly intimidating. I like a challenge.
After perusing a multitude of NYC boutique fitness studios, I found one that piqued my interest with its use of kettle bells and TRX. Not to mention they’re conveniently located for an early morning workout – my favorite kind!
The spot? The P.E. Club.
This personal training and small-group fitness class located on the Upper East Side offers a number of different class options – but to get an overall feel for the studio I decided to sign up for TRX Xtreme Total Body. The class is described on their website as a 50-minute class full of high-intensity, low-impact cardio.
High-intensity and low-impact? I was already sold.
Rebecca and I showed up 10 minutes prior to class starting and got a quick look around the studio, which also specializes in personal training. The space is absolutely immaculate – by far the cleanest studio I’ve ever stepped foot in.
We hung up our jackets and met Morgana, the instructor for our 7 a.m. class. She asked if either of had any injuries, and I mentioned my shins had been acting up so any jumping would probably bother me.
Low-impact, Lauren, duh. She assured me there would be no jumping before telling us to pick out a kettlebell (15-30 pounds) and dumbbell (8-10 pounds).
I was shocked when I realized just how small this “small-group fitness class” would be. There were only 8 of us, which made a huge difference in the attention Morgana was able to give to each students’ form. Throughout the class, she walked through the room giving pointers and also adjusted our TRX straps when necessary so that the class ran as smooth as Skippy.
The way the class was formatted, we did a ton of different exercises to hit each body part. Since we had to cover the “total body,” each exercise lasted approximately 30 seconds. I liked that this kept things moving and interesting, but it was also difficult as it was my first time doing a number of these exercises and :30 didn’t seem like enough time to get my form down right.
That being said, some of the exercises, especially the core-focused ones, burned so much that :30 was the absolute max I could last! Ouch!
Again, there were a bunch of moves that were new to me, especially the moves using the TRX straps. I love learning new things that I can incorporate into my own gym-sessions!
We also used the kettle bell and I appreciated Morgana prompting me to go up in weight in the nicest way possible – but she was totally right – I wasn’t challenging myself enough and I was glad for the push! That’s the thing about a room with only 8 girls – there is no hiding!
After class, I showered in one of The P.E. Club’s two showers and was amazing again by the cleanliness. They had so many wonderful products – I wish I could get ready for work there every day! Not to mention the free tea station where I got a refreshing cup of cucumber mint tea.
Rebecca and I checked in with each other the day after class and both agreed that our arms were mighty sore!
I’m hoping to go back for a Lower Body class or for one of their Kettle Bell circuit-based classes for a chance to get a little more cardio.
I must admit, The PE Club didn't have anything super unique or "fun" about it, but if you’re looking for a place that challenges you, teaches you new exercises, and gives you a lot of personal attention during class – The P.E. Club is a great studio – though it doesn’t come cheap. Drop-in classes are $38, though first time guests receive a second class free. They also offer a ton of different membership and class package options that can save you money.
Co-owner Nedra explained to me that while your first class will be an introduction to the TRX straps, each class after that will leave you feeling more confident and better able to challenge yourself once you get the ~movez~ down.
Q&A With Co-Owner Nedra!
Everyone at The P.E. Club was so helpful, and the co-owner Nedra was kind enough to answer a few questions for me too! Her story is inspiring - she is pursuing her passion and proving that you too can be a #girlboss! Here’s what she had to say.
How did you get involved in the fitness community?
When I was 16 my dad got me to go workout with him in the gym. It was "our time" where he taught me how important it was to be a strong woman inside and out. I always loved working out and though it wasn't my primary job until I moved to NY. I was approached by Equinox to become a trainer and decided to leave my desk job to pursue my passion. The rest is a story of love, perseverance, failure, family, friendship and determination. I have never looked back, never been more happy and have never worked so hard!!
What was your reason for starting The PE Club? What was the hardest part?
After years of training on the UES and running around from gym to gym, Alex and I started The P.E. Club. We wanted to bring simplicity back to fitness, make it about the client, make it intimate and most importantly make it fun. We put all our savings on the line and worked day and night to create a unique space for clients to feel comfortable in. Running a small business is no easy task. The hardest part was learning and changing your mindset from being just a trainer to now being an owner and having responsibly over others. Time management and delegation skills became highly important to develop.
What are the benefits of TRX and Kettlebell training vs. the standard dumbbells and cardio routines?
Kettlebells with TRX are the perfect marriage of strength straining, cardio and balance training in one. Kettlebells are intimidating to most people, but when used properly, they deliver strength while allowing for a cardio component at the same time. A traditional swing works your entire lower body, posture and is an amazing ab workout! When you use TRX you are constantly putting your body into unstable positions so your core is firing the whole time. Not to mention you are able to do movements in their full range of motion (ex. push ups which most people can't do properly on their own) and work each side of the body individually. While traditional strength training and cardio is great, it isn't always the most efficient time wise. Our classes were designed to feature an unstable piece of equipment (TRX) that increases strength, flexibility and balance along with other modalities. So your body is constantly guessing, re-configuring and adapting which ultimately creates change in the body.
What’s your favorite song to sweat to?
Eyes by Kaskade...an oldie but a goodie.
Do you like peanut butter? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it?
Omg crunchy peanut butter on anything...a spoon, in a protein shake, and in peanut butter cups!
*Based on a scale of 1-10
The Studio - 8
Everyone was extremely nice and helpful. The studio was immaculate, spacious and had tons of equipment for its personal training customers.
Class Size - Small
There were only 8 girls in my class, meaning lots of personalized attention from the instructor - but nowhere to hide!
Sweat-Scale - 7
This class definitely elevated my heart-rate (hello, squat to shoulder press) but wasn't overwhelming. I wasn't a puddle of sweat afterwards, but felt like I had gotten a decent workout in for sure!
Fun-Factor - 6
There's no live DJ or social-media component to these classes - which may or may not appeal to you. It's a straight-forward total body conditioning class that will help you become comfortable using TRX and kettle bells - two great pieces of equipment to shake up your stale routine.
Amenities - 9
Cost - $$$
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$)
I attended class at The PE Club for free in exchange for writing this review. All opinions are my own.
The Distance: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 60 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners.
Ultra: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 90 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners.
Dash 28: This 45-minute class provides a foundation for runners of all levels with about 28 minutes of structured intervals followed by 10 minutes of strength plus power training with kettle bells.
We took a Dash 28 class with Debora Warner, the founder and program director of Mile High Run Club. Once we had all settled in, we stood besides our treadmills for a warm up of squats, high knees, butt kicks, etc.
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 3.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 5.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace
-I was a fan of the actual intervals. Nothing was too long - you could always tell yourself, "Only 90 seconds left, Only 45 seconds left, etc."
-Debora's counting was horrendous. Each time she counted down from 5 was completely different - but not once was 5 seconds actually 5 seconds. There was even a digital clock in the middle of the room for her to use, so I'm not really sure what the issue was.
-It was a little difficult to understand Debora - the mic was fuzzy and the music was loud and her prompts weren't always clear. I'm pretty sure I was on that 5.0 hill earlier than I was supposed to be because her counts and directions were so hard to understand. And it's not like it was anything too difficult to understand!
-The playlist - so meh.
-Apparently these are state of the art treadmills used at Mile High Run Club, and it was nice that you don't run into the front of it, although I'm still not sold on the ribbed belt ever since I tripped on one at New York Sports Club. I did a little research, and MHRC uses Woodway treadmills which feature "slat belt" technology and are supposed to feel like you're running outside. Yada yada. They felt nice.
For awhile now, I've been really interested in attending an erg class [indoor rowing machines are technically called ergometers, according to Wikipedia!] They're like the new spin class, popping up all over. These studios' gain in popularity coincided with me meeting a lot of new people through November Project who rowed in college, and definitely got me interested in giving it a chance. As a runner who feels like they're constantly injured, rowing is a lower-impact workout, while still being great for your entire body and not skimping on cardio!
Just last week, Row House celebrated their 1st Birthday! I stopped by their party for some cute little hors-d'oeuvres from Just Salad and delicious drinks from fancy organic vodka and tequila brands that I can't remember the names of, oops.
But let's get to the good stuff - the class. I signed up for a class at the Columbus Circle location [In reality, it's a bit of a trek from Columbus Circle - a little over a half a mile to 59th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenues]. The studio has lockers, two bathrooms [each with a shower - and the showers are equipped with TRESemme shampoo and conditioner, classy!]
A few minutes to six we were led into the studio, 3 rows of ergs with a giant mirror in the front. Our instructor, Eric sat front and center and explained that for most of the class we would be rowing together, following either his stroke or that of another coach who was in the class in the front row. I sat directly behind Eric, hoping some of his form would rub off on me!
Eric Von Frohlich was not only my instructor on Wednesday night, but he, along with wife Debra, are the founders of Row House! He's been interviewed for a bunch of fitness magazines on rowing technique, since a lot of people don't know the first thing about this piece of gym equipment.
He's clearly experienced in teaching people how to row, because what could have taken up a quarter of the class was done succinctly and quickly - a few strokes to get the arm movements down, then a few strokes putting everything together, learning that you're body is supposed to hit 1 and 11 on the invisible clock, and then it was time to get started.
Like I said, for most of a Row House class everyone in the room is expected to row in-sync. After all, when you're actually outside rowing, that's what it's all about - teamwork to make the boat move! Eric led us through intervals, 10 strokes of recovery followed by 20-30 power strokes at differing strokes per minute.
There's a lot of new terminology when it comes to using the erg - but going to a class at Row House will be SO helpful in letting you put together your own erg workout if you're so inclined to use the lonely little rower hidden in corners of gyms.
But rowing as a group, in a dark room with music, makes indoor rowing a lot more enjoyable, in my opinion.
(Eric demonstrating perfect form!)
The last part of class was probably my favorite part. Eric said that now that we successfully rowed in sync it was time to let us go our own speed. He turned the lights out and told us to see how far we could go in 4 minutes. Having the lights out definitely allowed me to block everything else out and just focus on finding a rhythm that worked for my body.
For the 4 minutes, Eric walked around encouraging people and trying to get them to give a little extra push. Lucky for me, Eric stopped by my rower with 40 seconds left, and the extra motivation saw my pace drop to the lowest that it did the entire class - 2:19. To be fair, there were plenty of people going a hell of a lot fast than me, but I was happy to see that I could give a little more than I thought.
At the end of 4 minutes Eric told us to look at how far we had gone, and add 50 meters (or more) to that number. That's how far we were trying to go in the next 4 minutes. UGH. Then he gave a motivational but not at all cheesy or over-the-top speech about setting goals and learning more about yourself the loftier the goal.
I didn't do as well as I would have liked, but I did add 30 or so meters to my first 4 minutes.
Sadly, a few stretches and we were done. I wanted to keep going!
It was definitely a full-body workout and I definitely sweat, though I've been sweatier in other classes.
Row House Full Body is the class I took, but they also offer Row House Core (where the time off the rower focuses on abs only) and Row House Express (only rowing for 35 minutes). There's also Row House Endurance which is a 50 minute class with more rowing drills.
The music Eric played during the class was GREAT. When Geronimo came on it was hard for me not to erg-dance. Is that a thing?
At some point during the class I realized that each machine was customized with a clever quote, which I probably enjoyed more than I should have. "Stroke of genius." "Don't resist the erg." There is nothing I like more than a fitness-themed pun.
We all wiped down our machines at the end of class, got some high fives from Eric, and were on our way. They had two foam rollers in the back of the room which I appreciated, and probably should have used, but I waited until I got back to my apartment to roll it out.
You've probably never thought about taking a group rowing class. But I think you should.
Row House has two locations - one at 555 West 59th Street (between West End and Amsterdam Avenues) and one on the Upper East Side (come on NP people!) at 406 East 91st Street (between First and York Avenues).
Row House also is awesome on Instagram and likes my pictures, holllllla. But really, having a fitness studio that gets to know their clients is awesome, and it was very obvious that a lot of the people in the class are regulars.
They offer a great beginner package - 3 classes for $75 (single classes are $35).
I started the class of great- by getting yelled at for walking into the studio with shoes on - oops. After taking them off and leaving them outside, I re-entered and took in the setup. Everyone had a mat, a step and those little sliders you put under your hands and feet to torture your abs. The instructor told me to grab two sets of dumbbells (10 lbs and 5 lbs) and a 10 lb medicine ball.
I was shocked to see that there would only be 5 of us in the class - it was like a private training session!
As usual, I had done some research before showing up, and I knew that the PXT class would start with some yoga. Grumble grumble. If I must I guess I can do a few minutes of yoga as a warm up. We started slow, switching between the few moves and poses that I actually know (my yoga knowledge is limited, at best). I was a little stressed that it was going to get too complicated for me to follow and I would stand out like a sore thumb considered there were only 5 of us, but instead of adding a bunch of complicated poses to the flow, we just sped it up. Downward facing dog, chair pose, upward facing dog, warrior, vinyasa - by the end of the 10-15 yoga warm up I was actually starting to enjoy it! Minus the fact that the room was slowly getting hotter and hotter. Hey, I'm about to do burpees and squats and you're putting the heat up? What gives? I know, it's a thing. I'm just not sure it's a thing I like. Genius day to forget to bring water too, Lauren.
This class really pushed me with some moves I had never done before- which I loved. Using the ab sliders was A LOT more challenging than I thought it would be. Pikes and walk outs and lunges- I was shaking! I also loved implementing the step for things like squats and step ups to knee holds. The instructor, Julia Stephens, was great at explaining and demonstrating each move and encouraging and motivating you to push until the end. We didn't stay on any one move for too long, so knowing that the end was near if you could knock out a few more reps was always helpful.
After the cardio/plyo/strength section we moved into "partner abs." One person laid on their backs and grabbed their partners ankles while the partner got in the squat position and threw the other persons legs down- first to the left, then the middle, then the right. By the end of this, my abs were feeling it and I was looking forward to a break by being the "leg thrower." Well, stay in that squat position and pushing the legs down was more work than I thought, and I could feel it by the end of that too!
The next section was the "Coreball Countdown Challenge." Julia wrote 4 exercises on the mirror at the front of the room and we had to do 8 reps of each, then 7 reps of each, then 8 reps of each, etc. all the way down to 1. I wish I remembered exactly which exercises we did here, but I know burpees with the core ball was one of them, and that was rough!
We cooled down with a few more minutes of yoga and then we were done.
When Peloton first came to NYC, I snagged 3 free ride credits. After far too long, I finally put my first one to use and got my butt to their beautiful studio on 7th Avenue between 26th & 27th streets.
Peloton’s studio is white and airy and spotless. First, you walk through their boutique with lots of pretty workout gear that I’m assuming is overpriced. Standard. Next, you get to the check-in desk and get a pair of cycling shoes and a water bottle. Not necessarily standard. A lot of studios charge extra for shoe rentals, despite having bikes that require you to clip in! The fact that Peloton’s shoes are included in the class fee, along with a water bottle, is definitely to be applauded.
You then walk through their lounge area which is just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s got the perfect vibe, with couches, chairs and tables to relax at before or after your class. They have a counter that sells Jack’s Stir Brew coffee, cold-press juices and tons of different healthy snacks.
Next stop? The locker rooms. Again, so white and clean! And the lockers are all electronic so you don’t even need to bring your own lock with you. The locker rooms have a bunch of different creams and q-tips and other things that you would probably never need but they’re their- just in case.
And finally, the actual studio where you’re going to get your sweat on! It’s similar to many cycling studios with an awesome lighting system and all that jazz. As soon as I walked in, someone was there to help me set up my bike.
What makes Peloton unique are their bikes. They sell them, to have in your home. And if I were a much wealthier individual, I would totally buy one. Peloton STREAMS THEIR CLASSES LIVE to people who own their bikes. You could be in your living room in Idaho but feel like you’re in the Big Apple taking a class. Each bike also comes with a monitor that lets you log-in and track your ride- including resistance percentage, cadence and calories burned.
My favorite part? The leaderboard. I can’t help it. I’m super competitive. And you better believe I’m going to bust my ass if there’s a chance for me to move up that leaderboard! At the end you can also share your workout via Facebook. Heck yes, social media.
Peloton offers 4 different classes:
Pure Peloton- The Peloton ride at its core. Perfectly balanced. Our signature ride, there for you whenever you crave a solid, sweaty, energizing Peloton ride. Expect to climb up hill, race downhill, work in and out of the saddle, strengthen and tone with weights, and get the most out of every minute.
Peloton Endurance: 60 minutes or more. Challenging hills. Dig deep and challenge yourself to a full 60 minutes or more of Peloton goodness. With a focus on metrics and a healthy dose of resistance, this class is guaranteed to make you push yourself to your limits—and enjoy the ride.
Peloton Power- High-energy. Speed + strength. Life begins out of the saddle. And that’s where you’ll spend the majority of this class. Speed is the name of the game with this fast-paced, heart-pumping workout—perfectly complemented with a side of strength and toning work. Intermediate to advanced.
Pelotone- Heavy on weights and resistance. Sculpt and tone while you ride. Complete your Peloton experience with a class dedicated entirely to sculpting your body into its best shape. Be prepared for weights and upper body movements, all carefully designed to strengthen and tone your entire body and leave you ready to conquer anything that comes your way.
I took a Peloton Power class with instructor Jon Miller and it was pretty good! We did one song using hand weights, some pushups, and a lot of running out of the saddle (my favorite).
I’m in shape- but a lot of the time the cadence and resistance levels he was giving us to maintain were a little out of my league. It was frustrating to have to take it down a notch from what he was suggesting, but also made me want to push harder and continue going back for more classes to see if I could improve. He was motivational- calling me out a few times for sitting front and center- and also using some usernames from the leaderboard to cheer people on. He also continually gave verbal nods to the individuals riding along at home!
(Seriously such a cute studio- this is part of the lounge!)
The leaderboard and competitive nature of this studio was definitely why I loved it so much- combined with the great value (taking into account the going rate of spin classes in NYC) and beautiful amenities.
After each class, you get a free coffee or tea and piece of fruit from the lounge, too! I sat down with my apple, tea and free “pipcorn” sample and was perfectly content and BEYOND happy that I still have 2 free ride credits at Peloton!
Update: Exciting news! Peloton is offering 40% off 5 ride packs! Use the code fb40 at checkout! $84 instead of $140!
-Although I realize there is some debate on its effect on form- I do like spin classes that feature sections on arms, abs, etc. In this class, our instructor had us do pushups, tricep pushups, oblique turns, crunches, and a song using the small 2 lb. weights stored in the back of each bike. We did some bicep curls, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, etc.
-I am a fan of the famous SoulCycle “tap it back” where you go from third position, to tapping your butt back onto the saddle, back to third. Kind of like jumps. It got me into the music and engaged my core. And again- abs. I want them.
-The lighting in the room is awesome. Much like Cyc’s studio- the light system is attached to the instructor’s little DJ station and the different settings can really have an effect on how you feel during each song.
-You cannot deny that you feel pampered at this place. Upon checking in, I got a piece of gum. I went to shower afterwards- and the bathrooms are fully stocked with razors, shaving cream, moisturizer, face scrub, etc.
-The instructor barely focused on resistance at all. I feel like in all of these trendy spin studios, everyone is flopping around their saddle, pedaling 189234 miles per hour. I’m all for light resistance and sprints being used in a class- but I like it to feel intentional. 30 second interval sprints after a long 8 minute hill makes sense in my head. But I feel like the rides designed at SoulCycle and studios like it, don’t think in the same way that other instructors I’ve had think. I like the instructor to explain to me how the resistance should feel- whether they refer to how heavy it is based on a scale of 1-10 or through description.
-For some reason, I feel like I just cannot mimic the way that people in these types of classes spin to the music. They look like their dancing, while I look like I’m riding a bike. Who is right?
-Before the last song of the class, the instructor had some inspiring speech about getting through this hill together and coming out stronger. Then she blew out the candles and dimmed the lights. It felt a little forced to me. I’ve had a similar experience at Cyc, where they shut off all the lights for the last song- but I feel like the intention there was to just let yourself go, give it all you had for the last song. I liked that mindset a lot better. No offense, but no, these people around me really aren’t helping me push through this last stretch. MY quads are doin’ the damn work.
-There is only one shower in the whole place? Luckily, I skimped on stretching (I know, I really shouldn’t be doing that..) and was only second in line for the shower. But there were at least 5 girls waiting after me.
-Had I been paying for this, I would not have liked the $35 price tag.
-I’m still getting used to clipping in and it’s still not the most comfortable thing in the world for me.
I still don’t feel like I fully belong in classes like this, despite having the utmost confidence in my athleticism and over-all fitness. I kind of like that. It’s different, and it’s challenging, and I leave sweaty. SoulCycle really highlights the reason I fell in love with spin classes in the first place- the dark room with the loud music, losing myself in endorphin-fueled cardio. The addition of weighted songs and crunches is overall a big plus for me. That being said, I am not completely head over heels for SoulCycle in the way that most people are. I can take it or leave it, and be just as content at a New York Sports Club spin class that focuses on form and hills and interval training. Yes, the lights and the sound system and the fancy bathrooms are nice every once in a while at studios like SoulCyle. But I will continue to go only when I have a chance to go for free or as some sort of special.
- There was a little ramp on the side of the roof, which we lunged up and side stepped down. Good in theory, but it was super cramped with people going up and down at the same time.
- Jump squats. Ouch. Got my heart rate up, got my legs burning, got lots of reps in = successful station.
- Step ups on a bench. Our group decided to do a little leg lift action at the top of the step up for an extra challenge. Thumbs up crew.
- Incline pushups against the bench. Again, felt the burn!
- Partner chest press weird things that I was highly incapable of doing but I’m pretty sure were the reason I was super sore the next day, so I guess they were alright?
- Speed skater jumps – I’m a fan
- Russian twists – also a fan.
I’m pumped because tomorrow, we’re meeting at Randall’s Island and I’m finally going to have my own #GrassRootsGear. If you read up on November Project, it’s a really amazing story, and thinking about it always gets me pumped to set my alarm early. These people are SO dedicated- sometimes running over 8 miles just to GET to the workout. And November Project is in 17 different cities already!
I've been writing a lot about food because I a) eat a lot of food and b) think a lot about food. But another thing I love a lot is exercise! Yay endorphins! Last night, I took my first Les Mills BODYPUMP class, which is a barbell-based weight class that focuses on high reps. I walked in not really knowing what to expect- it’s a fairly new offering at New York Sports Clubs.
What I Liked
1) It focuses on each major muscle group individually- going through legs (squats), chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs again (lunges), and abs. For each muscle, you go through 3 “tracks” with 304 different exercises and a high number of reps.
2) The instructor was great at her quest, counting and explaining what weight you should have on your barbell based on your warm-up weight and how new you were to class. So for instance, she wouldn’t say- “Do shoulders with 5 pound plates on your bar.” Instead, she would say, “Go up 2.5 to 5 pounds from your warm up weight for shoulders.”
What I Didn't Like
1) I didn’t really sweat. I wish there was some type of cardio element worked into the tracks to get my heart rate up.
2)It’s hard for me to choose a weight for the barbell and stick with it for the full 3 tracks per muscle.
I like that with dumbbells I can easily switch between 5s and 10s based on how I’m feeling.
That being said- I can see how the barbell method can add to the challenge if you choose a challenging weight because then you’re stuck with it.
Unfortunately, I think I was a little wimpy last night!
I could have pushed myself more.
3) I’m not sure I’m sold on the fact that high reps/light weight > heavy weight/lower reps.
I think I need to do some research.
Any reading suggestions?
4) The ab section was super lame.
Afterwards, I felt like I needed some cardio so I did this routine:
(Love me some burpees...not)
I got my sweat on and naturally snapped a selfie when I spotted some arm definition in the mirror! (No shame).
I'm glad I pushed myself to do the extra cardio at the end, because after the gym I headed to V-Note Vegan Bistro for dinner! You can read my review here!