The LBC & SinWorkouts Throwdown at Peak Performance

Sin Workouts and FBS

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.

L Boogie
Lauren Goldberg, or L Boogie as she is called, has been a trainer at Peak Performance for the last 10 years.  The LBC (L Boogie Club) this time was a team competition, with teams of 4 moving through 9 stations set up throughout the loft-like space, that allowed us to play with some of their fun tools. Peak Performance is an amazing private training treasure in NYC, so the chance to get a workout there in a group setting is a rare treat, although, there is talk that the LBC might become a monthly occurrence…which would be awesome.
Dynamic Mode Treadmill
Plank off
When we walked in we were given numbers and a name tag – I was in group #7. Each station was numbered and the goal was to  do as many reps as possible in 4 minutes.  I was a little sore going into it (since I had done B|X at Brick just a few hours before) but was committed to giving it my all. Each station was manned with someone taking count of how many reps your team managed to get in during the 4 minute rounds. The stations, which needed a little explanation, were  also staffed with some of Peak’s kickass trainers.
The workout was broken into two sections, with a short break in the middle. My group’s first section was made up of situps, treadmill runs in “Dynamic Mode” (which I was surprisingly strong at), stair running, and a plank-off that one of my teammates crushed with a full 4 minute plank, which was insanely impressive. Then there was that short, blissful break….
FBS & the Prowler
When we came back my team was on my favorite tool, the Prowler. I seriously love it. I can’t help myself! The power and concentration and sheer will that it takes to move that heavy sled across the floor always make me push myself to be the best I can be. Then it was on to the rope-pull machine – which I’d never done.  While in a seated position in front of a rope, the rope is pulled along using hand over hand. I zoned out and just pulled – apparently beating every other woman that day!  Whoop!  It was also awesome to finally get to try my hand at the Jacobs Ladder but  mostly the next few rounds were a little bit of a blur. By the final round of wall sits, I had to tap out early – because at that point, my legs where just completely fried.
Sin Workouts Supporting
At the end, when Lauren blew the final whistle, everyone rallied around –clapping and hollering. It was a ridiculously good time.  The workout was capped with awesome goody bags, mimosas, mingling and even some massages. Seriously, is there a better way to end an event?
LBC & Sin Workouts at Peak Performance
Check out this short video about this awesome event:
Photos and Video by Eric Stafford from Stafford Sports Media

Ready To Work: Exceed Physical Culture With Ed Cashin

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.

Exceed2 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.

XCD4

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!

XCD1Exceed7There 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!

Exceed4This 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

Training For Warriors at Body Space Fitness With Kelvin Gary & The Fierce Fitness Crew

Body Space Fitness1 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.

Body Space Fitness4

“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.

Body Space Fitness6

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.

Body Space Fitness2

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

Peak Performance NYC’s Diagnostic Testing & The Amazing Unexpected Result

Last week, I received an email asking if I was interested in Peak Performance‘s “Diagnostic Testing“.  My immediate response was “YES!” although I wasn’t entirely sure what it entailed. I read the descriptions of the test after I said yes because seriously, I wouldn’t EVER pass up a chance to go back to Peak. It is such an amazing facility and filled with inspiring, dedicated athletes that any chance to go is something I would jump at the chance for.

There are two parts to the testing and the body composition section came first. I was emailed instructions that I couldn’t drink the night before, have any coffee for 6 hours before, or any food for 4 before. The coffee part seemed evil and wrong, so I woke up early that day just so I could get in a few cups before the cut off time.  Really, no one should have to deal with me without coffee. Walking into Peak Performance, I was greeted by Kindra and immediately felt at ease – I went back and stashed my stuff in a locker before heading back to the front to get started. When I got back to the front, Joe Dowdell was there too and it was awesome to finally get to meet the founder of Peak Performance – I love being able to tell people in person how much I love what they have created.   Then, I was introduced to the man who was going to be giving me the tests that day, Derek Peruo. He is Peak’s “go to guy for all testing protocols” and has this very reassuring, calm demeanor. I liked him immediately. We went into a little room that had this very strange robot looking scale, with arms you grabbed onto after you stepped barefoot onto the foot plates. Derek entered in my height, age and gender and the machine started to go. On the waist high monitor, I watched as my weight registered, then it showed these pulses going through each part of my body – as it went, a bar graph ticked up, showing the ratio in each part of my body of muscle to fat. Derek explained what was happening as it went but what I really loved was being able to see the visual of it as it as the machine processed the information. It was slightly abstract and clinical but it also made it less about how “fat” you are and more about how much muscle you have and how you are really made up. Now that I have taken the test, I feel a little like a jackass for how much I was dreading this part of the test. It was actually REALLY interesting.  It was amazing because for the first time, I didn’t kick into a free fall about feeling fat after a body fat measurement, but just felt like an athlete finding out needed info to train more effectively. It didn’t hurt that what it meant athletically was completely Derek’s focus. According to him, I am really even, muscle wise, on both sides, which is unusual since most people have a dominant side with a distinct muscle advantage-“if I was training you for a fitness competition, that would be a VERY good thing to find out. That sort of evenness is what you strive for.”

Once the body comp was done, we took a small break for me to have the snack I had brought and Derek went off to set up the next part of the testing. I went to the front to have my protein shake but I wasn’t done before Derek came to collect me for the next phase. So while I hurriedly finished, he explained a little more about the iMETT testing and how normally he has people follow their normal eating/ caffeine/ training routine before the test. It was only because I was doing both the body comp and the iMETT on the same day that I had to limit the food and coffee before. He also gave me the heart-rate band that I needed to wear and asked if I had ever used one. I immediately fessed up to the fact that I hadn’t ever used one, so he gave me the lowdown about putting the band on and where it needed to be positioned to get the best reading. I took it and went back to the changing room to put it on – I had always assumed it would be a really uncomfortable thing to wear but once I got it in the right place, I hardly felt it at all. When I finally had everything in place, I made my way over to the treadmill where the machine that would be measuring me was all hooked up. The iMETT basically is a specific VO2 Max test. It measures your heart rate and oxygen intake and processing to help determine your optimum heart rate range for working out. Your band gives the heart rate but your breath is monitored by a gasmask that is strapped securely to your head, covering your nose and mouth and then attaches to the machine. I had seen footage of professional athletes taking a VO2 Max test before and was in general prepared for this part but was shocked at how claustrophobic it made me. You aren’t allowed to talk when you have the mask on so all communication is done through a thumbs up / thumbs down system.

As the test started, I was just getting warmed up and did a walk to start, which was nice because it allowed me to get slightly more comfortable with the very strange thing that was getting ready to start. The idea is that you start at your normal running pace and then slowly the machine ramps up the incline to challenge you until failure. I don’t run very often, so choosing the speed was a little strange but once it was locked in, I was glad it was the pace, it felt natural – until the incline started to ramp up. Derek was, of course, really good about checking in, warning me what was going to happen next and I just put my head down and ran. As I went, Ed Williams, the Director of Continuing Education at Peak, came over to watch, although mostly he watched the numbers and not me. It was funny to hear them talk though, since mostly they were all “it is so interesting her body is anticipating the effort, then settling right back down. Nice.” I was proud of myself momentarily and then just went back to running. It was around when the incline went to 7%, that I started to worry. My legs were starting to feel leaden and I just wanted to take a small break – but that isn’t the way it works. All out until nothing is left. Then I heard Ed say “I think maybe one more, then that is it. Her legs are going to go before her heart.” It was totally true. I didn’t have much more in me and since you weren’t supposed to jump off at the end, all I could picture was being attached by my face to the treadmill and my legs going out underneath me and doing a face plant into the moving treadmill. I tapped out at 8% and it was true, my legs gave out before my heart. I love that someone would say that about me. Afterwards, Derek and Ed looked at the numbers and figured out where my range was and then the computer printed out all of the data and statistic and ranges I should be in when working out. No more generic charts ranges after this test, because your ranges are suddenly not based on averages and guess work. I also got a print out of a workout to do for the next four week based on heart rate optimization. I DEFINITELY have to get a heart-rate monitor soon since I am dying to try that program out!!

My favorite moment of all was after the iMETT test when Ed told me I did better than some professional athletes. That is just so amazing. I have been feeling pretty damn athletic and good about myself these days and was slightly concerned that these tests would prove that wrong, that I would go from feeling strong to worrying about the number on a scale. Turns out that isn’t even remotely what these tests are about. The body composition and iMETT tests are about knowing where you are at in your training, about becoming a better athlete not about the numbers on a scale. I shouldn’t have worried. There are things to work on, changes I need to make and I hope someday I get to take the test again now that I know where I am. At Peak, it is all about being an athlete not about a number.  On Tuesday, I walked out feeling like a serious, capable athlete and I can’t imagine a better result than that!

Photos of Peak Performance from Joe Dowdell (Fitness Page) Facebook page, bottom photo a little bit of internet awesomeness

Peak Performance & the kick-ass session in NYC’s training mecca…

So last week, when in the middle of a chat about As 1 getting a Jacob’s Ladder and how it would be fun to try it with another As 1 junkie, one of my favorite fitness partners-in-crime – SINworkouts – joined in, listened for a minute, and then said: “Peak has those! Wait, you two HAVE been to Peak to train right?”  And with that, SIN hatched a plan for the three of us to go train at Peak Performance. She has seriously impressive skills on making these things actually happen…

It doesn’t really cover it to say that I was excited, because I have wanted to check out Peak Performance for ages. Seriously.  AGES. Joe Dowdell’s mecca for both professional athletes and people looking to seriously commit to training is always listed as one of the best in the country and this fitness fiend has desperately wanted a peek into Peak.  I know trainers who work there (but I can’t afford their sessions), people who train there (and OF people who train there – Olympians & some of the most impressive MMA fighters in the world train there when they are in NYC) but the chance to actually train there myself seemed slim to none. However, on Tuesday afternoon, there I was…sprinting to make it to Peak on time. I didn’t want to miss a second of my session but MTA apparently thought being stuck on a bridge was a better idea, so when my train finally pulled into Union Square 10 minutes before I was supposed to be there, I took off my jacket stuffed it in my backpack and sprinted to Peak. The gym is housed on the 8th floor of a non-descript Flatiron building, and is this HUGE, open, loft-like floor with big windows and lots of natural light. It is a seriously beautiful, inspiring space to workout in. I was the first to arrive (yay!) and Kindra Hanson, the absolutely stunning but seriously cool General Manager, greeted me and showed me to the lockers & changing area. Since I was already in my workout clothes, I dropped off my bag in a locker, popped the key on my wrist and headed back out to the juice bar to wait for my pals who arrived just moments later.

SIN had our workout all planned out and Kindra joined us for the kick-ass session. The plan was filled with fun variations on standards and then things I had never done before.  It was ridiculously fun. It even used equipment that I had never even seen in a gym to use! My favorite new piece was called the Prowler – which sort of looks like that sled you see football players push across a field in a practice –basically it is a heavy metal sled that is loaded with weight, which you then crouch down and shove across the gym floor. Did I mention the huge open floor couldn’t have seemed bigger at that moment? I was much better at that one, though, then the weight sled that you yanked behind you with ropes.  But I LOVED getting to try so many new things! We were there in a weird middle of the day time and most of the people working out were trainers, who shouted out encouragement as we moved the heavy things across the floor. Nothing is as motivating as that! Plus, I got to meet two of the Directors of Peak Performance, including Dan Trink (read his amazing Greatist article about his journey to Peak – HERE) – which was cool. I love meeting people who love what they do and just want everyone in their space to kick ass. Supportive fit people really are the best… especially if you are the least fit in the room (yep, that was me) and they are still yelling for you!

We moved into the small studio to finish up our workout with lots of planks, prone jumping-jacks and medicine ball sit-ups, even trying a crazy one legged crow pose… which I almost got but I will nail eventually! A little practice and I can make it happen. It was such a cool, awesome, fun group and the session went by in a flash. I am still not quite sure how it happened that I got to work out in one of the best facilities in the city but it was easily the coolest thing I have done in a long time.

 

Photo of Peak Performance from their Facebook page, bottom image just a good reminder to work harder.