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.
Every Tuesday this Summer, FITiST and Lole have hosted an outdoor workout with some of the best trainers and studios in the city on Pier 25 in Tribeca. My schedule has been a little nuts and I haven’t made it to one, but I was hell bent on making it to Noah Neiman’s this week. Noah, whose class I’ve taken a Barry’s Bootcamp a handful of times, is just an awesome, positive force in the New York Fitness community. He teaches a hard, challenging class while still keeping the positivity and fun going through even the hardest sections. Noah is, of course, ridiculously handsome (I don’t think they let anyone teach at Barry’s who isn’t) but once you know the sweet, supportive person he is, you tend to forget about that part.
When I woke up on Tuesday, it was POURING and I was bummed that the workout would be cancelled. Turns out the weather gods thought a workout was needed because by 3pm the rain stopped and the call was made that the workout was still a go! I headed over to the Pier at 6pm thinking that I was late but it turns out,it actually started at 6:30, so after chatting with Noah for a little bit and filling out a waiver, I sat down on the sidelines to wait for everyone else to start gathering.
Pier 25 on the West Side Highway is really such an awesome spot in the city. The beautifully maintained Astroturf field is just a gem overlooking the water, hidden away from the city bustle. I loved that I had actually gotten there early enough to enjoy the treat of just being there. By the time the class was starting there were probably 50-60 people gathered to enjoy getting our asses kicked by Noah. My favorite part of these kind of free events is seeing people get to experience awesome instructors for the first time. Still, I was surprised by how many people there had never been to one of Noah’s classes. I had sort of assumed it would be packed with his regulars! While we were warming up, Noah gave us the brief rundown of his history.
As we started the actual workout with jumping jacks, he said “this is your holding place. When I am explaining the next move you will be doing this. GO!” I knew then that I was going to get my ass-kicked. The workout was a pretty straight up bootcamp: lunges, squats (so many, many variations) pushups and situps, but he also managed to throw in some boxing and fast feet football moves that kept you guessing what would come next. Noah kept the pace high and the mood light as we all started to sweat buckets. Thank god for the free towels that Team in Training had dropped off! A few times, he would demo a move from the back of the crowd and I would turn around and see the entire group, totally captivated by Noah’s charm and self-deprecating humor. There is a reason that Noah’s classes are always packed, his workouts are challenging but fun. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and even as he was kicking our asses, Noah managed to get people to laugh.
Noah really is one of the most supportive, positive trainers in the city and it is hard for me not to just have a smile plastered on my face while working out with him. By the end of the class, I was totally wiped out and while Noah had us do all standing stretches for the cool down, I took the time to look around me and revel in what had turned out to be a completely awesome workout on a beautiful evening in NYC. Everyone, seemed to know how special that evening had turned out to be….
photos for FBS by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media
Reading the description of Urban Asanas in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights‘ awesome series Breath & The Beats of the Streets reads: “Get your flow on to a live DJ, followed by drinks, snacks and friends new & old” – I knew I had to go. I’d met Jyll Hubbard-Salk, the trailblazing owner of Urban Asanas, at a few Brooklyn Lululemon events and loved her energy. I had heard amazing things about her teaching, but had just never made it to one of her classes and really, it was starting to get ridiculous.
Urban Asanas is a yoga studio dedicated to the community and is the first of its kind in the neighborhood – with the awesome mandate of “maintaining the strength and diversity of the people we serve. Our focus is on movement through music, collaboration, and heart. Urban Asanas welcomes yoga practitioners of all levels and socio-economic backgrounds.” There is seriously nothing about that that I don’t love.
The event, held at Jyll’s house so that we could practice outside in her stunning backyard, is just around the corner from the studio and as it turns out, it is ridiculously easy to get to. Just a few blocks off the 3 train, I made it there really quickly and ended up being one of the first people there. I must admit though, when I read the description of the evening’s event, it didn’t even occur to me that the description “from 7-9” was for the actual practice. I assumed that it would be an hour of yoga then an hour of hanging out – so when she casually mentioned that the 2 hour practice might start a couple of minutes late, I almost fell down. However, it was so beautiful outside and I was there already, so I just rolled out my mat, laid down and looked at the beautiful sky above.
There were 10 of us who ended up in Jyll’s backyard for the yoga portion of the evening and as soon as the class started, I knew this was going to be a kick-ass flow. Jyll is irreverent and vocal during the class, with a keen eye for what every single person is doing in each movement and how to get them deeper and more correctly into the pose. I was so thoroughly impressed with every single correction & cue – although often funny, each correction was perfect, thoughtful and helpful. She is also an amazing hands-on corrector. I love being guided into position… because really, I sometimes just don’t know where I should be moving from in yoga and having Jyll’s skilled hands guiding me into it was amazing. It was a challenging flow and the two hours actually flew by. The music was soulful and though Jyll moved us with the music in a seamless flow, a few times the music would just move people and they would start rocking out to the beat in between their Warrior poses. By the end, I was completely spent and totally blissed out.
After class, food and sangria was brought out and more people arrived to join Jyll’s party. As the evening shifted from class to party, I looked around and marveled at the amazing, interesting and cool group of people that she had brought together. I was so grateful to be there and spent the rest of the evening just reveling at Urban Asanas’ awesome community.
It was an evening that reminded me of the reasons why I love Brooklyn.
On Sunday, April 13th, I took off my shirt in the middle of Union Square and joined 300 other riders at the 3rd Annual Sports Bra Challenge, in a celebration of acceptance and positive body image. A challenge that started in a Soul Cycle classroom a few years ago, when Jenny Gaither couldn’t bring herself to ride in just her sports bra, has grown into a huge charity event to support her SEAK Foundation’s mission to provide programming that improves young women’s self-esteem.
The event, which took over the North side of Union Square Park, was in full swing by the time I made it there after my workout that morning with Gabby Reece at Exceed. I checked in, snagged a pair of shoes and got ready for my class to start up. I was tired but so excited to be there. Thankfully, Zico Coconut Water was a sponsor, so I grabbed one immediately, knowing it would help my second wind kick in. I saw so many people I knew – bloggers and instructors from other studios (places like Exceed, Body Space Fitness, Uplift, Pilates ProWorks) who had all showed up to support the cause. It was an inspiring group.
I am not a “sports bra only” sort of a person and the first few minutes of sitting there on my bike waiting for our class to start, I was acutely aware that I was not wearing enough clothes for this workout. Thankfully, I had worn my new Moving Comfort Juno bra that is cute and doesn’t move at all, so it didn’t take me that long to get used to it!
Our class session of the Sport’s Bra Challenge was led by Jenny Gaither and Ayana Curtis. They were a powerhouse of a team – both Soul Cycle Rockstars who just radiate the love they have for what they do. This event is Jenny’s baby, and watching her take it all in for those first few moments was amazing. DJ GB lit the place up right away with a fun, eclectic mix and Anya & Jenny launched into a fun, challenging class. After the first song though, watching Anya and Jenny rock it out on stage, taking in the crowd, I let myself just get totally swept up in the class. It flew by and at the end, when the whole crowd sang along to Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait For You” – I almost cried it was so beautiful. It was truly impossible not to be captivated by the joy and positivity of what was happening that day.
I am so grateful that I got the chance to be part of an event dedicated to empowering everyone by sharing that moment of complete acceptance, of yourself, just as you are. It was a beautiful, joyful day – I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year!
Photos and video by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media
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 year was the 3rd annual SEAK Foundation’s Sports Bra Challenge. The session I went to was lead by the amazing Jenny Gaither (SEAK founder) & Ayana Curtis -it was filled with so many awesome people and was just an epic, joyful thing to be a part of…
I LOVE this beautiful reminder from Eric Stafford, using one of my favorite speeches by Alan Watts about following your passion. I am grateful to be inspired by so many amazing people in the fitness world that exemplify the idea every single day. The idea that I would be included in this round up of amazing people blows me away….
On Friday night, I went to the kick-off event for the Sports Bra Challenge 2013, a 45 minute Soul Cycle class led by the awesome Jenny Gaither, a Soul Cycle Rockstar and one of the founders of the S.E.A.K. Foundation. S.E.A.K (which stands for “Strive, Embrace, Achieve, Know”) grew out of a challenge that Jenny issued for herself 3 years ago to be comfortable in class in just her sports bra. It was a huge leap in self-acceptance for her and she wanted to be able to share that sense of empowerment that she found in that Soul Cycle room with the help of others. That original, seemingly-simple goal, forms the base of what S.E.A.K is all about – “promoting fitness as a platform for women to build the confidence they need to feel empowered and comfortable in their own skin – exactly as they are.” I love S.E.A.K’s mission and jumped at the chance to attend the kickoff again this year!
When I made it to Soul Cycle’s Union Square studio, it was packed with women who were there to support the cause and each other. I checked in, got my cute bright orange NB Sport Bra Challenge tank, and ran into a friend of mine all before making my way downstairs. It was, of course, packed in the women’s locker room and since I had on my workout gear already, I stashed my bag and got ready to head back upstairs. I then realized that I needed to change into the new tank I still had in my hand. Then, I did something I’ve never done before – In the middle of a studio hallway, I stripped off my old tank, tossed it in the locker and threw on the new one before I headed upstairs to wait for the class to start. When they finally flung the doors open, all the bikes were decked with whistles, glowstick circles and SEAK towels. Thankfully, I was in the back row and made quick work of setting up my bike.
Jenny launched into a ridiculously fun, challenging class that was filled with lots of choreography. We were out of the saddle, doing a million push-ups on the beat and rocking it out. Jenny called out encouragement as people pushed themselves to keep up with her insanely infectious energy. As we rode, she told us all about the beginning of the Sports Bra Challenge and told us if it scares us we definitely need to do it. I struggled to keep up with the choreography but loved every second of the class. Jenny’s joy, passion and commitment is inspiring and on Friday night, every single person in that room left feeling more confident as they walked out. Just like last year, on Friday, Jenny made every single person fall fully in love with the principle of the S.E.A.K… that everyone is special, unique and amazing, exactly as they are.
The Sports Bra Challenge this year will be held on Sunday, April 14th in Union Square. Even bigger than last year, this year’s celebration will consist of two free kids fitness classes taught by SoulCycle’s Senior Master Instructor, Stacey Griffith, and one led by Exceed Physical Culture, and two, 300-bike SoulCycle classes taught by four of SoulCycle’s rockstar instructors: Stacey Griffith, Melanie Griffith, Ayana Curtis, and of course, the amazing Jenny Gaither.
Book your bike here and join in for this amazing day dedicated to women, to empowering one another to feel comfortable with their bodies- exactly as they are!
Photos from SEAK Foundation’s Facebook page
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!
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