spinning

Workout Wednesday: Flywheel Class Review

Flywheel Review

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to take my first Flywheel class for free thanks to an event hosted by Rachel from RachLMansfield.com and Jordan from The Balanced Blonde

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 STUDIO 

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. 

THE CLASS 

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 

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. 

Flywheel Class Review

THE RUNDOWN 

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. 

For first time riders a Flywheel, they offer a $15 class voucher on their website. 

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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Top Toronto Workouts & A 10K Recap

While I was in Toronto, I managed to get in a workout per day with 3 rest days - one per week. Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty impressed! 

It helped that I was in a major city with fitness at my fingertips. There were three workouts in particular that stood out during my trip. 

Toronto Workouts

MEC TORONTO 10K

When Brynn and I knew we would be in Toronto with a day off on Sunday we started looking up a race to run. We found a race put on by MEC that offered a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. The best part was it was 5 minutes from our hotel and only $15!

My pre-race meal was the delicious sandwich I had at the Beet Organic Cafe. We got to bed at a decent time and in the morning I made myself PB2, a multigrain sandwich round and a banana – it looked like a taco but it worked given the hotel-room circumstances.

Pre Race Breakfast

We weren’t expecting much out of a $15 race, but Kind and Vita Coco were both there along with Tiger Balm and a few other vendors offering samples. Bib pick up was a breeze (and they called it chip pick up aw!)

This 10K (my favorite distance) was by far the best course I’ve ever run in my life. Not only was it perfectly flat, but it was absolutely gorgeous. We ran through a bird sanctuary with water on all sides. It was an out and back and at one point we crossed over a bridge that gave a breath-taking view of the Toronto city skyline. It was so hard not to stop and take a picture! But if you take a look at my Strava map and use your imagination, you can pretend to see the amazing water views. 

MEC Toronto 6

My goal going in was a sub 8:00 pace and negative splits and I’m happy to report that the race was a success on both of those fronts!

Towards the end I paced myself off of a girl slightly in front of me and it ended up being a lifesaver. When the finish line came into view at 6 miles, I booked it for the final .2 and it was THE BEST FINAL KICK OF MY LIFE! That’s a bold statement, but entirely accurate. I felt like I was flying.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I turned around to find her and we both had big smiles and hi-fives for each other which was awesome.

My splits were
8:00
7:48
7:40
7:35
7:28
7:28
and 6:20 for the last .2

Later, when I looked at my results - I was pleased to find that I was the 13th Female finisher! 

Toronto 10K

SPOKEHAUS SPIN CLASS

A few of my co-workers and I were determined to fit in a spin class during our time in Toronto. It had to happen early on, or there would have been no shot as we got more and more run down as the weeks progressed. 

We found a spin studio close to the hotel that happened to have a 2 for 1 deal - meaning that we only paid $14 for a class. Not too shabby (especially considering the exchange rate was in our favor!) 

The waiting room looked all white, shiny and new with automatic lockers. I didn't look in the locker rooms, but I'd imagine those were nice as well. The shoe rental was included in the price of the class, which is always a plus. Unfortunately, the bikes were pretty outdated - they didn't have any bells and whistles and there were definitely no statistics (my favorite part of a spin class, personally). 

I liked the name and I liked the logo - but unfortunately, I really didn't enjoy the class. It was VERY heavy on what I refer to as "bike dancing." Lots of "and crunch to the right, crunch to the left" along with push-ups and "tap backs" while speeding along with little to no resistance. If you like SoulCycle, you'd probably  like a class at Spokehaus, but I'm one of those obnoxious people who insist that doing those types of things on bikes is silly and downright bad for your body. 

I'm also the type of person who doesn't give a crap about being the odd one out in the middle of a group fitness class - for the most part I did my own thing, focusing on spinning with higher resistance in time to the music. I even sat out the arm track which is a blatantly obvious thing to do. Ooops for drawing attention to myself, but I'll never see any of these people again anyway! 

My biggest eye-roll came during the last song when electric candles were placed around the room. I might have audibly groaned. 

Spokehaus Toronto Review

NOVEMBER PROJECT YYZ 

For those of you that are new around here, I'm part of a fitness cult, I mean, group, called November Project. You can learn all about it from all of the press it's gotten in places like the New York Times, Good Morning America and the Washington Post. But essentially, its a group that extends far beyond New York City, where I first joined, to include 28 cities across the world. We workout at 6:30 a.m., which is crazy to some people, but ideal for me! 

I was able to wake up early on my first Wednesday in Toronto and hop in a cab to the meeting locations for Toronto's November Project tribe - at the Baldwin Steps of Casa Loma Park. My cab driver was definitely a little concerned about me when I told him to pull over and drop me off - seemingly in the middle of nowhere in the early morning hours. 

November Project Toronto

But I was quickly joined by others ready to workout. The Toronto tribe leaders, Sam and Michelle, were out so babysitters Ben and Arden took the reins with a killer pyramid workout. 

1 Loop around Casa Loma Park (this includes a fairly steep hill!) 
2 Sets of Baldwin Steps
55 Lunge Jumps (PER SIDE)  - these are my least favorite exercise ever, for sure. I would have rather done 55 burpees. But it was good that I was forced to do them during this workout! 
45 In & Out Crunches
35 Push-Ups
25 Squat-Star Jumps
15 Burpees
1 Loop around Casa Loma Park (this includes a fairly steep hill!) 
2 Sets of Baldwin Steps
15 Burpees
25 Squat-Star Jumps
35 Push-Ups
45 In & Out Crunches
55 Lunge Jumps Per Side

Then, I proceeded to run the3.5 miles back to the hotel! The run didn't feel effortless, but by the end my  legs were feeling much better and I was able to negative split, with my last mile clocking in at a swift 7:19 pace and the last half mile at a 7:07! 

Getting to go to a November Project workout put me in a GREAT mood that lasted throughout the day. I can't explain how waking up at 5:45 a.m. on my own accord and physically exerting myself game me MORE energy throughout the day - but it definitely did! 

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My Week At Equinox: PURSUIT Spin Class + A Swim

I'm taking you along for the ride on my 7 days as an Equinox member. You can read about my first class, Ropes and Rowers, here

The PURSUIT Equinox

Day Two: The PURSUIT 

For Tuesday morning's workout I decided to try a spin class at Equinox and was surprised to find that the bikes were very similar to those used at Swerve. That means METRICS which is always a positive in my opinion. 

I went into the class not knowing what to expect in terms of if I would be able to ride in my Nike's or if their bikes would only be able to be used by clip-in spin shoes but I was pleasantly surprised to find that an Equinox staff member was going around putting cages on pedals for riders who couldn't clip in. He was also taking said cages off of pedals for people that had spin shoes. 

I hopped on my bike and took in the scene - a very large spin studio (I would guess 40 bikes) but a raised platform for the instructor. Melissa Morin taught the class, and I recognized her from when she used to teach at New York Sports Club. I liked her style then and I still like it now - though the way PURSUIT is set up requires much less from the instructor. 

Behind the instructor is a bigggggg screen that makes the class feel like you're playing video games on your bike. 

METRICS 

Your bike will show you your RPMs, MPH, total mileage, and watts. I missed having a metric that shows "resistance." What's most important throughout the class is your watts - or power you're producing as you spin. 

5 GAME FORMAT

After a few minute warm-up, it was time for the workout to begin. PURSUIT is broken up into 5 "games," each lasting between 4-6 minutes. The ultimate goal is for the entire class to reach a pre-determined wattage score by the end of these 5 games - the more people in the class, the more wattage you'll need to produce. 

GAME 1 

During game one, we focused on our RPMs. For one minute the goal was to spin between 65-75 RPMs before increasing to 85-95 for a minute and then a minute at 105+. Then, we repeated. The graphics on the screen showed each person in the class as their bike number in a circle. That circle glowed and filled up as your wattage increased. 

For this game, there were two horizontal lines that represented the high end of RPMs we were aiming for and the low end of RPMs. The goal was to keep your dot shining bright in the middle of those two lines. 

GAME 2 

Game two focused on distance intervals. You clicked a button on your bike's screen which zeroed out your distance (though your total mileage remained) and then tried to spin your way to .25 miles as quickly as possible. You took the rest you needed before clearing the screen and sprinting to another .25 miles. 

The goal was to accumulate as many quarter-miles as you could in the allotted time (the studio record was 14!) 

GAME 3

In this round, riders were partnered up with someone else in the room and switched off riding every :30 racing the rest of the pairs in the class. The screen continued to show your glowing circle, as well as where you were in regards to the rest of the class on your race. 

The screen also highlighted which teams were competing for first and second place - a huge boost to the individuals on those teams (as proven by the last minute come from behind victory by the team in 2nd place!) 

GAME 4 

Another game was similar to game 1 as we focused on staying within a prescribed RPM range. The challenge was that between 65-105 RPMs we had to try to keep our resistance the same! Ouch. 

GAME 5 

The last game split the entire class into different teams. The whole team sprinted as hard and fast as they could for 1:00 before getting a break - the team that amassed the most power (watts) won that round. 

WHAT I LIKED 

Metrics. 

Always diggin' the metrics. Even though lately, I've discovered that the metrics make me feel pretty damn bad about myself! Here I was thinking I was pretty decent in a spin class and, well, not so much. At best it's motivating to see just how much I can improve and at worst it's discouraging to see how much more power my classmates were able produce throughout the 50 minute class. 

DIY. 

Stand when you want, sit when you want. Make the resistance what you want. This can go both ways depending on the day - sometimes I need the structure of detailed instructions to get the most out of my ride, but some days it's nice to feel in control of my own workout. 

TECHY. 

This class is super high-tech. The games and graphics are awesome. For games where you're partnered with someone - if there's an uneven number of people you have a computer ride with you that performs exactly as you were performing. If it's a team game and one team is lacking a player, there's a computer rider that produces results that equal the average of the other riders. I'm not a tech-person at all, but it really impressed me thinking that someone designed all this stuff! 

It's also awesome to crank up your resistance, keep your RPMs the same and watch your icon on the screen start to glow brighter - it KNOWS. 

COMPETITION. 

This class has team competition. partner competition, group competition (the entire class is trying to reach an end watt goal throughout), and solo competition. After each game, the screen will show the leader board - the top 8 female riders and the top 8 male riders for some extra motivation. 

POWER. 

I love that this class isn't like SoulCycle or Cyc - it doesn't matter how FAST your legs are flying around the flywheel. What matters is producing WATTS. POWER. Strength. No dancing on your bike. No bicep curls on the bike with baby weights. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE 

SHOES. 

My own fault, but not being clipped in for this class was a major bummer. 

WOMP WOMP. 

I was shocked at how poorly I performed. My sad little circle was by far the least brightly shining. I thought it might have to do with the fact that my age, weight, height, etc. wasn't in the Equinox system, but since the class is based on watts - it's essentially how well you're able to keep up your RPMs at heavier resistance - which I apparently am not-so-good at. It was disheartening, but I did what I could and left feeling like I had gotten in a solid workout for sure. 

BIKE COMPUTER. 

It drove me CRAZY that the computer on the bike had a button you had to KEEP PRESSING to turn the light on if you wanted to see your numbers. I wish that it would have just stayed turned out!! 

Overall, I really really liked this spin class. It was high-intensity but also focused on strength. It went really quickly because of the 5-game format. It had metrics, it had good music, the instructor was great and the competitive aspect kept me putting in a solid effort. I would like to see more studios implement this "gaming goes to the gym" idea! 

Equinox Columbus Circle

Day Two: Swim 

Tuesday I went for the two-a-day. After work  I headed to a different Equinox location (Columbus Circle) to meet up with my friend Kaitlin and check out the pool. Entering through the Shops at Columbus Circle - I eventually managed to find my way to the pool. 

It was SO NICE swimming in a 25 yard pool vs. an 18 yard pool. It doesn't sound like much, but it made a difference. 

The lanes were very crowded though (2-3 people per lane) - probably because we were there after work as opposed to early in the morning. 

Instead of just showing up at the pool and aimlessly swimming back and forth which is SO BORING to me, I looked online and found some suggested workouts which I modified since I can swim like 50 yards at a time before I need to stop for a breather. Hey, at least I #Tri. Ha, get it? 

I had my workouts written on index cards which was like, DUH LAUREN, pool + paper. The woman I was sharing a lane with clearly knew what she was doing and had her workout in a zip lock baggie. Now I know! 

SWIM WORKOUT 

Warm Up - 100 Yards
4 x 25 - Counting my strokes and trying to stay consistent
4 x 50 - :30 rest between each 50 yards
4 x 25 - Counting my strokes and trying to stay consistent
100 Yards
4 x 25 - Breathe every 4th stroke
4 x 25 - Breathe every 2nd stroke
8 x 25 sprints with :30 rest
100 yards counting strokes per length
4 x 25 sprints (as few breaths as possible) with :30 rests
100 yards counting strokes per length
4 x 25 kicking (alternate sides) 
2 x 25 no kicking
2 x 25 hands in fists

Total: 1500 yards 

It took me about an hour and was much better for me than just going to swim for an hour. But still not enjoyable by any means. Glad that my friend was there to hold me accountable for showing up! 

YOUR TURN: 
ANY TIPS FOR CREATING A SWIM WORKOUT?  
ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR EQUINOX CLASSES I SHOULDN'T MISS DURING MY FREE TRIAL? 

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The Room Where It Happened

It’s normal for me to hear a song on the radio and think to myself, “Wow this beat would be great for climbing a hill in spin class!” Or, “This would be amazing for jumps!” Whenever I hear Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” I wish I was on a stationary bike. Does this make me weird? Probably.

But I can’t help it that some songs just make me want to sweat.

While I haven’t spent a small fortune to buy myself a ticket to see HAMILTON on Broadway – I have had the soundtrack on repeat for about 2 months. So when I discovered that Cyc’s Hell’s Kitchen spin studio would be offering a HAMILTON themed ride, I knew the $30 price tag was worth it.

To be in a room with 40+ other people who wanted to work out to showtunes was bound to mean I was in good company. And to be led by the instructor that wanted to put on this class surely meant he was wonderful.

Hamilton Spin Class

The space on 8th Avenue is pretty large, with a big open locker section in the middle for people that don’t need to change along with smaller locker rooms for Men and Women with showers and amenities like q-tips, tampons, hair dryers, hair gel, etc.

This is also a studio that offers complimentary spin shoe rental (the worst is paying $30 for a spin class and THEN needing to rent spin shoes for $7). And inside the building is the Glam & Go studio if you should ever need to go from a spin class to a fancy event. You never know. Birthday spin class + blow out + boozy brunch sounds pretty great to me now that I think of it…(#basic).

Before class, everyone was milling around in the middle section and it seemed like they all knew each other. I got a really nice community vibe from the place and there was an audible gasp of excitement when the HAMILTON soundtrack started playing over the loudspeakers.

The 5:30 class let out of the studio and their energy was super high, super friendly, and they all seemed like they were best friends who just had a great night out together.

The 6:30 HAMILTON riders walked into the studio and what I initially thought were two separate studios turned out to be one massive studio with tons of bikes.

Our instructor had great energy, and explained that he had been begging to do this theme-ride forever. I was so excited to be a part of it – especially after he explained that his “dream” was for everyone to fist pump and yell “WORK” during Schuyler Sisters. That sounds like a dream I would have.

The class was really fun, because the instructor was clearly having the time of his life, it was impossible for everyone else not to get into it. Plus, that soundtrack is just A++++.

That being said, I don’t love the type of spinning that studios like Cyc promote. It’s more like dancing on your bike – which is fun, but seems very likely to cause injury since it’s jerky movements that count the beat on one side. I always feel like I’m jamming down on my right hip. Not to mention there is almost no resistance on the bike so your legs are spinning dangerously fast. Some of the moves were just so stupid (in my mind) that I didn’t do them.

Cyc, like a lot of studios, also does weighted songs throughout the class for arm work. They always kill me, despite the fact that you use very light weights, and this class was no exception. I would much rather do 10 reps with heavy weights then 100 with light weights – although I know that both have their place in overall strength work.

I could have sat there spinning to Lin Manuel Miranda’s silky smooth rapping all day – but before I knew it we were wrapping up class with Jonathan Groff singing to us.

Afterwards, we took a group picture and though I felt like an outsider, there was such a great sense of community. I can tell that Cyc attracts a lot of “regulars.” It was even more obvious when they brought a cake for someone’s birthday and we all sang.

At the end of the day, I had a great time. Though Cyc isn’t my favorite spin studio, I will say that their instructors have a great energy, the space is beautiful, the community feel is super welcoming and I LOVE the fact that they did a HAMILTON themed-ride. I would definitely go back for another themed-ride that appealed to me, but probably not for just any other class.

Try your first class at Cyc using my referral code and we'll both get some fab savings ;) 
http://cycfit.me/SQU  THANKS! <3

YOUR TURN:
Do you know the type of spinning I’m talking about, or am I crazy?
What is your dream song to hill-climb to?
What’s the most important part of a great spin class for you? Music, instructor, lighting?

 

What's Next on My Fitness Journey?

During a cold, wintry long-run last February, my friend Rebecca and I ran together for a few miles in Central Park. My foot was giving me problems, we were dressed in 20 layers to stay warm, and we very quickly fell into an easy conversation that helped distract us from the general unpleasantness of an outdoor run in February. 

The topic of conversation? Food. I had found my culinary-counterpart. We bonded over our love of all things epicurean – and since then I’ve come to the conclusion that no one can make eating look as life-changing as Rebecca. Just look at her with this Pepe’s pizza. Is she not making you want to hop on Metro North for a slice 

right now?

(I don't make it look as believable) 

Anywho, since then, Rebecca and I have bonded over things besides food – one of those being fitness! Like me, sometimes (lots of times) Rebecca likes to lift heavy things. I love that she knows MUSCLES ARE SEXY. And let me tell you, her gun show is the best in town.

Recently, we both started to do Kayla Itsine’s 12 week “Bikini Body Guide.”

I’ve explained in previous posts

that originally, I thought this program would be no big deal. I mean, it’s called the “Bikini Body Guide.” How legit could it be? It sounded like just another trend that would over promise and under deliver. But as I wasn’t able to run at the time, I figured I would give it a shot.

Shit that shit was hard.

Leg day? I would be sore for at least 2 or 3 days afterwards.

Kayla Itsine’s guide isn’t anything revolutionary. She’s taken a bunch of standard strength and cardio moves and put them into an easy to follow plan – it’s short but high intensity. You WILL be dripping in sweat by the end.

As someone who generally despises any and all jumping exercises – this was especially challenging for me. If I never have to do another jumping lunge in my life it would be too soon.

I was loving Kayla’s BBG for a while. And then I started running again. And suddenly the 3X a week commitment on top of trying to run 18 miles a week, swim and fit in yoga got to be overwhelming. I wasn’t looking forward to the workouts anymore and while the leg and ab routines were awesome, my arms weren’t feeling challenged.

Not usually one to quit things, especially fitness-based things, I pretty un-guiltily just…stopped…

After a solid 8 weeks of completing all the workouts, I had had enough. I felt a little bummed. But I also felt excited to be running again, and that off-set any “You’re a quitter” thoughts that I was having about cutting Kayla’s BBG short.

Last week at November Project, I got really excited when Rebecca arrived and I got to run with her for 2 miles. And again, we totally bonded over the conversation topic of choice– Rebecca’s statement of, “I’m just kind of confused on my fitness journey.”

DING DING DING!

Exactly how I have been feeling! And since that run together, I’ve been thinking about it even more. I’m feeling a little lost on my fitness journey so I’m going to try to write it out to gain some clarity.

I’m not training for a marathon.

 The fall marathon I thought I was going to run as an attempt to BQ – that most definitely didn’t happen. I've been a little sad lately watching everyone around me planning for and running their long runs – especially when it’s so beautiful out!

Do I want to run a spring marathon? I still can’t decide. I trained for Pittsburgh over the long winter months last year and it was hard. I know Peter will be an amazing source of support if I decide to do it again, but I just don’t know if I have the motivation right now for 7 a.m. alarms when the thermometer is in the teens. Then again – I want that BQ. The weather for spring marathons is beautiful. What else am I going to do all winter? So – the jury is still out.

I have been slowly increasing my weekly mileage and so far so good – except that it's still frustrating that I feel like I'm having a fast, strong run - putting in a ton of effort and left completely gassed after 4 miles - yet my pace is so. much. slower. than a few months ago. I know I need to be patient, but I may or may not have cried on a rock in Central Park after Saturday's run. I used to wake up and run the 6 mile loop at a 7:50 pace pretty consistently while training for Pittsburgh. Saturday, it took every ounce of energy to run 4 miles at 7:58. Grr. 

I

do

have a few running-related goals to work towards, however.

I just signed up for the NYC Runs 10K on Roosevelt Island on Halloween! I want to be excited, but I know the reality of how much speed and endurance I’ve lost in the past 5 months is going to hit me like a ton of bricks when I cross this finish line. At the 2014 Scotland Run 10K, I threw down a 45:23 – 7:19 pace.  Yikes.

I plan on running a new Turkey Trot this year – a 5 miler near my home on Long Island. My official 5 miler PR is the Poland Spring Marathon Kick Off which I ran monstrously hungover last fall – so we’ll see if a 7:45 pace is something I can top.

With our upcoming trip to Austin, Texas planned – my 4

th

half marathon is on the calendar. The Decker Challenge is a hilllllly course that I’m not expecting to PR, but hoping to feel OK running. It will be my longest run since May’s Brooklyn Half Marathon if/when I cross the finish.

Ted Corbitt 15K is the last NYRR points race of the year – and since I’ve been unable to race as a member of November Project’s team yet, I want to be out there running! It will be a PR no matter what, as it’s a new distance for me.

Last but not least on the calendar (for now) is the Blue Point 10 Miler – which was an AMAZING race I ran last winter. This year it will be even better since I will hopefully have friends to drink with after. By then, who in the world knows what my pace will be like – but I don’t anticipate it being easy to beat last year’s 8:13 pace. Time will tell!

Focusing on these shorter distance races will be different for me and I’m hoping it eases me back into running/racing/going fast and then if I decide I want to go far – we’ll see about that spring marathon. I have another month or two to decide.

Strength Training

has not being something I’ve been focusing on a lot – but I do really love it! I love going to the gym and coming up with my own circuits focused on certain body parts – waking up in the morning and knowing within a minute, “Oh yeah right, I did triceps yesterday – definitely worked!” Marathon training makes it really hard to spend a ton of time doing much besides running. And it makes it really reallllly hard to spend any time at all focused on arms. I’ve come to accept that I need to include one day a week of leg strength training to keep my hips and glutes strong. But in the next few weeks I hope to incorporate some more abs and arms as well, despite the fact that I’m not still following Kayla Itsine’s guides.

If anyone has fun strength training ladders/HIIT/Tabata/etc. that they’d like to share, please do!

Triathlons

are something I’ve been super gung ho about for a few months now. I started saving, I started researching bikes, I started bothering people with a million and one questions (sorry everyone). I spent $80 on shoes for spin class that I have yet to attach the cleats to. I started swimming once or twice a week. And now, I’m signed up for swimming lessons once a week.

And suddenly – I don’t know if I want to do a tri.

Oops.

That’s not true. I know I want to do a tri. I think I would like it. Maybe love it. That “Iron Man” challenge is definitely still in the back of my crazy mind. But I just don’t know if right now is the time. Triathloning (yes, it’s a word…) is

really really expensive

.

I just booked a flight to Austin for a 6 day vacation and half marathon and it’s probably going to end up costing me less than a bike would cost me. Not to mention the $200 entry fees, a wet suit, and the tons of biking things I’m sure I don’t even know about yet.

So, jury is also out on whether or not a tri is in my future at the moment -  but I do still plan on stopping at a bike store to get myself fitted so that I can properly stalk Craiglist for a used bike in my size. Doesn’t hurt to keep my eyes open!

And in the meantime, I’ve found that swimming is a nice new challenge and I’m looking forward to finishing this 8 week course and keeping a weekly swim in my fitness repertoire.

Yoga

continues to bore me for the most part – but I

do

notice a huge difference when I go twice a week as opposed to, you know, thinking my body will magically be fine without zero stretching. So, I’ve been trying to be consistent with that!

Unfortunately, writing all of that out didn’t give me any real clarity on why I’m feeling kind of “meh” at the moment – why I can’t seem to figure out what I want to put my energy towards.  

But maybe the moral of this incredibly long blog post isn’t, “Figure out what your next challenge is” or, “Figure out what muscle you want to develop next!” Maybe the moral of it is that I’m going to accept the fact that sometimes, we don’t know exactly where we’re headed. 

If there’s nothing calling to me right now, maybe it’s because physically or mentally I need to take a chill pill. Or maybe the lack of direction is making room for something else to unexpectedly turn up – roller blading, that field hockey league I’ve been wanting to join, trapeze school? I’m keeping an open mind and not ruling anything out. 

Some days it makes me a little antsy. Without a calendar to tell me how many miles I need to run on Saturday morning, who am I?! Answer: still Lauren.  

And sometimes, for a lot of fitness-loving ladies and lads – I think that’s harder for us to believe than it should be.

So listen up. I’m talking to you and I’m talking to myself: If you’re ever feeling a little down because you feel “lazy” without a big shiny goal – stop.

Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t preparing to run a marathon. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t spiritually moved by downward dog. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you didn’t do a WOD at the box this morning.

Maybe you enjoyed a walk through the fall foliage. Or a jog. Or a giant picnic. Maybe you dragged yourself to yoga because you know you needed to stretch your calves. Maybe you hope to never use the term WOD in your life. Maybe you slept in.

 As long as we are moving our bodies in ways that feel good and right for us in the moment, and letting them rest when they want to rest, we shouldn’t feeling anything but appreciation.

Appreciate that we’ve found ways to move and be active that we genuinely enjoy. Appreciate that we’ve realized endorphins really are like drugs. Appreciate that fitness is a great way to connect with your body – to know when it wants to move and how it wants to move and when it wants to rest.

To know on the day that you’re signing up for a marathon that you are ready to commit to it.

To know on a certain day that you can go that extra 100 meters in the pool.

To know on a certain day that you are definitely not going to make it to that spin class you signed up for.

To know on a certain day that the time has come to train for your first tri.

To walk into the gym ready for a tricep workout only to get there and see tthe TRX machine is empty and you feel like doing some back exercises instead.

I loved that Rebecca referred to it as her

fitness journey

.

No two people’s journeys are going to be the same. Some days your journey is going to be awesomely downhill and wonderful and fun and some days or weeks or months it’s going to be slow going. Then there are those forks in the road where you’re not quite sure what’s coming up next.

It’s allllll part of it. 

So instead of getting down, embrace it and keep your eyes open for the moment when your next goal appears on the horizon. And when it presents itself, you give that goal your all.

The Running Update!

It's time for a recap on my fitness life for the past oh, I don't know...4 months? The last thing I blogged about was really the Brooklyn Half Marathon back on May 16. 

And unfortunately, that was my last real run where I felt good (well, I was even hurting by the end of Brooklyn). 

(Remember when I ran a 1:40:34 half marathon?)

If you remember way back to May - I had boldly declared that I would be attempting to BQ at the Suffolk County Marathon. Well, that race was on Sunday and needless to say, I wasn't there to even slowly run the half. 

The problem has been my IT band and it's been frustrating to say the least. For 4 months I've attempted to rest for weeks at a time (and by rest I mean no running) only to feel pain 2 or 3 miles into a run when I finally decided to give it another try. A run in Tampa - ended in stabbing pain. My first "training run" for the Suffolk County Marathon in Las Vegas - awful. The first attempt at 8 miles in Central Park with Peter? Frustrated tears and stabbing pain. There were a few three mile runs I was able to run without pain - but they mainly made me grumpy because I realized how much speed and endurance I had lost. 

Not to mention not exactly feeling my best in terms of the weight department either - if you've been reading my blog and reading about my summer - it pretty much consisted of a LOT of eating out and drinking. Pair that with practically no running - and I haven't been feeling super confident rockin' my bikinis. 

BUT I also had an amazing summer and just keep trying to tell myself that this whole not running thing won't last forever (please, don't last forever!)

The most frustrating thing about IT band pain is when you try Googling ways to fix it and half the Internet tells you foam roll, foam roll, foam roll and then other people tell you rest rest rest while simultaneously telling you to strengthen your hips and glutes and then other people tell you that foam rolling will only make things worse.


So, what have I been doing in an attempt to get rid of this awful tightness in my IT band? And still exercise? (By no means should you follow my lead here if you're trying to overcome ITBS).

1) Not running - but not exactly resting. 
I was pretty good about taking a serious break with running. Every two weeks or so I would lace up my sneakers and head out for a run to see if things had improved, but most of the time the answer was a big fat no. I listened when that was the case and I never went more than three miles (OK, except for the time I ran to NP Chicago). 




But should I have been going to spin class twice a week? Probably not.

I know it wasn't helping speed up my recovery - but it was low impact cardio and it didn't bother my knee when I did it. So that's what I've been doing - spin twice a week. Some days I was actually OK with the break from running because I was able to find other things I like to do. And one of those things was getting back to spinning. So while it may have slowed down my recovery, it at least kept me sane. 


2) Kayla Itsines 12 Week Bikini Body Guide. 
This chick is all the rage on Instagram. 


She's from Australia and she created a workout and nutrition guide that has completely taken off. The other day, myself and another girl were both doing the same routine at the gym! 

When I first saw all the posts, I rolled my eyes. And to be honest, I thought the workouts would be a joke. I'm hear to admit that I was wrong. 

I just started week 6 of the workouts and while I haven't noticed much of a change (I haven't exactly been following the whole nutrition aspect of this guide...) I am consistently sweaty and out of breath at the end of the workout. 




The way the program works is this:
3 days a week you complete a strength workout - either abs, arms or legs or some combination of those with some cardio. Each workout consists of 2 circuits that you complete twice each. 


Circuit one is 4 exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Circuit two is 4 different exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Then, you repeat circuit 1. Then, you repeat circuit 2. 

28 minutes of work and you'll good to go! 

The guides call for 30 seconds of rest in between each 7 minute circuit but I usually take more than that if we're being honest. 

Set-up to finish is usually 45 minutes for me. 

The other days of the week you're supposed to do either low-intensity steady state cardio or HIIT but I've just been doing my spin classes as cardio.

I really like these because they aren't super time consuming but I definitely feel like I'm getting a good workout in. After leg day, it's pretty daunting arriving at Peter's apartment and knowing I have to walk up 5 flights of stairs. 

Should I be doing 28 minutes of jump squats and lunges and burpees when I'm trying to heal my IT band? Debatable. I will say that my legs have felt stronger, which can't be a bad thing for a runner in the long run, right? 

3) Hip-Strengthening 
Last time I had IT band problems I consistently did a few hip strengthening exercises that I attribute to getting things working again. I've started to do them again. 


-Hip hikes



-Single leg squat onto box




-Clam shells with resistance band
-Leg lifts with resistance band
-Side shuffle with resistance band


Here's a video that includes some other good exercises

4) Foam rolling...sometimes.
My foam rolling game has, admittedly, been pretty weak. 

5) Icing when needed.
Sometimes after an attempted run, my knee would KILL. Any time I have knee discomfort just from walking or sitting, I try to ice it. 


6) Yoga.
I've been trying to get to yoga twice a week, even though sometimes it's only once. It's crazy how fast I lost my flexibility. During Pittsburgh Marathon training I was killin' it with yoga - sometimes going three times a week. Slowly but surely I'm getting back into it and it definitely makes a difference. The other day in the store, I told Peter my chatarunga was on fleek AND HE DIDN'T LAUGH! Someone tell me I'm funny. 


7) Daydreaming about all the things I'm going to do when I can run again. 
And that still includes a big fat BQ. Recently, I've allowed myself to start thinking about a spring marathon.



(This is what I do in my free time...anyone run any of these marathons? Suggestions for a good spring BQ course? Minimal travel? Early May?)


Even bigger than that is this crazy idea that has always semi-existed in my head of completing an Iron Man. I always said I was going to be a bad-ass 50 year old completing an IronMan but recently I've been wanting to do it sooner. But not soon. Like, 10 year plan soon. 

But that means that I'm gunna need to start somewhere in the world of triathlons! Which is why I am officially saving up to buy myself a bike (I'm also accepting donations! And recommendations, advice, etc.) I've got a loooong way to go - as in my current savings are at $35 and I figure I need $1,500. But what's important is that I've started! 

I already bought myself a pair of cycling shoes and cleats so I can start clipping in during my spin classes just to get used to it. 

And the biggest step in all this triathlon jazz is that I started...

7) Swimming. 
GULP. 

You're talking to the girl who DOESN'T put her head under water for fear of instantaneously getting swimmer's ear like she did as a child - ruining many a pool party or summer day. 

I can swim fine - just not for real

Peter has been enlisted as my swim coach. 5 minutes into my first lesson I was totally over it, getting cranky and frustrated. 




But I've been consistently going at least once a week and have improved a TON from that first trip to the pool - there's still so much work to be done though. I can basically get about 15 meters before I'm hanging onto the side of the pool gulping in lungfuls of air. 

Yes, I love lifting weights and strength training - but I need my cardio! So swimming has been good for that too.


8) Plunging. 
I bought a $7 sink plunger and I use it on my IT Band. Yes, this was a day I was feeling particularly desperate. But I've read a bunch about it and it's a real think! Similar to cupping - it's supposed to distract the soft tissue and increase blood flow to the area...or something like that. It feels weird but I'm willing to try anything at this point. 


You can watch it here. 


9. Reading a lot of running related books. 
It helps keep me motivated instead of convincing myself I'm over running completely just because it's going to be a lot harder now. Read these if you need to get yourself out the door!


Two weeks ago, I went to November Project for PR Day and Yearbook picture day. Really, I went for yearbook picture day. The PR day part I was dreading. I woke up and went out to get to the 5:30 workout and on my way there I swear I almost turned around and ran in the opposite direction. I suddenly felt so self-conscious. I know it sounds stupid, but I didn't want my seriously diminished running abilities to be out on display to a bunch of bad-ass, speedy-ass people pushing their limits to PR. 

But then I realized - if there was any place to make a comeback run, it was at NP - home to not only some of the speediest runners, but home to some of the most motivating, understanding, supportive people in Manhattan. Tons of these people know what it's like to come back after an injury. And the best part of November Project is celebrating everyone's accomplishments - not just the super fast and impressive accomplishments. A BQ is just as impressive as someone running their first mile without taking a walking break. 

So I made my way to the East River, got my bounce on, and threw down 3.5 miles that were far from a PR but were a start. 



And I am happy to report that I had a pretty good 3 miles last Sunday when Peter was on Long Island, and a solid 3.5 mile run to November Project Toronto on Wednesday of last week. So Peter and I set out to run the 6 miles to South Street Seaport for November Project on Friday - and it was wonderful! 

I was on cloud 9 when we reached the pier. I'm pretty sure I told everyone that I saw, "I JUST RAN 6 MILES! I JUST RAN MY LONGEST RUN SINCE BROOKLYN! I HAVEN'T FELT THIS GOOD IN 4 MONTHS!"
I was expecting to be super frustrated with my pace and had mentally prepared myself with a "Just be happy if you make it there pain free" speech, but with Peter by my side I was able to run close to my Pittsburgh pace! Granted, 6 miles vs. 26.2 miles is a lot different, but it was awesome to feel my legs underneath me and to feel them giving me a little power. 



I feel like a weirdo but on Friday it really felt like my body was telling me, "Okay, you can start running again - but ONLY if you promise not to be stupid about it!!!!" 

That second part is what I know I really need to focus on. Saturday I was already asking Peter, "Should I run the Hartford Half on October 10?"

The answer is most certainly no. 


But already I feel more like myself. On Sunday morning, Melissa and I jogged the mile and a half over to 63rd Street to cheer on November Project people running the 5th Avenue Mile. Just being back with running friends in the race environment on a crisp early fall morning made me so happy. I jogged with Peter to a Starbucks. I jogged the mile and a half home. Being able to use my favorite mode of transportation was exciting to say the least. More exciting? The half mile from 86th to 97th street where I really let my legs fly. And they worked! I flew! 

I am so ready to ease back into runs a few nights/mornings a week with a little longer run on Saturday mornings. With no humidity too! 

I just hope all this excitement and optimism isn't going to come crashing down this week or in the next few weeks... 

So that's the update. 

But enough about me. I'm also really happy that Peter's feeling better too, though still having some foot aches and pains, his hip seems to be holding up and he was able to break 6:00 at the 5th Avenue Mile this year :) And he looked good doing it too. Like a Disney Prince, some might say! 


The best part about being back to running is being able to do it together - I just hope we can both stay semi-pain free for the best running weather of the year!!



More running, more smiles!





Peloton Cycle a Major Win!

It’s been a Spin-o-Rama over here at PeanutButterIsMyBoyfriend! I know I’ve been writing a lot of posts about spinning, er, “indoor cycling,” but here’s one more for ya- recently, I took a class at Peloton Cycle and absolutely fell in love. While some people go gaga for SoulCycle and others are head over heels for Flywheel- I am [insert cliché here] about Peloton Cycle.
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! 


(Free snacks after class? Heck yes.)


Get your butt over there and into a saddle!

Update: Exciting news! Peloton is offering 40% off 5 ride packs! Use the code fb40 at checkout! $84 instead of $140! 

Spinning vs. Indoor Cycling

A topic that’s been interesting to me lately is the question of whether or not there’s a difference between Spinning classes and “indoor cycling” classes like Flywheel and SoulCycle.

As someone who has taken both- it seems obvious to me that there is, in fact, a difference.
However, after Googling around quite a bit, I wasn’t able to find much literature on the topic apart from the differences between indoor cycling and outdoor cycling.


The one article I found was actually a blog post, written by Pumps and Iron, and made perfect sense to me. I thought I would share it so that you could have the same “AHA, totally” moment that I did.

Aside from the fact that “Spinning” is a trademarked name, here’s how I like to break it down after reading Pumps and Iron’s blog post. 

Spinning: 

-“Traditional” 
-Meant to imitate an outdoor biking experience
-Focus on heart rate, training zones, etc. 
-Different types of rides, similar to training for a road bike race- strength rides, recovery rides, endurance rides, etc. 

“Indoor Cycling:”
-These are the boutique classes you pay $30 a pop for at places like Flywheel and SoulCycle 
-Every ride is designed to get you drenched in sweat- no recovery rides or focus on staying in target training zones here 
-Non-traditional moves like crunches, squats and pushups done on the bike 
-Sometimes feature sections using light hand-weights  

Of course, everyone has their preference. There’s a lot of debate out there as to whether or not these “indoor cycling” classes can be harmful with all of their crazy moves. But then again, they’re fun and total calorie-blasters.


What’s your opinion? Do you prefer Spin classes, or trendy “dance in the saddle” cycling classes? 



I've Got the Spins

As a junior in college, I remember when our fitness center got a spinning studio. I was confused, and had never heard of spin before. Sure, I had fooled around on the archaic stationary bike in my grandparent’s basement as a child, but as far as legitimate exercise was concerned, I was convinced that biking in a gym was boring, and couldn’t possibly be a real workout.

One day, Quinnipiac had a health fair and was offering spin classes, so my friend and I decided why not? Let’s try it. I really don’t remember much from that first class, except that my heart rate was elevated and I was dripping in sweat and I was persuaded that, alright, maybe that was a workout after all.

It was a long time until I tried spinning again. Probably over a year later, during one of my many free trials at gyms throughout NYC when I was a poor graduate student. I mainly took classes during my month-long NYSC membership (which you, too, can enjoy once a year!

Then, when my shin splints started getting really bad, I had to seriously cut back on my running.  But of course, I wouldn’t let myself give up all exercise.  So while home one weekend, I sucked it up and paid $15 to go to a spin class at a gym nearby.  It was dark, there were black lights, the music was loud and poppy and fun, and the calories that my Polar heart rate monitor watch said I burned was seriously awesome. I was no longer just a casual spin-class taker when the opportunity presented itself. I was hooked.


(My favorite spin studio- on Long Island!)

When you first start taking spin classes, you feel awkward. At least, I know I did.  You think everyone else knows what they’re doing, makes it look easy, and holy hell, how are they not wincing with severe butt pain?! But stick with it, because eventually you’ll learn how to set your bike, what the different positions mean, what the heck the instructor means when they say to get ready for jumps and climbs, and no, your butt won’t hurt that badly forever!

There are so many things I love about spinning. I’m not going to lie, I love the fact that it burns A LOT of calories. But there’s so much more to it. It’s never boring (if you have a good instructor.) Throughout one class you’ll do interval training, strength training, hills, jumps and depending on the type of studio you’re at, even some arm and ab work!

The music is loud and pumps you up and when your instructor has a playlist that you like, and you lock your pedal strokes in with the rhythm, you feel. so. awesome.

I also like that there is such a HUGE variety of different types of spin studios and instructors.  What works for one person may not work for everyone, so it’s definitely important to try all different types of classes with all different types of instructors before you give up on spinning! Maybe one day you’re in the mood for a class with John from SoulCycle because you leave a sweaty beast and he plays rap and techno during class while kicking your ass with 10 minute climbs and intervals.  But then the next day you wake up and need some California Dreamin’ hills with Harriet the Hippy instructor who has you closing your eyes and “becoming one with the bike.”

(I am totally content with basic NYSC spin classes!)


I’ve tested out my fair share of spin classes (you can read about my first SoulCycle experience here) and they each have something unique- so shop around until you find the place that feels like the right fit for you!

Oh, and check out this funny Buzzfeed about people who spin ;) 



SoulCyclin' with Infatuation Nation

This morning, I took the plunge and attended my first SoulCycle class.

I’m not sure why it felt like a big deal, but it did.  I’ve been taking spin classes for over 2 years now, and everyone knows about SoulCycle. There are the SoulCycle faithfuls, who pour money into classes and apparel and talk about the “pack” mentality as if it’s a life-changing experience. There are SoulCycle wannabes, who wish they could afford the steep price tag for classes on a normal basis, but settle for taking a ride on a special occasion or far less frequently than they’d like. There are those in the fitness world who downright reject SoulCycle and its practices, citing poor form and more attention on a spectacle than actually getting in a quality workout. Then there are those that are intimidated by SoulCyle because of the fancy lingo and the “skinny bitches” (I hate that term) that pack SoulCycle studios across Manhattan. It’s kind of crazy how divisive SoulCylce can be in the fitness community. A quick Google search brings up articles with headlines like, “Joining the Cult of SoulCyle” and “I’d Rather Sell My Soul Than SoulCycle.” Then there is me. Who is still trying to decide where I belong on this spectrum.

So let me tell you about my experience.

I follow this amazing food blog online and on Instagram. They’re called The Infatuation and I trust them a whole heck of a lot when it comes to advice on restaurants in this fine city. When I went to Chelsea Market and had no internet, I was freaking out that I couldn’t look-up which taco they recommend at Los Taco No. 1 (thank god it eventually loaded and I got to experience the glory of the carne asada corn taco). 

(Thanks for the pro tip, Infatuation!)

Why do I trust them so much? I’m not sure. But it could have something to do with their writing style, which makes me laugh out loud when I read their reviews. I mean, they have literally written the line, “Calexico’s Lower East Side location is basically the grown up version of your favorite fast food joint, only here you can pollute your body with margaritas instead of Baja Blast.” They just make the most relatable references.  You know these guys are just like you. And you feel like you can depend on them.

So when they partnered with SoulCycle and announced that they would be offering free classes for their followers- I JUMPED for joy. The first time I tried registering, I got a sad email saying that all the bikes had been filled. But fortunately, they’re offering a bunch of different classes! And the second time I emailed them, success! I ran around the house my family was renting for vacation in excitement that no one quite understood. I’m going to get to try SoulCycle for FREE with other people who love food as much as me! 


(SUCCESS!)
I dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 a.m. on Friday, walked the 2483902 miles (really .7) to the 6 train, rode the 6 train for a half hour to Bleecker Street, walked 234280 miles (really .9) to the West Village SoulCycle studio and walked up to the door.


(An early, but beautiful morning!)

You walk in and BAM lockers. I’m used to a gym where the locker area is completely separate, so that was a little weird. The two women working at the desk were like superheroes getting the huge lines of people checked-in quickly. They were somehow simultaneously helping like 7 people. I was told to find my name on the list and initial it, but I wasn’t on the list. My stomach sunk when I was told that I was on the waitlist. What?! I got a confirmation email, which is why I had traveled an hour before work to make the class! I needed my endorphins gosh darnit! The woman told me to hang tight and assured me I would get a bike. So I got my complimentary smartwater (hooray!) and shoes and put my stuff in their high-tech lockers (you program it yourself, so you don’t actually need to bring a big bulky lock with you).
As promised, they started calling people from the waitlist and told me to go downstairs to bike 10. I get down to the studio and someone’s on bike 10. Luckily, one of the great staff ran upstairs and came back and told me to take 18. Then, she helped me get set up on my bike. Yes, I’ve taken many many spin classes but when it’s a new type of bike I like to have them help me out. That, and this is only my second time clipping in with spin shoes, and I’m pretty terrible at it.

I didn’t love the seats on the SoulCycle bikes, but throughout the ride they got more bearable. My handlebars felt pretty low, but SoulCycle really focuses on your core, and the lower the handlebars, the more of a core workout you’ll get. So that was OK with me- because abs.
The actual studio was a lot like most studios- dark with lots of bikes. There were three candles lit at the front of the room. Some inspiring quotes on the wall. Standard. 


(Eh, not sure about this stuff)



Our instructor (I can’t believe I forgot to make a mental note of her name) was energetic but not completely over the top like I’ve heard some SoulCycle instructors can be.

Things I liked:
-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.

Things I didn’t like:
-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.

Bottom Line:
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.

Next, I really would love to try Flywheel because I feel like the monitoring system is going to get me HOOKED.

In the meantime, back to Tuesday morning rides with Victoria at NYSC :)


(NYSC works for me!)

What the Brick?

I went for my first brick workout on Saturday, and it was pretty awesome! But I gotta admit, I didn’t know much about them, so if you’re scratching your head thinking “What the heck is a brick workout?” don’t feel like a silly goose. Keep reading!

“Brick” workouts are generally used by triathletes and is the term used to refer to a workout that “stacks” two different forms of exercise, one after the other, with little to no break in between.  These help triathletes prepare their bodies for the transitioning between running, biking and swimming.  Usually, brick workouts focus on the biking and running portions- and are therefore great for non-triathletes as well thanks to the new popularity of indoor cycling studios! Brick workouts are a great way to switch up your routine, increase your calorie burn, challenge your body, and keep things interesting!

I also found that they’re great at sparking, “Maybe I want to do a triathalon” thoughts…but that could just be me.

Saturday morning I woke up nice and early and my friend and I journeyed down to the David Barton gym at Astor Place (it’s beautiful, even though they ruined my Alumni Weekend last year- long story, which I will recount at the end of this post for those interested because it’s pretty entertaining). Inside David Barton is a new spin studio- Cyc. Cyc had generously partnered up with JackRabbit to let us in on a FREE class for the cycling portion of our brick workout.  Score!

First we did some rolling, cause that’s just the way we roll.  And also because our legs hate us a lot of times.

Next, it was into the studio for a major sweat sesh with “cycologist” Devon Kincaid. Cyc’s studio is big, dark, and awesome.  The bikes are only useable if you’re wearing cycling shoes, so when you ride at Cyc, you’re sure to feel LEGIT.

Cyc is one of those spin studios that isn’t just going to have you climb some hills, do some jumps and sprints and call it a day.  Cyc’s classes are of the “Your arms will burn just as much as your legs by the time you leave here” variety.  During Saturday’s class, we did 5 weighted songs, including ones that focused on biceps, shoulders, triceps and abs. 

I’m still torn on how I feel about these types of spin classes.  As a general rule of thumb, I’m all onboard.  I love the variety, the burn and of course the added calories I’m torching.  But there’s still part of me that likes my “boring” in comparison spin classes at NYSC that are a little more traditional.

That being said, Cyc is such a great experience- between the spinning, the coaching, the weights, and the AMAZING LIGHTING (not to mention great playlists)- I totally wish I could afford to take a class every day (single rides are $25 with packages starting at $120 for 5 rides- they also have student rates for anyone 23 or under or anyone with a valid student ID, so check that out fo sho!).

At the end of a heart-pumping 45 minute ride, it was time to snap a picture and head to the streets for the JackRabbit led running portion of the brick workout!

JackRabbits @ Cyc!

We took a lovely 3 mile run, stretched, high-fived, and were treated to delicious OatWorks smoothies!

All in all, a wonderful, wonderful Saturday morning! (Followed by a wonderful afternoon experiencing my first Phatty Beet slider from Chickpea and Olive at Smorgasburg!)

I definitely recommend trying out a brick workout! I also give two thumbs up to Cyc, JackRabbit and OatWorks….all amazing companies!


*The story about how David Barton ruined my Alumni Weekend- One day, I went to David Barton for a free trial membership (because I am a serial gym free trial-er).  When I signed up, they asked for my ID along with all my paperwork. I had a great workout. I instagrammed their beautiful décor. I sat through their spiel. I prayed that one day I would be able to afford a membership at a gym like this. I went home, I packed, I went to Connecticut for Alumni Weekend.  I went to buy alcohol to adequately pre-game. I didn’t have my ID.  For the LIFE of me, I couldn’t figure out where my ID could possibly be.  I wasn’t missing anything else from my wallet! How was I going to go to Aunchies with the rest of the alumni for a night of drunken dancing? I had my parents send pictures of every form of ID I could think of but when I got to the door of Aunchies, the bouncer wasn’t having it.  He called for the owner, “Mrs. Aunchie”- the biggest, meanest, scariest owner in the world.  She wasn’t having it either- but luckily, she also wasn’t having the person trying to cut the line by hoping over the fence.  As she turned to yell, I raced through the door, and spent the entire night hiding from her (which got a little tricky when I was next in line for the bathroom and she was coming out of the stall…).  About a week later, after I was back in the city, it suddenly dawned on me, out of nowhere, that I had given the David Barton front desk person my ID when I signed up for my free trial! I called, and sure enough, it was there! Didn’t they think I might need that?! They had all of my information from the forms I had filled out! Grrrr. \End.