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

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

 

Brick CrossFit NYC 9 copy

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

 

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

14.4 Heidi Coaching SSM

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

photos and video by Eric Stafford for FBS

Lululemon’s Community Class: A Chance to Ride With Ryan Steinman At Soul Cycle

On a ridiculously cold day, I bundled up and made my way up to the Soul Cycle Studio on 63rd and Lexington for the very first time. It’s been almost a year since I was on a bike at Soul Cycle but thanks to one of Lululemon’s awesome community events, I got the chance to ride with one of Soul’s newer instructors, Ryan Steinman.

Ryan Steinman Soul Blog Photo

When I got to the front desk to check in for my class, it turned out that I’d gotten moved from the random bike I had signed up for in the store. For a brief second I thought somehow I’d gotten knocked off the list and trekked out in the freezing cold for nothing – but it turned out I had been moved to the front row. Eek! I am not the most coordinated person, so in Soul classes with their notorious on-the-bike choreography, I usually try to hide in the back.  After a brief moment of front row panic, I sucked it up, initialed by my name and asked for some cycling shoes for class. Turns out that because we were there with Lululemon, they were free! Free class AND free shoes at Soul Cycle?!? Score!

Soul Cycle’s studios are always ridiculously pretty, with their clean white spaces, dark slate floors and bright yellow logo accents – the 63rd Street studio is no exception. I changed and headed into class to get ready for the ride. Thankfully, I managed not to bust my ass on the slick slate floors as I made my way into the studio– they really are so pretty design-wise but SO impractical! It’s been so long since I’ve ridden with Soul that this was my first time on their “new” bikes. I was shocked by how much better I liked these bikes – they are smooth, easy to adjust and had a better angle than the ones before… I was seriously surprised. I didn’t have any problems adjusting my bike but the Soul staff rushed around the room helping everyone who looked even slightly confused.

Ryan introduced himself to the group and proceeded to get us started as he put on his cycling shoes – turns out he was a corporate lawyer before finding Soul and changing paths. Almost immediately, he was on the bike and launched into the Soul pushup choreography and I was briefly concerned that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Turned out, though, that Ryan was so easy to follow that I forgot how ridiculously uncoordinated the choreography normally makes me feel and just found myself grinning like crazy and having fun. Ryan’s music was great and eclectic –by far my favorite was a mash-up by DJ Robin Skouteris that included almost a full minute of opera. It was shocking and strangely, went perfectly with the isolation move he called out. The idea of the isolation is to use heavy resistance and to only have your legs move while keeping your upper body perfectly still – a brutally challenging move. Then, as the opera faded into a faster more kickass tempo, he called out for us to let it go. It was awesome. The ride flew by and was filled with talk of finding your soul, making choices, deciding to push yourself, and taking ownership of what you do in every moment; the exact kind of thing I’ve come to expect at Soul and love every time I hear it. I totally get why people love Soul Cycle. Last Sunday, Ryan’s class was exactly what I needed – a sweaty reminder that following you own path can truly be amazing.

Soul Cycle SayingTop image from Soul Cycle’s Blog, bottom image from their FaceBook page.

Let’s Turn It Up: Lacey Stone Leads the Charge On The Brooklyn Nets’ Home Court With Nike Training Club

LStoneNTC1When I first heard about the Nike Women’s NTC event that would be taking over the Brooklyn Net’s home court at the new Barclay’s Center, I knew I had to be there. Since last year’s insanely awesome NTC event at Metlife Stadium, I’ve been on the lookout for another one of their crazy cool events. However it was the fact that Lacey Stone, former Division 1 Basketball player, current Nike Master Trainer and just all around fitness rockstar, would be leading the workout that sealed the deal. I needed to be at this event and stalked the internet for when the sign-up opened. I’ve walked by the new stadium that had been built in my neighborhood a million times but hadn’t been inside – really, could there be a better first time than from the court?

LStoneNTC9Since the Barclay’s Center is so close to my house, my friend Julia from FitJourney (who was also my partner in fitness crime for the NTC MetLife event last year) met me at my apartment for a little green juice before we headed over. Although we were a little early, we weren’t the first people there and after getting through security we went to hang out with the other earlybirds as people slowly started to arrive. It was fun to watch the awesome crew of sporty women gather and included some of my favorite people to workout with. I knew this workout was just going to be ridiculously fun. When we were finally given the go ahead, we headed down to the arena and to the VIP lounge rooms to get changed. We were handed NTC tanks and then directed to the small VIP rooms right off the court that were being used as communal dressing rooms for the event, which was sort of hysterical. When I entered my assigned room, a random girl looked at me and said “Well this is odd.” My answer: “Well yes, don’t mind me stripping in the kitchen.” I threw on my new NTC tank and headed out towards the court. As always, I want to be IN the event as long as possible; no hanging out in the lounge for me! On the court, I met up with the large, fierce crew that had gathered. We all hung out and marveled at just having the arena to ourselves.LStoneNTC5

LStoneNTC6 Supporting Lacey for this event were Kym Perfetto (whose Soul Cycle classes, I’ve been told I need to take) and Deanna Jefferson an NTC trainer from DC. As soon as they were announced and started running to the stage, the crowd went nuts – we were so ready. By the time Lacey came out, the crowd had pushed close together up by the stage, hooting and clapping for her. She warned us to spread out but people didn’t really want to move. Luckily, I was surrounded by friends in almost every direction and we would just grin and work to get in sync so we didn’t land on each other. The 45-minute workout was geared towards a lot of hopping moves, lunges, fast feet and cardio bursts to mimic getting ready to play basketball. The awesome women on stage killed it with energy and Lacey kept everything moving and just FUN. Even when the music died in the middle of the workout, Lacey managed to keep things playful and going until it came back on. Seriously, my favorite part of working out with Lacey is always how solidly she kicks your ass while making it so much fun that you don’t even care that moving the next day might be challenging! By the end of the workout I was sweaty, sore and happy. The final moment though, when the stadium went green (the sign you reached your “fuel” goal on the Nike FuelBand) the stadium erupted in fireworks and the crowd went nuts! It was such an awesome celebration of leaving it all out on the court.

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That wasn’t the end though, because after the workout was done and the fireworks were over, they wheeled out racks of basketballs so that everyone on court could take a few shots from the Free Throw line. I didn’t make a single basket but it was awesome to take the shots. I hit the rim every single time – except one, when the ball was going in and someone from the other direction knocked it out. Now that is funny. I might not have an ounce of basketball prowess but I LOVED the chance to take those shots. Seriously, how often is that ever going to happen? My favorite moment though, at the very end when most people had left the court, was seeing Lacey take the ball on an NBA court and play. It is always a treat to see that kind of talent and drive up close. Watching an athlete of her caliber getting back to something they love was just awesome… the joy of the game is real and it is inspiring.

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Photos by Eric Stafford of Stafford Sports Media for Lacey Stone Fitness

Wellness Wednesday: My Green Juice Addiction & Finally Getting A Juicer….

I have been a huge fan of green juices for the last few years, but could never quite bring myself to actually buy a juicer.  It just seemed like such a commitment…expensive and not worth it because “I wouldn’t use it enough” and it would take up the precious counter space. With my love of green juices not waning and prices getting up in the $10 range for a good one, I recently decided I was wrong. After a lot of research, I settled on the Breville Juice Fountain Plus.  Not super expensive, reliable and reportedly easy to clean, it seemed the perfect choice. When it popped up on sale in an email after Christmas from Amazon, and was totally covered by my parents’ “fun money” gift and the Amazon gift card my brother sent me for Christmas, I decided it was a sign from the universe that it was time to finally get my juicer!

Since I am just getting started, I emailed my dear friend, Olivia, from GreenJunkieLiving.com for pointers and her favorite recipe.  This is her response:

I am, by most accounts, a health nut. Neti-pots, yoga, green smoothies, flax seed–I’m all over it. But salad? Even really good ones? So boring I can’t bring myself to eat them. Which is one of the major reasons (aside from, hello, delicious) I love green juice. When the craving strikes, this is my favorite recipe:

4 cucumbers, peeled unless organic

2 apples, quartered

1 head romaine lettuce

2 lemons, peeled

2″ chunk of ginger, peeled

1/2 bunch of celery (the leaves are an awesome source of Vitamin C)

1/2 broccoli stem

any leftover kale stems I might have

This makes at least two quarts, one of which I drink right away, the other I put in a mason jar filled to the tippy top (a little overflow is your friend–use filtered water to make up the difference if need be) and stored in the fridge until the next day. I love green juice; I hate cleaning my juicer.

If you’re craving something sweeter, carrot, beet, and apple make a great combination, and get you all the nutrients from veggies in a different color spectrum. Fennel and red cabbage can also be surprisingly tasty additions to either juice base.

Tips:

  • Double (or triple) juice the pulp to get as much liquid as possible.
  • Make double batches and store in filled-to-the-tippy-top airtight jars.
  • Experiment with whatever produce is on sale or needs to be used up from the fridge–but if you’re extra cautious, juice into separate containers and combine slowly. That way you don’t spoil a whole batch of juice if you realize you can’t stand the taste of juiced broccoli florets. (I speak from experience; love the stems, but couldn’t get through the florets.)

If you never tryMy very first juice attempt is in the video above and it was actually good! I’ve had my juicer for a little under a week and am already totally obsessed with it. Olivia’s tips have helped me get more out of it and given me an awesome new recipe and new combinations to play with! I can’t wait to experiment… and see how regular juicing helps with being in beast mode!

Video shot by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media. Bottom quote just a little bit of internet goodness.