I hadn’t planned to go to the LBC/Sin Workouts Event at Peak Performance, but when I got a text from Vanessa of SinWorkouts the night before the event asking if I still wanted to come, my immediate answer was “HELL YES!”. Any event that Sin was going to be throwing at Peak was bound to be an awesome, fun and kick-ass time and I had already regretting the fact that I hadn’t signed up.
A few weeks ago, I went to an introductory class at the new CrossFit studio: Brick New York. I was immediately smitten with this awesome CrossFit spot. Brick, which started in LA, just recently opened in Chelsea. I’d heard great things about them but since I have been hesitant to start CrossFit at all, I was surprised at how much I loved it immediately. Brick New York, is a gorgeous space, but more importantly it is filled with super friendly, concerned, form-obsessed coaches.
100 Double Unders
50 Handstand Pushups / Handstand Hold
50 Toes to Bar / Bar Hang
50 Pistol Squat / Wall Sits
50 Pushups / Plank Hold
100 SitupsWhen Erica first ran though the workout, my immediate thought was that I was completely screwed – handstands, the dead hang with touching your toes to the bar and the Pistol Squat?? Literally, I almost left. But for each crazy, perfect move Erica demonstrated, she gave us several different options for those of us that couldn’t do the full versions. They still seemed really hard but doable…
We paired off and my partner Andy was a rockstar. He powered through the Double Unders and then we went to work going though the next items in the list. The way this worked is that one partner did the move and the other did the “hold” move. First up, the handstand pushups – which were easily the thing in the demo that seemed impossible but the L-Wall Handstand variation was right up my alley. I was super proud of the 30 I did! My partner did the Full Handstand Version, which was insanely impressive.
As I breathed a sigh of relief, Erica announced we had a “4 minute cash out” that we could choose to do. EVERYONE stayed. I still don’t know exactly what that means other than we suddenly had an extra 4-minute workout tacked on. This one ….15 second plank, 15 second side plank on both sides, 15 second superman – over and over again. Hard but after what we had been doing, it almost seemed easy.
On Sunday, I finally made it to the Fhitting Room. I had been avoiding it because of the name and as the daughter of a teacher, things that are intentionally spelled wrong make me crazy. That said, I had had been hearing SO many good things about this studio it was starting to get embarrassing that I hadn’t tried it. Walking in to the Fhitting Room, located on the Upper East Side, I was immediately handed a bottle of water and green hand towel and while I was filling out my form, the instructor for the class, Duary Dross, came out to say hello. This small studio was quickly winning me over! As I got the rundown and saw the tiny lockers, I wondered how in the world I would be able to stuff my huge bag in it…this was not going to be pretty. Luckily, there were big “cubbies” in the main room…phew! Ok, first thing first – walking into a studio that has a springed floor made me just want to hop around like a fool. I had heard that they had it – but since I’d never really been on one, I didn’t think it would be so springy when you were just walking on it! I seriously had to reign myself in.
In the main studio, the second instructor, Benjamin Wegman, was getting to know all of the new faces in this class. There were only 8 of us, so the fact that every class there has two instructors made the student to instructor ratio completely awesome…but it also meant that there was no room to hide!
After a quick check in on everyone to see if there were any injuries, we launched into the warm up section – a flurry of jumping jacks, squats, pushups and planks. Daury and Ben would switch off between demonstrating the moves we would be doing and correcting everyone’s form. The two guys played off of each other, keeping things light and fun while they KICKED our asses. Along with many versions of squats & planks, we also used a TRX-like device to do incline rows and one-legged pistil squats – doing these moves, slowly and with Duary and Ben keeping a keen eye on our forms where ridiculously hard. Then there was a plank, pushup, mountain climber balancing on a medicine ball while Duary would bounce around us making the challenging moves, comically hard with the floor shaking under us. I was breathing hard and wiped and when I did my first time check in this kickass session, I realized that we were only 25 minutes into this class – my only thought was “Oh, I am screwed.” The next section was a timed “As Many Rounds As Possible” of 12 Thuster Squats, 12 Push-ups, 12 Squat Jumps, 12 High Knees. which was just evil. It was 12 minutes of going as fast as possible though the moves while still having our forms constantly monitored. By the time we got to the final section, I was feeling like I was going to keel over but thankfully it included a rowing section. By that point, just know that there was something I could kill made me really happy. At the end, when we were finally stretching, I was completely wiped out -in a way I haven’t been in a VERY long time.
In 55 minutes, Daury and Ben kicked my ass, while keeping an eagle eye on form so you never worried about getting hurt while still making it a ridiculously fun class – that is an amazing feat! I can’t wait to go back.
Top photos from the Fhitting Room website and bottom image, just a little bit of internet goodness.
My very first reaction when I got the notice that one of my fitness icons, Gabby Reece, would be leading a workout at the always awesome Exceed, was that there was absolutely no way I could miss it. Held on the Sunday morning just before the Sports Bra Challenge, I knew it would be a lot to do on the same day, but really, how often is the chance to train with Gabby going to come along?
After checking in at Exceed, I made my way to stash my stuff and caught my first glimpse of Gabby. She is a tall, striking presence and as I watched her explain the workout to the 2 Exceed trainers who were going to be assisting, I knew this was going to be even harder than I expected. Her program, BodyWise, is a 75 minute total body workout that combines cardio, resistance training and functional movement in a rigorous training circuit and is a workout that Gabby leads in a large warehouse space near her home in Hawaii. This event was capped at 30 people, but in Hawaii, it apparently can swell to 75 people! The group that had gathered on Sunday at Exceed was a fiercely fit crew and as she ran through a demo of every move we were going to be doing that morning, everyone seemed a little in awe of the fact that we were going to get to work out with her. There were 22 different moves for the 75 minute class and as I watched her go through each one in succession, I knew I was in trouble…not just because each one looked challenging but mostly because I was NEVER going to remember all 22! Gabby paired us off and we all made our way over to the first station. In my head, I thought we were doing the same exercise as the people we were following. So not the case! Less than a minute in, she came over and yelled at us –“WHY are you all doing the same exercise??” and all I could think was “Oh damn, I am already in trouble with Gabby!” After sorting out what exercise we were supposed to be doing, and understanding that we were moving to whatever station the people we were following behind just finished, we got down to business.
Due to the size constraints at Exceed, the stations were in both the main classroom and the personal training area, so the stations couldn’t really be laid out in any sort of pattern that might have made it easier to see where we were going next. But there were 2 extra Exceed trainers in there to help make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing at each station. Still, there was a lot of peering across the room to try and see what the group we were following was doing… but I was lucky the pair we were following included Claire Gould, TRX trainer at Pilates Pro Works, who was amazing. She would wait briefly before moving from her station and give us a quick demo of the two moves that station consisted of – seriously, I could have hugged her for that.
Gabby moved constantly around the room, correcting form and pushing us to work much harder at every single exercise. There is absolutely no slacking allowed around an athlete of her caliber – and it was like she could spot when we were not giving it our absolute all from a mile a away and would be in our faces or by our sides pushing us to be our best. We worked with body weight, kettlebells, battle ropes, stability balls, and weights and moved to a new station every 3 minutes. It felt like the class was flying by, which is always the sign of an awesome workout. The BodyWise workout was challenging and seriously crushed me but I loved every minute of it… but the best part was getting to workout with Gabby Reece. She is amazing – pushing everyone to be the best we can be at every moment because really, she always believes we have a little more to give and won’t take less than our best.
I walked out fired up and inspired.
All photos by Eric Stafford from Stafford Sports Media
This last month, I have gotten the chance to play with the awesome Classtivity Passport. The Passport, gives you the option to book 10 classes within the month for $49 – that is just nuts, especially with studios like As One, Revolve, Uplift, Sacred Sounds and so many more as options. This month has been slightly crazy and I haven’t remotely gotten to as many classes as I had hoped to, but I flat out love the idea of the Passport!
One of my favorite things about the Passport is that it finally got me to go to Uplift – a studio that has been lingering on my list of places to try for far to long. In general, I don’t like the idea of “women’s only” fitness studios – I think a great class should be for everyone and so I just kept putting off going. However, last week, I really wanted to use a Passport class and Uplift happened to be the one that fit in my schedule. Since no one ever said: “Uplift is almost directly across the street from Eatly” – I assumed it was much further down on 23rd street and ended up practically running to the studio after I figured it out. Seriously, people. How did no one ever mention the proximity to the ridiculously awesome Italian food superstore??
Uplift is a beautiful studio – really, just flat out pretty but not remotely “girly”, which was what I was expecting. Clean & open with a small glassed-in studio on one side and a personal training area on the opposite side, with a few comfy chairs and a library that you can actually borrow books from. Leanne, one of the owners, was manning the front desk when I walked in and gave me the layout of the studio and pointed me in the direction of the locker room. I snagged one of the super soft hand towels on the counter and ran off to get ready for class. I tossed my stuff into a locker and went to join the rest of the class, who’d gotten there in a much less harried way!
In Uplift’s new class format there are two class versions – Strength and Cardio. I took Strength with Liz Barnet. It was a fun, solid class that had a bootcamp style pace to it with weight work, focusing on one body part at a time, followed by a 4 minute Tabata-style cardio bursts in between each section. It was a fun class that went by really fast -Liz was great, with solid cueing and the ability to keep the class fun, even when we were dripping with sweat. I was also legitimately sore the next day – which surprised me a little!
After class, I made my way back to the locker room and was sorry I didn’t have time to take advantage of the luxe space – which was seemingly filled with everything you could possibly ever want for getting ready to venture out again into the world. I grabbed my stuff and realized I just wanted to hang out at Uplift all day… apparently, I was totally wrong about how awesome a women’s only studio could be.
This week I finally made it up to Exceed Physical Culture to take a class. I have been hearing about how great the UES studio is for ages, so even though the “full body” description was a little vague, I knew I would be in good hands with one of the founders, Ed Cashin.
Ed has 25-years of personal training experience where he specializes in TRX, Russian Kettlebell and sport-specific training. Exceed Physical Culture was started because of his belief that “clients should have a facility that allows them to vary their workouts in an atmosphere that inspires results.” I don’t know why but I was shocked when I made it to Exceed and found the stunning street level studio. The main space is large with a glassed-off space in the back where the group classes are held – the space even includes Monkey Bars! The rest of the space that includes another downstairs studio, is used for personal training. When I got there on Monday morning, the studio was filled to the brim with people working hard – always an inspiring sight to walk into! I hurried downstairs to the changing room, stashed my stuff and made my way back up to class. I was ready to work.
I met Ed and he gave me a brief overview of how the class would go before it started. We were going to be doing 4 stations per round – rowing/jump rope, TRX, Bosu Ball and a Kettlebell station with a pushup “break” in between each round.
After a brief dynamic warm-up session, we were broken into groups of four and did each exercise for time. The change up in this class was that the time at each station was based on whatever group was doing rowing. Each time, the rowers were given a distance in meters to hit and everyone else went at their station until the rowers covered that distance!
There were 18 people in the class – which seemed huge for the small group space but once the class started, it never seemed crowded at all. I started out on the Bosu ball. Ed described the first move, a push up with one hand on the Bosu ball with a belly slap with the other hand when I came up. I knew I was in for a fun, ass-kicking session if that was the starter move! Next station, I was on the jump rope and got a chance to scope out the room. It was a fit crew and each station had some fun, challenging move – at TRX there was a one legged squat with leg lift, Kettlebells started out with a squat with press up. For the following rounds, each station had a new move that Ed would explain during our pushup “break.” I was so impressed with his ability to mix in so many creative and challenging moves using so few props!
This class kicked my ass and I loved every single minute of it. In each round there were moves I had never tried before –and I loved the competitive cardio on the rower thrown into the mix. Knowing that the whole class was counting on me to get those meters done so they could move on made me haul ass. It was so fun to have all of these challenging new moves and really see what I could do. At each station, for every round, I was impressed with Ed’s ability to always be there, checking everyone’s form constantly – that kind of attention and focus on form is what makes a challenging class absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to go back… and I really want to try out those monkey bars!
Photos and awesome video by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Pilates ProWorks about an awesome event, two days of free classes sponsored by GapFit. It got even better though, since not only were they sponsoring the classes but everyone who attended got a pair of free pants too! Seriously? The first time I read the email, I assumed I’d read that part wrong but immediately shot over to their site to sign myself up for some of the fun! I mean really, I LOVED Jenn’s class the first time I took it and have been dying to go back. So I immediately booked a class with her but then I also booked a TRX class with Will Arrufat, since I friend whose opinion I totally respect recently raved about him. I knew the free classes would fill up in a second….
For this event, we checked in, then talked to the GapFit Girls, who offered us one of three styles of pants. I chose the slim boot cut version since I have a lot of capris and really need some longer pants. I figured they’d be fine, but I was stunned by just how flattering they were! Seriously, the GapFit pants are slightly compressing and made me look really long & sleek. SCORE on the cute free pants!
The TRX classes take place in the smaller of the two Pilates Pro Works studios, so after slipping on my new pants to wear, I made my way into class. When I walked in, Will was already explaining how to use the TRX to two other students and asked me if I’d used TRX before. My answer “Yes, but not enough to know how to actually move the straps!” A true and slightly pathetic description, because in every TRX class I’ve done, I’m always the one fiddling with the straps for far too long. He just laughed and then after the entire class assembled, went over how to adjust the straps. It was easily the clearest and most helpful, concise description I’ve ever heard in a TRX class, which immediately made me like him.
Will is a Personal Trainer, TRX STC Instructor and a 2012 Nike Ambassador from NYC and just all around fun. I mean, how can you not love a trainer who bounces around the room for the entire class, yelling encouragement (and occasionally bad 90’s phrases like “show me the money!”) all the while leading you through a ridiculously challenging class. We would do three rounds of an exercise with a break for mountain climbers or jumping jacks. The hardest part by far though was the ab section at the end. It was ridiculously brutal. With our feet in the straps, the crunches, pikes and oblique twists made me want to cry…. and come back constantly until it didn’t. We ended with a killer set challenge of 20 each of crunches, oblique twists, shoulder shrug/ pikes and then finished off with weighted burpees. Brutal! I finished third of the group, shockingly….
By the end, the windows had steamed up and Will bellowed “WELL DONE! THAT IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! I get to write my saying now…” And on the steamed windows he proceeded to write…EN FUEGO and truthfully, by the end, I did feel like I was on fire. It was a well planned class, where Will left me in a whimpering puddle by the end, but not so that I was so sore the next day that I couldn’t move… an almost impossible balance!
It’s been almost a year since I first caught a glimpse of Kira Stokes‘ “Stoked Primal” class and somehow in all of the recent talk about Primal, I had forgotten how HARD I thought it looked. So on Monday night, when I arranged to finally go check it out, when Kira said “Come, but really, you want to do all three right?” – my immediate response was “Of course!”
The Stoked Monday Trilogy at the awesome Reebok Sports Club on the UWS starts at 5:30pm with the 30 minute Primal. Described as “an intense 30-minute conditioning class utilizing your own body weight. Glide, crawl, jump, push and pull your way to a more powerful, agile and toned body.” Based on animal movements, you spend the majority of the class on all fours going back and forth across the room. There were lots of moving variation planks with pushups and low crouching squat jumps onto all fours. As Kira demonstrated each of the successive moves she always looked amazing, strong and graceful. I did not. However, I had a lot of fun trying! It is a class where you really just have to get over how you look while trying out the fun and challenging Primal moves, because for the most part, I never looked once like Kira’s inspiring demonstration! I was ok at Gorilla, Bullfrog, Bear and Monkey, basically any of the least plank-like moves, but anything that resembled a low plank/pushup combo I was terrible at. Apparently, I also lack any sort of cat-like grace since my Panther was a lumbering, gimpy beast! I always think that 30 minute classes aren’t challenging enough to be a class on their own but Primal thoroughly kicked my ass. I do think that some of the moves could benefit from making the class 45 minutes – just so that there was more time to break down the moves into pieces. A little time with some of the set-ups would be helpful, although I doubt even that would have helped my sad panther! The “Primal” moves though, in that quick 30 minutes session, hit every single inch – 15 minutes into the class my legs, core and arms were quivering, I was dripping in sweat and having a ridiculously good time! Of course by the end, I wondered how I was going to make it through the next two classes….
Next up was Stoked Abs, another short class, this one only 15 minutes. Kira is ripped and this class is filled with her signature Ab moves. For a brief moment I was really excited that we got to lay down for a little while, but I swear, Kira gets even harder when she knows she only has you for a few minutes and we immediately launched into a tough ab routine that killed me. Filled with so many crunch variations, constant unique moves to hit each section of your abs and ending with pike-ups with your feet on gliders. It was an intense quick workout!
The third and final class of the Monday night Stoked series is Stoked 360. It is a 75 minute, “All-encompassing total body workout. This class combines elements of traditional and functional conditioning, with high intensity cardiovascular intervals and body weight exercises.” I’ve written about this great class before, here, but once again I thought it was awesome. Kira does every set in this challenging class 3 times – “Once to learn it. Once to know it. Once to exhaustion.” A stickler on form, Kira’s constant attention to what everyone is doing and making sure all class members are doing each move correctly is always awesome to see. Each set has 3 moves, strength, plyo and a stretching/balance version and in each set all the moves are planned so that they flow easily from one into the next. While she demonstrates what the next set will be, everyone jumps rope to keep up their heart rate, which is always my least favorite part since it is hard for me to really focus on what she is showing us without just continually whacking myself in the legs. It is, of course, a meticulously planned class, as all of Kira’s classes always are, and every single muscle is targeted from head to toe.
Each class was fun, challenging and intense and I was ridiculously proud that I made it through all three but I’m really going to have to practice some of those Stoked Primal moves before I go back! My Gimpy Panther just isn’t cool….
Top photo Kira Stokes demonstrating how the Panther is supposed to look from her Facebook page. Quote just a little bit of internet goodness.
Recently, I got the chance to check out Body Space Fitness when they offered a few free trial classes for their upcoming “Training for Warriors” program. This training gym, which offers a few weekly small group classes but is mostly used for personal training, is one of the coolest gyms I’ve seen. It includes a couple of my favorite fun gym tools – the Prowler and battling ropes, but the coolest thing is the fact that half the space is covered in Astroturf, which is just awesome and practical.
“Training for Warriors” is a training system developed by expert sports coach Martin Rooney “from his numerous years of experience working with combat and team sports athletes.” It is a system designed to take you through metabolic challenges and strength work to teach athletes cutting edge techniques to keep them at their best. Body Space Fitness is getting ready to start an intensive, 8-week small group program for TFW that will meet 3 times per week.
The first class trial I went to, taught by founder of Body Space Fitness Kelvin Gary, I dragged Julia from FitJourney with me. We had such a ridiculously good time that we arranged to bring a fierce fitness crew to check out BSF the following weekend. It was just too good not to share. So on Saturday, we went there with Holly Rilinger, SinWorkouts and Jolene, which made for a ridiculously kickass group. Kelvin had us all start out with foam rollers since we had all come from other workouts, while he told us about the TFW workout.
We started out with some dynamic stretching and a brief warm-up before moving into the workout. This class was slightly different from the first one and included 6 stations that we rotated through three times. It included the Prowler- which I always love to push around, battling ropes, TRX back rows, an agility speed work ladder, and this awesome but ridiculously hard plank move with sandbag pull-through. We did 40 seconds of work, with 30 seconds to rest/rotate to the next session. It was one of those awesome crews were everyone is really focused but also super supportive so there was a lot of hooting, hollering and high-fives. Does it get better than that when you are getting your ass kicked? For the final section we finished with a round of sprints on the treadmill, medicine ball twists and bicep curl/shoulder presses. The class FLEW by and by the end I was wiped out but seriously happy to have gotten to workout with such a fierce crew.
Kelvin was awesome, just like in my first class with him, motivating everyone and keeping an eagle eye on form at each station. His passion about training and about making sure that people are getting the most out of their session with him is always evident. Body Space Fitness is his vision and he is dedicated to keeping the classes small so that people get that kind of personal attention in any class that happens there. In a training group where you are being challenged like in TFW, that is huge. I can’t even imagine the amazing results people are going to get from 8 weeks of the Training for Warriors challenge…but I can’t wait to see!
Photos and video by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media
Whenever there is a chance to workout with Lacey Stone, I will pretty much drop everything and be there. So when I got the invite from Well & Good about attending the launch party for Lacey’s “Extreme Bootcamp!” app recently, there was never any question that I would go.
The event to celebrate her app was held at the Appcession Studios. Twenty of us showed up at the beautiful open studio to get our workout on with Lacey before the party portion of the night! One of the cool portions of the evening was that while we were there, we could download the workouts for free. I managed to download all of them but one! Sweet! I’ve been dying to try out her workouts when in a pinch and looking for a workout that I can do when I am not in NYC!
Awesomely, one of my favorite workout partners in crime, SinWorkouts, was there too, so we made our way to the front and got ready to sweat it out with Lacey. The workout was based on the new app, which is a combination of her extremely popular “Booty Camp” and the “Big Game” class she developed while at Equinox. For that evening’s workout, Lacey was dividing it into 4 quarters, just like in a game. Her inner basketball player was out in full force. On the app, every move is broken down into stages from beginner to extreme – and for the launch we did each level.
Of course Sin and I were having a wildly good time up in the front having our asses handed to us by Lacey, sweat pouring off of us and huge grins plastered on our faces. There wasn’t anywhere else I would have wanted to be. After what seemed like endless rounds, when we finally got to the move I’d seen in previews and just shook my head at the extreme version of the “star jump” – I did actually for a brief moment think oh HELL no…. but it turned out to be an actually fun move. It is basically a squat jump where at the top of the move, you slap your thighs when you are off the ground – I truly thought it was a move that was just not going to happen but I actually managed it ok and even liked the damn thing!
In the third quarter, we had a push-up contest, where Lacey warned us she would tap us out if our form sagged and that knees weren’t allowed. I lasted till almost the end, and didn’t get tapped out (which I was proud of) but really, at a certain point, I knew Sin and Neda from Fitist were going to win so I bowed out before my arms gave out and I face planted! That last quarter was a blur because I was so tired. It was one of those workouts were you are so whipped that you are practically giddy. To me, that is the sign of a great instructor. Someone who can kick your ass and still leave you smiling. After the team circle at the end that ended on a cheer of “TOGETHER!”, Lacey popped a bottle of champagne and we started the party….
Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media