No Rest For The Motivated: Kira Stokes Joins BFX Studios

Kira Stokes has taught a killer “Stoked” series of classes for years at Reebok Sports Club/LA, the super swanky and expensive UWS gym, developing loyal and rabid fans of workouts that kick your ass from head to toe. The problem was that really only the people at Reebok had access to that awesomeness on a weekly basis – this week that all changed.  Kira joined the new Boutique fitness venture BFX, which offers both monthly membership options and single classes.  This is a VERY good thing.

Kira Stokes BFXInvited to preview week, I didn’t even think twice & signed up immediately for both of her Monday night classes. It’s been ages since I’ve taken even one of Kira’s classes and even longer since I’d tried a double – I don’t know what I was thinking! On Monday nights she’ll be teaching her C3 Barre Max class and her signature Stoked 360.  I’d taken 360 (and loved it) but her Barre class was the wild card, so I knew I had to try it.  In my head I figured it would be just a lot of barre with Kira’s spin on it but that I would be fine.  I was wrong – those 3 C’s stand for Core, Cardio and Conditioning.  In the first few minutes of class, she told us that this class used to be 75 minutes, so really, she just had to make sure that we thoroughly felt it in 60.  10 minutes in, when we were still on planks and pushups, I knew that this double would be much harder then I’d anticipated.  My recent Pilates work made the roll-up/c-curve portions of the class my strongest part. We planked, did multiple variations on push-ups, did mountain climbers on sliders, c-curve pulses with weight, and did a few plyometrics for good measure. It was about at the halfway mark before we even touched the barre, and I knew I was in trouble with this double.  The barre work really consisted of maybe 6-10 minutes, because really, Kira didn’t need that prop to get to every tiny little muscle in your body. I was sweating buckets by the end of that Barre class.

1623678_1494765160740176_5429448453707692703_n I steeled myself for the next class, Stoked 360, and tried hard to regroup. There were a group of us doing the double, mostly Kira’s diehards who would follow her anywhere and trained with for years, and then me, who hadn’t been to a class in ages.  I’d taken it before and knew that on it’s own it is tough, but with all of my training recently, assumed I’d be fine. The idea of 360, is to hit all of your muscle groups with compound movements done in sets, then repeat it three times before moving on. One: first to learn the move, two: to understand it and three:  perfect it.  As Kira would explain each new set, we would jump rope. It was that cardio spike that made it so there were absolutely no breaks built into the workout.  As Kira said in the middle of class “I don’t cue rest breaks”- if you needed one, you had to take it yourself, she wasn’t going to give you the permission.  Stoked 360 is awesome because it hits everything – and is constantly changing so that you are always challenged. Half an hour in, Kira announced, “We have 45 minutes left and we have a lot to get done. Don’t stop now.” I must have looked visibly stunned, since she looked directly at me and said “YES, this class is 1 hour and 15 minutes and I expect you to give it your all.” Everyone hooted and hollered but I literally wondered if I would just fall over before that full 75 minutes ticked down. It was amazing how many people had followed her to her new spot… but really, considering how good Kira is at challenging you in a way few can, it isn’t THAT surprising.

She's Mad but she's magic

Kira’s BFX classes are going to be capped out at about half of the size of some of largest Reebox classes.  They are going to be hard to get into because Kira’s crew will follow her there. That said, now there is at least FINALLY a chance of training with this master in her field – and really is there better fitness news than that?

 

Top photo from Kira’s Facebook page and bottom just a little internet goodness.

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

Row House: Rowing Done Right

I am always excited when any workout that includes rowing is in the mix but I haven’t been able to find a rowing-focused spot that got me giddy before winding up at Row House on Saturday afternoon.  Row House is a new studio on 59th, between 10th and 11th street, opened by Eric Von Frohlich and his wife Debra Frohlich, who have been in the fitness industry for over a combined 35 years. Rowing studios seem to be popping up all over recently but most have had a hard time figuring out how to be a killer cardio workout without trying to be a spin class on rowers.

Row House Logo

I dragged the fella with me to this class because it was on a Saturday, in a neighborhood we never go to, and I really do so love a weekend adventure. I mapped it out but when we were actually walking there from the Subway, it seemed like I must have gotten it wrong but it really is almost to the Hudson on 59th! The space is on the ground floor of a large apartment building and is very minimal but pretty. We got all checked in and plopped down on a bench to strip down our layers to get ready for class. The studio doesn’t have locker rooms or separate changing rooms, but there are two big bathrooms and a huge storage rack to store your stuff. Since we had come fully prepared, we dropped our stuff and headed into class. There are about 12 rowers in the studio that are flanked by a cool Row House logo wall on one side, a black and white cityscape opposite and mirrors in the front.

Row House

Debra was leading the class but Eric was there too and joined in the fun. We went through and introduced ourselves before the class started. Our group was apparently surprising because we all had experience on the rowers.  I’ve used the Concept 2 Rowers a lot in CrossFit recently but it was SO helpful to hear the smart form cues  – where our feet should be in the holders, body position, and how to be seamless in movement.  The first few minutes were spent with a slow stroke build, so that Debra could get us all on the same rhythm, and then launched into interval counts that ramped up the intensity of the strokes.

Debra-Strougo

With the music going, the first 10 minute chunk flew by. Then, it was off the rower for squats, planks and sit-ups using the ab mats CrossFit loves so much. Then, back on the rower for another 10 minute session.  This time, instead of going by stroke counts for the intervals, they were timed. These ten minute pushes were brutal and left me gasping by the end (in the best possible way). It always amazes me how hard rowing can be for such a low impact activity! At the end of the second push, the fella looked over at me and shook a fist at me for bringing him to class but then grinned and mouthed “This is AWESOME!”. Then, it was back on the floor for another ten minute section of lunges, sandbell slams (I loved this squat–throwing-the-weight combo), more planks and finishing off with burpees. Debra was awesome but for me would occasionally give us a few too many options for variations on the floor– but then again I tend to like fewer options so I don’t get confused! It was about the only thing I would have changed about this kickass, challenging and fun class.  The last rowing segment was a 5 minute all-out push. Debra warned us: “I’m just going to let you row and at the 2 ½ minute mark, I want you to look at your number and double it. GO!”. That last push left me absolutely gasping and so giddy. I’d found the rowing class I had been hoping for!

I liked it so much that I would totally trek over there from Brooklyn again… and that is saying a lot!

Always Believe

 

 

Row House Logo, studio shot, image of Debra from Row House NYC and bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.

Running on Walls : Grounded Aerial’s Amazing Workshop

Grounded Aerial Running on Walls

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine put up an announcement on Facebook about an upcoming workshop run by one of her former cast mates, Karen Fuhrman, from De La Guarda, that sounded amazing –“Grounded Aerial: Running on Walls.” It sounded awesome but I wasn’t really considering doing it since my aerial experience is limited at best, but then I got a note that said “M, You will LOSE. YOUR. MIND! It’s so much FUN!!!” which, obviously, changed my “oh-that-sounds-cool-for-other-people” attitude to “I HAVE to go try that.”

Grounded Aerial is a performance art/dance group, mixing modern dance with specially rigged aerial elements, created by and starring veterans of such acclaimed shows and troupes as Stomp, De La Guarda, Momix, Blue Man Group,Cirque du Soleil and Pilobolus Dance Theater.  While rehearsing for their upcoming show Grounded Aerial, they decided to hold a few workshops during their rehearsal week. With so much experience between them, I knew I would be in good hands!

Grounded Aerial Karen Demo

I love the Brooklyn Lyceum – old and run down but still beautiful and I was excited to get to really see inside. It felt a little like breaking into the empty space and making my way down into the basement but then there it was…the huge white panel suspended from the ceiling that was going to be our playground for the next few hours.  The class was tiny – an aerialist, a former gymnast, Karen’s friend from college and her son (his very cool birthday present) and then me.  We did a few character/movement drills on the floor that my non-actory self was very bad at but that I found interesting because it was really about knowing where everyone was at all times – which, when running on the wall is important…

GA FBS Floating

We all were given harnesses and I put mine on way too low and was immediately fixed by one of the riggers. Then, Karen gave us all a few tips on how the clip should sit – a wider u shape than the tighter v it naturally sits at when you put on your harness.  After a little yanking and pulling to make that happen, we were all set to go. We went up in pairs. The aerialist and gymnast were together, the mom and son, and then I was paired with a new member of the troupe. The aerialist and gymnast went first and made it look so easy but I knew that it wouldn’t be… then the mom and son.  By the time it was my turn, I was both dying to get up there and just completely anxious.

Grounded Aerial Helping Turn As I was clipped on to the rope in front of me, there were a few minutes while the rigging weight was reset from the son – I got a few breaths in and then quickly I was up on the wall. Since my partner on the wall was a troupe member, Karen could focus on helping me get used to being in the harness and how the moves should feel.   She was a kind and gracious guide.  What was both the most amazing feeling and the weirdest – leaning back and pushing off the wall. The move looks so easy but was so hard! I never did get the full arch back that she was looking for, so I could have audience “face time” but it was amazing to fly out and feel that weightlessness for a brief, shiny moment. Then, we moved on to running on the wall, a challenging move that was a core killer but made more sense in my brain since I could keep one hand on the rope.  I have no idea how long I was up there but it was amazing, and by the time I came down, I was wiped and giddy.

Grounded Aerial FBS Flipping

The next section was shorter but included more challenging moves. Keren went up on the wall to demonstrate and I was reminded of a very important fact.  Aerialists make every move look easy and beautiful but doing even the most basic move takes an incredible amount of very specific strength. The backflips and upside down moves were gorgeous when she did them but I knew it was going to be brutally hard to actually do. As the groups before me went and did an amazing job,  I wondered if she had any idea how impossible those moves looked to me.  Apparently she did.  From the moment my turn came, Karen was with me, helping me try and get in the right position and feel how the moves should be done.  I was so grateful. I tried and I tried with her help to get my flip done and when I finally managed to make it happen on my own the room erupted into applause and I was beaming. It wasn’t pretty, but it happened and I was SO proud! Then we moved on to inversions. I was better at those but by the end, I was completely wiped out -more tired than I’ve been at the end of any class in ages. I swung myself up and called it a day – an amazing, giddy, spectacular day.

Grounded Aerial FBS upside down

Grounded Aerial will be performing at the Lehman Center For The Performing Arts in the Bronx this weekend.  If you are interested in going and seeing this amazing group perform, tickets are available here.

 

Photos by Eric Stafford from Stafford Sports Media 

Plank Pilates & The Tower Class In This Tiny LES Gem….

Plank Pilates window -ESOn Monday, I got the chance to try out Plank Pilates, the LES studio that I have wanted to check out for a while. I knew it was a “small” studio since almost every single review mentions it but I didn’t have any idea how teeny-tiny this studio is until I showed up at the front door. The way the space is set up, you walk directly into the studio, slip off your shoes and then cut through the space to the stairwell to get down to the reception area. When I got there, a private session was going on so I quickly made my way to the back and down the stairs where I found the cozy, spa-like reception area. It is small but lovely with cucumber/lemon water jars, a large changing room with warm Eucalyptus and cold Lavender towels prepped to use. It was such a pampered introduction to Plank, I briefly thought the class would be a breeze. I was VERY wrong.

plank pilates classAll of Plank’s group classes are based around the Tower, an awesome wall-mounted apparatus that gives studios the ability to do some of the traditional super-effective Pilates machine moves in a group setting, without the need for the larger Cadillac machines. Plank has 5 of them lined up against one of their walls and they take up the majority of the studio. When I finally made it upstairs, after thoroughly enjoying the pampering touches downstairs, I snagged a Tower and settled in for class. I always feel like I am suffering through a Pilates mat class but once springs are involved, it is a whole different story. Pilates designed machines using heavy springs that you pull and push in varying ways and it is that resistance that makes all the difference. I have loved every Tower class I have ever gotten the chance to take and was really excited to get to try another one.

Plank class taught by JuliaLeading our Tower class was Julia Fouts, who actually created Plank’s signature “Plank 360” class. On top of her Pilates certifications, Julia is certified in Sports and Personal training, which I have to say, now makes me really intrigued by the 360 class. One of my absolute favorite things about Pilates in a boutique setting is how focused on form and good at corrections instructors are – Julia was no exception. She had the ability to spot even the smallest miss-alignment and correct it. Her verbal cues were clear and helpful but more often than not, I would just miss the mark of where I was supposed to be and she would come over and deftly fix what I was doing wrong. Julia moved the class through a fluid series of movements, using the arm and leg springs and the roll down bar – while never allowing the class to feel choppy as we changed from one set of springs to another. I loved her take on the leg series, too, with a couple of fun versions of my favorite classic Pilates machine moves. It was a challenging, quick hour and by the end I felt thoroughly worked out from head to toe. I really just wanted to lay there on the mat and bask in that happy good workout bliss but another class was already making its way downstairs to get ready for their class, so I hopped up and wiped down my Tower mat instead. I walked out of Plank with a new spring in my step, just a little happier to have found this gem of a studio in the hustle and bustle of the city.

Top photo by Eric Stafford, middle & bottom photos from Plank Pilates Facebook page.

Finding Magic In Week 1 Of The Flybarre Challenge: The Ridiculously Talented Todd Allen

All of my favorite Flybarre people have been telling me for ages how amazing Todd Allen is but I just could never bring myself to take one of his classes. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe what people were saying but after a bad experience in another Barre studio years ago with their beloved male instructor, I have just avoided taking any male taught barre class. Which I knew was lame and unfair but it meant that Todd languished on my “to-take” list for a ridiculously long time. Last week, I took my very first Todd Allen class and immediately loved him. His hype is deserved and I feel like a fool for not making it to his class sooner. Todd is that amazing treat of an instructor – sweet, encouraging, funny, exceptionally good at verbal corrections and even better at physical ones.

This week was my second class with Todd and being one week into the challenge and my fourth day of class in a row, I was wiped out. After last week’s amazing class with Todd that seemed to fly by, I was just hoping to make it through his class this week. As I made my way into class, Todd stopped me to find out how my measuring had gone the day before.  When I told him that I had lost 1/2 inch on each arm, both legs, and 3/4 off my waist (which is insane to me in only a week but awesome) – he was almost as excited by the news as I was! That sort of enthusiasm is infectious and was just what I needed to refocus on getting the most out of the class in front of me. Plus, there is a part of Todd’s class where you feel you somehow have gotten to be in the practice room at a Broadway show – as he dances his way through the class, it makes me feel like I stumbled into a musical. Todd’s banter through the class is funny, with lots of great visuals for some of the crazier moves you do in a Flybarre class.  Not even Todd can make me actually rhythmic enough to not be embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms, but he makes it so fun that I don’t care that I suck! Which every time seems like a huge gift. Tuesday’s class FLEW by – one of my favorite things about Flybarre is that there is so much latitude given to the instructors to mix and match in each section of the class, which means you never really know what is coming next. I love being kept on my toes (well not literally, I am not so good when we are supposed to do that) and having each class feel so unique. On Tuesday there were at least 6 moves I had never done in another Flybarre class but were fun & HARD! Todd has a masterful talent at sneaking hard in, while masking it with a great grin and funny imagery – it’s sneaky and I love him for it.

Todd is an ultimate showman who reminds me of Gene Kelly, because he can make a mundane movement – something you have done a million times – suddenly seem like part of a dance. It makes me so happy to watch, I forget how badly he is kicking my ass and spend the entire class just being glad to get to be around someone so magical …

Image of Todd Allen from the Flywheel website  and the bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.

Fall Flybarre Challenge: The Kickoff to Exactly What I Needed

Last week, I got the news that running, jumping and anything “impactful” had to be tabled for “at LEAST a few weeks” – which means that some of the things I HAD planned for the Fall just weren’t an option anymore. Then, almost the very next day, I got an email about the Flybarre Fall Challenge starting and immediately emailed saying I wanted in! It’s the PERFECT thing for following the Doctor’s orders while still getting to really challenge myself – because without a challenge, the foot prognosis was going to make me nuts!  It doesn’t hurt that I think Flybarre does some crazy good things to women’s bodies and I really wanted to know what actually dedicating myself to it would do. It was the challenge I didn’t even know I was waiting for!  So for the next 6 weeks, I will be taking 4 Flybarre classes a week. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about that, since it seems like every time I take one, I am sore for days.  I’m hoping that the sore part doesn’t last all six weeks!

On Sunday afternoon, we had our kickoff meeting at the Flatiron Studio. We learned the ins and outs of what the Flybarre Challenge entails. The cool thing is that for the challenge, you are given a “Team Leader” – one of the awesome Flybarre instructors who will be the point person for 6 weeks. As we got into our groups, I was giddy that I got Kara Liotta – who I adore, and who always pushes me to work a little bit harder, which really is exactly what I need.  I can already picture her giving me “that” look if I don’t give it my all and knowing myself, that alone will make me focus harder on getting the best results!  As we split into groups to meet and talk a little bit, Kara pulled each person off to the side to measure us. The thing I didn’t realize, was that we are going to be measured EVERY week.  Oh, buddy.  For some reason, this snapped me to attention, since I sort of assumed that it would be a before and after thing, just like the pictures. The reality is that in one week, I will be accountable for some sort of change and it made me realize there will be no easing into this Challenge. It’s go time. NOW.

Monday morning bright and early, I was on a mat in Kara’s class. It was the “Power 45” version and unlike the 1 hour version, this one zipps through the moves. I really like the speed of it but am always surprised by how much harder it seems – somehow, that stretching bit in the middle really makes a difference! I was still embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms but luckily, the class was the “wild card” arms (the week where instructors choose a random arm routine, instead of the one that everyone has been practicing).  So, no one was really perfect at it and it was slightly less noticeable exactly how off I was! Maybe 6 weeks of doing the dynamic arm thing will make me less spastic looking? A girl can only hope….

After class, I hustled into Holly Rillinger’s always awesome Flywheel class. The class was packed with some of my favorite folks rocking the front row with me, including my awesome team leader, Kara. That kind of morning, filled with such amazing, inspiring people is hard to top… and for the next six weeks, I know where I will be every Monday morning!

Top picture from Flybarre’s Facebook page, middle picture by Eric C Stafford and bottom picture from FlywheelSports.com

A Little Tinkering is a Good Thing: Pilates ProMethod with Jenn Seracuse

On Tuesday afternoon, I finally made it over to Pilates ProWorks to take their signature “Pilates ProMethod” class with Jenn Seracuse, the head of their Pilates program. I had met Jenn briefly when I had gone to Steven Little’s TRX class and had immediately liked her, so I knew I would be in good hands. Plus, I have been SO curious about what their take is on the new trend to use “amped-up” versions of the classic Pilates’ Reformer. There was a time in my life when I was totally obsessed with Reformer classes and for about a year, I took at least 3 a week. Those classes were my gateway into working out at all, changed what I thought I was capable of and because of that, I am hard pressed to think that a great reformer class needs much tinkering with. Of course, those original classes were taken over 10 years ago and really, sometimes things need a little tinkering!

Pilates ProWorks’ take on the classic is called the FitFormer and damn, is it a pretty machine! According to their website, it is made from stainless steel, titanium and bamboo but it is also just an elegant, sturdy machine, with super cushy pads and basically just super swanky. Jenn went over the machine with me before class so I wouldn’t be lost, since really, the class was filled with a group of super strong regulars. I was immediately sorry that I hadn’t at least worn a pair of regular grippy socks since everyone had on special toe-socks – grippy on the bottom but open toes. It totally didn’t occur to me that we would wear socks during the class! It was also at that moment that I realized my socks that morning didn’t even match. Sigh… at least I remembered a towel! It is worth noting again, they don’t stock towels here, so if you are sweaty like I am, remember to bring your own.

The class started with a quick warm up, which I always miss when a class just launches straight into the workout. The music pumped in the room but Jenn was great about giving clear, helpful instructions on what we where supposed to be doing on each exercise. She roamed the room, demonstrating on different machines, so we were always able to see what the move was meant to look like and she was able to keep a keen eye on everyone’s form. The moves we did felt like Pilates moves, sometimes tweaked a little bit but always feeling grounded in that original practice.  We also got to do the Frog, a classic Reformer move that I swear hits a part of your inner thigh that no other exercise targets quite as effectively. It was always my favorite move and it was all l could do not to clap when she announced it.  Thankfully, I managed to not make a total ass of myself by doing that!  I was absolutely the worst in the room, so I got a lot of physical corrections (always ok with me!) but her cues to the whole class were really helpful and precise. They were very much Pilates cues, but for this kind of workout, that is really what you need. It was a class filled with regulars who were all so strong and graceful…I might have been the worst but I kept up and was totally inspired.

I always think the best sign of a Pilates based class is when it is challenging but never hurts as you are doing it, yet still makes you feel like someone sucker punched you in the stomach the next day. The day after my first Pilates ProMethod class, I winced every time I laughed – making every funny thing I heard just seem really mean. In my book, the sign of a great Pilates class…or perhaps just that I really need to do more of them!

 

Top image from Pilates ProWorks NYC’s Facebook page, image of Jenn from her Twitter profile @leanbodypilates

Punching & Pulsing: Flybarre for Men with Kara Liotta & Khori Petinaud

Last Saturday afternoon (after an amazing morning yoga class at I.AM.YOU studio) I made my way up to Flywheel Flatiron to try a class called “Flybarre for Men”. Given my non-male status, it was one of those classes I went to only because I was specifically asked to attend, by none other than the amazing Flybarre instructor Kara Liotta – who I basically can’t say no to. She called out my friend SINworkouts and I on twitter and it quickly became a big group of some of the toughest & most inspiring women around- Lacey Stone, SIN, Kindra from Peak Performance and Kate Hickle. Seriously, that is one fierce, fun group and if I could workout with them all the time, I would. When we all got there, from our various other workouts, SIN made quick work to rearrange us so that I got to be over by the group since apparently, I totally booked the wrong mat.  Kara just looked at me and said “So you want to be with the loud ones, huh?” The answer to that question is always a rousing “hell, yes!”

Kara Liotta and Khori Petinaud, who co-created the men’s Flybarre variation taught Saturday’s class. A powerhouse of a team, they are strong, skilled, and have an easy ability to take command of the room. Kara, who I have written about before (here) was amazing of course – but it was my first time taking a class with Khori. I immediately liked her – she has an infectious grin and didn’t allow anything to throw her off her game, plus, she was so obviously amused by my group’s loud enthusiasm that went along with our complete lack of skill, that it totally endeared her to me. Not the easiest thing to do when greeted by a room full of people who, for the most part, where complete newbies to the method, and who cheered at the end of each section. Kara and Khori are serious about what they do but both handled the rowdy group with a joyful ease that only the great instructors ever seem to be able to do – allowing fun to be had while still staying completely on task and never letting up about form. They were a brilliant pair!

I have taken a handful of Flybarre classes and am always left feeling like the most uncoordinated person on the planet. Seriously, while pulsing at Flybarre is always fun, I can’t follow a dance count to save my life. The men’s version of the class, however, was hands down my favorite version so far and not just because of the loud hooting and hollering of my cohorts.  This version includes lots of pushup variations, jumping jacks, a couple of killer ab sections but also less work actually AT the barre. My favorite change though was that the dynamic arms section was boxing move based – now THOSE are counts I can follow! I loved the change up of that and can totally see why they did it to appeal to guys but it also did wonders for my enjoyment of the section. Kara was totally right to call me out on coming in to try this version. it really was totally up my ally. So, although our class had 5 guys, which is definitely more than have ever been in any of the other Flybarre classes I have taken, I just wish it was called something else!

Top image from Flybarre’s Facebook page of Kara, Khori and Kate practicing the Flybarre for Men’s routine, middle image of Khori from Flywheel’s website, bottom image just an awesome bit of internet goodness.

Steven Little & the Killer Double

On Sunday morning, I finally made it into one of Steven Little‘s weekend Flywheel classes. I have loved every single one of Steven’s hard “own your ride” style classes but have always wondered about this class since it is the one that is packed from almost the moment the booking window opens. It was just as awesome as all the others but with a palpable feeling of engagement from riders who really respond to Steven’s brand of really expecting you to rise to your very best. It was a great, challenging class and Steven pushed us hard, which wasn’t even a little bit of a surprise, but also completely awesome.  Even though I knew it would be a really hard class, since I had made it into his Flywheel class, I also really wanted to try and take his new TRX class afterwards at Pilates Pro Works, since it is so perfectly spaced to do afterwards.  It really just seemed like it had the potential to be a killer double – plus I really wanted to check out the new studio!

After grabbing a much needed and ridiculously yummy latte at Joe & the Art of Coffee (seriously, a good latte always makes my day) I made my way over to Pilates Pro Works for the first time. I swear in Google, it was listed at 45 W.14th Street, but when I got to that address, I was greeted by a Golden Palace take-out spot and was briefly confused. Thankfully, I noticed the big poster on the door of #47 and figured out where I was really supposed to be! I was buzzed in, and climbed the stairs to the second floor to the surprisingly large, airy, open studio. Jenn, Head of their Pilates program, was manning the desk and greeted me like an old friend as I walked in the door. It was such a good first impression that I immediately wanted to be at the studio all the time. There are two main studios, the largest is the one with the Pilates-inspired machine class and then a smaller studio where the barre and TRX happens. There are lockers with keys, 2 bathrooms and one changing room. As they get busier, I think that having only one changing room may become an issue…

TRX, which I have only had the briefest chance to play with, is one of those tools that when done right, is amazing but is SO very easy to do wrong. The anchored straps are a devilishly simple concept, using them at different angles, you can use more or less of your body weight in a seemingly endless variety of exercises. The thing about TRX is that you really need to know what you are doing to actually get a great workout from it and not just hurt yourself by being too extreme. Steven not only is an amazing trainer, always striving to make you really challenge yourself, but ALSO a sticker on form -so I knew he would be the perfect person to take my first TRX class from! It is a small class format, with 10 TRX stations, and Steven thoroughly covered the basics of the set up and using the straps, since there were a lot of newbies in the class. First off, if you are taking this class – bring a towel! They mention it in the notes for the class but seriously, bring a towel. You will get sweaty. I realize that my class before made me sort of a sweaty beast from the start but my classmates who didn’t bring a towel were seriously glaring at me any time I went to my towel to wipe off. The class was an interval-based class that kicked my ass. Steven did sets, that mostly were 2 moves on the TRX straps and then one on the floor (pushups, mountain climbers, star jacks..basically some sort of plank-based move) and each set done 3 times. On the TRX straps we did moves, leaning away from the straps, into them and even with our feet suspended in them. Ouch. He was so good about correcting everyone’s form throughout the class, from where your feet should be in a squat to the angle you were coming off during a leaning bicep curl, that there was never a chance for cheating. Steven is all about the proper form being done, whatever your level is in any given move. I never once worried that I was going to hurt myself, but I did know that with Steven I could push myself to work extra hard. It was a class that I really felt the next day. in the best possible way! The class flew by.  I was stunned and slightly grateful when he finally announced it was time to stretch. I was sore, wiped-out and slightly giddy from getting my ass kicked. If I could, I would add it to my routine every week, since really, with a tool like TRX and an instructor who pushes you that hard, I think could produce some crazy impressive results…

 

Top image from Flywheel’s website , second image just something that is always true for me, middle image of Pilates Pro Works NYC very pretty lobby, and final image, a little bit of internet goodness.