Training With The “World’s Fittest Woman”: Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet Showing Us How It’s Done At EVF Performance

When I heard that Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, 2014’s CrossFit champ, would be doing a few days of training at EVF Performance, I knew I had to go. The fact that I hadn’t actually done a CrossFit class since I sprained my ring finger 6 weeks ago? A slight wrinkle but not a complete deterrent because I just can’t say no to the chance to workout with the greats.

Camille LeBlanc-BaznekCamille is tiny height-wise but ridiculously ripped – I mean she is the newly crowned “2014 World’s Fittest Woman.”  The class I was supposed to take was the final of the evening and they were running late – “Cami”, as they call her, likes to talk! The best part about that was that we got to watch the WOD that was ahead of us – and for me to snap a picture of Cami in action because I promptly forgot as soon as we were up. The first part of the night was hearing how she went from newbie to Champ in 5 years… which is just insane to me. Cami’s point: have a goal, then break it up into short and long term sections. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she had innate talent but I do think that breaking bigger goals down into pieces is a really good plan. The thing that I really needed to hear (and work on) is the idea that you have to work on your weakness, because your strength will still be there. Whatever that strength happens to be, it will still be there if you spend time on your weakness. All that happens is that you get balanced and more importantly, get better all around.

FBS - Camille Leblanc-Bazinet Demo

Although Cami was obviously the draw to the event, her husband, Dave Lispson, was there to coach too. Dave is one of the CrossFit Headquarters Level 1 coaches and was such an amazing resource for us to get to experience during the skill drills. He might not be the champ but he was awesome, concerned, helpful and thorough. The fact that he’s helping to train the next generation of CrossFit coaches I think is a very good thing. The section was exactly what I needed – a long, detailed breakdown of the clean and all of its various forms. We spent a long time with the PVC pipe and as we did it, Cami and Dave made their way through the room correcting us all. It was awesome to get tips from some of the best, who were both shockingly engrossed in helping us all get better.

FBS Camille Leblanc-Bazinet coachingThe tip that resonated hard with me was exactly how far back I was supposed to push my hips in any clean that started from the ground. Dave said it to me a LOT until I finally got that what I needed to feel – your hamstrings should be on fire before you go. “Push your knees back” really needs to be my mantra. It didn’t matter where people were (I was one of the worst, out of practice and sloppy) both of them were just in it when they were in front of us. We progressed to the bar, then weights, and in each round they were right there. As Cami said at the end, it doesn’t matter if you are throwing up huge weight, it matters if you are doing your best – whatever that is.

The WOD was pretty straightforward a seven minute partner cycle of 5 Squat Cleans while your partner did burpees – evil but straightforward. The score? Your total burpees. My partner was focused on a good score, so I sucked it up and listened to her plan. To get a good score, 75+, we had to do at least 5 burpees for every 5 cleans. It sucked ass but at the end, we’d done a 106 – totally solid.

Here is the thing…I expected a good workout and it was. I knew I’d learn something and I did. The thing that floored me though, was how much I LIKED her. She was sweet, kind and effacing- while still knowing that she is a complete badass. That is an absolutely amazing, special thing. After we’d all peeled ourselves off the floor and told our score we did pictures – because seriously, if you are going to work out with the Champ, you really DO need a picture.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and FBS

Gotham Archery: Finding Your Inner Bad Ass

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When I first heard that an archery range would be opening in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, I didn’t really know what to expect but I was just so curious to find out. The space is in one of the industrial spaces that still exist in Gowanus – and even though I had checked the address a million times before heading there, I was sure I must have gotten the street wrong. Until actually standing in front of Gotham Archery, there are no big signs – only a small beautiful wooden placard on a non-descript door.

Gotham Archery -sign

I haven’t shot a bow since I was a little kid and didn’t know what to expect, so decided I needed a partner in crime for this adventure. I decided Eric needed to TAKE the class too, not just take pictures and so I booked us into Gotham Archery’s introductory class – required of everyone who wants to shoot on their range.  Since we got there a little early, I got to hang out and check out the space. Gotham is a large open space with the ability to adjust how far away the targets are. For newbies like my group, that is pretty close but for the more advanced people, they could be MUCH further away. There were two guys who were shooting the length of the building but my favorite pair was the mother and son practicing together. His mom was good and he was talking about wanting to be like Katniss Everdeen and shoot a traditional bow…which I just loved. The little boy wanting to be the female hero is a win in my book.

Gotham Archery -Frank

On this rainy Saturday at 2pm, there were 14 of us in the intro class, most in pairs and then one large group of 6. We were broken up into 2 groups, our group of pairs went with Frank.  He went over the basics of stance, of lane etiquette and how to stay safe on the archery range. Then it was off to get fitted for quivers, arm guards and finally, our bows.

 

all bows

 

There are two different types– the Olympic style “Recurve” and the “Compound” bow. The tall guys in the group had to use the “Recurve” but everyone else got to choose.  Everyone chose the fancy compound bow, but just like the little boy earlier, I wanted the traditional bow. I mean, if it is good enough for Katniss and Olympians, that is the one I want.

Gotham Archery -say what

The class is filled with a huge variety of skill level… from those who’ve never picked up a bow to those who had a LOT of experience.  There were 2 guys in our group who were really experienced with shooting and were annoyed at having to listen to all of Frank’s awesome tips and guidance before actually firing an arrow but for the rest of us, it was exactly what we needed.  After a half hour of instruction and set up, we were off.

mags prep

 

For the next hour, we practiced trying to hit the bullseye. Frank said our goal was less the bullseye than to be able to group the arrows we did shoot. Eric, though, was a natural and could from the very beginning group his shots. I was bad at that part but towards the end got much more consistent! Improvement, is the goal always… but in the finally knockout round game, I was out immediately.

mags side

Best random Saturday adventure that I’ve had in a long time – I can’t wait to go back and shoot again…

But really, my favorite part of shooting at Gotham Archery? It made me feel like a total bad ass.

mags full aiming

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

Brooklyn Bodyburn’s Second Location: The Sweaty New Fitness Destination

It’s not exactly like I’ve been avoiding going to check out Brooklyn Bodyburn but until it opened in Cobble Hill last week, I’d never made it to a class. The original studio opened in Williamsburg last year to rave reviews but it was a pain to get to from my part of Brooklyn. However, the new studio is super convenient and finally, all of my excuses for not getting my butt over to check out Tracy Carlinksy’s studio flew out of the window.

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The studio is a Lagree Fitness™studio and Tracy was quick to point out that this was NOT a Pilates class…which, I appreciated. The new Cobble Hill studio is equipped with the very latest version of the machine, the M3S, which is the newest, extra large souped-up version of the Megaformer.

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For the opening weekend, the new studio hosted a special Lululemon and friends Bodyburn class. The basics of the workout is that the movements are slow but the transitions are fast and as Tracy went over the M3S at the beginning of class, I could already tell this class was going to be a lot more challenging than I had anticipated –there were a lot of moving parts to contend with!

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I have a bunch of friends who’ve been raving about it and I finally get why. 10 minutes into this class, my muscles were shaking and I was dripping in sweat. Our crew was filled with fitness fiends – CrossFitters, Dancers, Barre addicts and Triathletes and not one of us had an easy time with this one… which was slightly comforting, considering I was dying. Tracy’s cues were spot-on and she gave a lot of hands-on corrections that were really helpful – especially for a class filled with people who had almost no experience on the Megaformers.

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The machine is made up of a large main platform that is spring loaded with two stationary platforms on either end to change how you balance on your weight while making the carriage move. The biggest surprise for me given my experience on the traditional Pilates Reformer, is that on the Megaformer there weren’t any moves where you are on your back – at several points during the class this was a fact that made me very sad. There were planks, pikes and pushups – sometimes with your hand on the stationary platforms, sometimes with your hands out on the moving carriage.

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The twisting pikes were my favorite – awesome and super challenging but I could see getting good at them. The series that made me want to cry, though, was the leg section in the middle. Occasionally, the lunges would be done with the front foot planted on the solid platform and the back foot pushing out the moving carriage to pulse. Then, we ran to the back of the machine so that our front foot was the one pushing out to pulse.

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In both positions, Tracy ran around grabbing our knees to make sure that they were held in the right position and didn’t launch over our toes, which would be a recipe for knee disaster. She was a stickler for form, which I love… but occasionally, as she held my knee, I really wanted to burst out crying because it was so damn hard. At one point, I had to hop off my machine and grab a towel since I thought I was going to slide off the platform because I was so very, very sweaty.  Note to self: next time, grab the towel before heading to the machine!

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The following day, sitting was comically painful. I don’t think I’ve gotten my ass handed to me that badly in a long time… I can’t wait to go back.

 

photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

I Can’t Believe It’s Been A Year: Finding A Community At Brick NYC

Last week I got an email from Brick New York that simply read “Happy Anniversary! Glad you decided to spend the last year with us!” I immediately was like…that can’t be true! I took my very first intro to CrossFit class last year at Brick NYC.  After years of swearing I would never do CrossFit because it was too dangerous, I decided I needed to try it for myself.  I’d heard good things about Brick and loved the attitude that they fostered in their space. You train safely and with attention to form at all times but it was still important to keep things fun.

 

Brick CrossFit NYC 9 copy

After that first intro class, I talked to Will Lenier, Brick’s General Manager and knew that I would be safe there.  A few weeks later and after several BX classes, I finally took my very first Academy class. It took me a million years to finish my Academy classes since I could never seem to get to the ones I needed to get to because of my whacky schedule.  It got to the point of being comical but each coach reminded me it didn’t matter how long it took, that I would get there.  I didn’t even take my very first proper CrossFit class until the very end of September– almost 2 months after that first intro class.

 

Around the time that I was still trying to get through Academy, when I still didn’t know anyone, I ended up doing the Civilian Military Combine (CMC) event. The team I was supposed to do it with fell apart before the competition was supposed to happen so I reached out to Will to see if I could maybe join the Brick team. His response was an immediate “Hell YES” and no one ever batted an eye at the interloper in their mix, they just welcomed me as one of their own – even though I didn’t know anyone. CrossFit is about community and it was that day that I really got that.

14.4 Heidi Coaching SSM

My misconceived notions of what CrossFit was about had very little to do with what I found at Brick. I found an amazing group of supportive coaches who were always focused on form and making you feel like family as well as an unwavering group of fellow fitness fiends who just wanted to see each other get better. I don’t write about CrossFit very often because mostly the tiny gains in weights I can lift aren’t that interesting and because really, I love every single class at Brick and it would just get ridiculous. I often find myself on bad days heading to Brick knowing I will walk out feeling better. I can’t think of any more I could ask for.

photos and video by Eric Stafford for FBS

Give More: The Unrelentingly Solid Grant Belton

Grant Belton is just unrelentingly solid. He is so consistent, I sometimes forget how incredibly special that is. The other day, when my workout schedule had gotten completely out of whack, I saw Grant’s name on Flywheel Tribeca’s roster the following day and knew it was exactly what I needed to get me back on track.  Grant’s classes are always just a completely focused, challenging ride but they aren’t showy. He’s not going to distract you from pushing harder and expecting more from yourself, he just calmly asks you “Are you feeling strong? Then give more.

I’ve taken quite a few of Grant Belton’s classes at Flywheel and always walk out completely satisfied and almost always with a new highest score. The other day during class, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d never actually written about one of Grant’s classes. It made me feel like a complete asshole – for one simple reason. I write about the best of the best of the classes I’ve taken and Grant is hands-down one of the best of the best. If you talk to almost any of the other Flywheel instructors, Grant is always on the top of their list of instructors THEY take.

Grant Belton Flywheel Last week, my workout plans were getting crushed right and left. I needed a class to get me back on track and I knew that Grant’s would be the ticket. I snuck out of the office and made my way to that awesomeFriday treat that had popped up on Flywheel’s Tribeca schedule. I checked in and for some reason it wouldn’t let me choose to be on the torque board. I finally shrugged, grabbed my shoes and decided it was a sign, that today I wasn’t going to worry about the board at all. As I walked into the class, Grant looked at me and said “Well this is a nice surprise.” I grinned and made my way to my bike.

There were a few new riders in the classes and Grant went over the foundations of a Flywheel class – the torque numbers, rpm and how to get your best ride. As we started the ride, I listened to his awesome queues – “Bap, bap, bap” or hard clapping to the rhythm of the song – those always work for me. I just focused in and rode hard. At some point he said “I want you to look at your number and double it –THAT is what you are going for as your final number.”  I looked down, was at 160 and thought well that isn’t possible. In 45 minutes, I’ve never even gotten close to 300 and was pretty sure my first ride back in weeks wasn’t going to be the time for it to happen! Then, about 3 songs later, after arms, I realized that 300 really was close.  For those last 2 songs, I just focused, rode hard and fast and hit 295. Which is so insanely huge for me! I’ve always seen people who hit 300 and thought, that just is NEVER going to be possible for me. Grant proved me wrong by calmly expecting more. When I went to clip out of the bike I realized that I’d pushed myself so hard my legs were actually shaking.

chalkboard-art-typography-illustrated-quotes-32__605The weird thing about 295? It’s so close to that magical 300 that I was almost pissed that I didn’t get there. Then I remembered that it was like 30 points more then I’d EVER scored in 45 minutes, grinned hard and high fived Grant on my way out the door.

I SO have to take more of Grant’s classes. I’ve been half-stepping.

 

Photo of Grant from Flywheel’s website and bottom quote a little bit of internet goodness.

Pretending To Be Graceful: Absolute Beginner Ballet With Finis Jhung

AlvinAiley

When I was little I loved ballet classes. I was never good but I did LOVE being at a barre and pretending to be a beautiful ballerina. I hadn’t thought about it in a long time until a few weeks ago, when I got a card in the mail from my mom with one of my old dance pictures on it. Then while watching So You Think You Can Dance last week, I decided taking an Absolute Beginner Ballet class was an awesome plan.

Ballet with FJ1-930

Having taken an Absolute Beginner Hip Hop class at Alvin Ailey a few months ago, I was on their website looking immediately for something that would fulfill my ballerina itch. I signed up for Absolute Beginner Ballet with Finis Jhung since it was on Monday night at 7pm and given that the classes are 90 minutes, it was the only option that worked with my schedule. The Pilates studio I work at is filled to the brim with former dancers and when I told them about the class after I signed up for it they all gasped at the fact that Finis Jhung was teaching it. Reason? Since 1972, he has been a mainstay of the New York dance scene. Finis has taught at all the major New York studios and was a Soloist with The San Francisco and Joffrey Ballet Companies. “His life-long love of theatre and dance has led him to re-evaluate ballet teaching and to develop innovative teaching methods which make ballet easier to understand and more enjoyable to learn, while preserving the essential qualities that make ballet a great performing art.” As a non-dancer, I had no idea but I was suddenly a little nervous about what this class would actually be like.

ringer dancer at absolute beginner

In the description, it says “for your first time you are allowed to wear socks” but everyone else should have ballet shoes. After checking in, I went to wait by the big, main classroom and got my first peak at my classmates… who all were obviously dancers. There was one other lone sock-er but everyone else was not only sporting the shoes but doing very dramatic dancer stretches in the hall while waiting. I immediately steeled myself that this was going to be a much more advanced class than I was prepared for. As we moved the free standing silver barres into the center of the room, I snagged a spot in the middle corner, so hopefully I could follow along with the people in front of me but not so far back that I couldn’t see Finis in the front of the room. Even though the class was filled to the brim with almost 40 dancers and me, Finis thankfully taught what really was an “Absolute Beginner” class. We stood at the barre for most of the class, learning hold ourselves like a dancer, how to shift our weight so that our movements with the out stretched leg could be more graceful. I loved being at the barre and going through the movements to the classical music. He mostly called out the names of the footwork we were going to be doing, gave a quick demo and then we were off. Since I don’t know the names of any of the positions, it was completely lost on me when Finis said the proper names but it was easy enough to follow along. I got scolded a few times with a very firm “chin up!” since I was almost always staring at the feet of the ringer of a dancer who always seemed to be at the front barre.

I mostly didn’t talk to anyone, but during the short break we took in the middle of class, an older woman decked out in a beautiful flowered dancer’s skirt, glasses and grey hair in braids came over to me “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.” My response “No, it’s my first class, nice to meet you though!” She clapped her hands together and exclaimed “Do you like it? It really is just the best isn’t it?” I responded with “Yes. It really is great, I’m so glad I came. How long have you been coming?” She shyly replied, “It’s embarrassing but I’ve been coming for three years. I love dance so much but I really have NO aptitude for it!” Relieved to have a kindred spirit in the class, I smiled and said “I think that is awesome. I LOVE that you keep coming because you adore it! Being good at something isn’t the important part, it’s the doing something you love even if you aren’t good at it that matters!” She beemed and walked back to the barre, we were about to get started again.

maggie ballet

 

The first hour of class is all at the barre but when he had us clear the floor for the last chunk of class I had a momentary panic that there would be some big grand runs across the floor. I was fully prepared to just run out of class if that happened. It turned out the final 30 minutes would be spent doing a little floor stretching and then trying to master gracefully gliding across the floor with a few short combo steps. In Absolute Beginner Ballet there were no big moves across the floor but for a full 90 minutes, I felt graceful. I seriously couldn’t have asked for more and I would totally go back. But I would still wear the socks since really… I don’t want to give anyone any ideas that I know what I’m doing!

 

Photo of Finis Jhung teaching from the Alvin Ailey website.

BFX Studio: Amanda Butler & Eli Ingram Build A New Option for NYC

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Last week, I got the chance to go check out BFX studio in Chelsea, the new boutique concept from TSI, the company behind New York Sports Club.  BFX is broken up into 3 distinctive sections – “Master Classes”, Spinning and Private Training. They recruited some impressive talent, including Amanda Butler, formerly of the Fhitting Room, and the moment I saw her on the list, I knew it was her class that I wanted to check out.  The classes at BFX are available either individually, in a package or there is an unlimited class option. I chose the  “BFX Build” since it was a class Amanda was teaching and was at a time I could make, even though I really didn’t know what it might entail – my guess, though, was that it would be a HIIT class of some stripe.

It was not.

BFX Instructors

As we entered the studio, a beautiful room with instructor platform and TRX straps hanging from the ceiling, we were told to grab two kettle bells and park ourselves at the TRX station. The kettle bells at BFX are different than the ones I’ve used most places – they are heavy  but look like a playground ball with a handle. My desire to use them like a dodge ball was intense! Thankfully, I kept that under wraps and made my way to my station without incident.  The class was led by Eli Ingram and Amanda – Eli took the lead, explaining the structure of the class and the moves while Amanda demonstrated. The Build class turned out to be a straight-up strength class.

Our “BFX Build” was 3 circuits, each done 5 times through. Eli told us that each TRX move was supposed to be held for a three second count. Before we started, Eli asked if anyone had any knee or shoulder injuries – I tentatively raised my hand since my shoulder has been wonky lately and Amanda noticed right away, miming “which one?” at me. As I pointed at my shoulder she just nodded and from that moment on, she was all over giving me modifications and checking in on me during each move that might be an issue. That kind of injury attention makes me swoon. I was mostly fine on the various TRX moves but it was awesome to be checked on so much. The class FLEW by. When we got to a pushup move on the kettle bell that made my shoulder scream, Amanda was quick to offer up a straight plank on the Kettlebell that was challenging but ok on the wonky shoulder.  We did Kettlebell swings, thrusters with them and overhead squats in between the TRX moves. My favorite set, though, was the last circuit which included a bridge move with our feet in the straps, then we flipped over and did a Pike move with our feet still in the straps.  As someone who is always working on getting better at handstands, the Pike move seemed like an awesome strength prep! We wrapped up with a quick AB section and then it was done. I was tired but felt that killer all body ache that you want from a Strength class.

Amanda and Eli

After class, I went down to the locker room where I had stashed my stuff in one of their lockers. Sadly, I am terrible at those spinning combo lockers so I had to have the front desk lady help me out… but I wasn’t the only one –she was already down there with the master key when I got there!

This first BFX studio is seriously pretty, with a shiny newness and lots of cool “Master Class” options, awesome teachers, a nice spin studio (although you have to bring your own shoes or wear sneakers –eek) and fully loaded personal training studio. BFX offers HIIT classes too but I loved that they also had just a straight up Strength class – those are rare these days!

 

Images from BFX’s Facebook page and their site.

Falling Epically And Having Fun: Surfing In Far Rockaway With The Locals

FatBottomSlimxLocalsLast summer, I REALLY wanted to go surfing. I’d taken a lesson the summer before with the intention of doing it more but then work got in the way. This year, I’m determined to make surfing and being at the beach a thing I make time for – so I emailed the Locals Surf School to see if they had a spot for me that weekend.  The first time I tried on a Thursday night, they were completely booked up for that weekend, since at the beginning of June every weekend spot is claimed quickly. The following week, I planned ahead, emailing on a Monday and managed to snag a coveted Sunday slot!

I took my very first lesson with the Locals and for me, they are still the go-to surf instruction in Far Rockaway. Owned and operated by Far Rockaway beach natives (hence the name) – “the Mikes” Mike Kololyan and Mike Reinhardt, have created something special. Both have over 15 years of surf experience, are committed to having a 3-to-1 student/teacher ratio and only hire people who are current or former lifeguards. So, when I wanted to take another lesson, I only wanted to go back to them because I knew I would be in good hands.

FatBottomSlimxLocals V

The cool thing about going out to 67th Beach in Far Rockaway is that from my part of Brooklyn, you really only have to get on one train and just ride it straight out to the beach!  It never fails to feel like the coolest thing, to get on in the middle of busy city-ness and get off in a beach community. I got there early, since even though it is a straight shot, it is a subway on the weekend and I didn’t want to miss a minute of my class. The fella, an avid surfer, had come with me and after I got all checked in, wandered off to rent a board to use for the day.   I had brought my own wetsuit, since the water was still so cold it was needed, but while pulling it up on the beach, I promptly ripped it (r.i.p. supersuit).  Thankfully, the Locals are fully decked out with wetsuits for their students to wear and handed up a perfectly sized one without hesitation.

FatBottomSlimxLocals III

Our group was promptly sent out with Josh, who went over some stretches to get ready, went over our “experience” and then we were off into the water. I was briefly confused since the first class I took there was a section on the beach were you went over safety things to remember, how to pop-up and lots of practice perfecting the pop-up before you headed out.  After paddling out into the water, I glanced back to the beach and realized that I’d been put in the “experienced” group and that up on the beach, the brand new folks were practicing their pop-ups with one of the Mikes.  I immediately decided to just go with it and got into the idea that I really did remember enough from my first outing to make this happen.

FatBottomSlimxLocals IIFor the next two hours, I attempted to catch a wave.  The way the classes work is one at a time you paddle back towards your instructor who is standing in the chest high ocean, then while you face the shore they watch for waves and talk to you about how you can improve after each attempt. When a good wave comes, you are told to start paddling, are given a shove and finally they scream “POP. UP.” In the perfect world, you pop up smoothly, get low and ride that wave all the way to the beach. I never quite made that happen. I’d get up for a little bit, sometimes for longer than others, then lose it and fall epically. I was REALLY good at the falling epically part but would just laugh it off, grab my board and paddle back out. The thing is, I LOVE being out on that board. The waiting for a wave, bobbing in the ocean part is just about the best thing on the planet. I can see why catching the wave is supposed to be the best part –and it is awesome when it happens – but really, it’s important to appreciate the amazingness of just being out there too.  Josh was ridiculously helpful, going over pointers and being super supportive since I really wasn’t able to ride anything without falling at the end.  I think he thought I was getting frustrated but really, I loved every minute of my session.  After two hours, I was wiped but so blissed out. I hauled my big board up on the beach and back to the Locals tent. Up on the beach, I stripped off my wetsuit, putting it in the worn laundry bag and then plopped down on my beach towel and waited for the fella to finish up his surf session….

FatBottomSlimxLocals IIII

The only thing to do after that was head over to Ripper’s and grab a well-earned beer!

EXCEED Physical Culture: The Awesome Addition To The Tribeca Fitness Scene

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VII

I have always loved Exceed – but getting to their UES location made actually GOING to classes there a huge challenge. So when I heard they were opening a studio in Tribeca, literally around the corner from work, I was giddy.  Last week I got the opportunity to host a workout in their new space during their soft opening. I immediately jumped at the chance and set about snagging a fun crew that would be up for a challenging, high intensity interval class.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VI

Exceed Tribeca is made up of two floors.  Upstairs was still under construction but it looked like it is going to be much bigger than the UES location. The ground floor is going to be the group classes space and the downstairs space is going to be where they do personal training sessions, which is where we held our class during the soft opening. Our group was tiny so it actually worked out really well to have it in the smaller space downstairs – although it easily could have fit more people if needed. Leading our class was Mike Jock, one of Exceed’s staples at their UES location (and who I’ve been wanting to take a class with) and Max Motkowski who is new to their crew.  Mike took the lead in the class and after giving a breakdown of the reasons their classes were shaped the way they were, gave us a demo of each of the four first stations. We then paired up and picked a station to start on.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca IIII

In the first round we had TRX rows, a rowing station, box jumps (or jump overs if you wanted the challenge) and a Med Ball station.  I started on the TRX and when my shoes started to slip, Max was quick to come over and brace my feet to make sure I got in every rep. Then we rotated through each station and I watched happily as Mike and Max worked the room, making sure people got the form cues they needed and made adjustments when needed. I LOVED knowing my friends were in good hands! The next round was TRX pushups, lateral box jumps and rowing. MedBall sit ups became slams and by the second station in that round I was already dripping in sweat. Each round got harder, but also was more fun! The third and fourth rounds replaced the TRX with Kettlebells and the rower with a heavy jump rope. My favorite moment was when at one point Mike described to one of the teams who was struggling at the Kettlebell station that the way to swing it was “Like in Legally Blonde, remember? Bend and snap!” while showing the perfect form for the swing. They laughed and then promptly started rocking perfect swings.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VIIII

The final round was a sit up ladder challenge. Each pair was supposed to do 10 straight leg sit ups passing the medicine between them, then scissor legs passing the ball, then straight again, then a version with a bridge, then straight, then frog legs while passing the ball, then straight before ending on one that included a double leg tap before tossing the ball. It was hard but also wildly funny since my partner and I kept almost beaming each other with the ball. The challenge ended when one team finished, and thankfully, the Real Pilates crew on the end came through in the core challenge and got through the ladder fast! My team was on the last move but I was grateful when time was called!

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca

It was a class that kicked my ass but was also just really fun. Exceed will be doing a “Friend and Family” preview week, starting on Monday, June 9th. It is first come, first snags the class. So get in there and check out this awesome addition to the Tribeca fitness scene!

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

Act Right: Noah Neiman Takes On Fit & Fearless Fitness

noah x fatbottomslim II

This weekend, Union Square Park was taken over by Fit & Fearless Fitness, an event that celebrated working out hard and the empowerment that you get from exercise and healthier life choices. I loved the mission and the people involved in this awesome event, so even though I couldn’t stay for the whole thing, I knew I had to go. The event took over the northern side of Union Square with the “class” space immediately after you got through the gates that had been set up. I got there early, which worked out in my favor since I got the chance to hit up one of the event’s sponsors, Champion’s fit truck, before class and score a free sports bra!

noah x fatbottomslim

For Fit & Fearless Fitness, the first class up was led by the always awesome, Noah Neiman, billed as “Combat Fitness”.  I had no idea what that entailed but I adore Noah and never doubt his ability to teach a fun, challenging class. Noah, best known for his ridiculously popular classes at Barry’s Bootcamp, has come up with a take on a traditional bodyweight high intensity interval class that includes a lot of boxing moves, tons of squats and a million jumping jacks. We kept going back to the “boxing” jumping jacks, where you would whack the back of your hands together to help open up your shoulders. I both loved them and started to really hate them after about the fourth time we went back to them. Through the whole workout, Noah made his way in through the crowd, high-fiving people, cracking jokes and encouraging people to keep going.

noah x fatbottomslim III

We did squats with punches, lunges with punches and even burpees with a punch combo in the middle. The first time he had us go down to the ground, you could feel everyone pause…like, wait…you want me to touch the ground at Union Square?? To which Noah yelled: “You aren’t scared of a little dirt! You are tough! You are New Yorkers! Purell is killing you!” To which the entire group laughed and promptly threw themselves to the ground. But I mean really though, there are VERY few people who could get me to actually touch that ground. Noah just happens to be one of them.

noah x fatbottomslim IIII

The weather was so perfect for this event, a clear, warm day but it got hot FAST out there working out on the paving stones of Union Square! Thankfully, there was a lot of water to be had and Noah took pity on us, giving us a few more water breaks than I know he would have normally done. After one of them, he called us all over to a huddle and as we gathered he asked me: “What is my phrase?” Which of course I knew the answer to: ACT RIGHT. Noah then launched into what that means to him. That really, it is about working hard, about not praying for someone to help you but for the strength to do it yourself and that REALLY all of us are capable of so much more than we think. He told us we were going to do a couple of times of yelling “Act right” to set the tone for the second half of the workout but on the very first try, we all roared “ACT RIGHT!” at the top of our lungs. We didn’t need a second take – we were all 100% there with him. His response? “That was perfect. THAT is how it’s done! Now lets get back to WORK.”

noah x fatbottomslim V

I was so sorry I couldn’t stay for the rest of the event but that class was the perfect, inspiring, challenging workout and I am so glad I got to go support this amazing cause. This Inaugural event raised over $170,000 for City of Hope, an organization that believes fitness is a key factor in helping to boost self-esteem, promote confidence and preventing certain cancers – which definitely is a mission that exemplifies “Acting Right!”

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FatBottomSlim