Being All In : 3 Flywheel Greats Remind Me To Be In the Moment

It has been a little while since I posted, since the week following the absolutely epic high of the NYC Triathlon, I got an evil head/chest cold that I just couldn’t shake. I have slowly been making my way back into working out after taking a full 10 days off. In retrospect, my cold was probably my body’s not so subtle nudge that rest isn’t such a bad thing. What can I say? Rest isn’t my strong suit! Last weekend was my first weekend really back on schedule and awesomely included classes with some of my absolute favorites at Flywheel – Jesse Alexander, Alison Cohen and Aleah Stander. It was one of those random weekends when teachers I love all seem to be teaching classes that I can actually make – a super rare occurrence in the summer, when everyone seemingly defects to the Hamptons.

Jesse and Alison’s hour-long classes were both hard, challenging and made me REALLY push myself. Jesse’s Saturday morning class was filled with a fun, party atmosphere (as his classes always are), plus some of my favorite folks were rocking out the front row with me and really, that is always inspiring. Jesse didn’t talk about “feeling sexy and riding like it” in this class, but his riders obviously had it engrained in their head so much at this point that it’s just natural! It’s funny, no matter the time of day, Jesse’s class always feel like pre-game to going out – even early on a Saturday!

Sunday’s Warrior Ride with Alison was so freaking hard (which I adore) but much quieter than Saturday’s, so I was easily the loud one of the class again! It has been awhile since I took that class but to jump in and see how strong that group is can be both staggering and inspiring. Alison is such a star at getting her riders to rise to every challenge she throws at them and her Warriors are the prime example of that. Alison inspired me to be in full beast mode but even at that, I struggled to stay on the board at 359! Apparently, I need to up my game to hang with Alison’s Warrior crew!

My third and final class was Monday’s class with Aleah which, of course, was awesome. She is such a rockstar. I was bummed when she decamped for Miami but Monday, we got the rare treat to have her back in NYC – even if it was for only a day. I didn’t think it was possible but it seems like she has actually gotten even better down in Miami. Aleah’s classes are always hard and inspiring but this one was epic. She rides with her whole heart in and expects the same in return. Being all in and fully present really is what it is all about – big or small- be in that moment.  Aleah’s passion for what she does makes that the only option when you are in front of her. It was exactly the reminder I needed this week.

After 3 days of kick-ass classes, I had finally fully shaken off my sickness and for the first time in weeks felt like myself.  It seems like I can always count on Flywheel to help me snap myself out of a funk – this weekend was no exception.

Logo and bottom image from Flywheel’s Website for New York. Top quote just a good thing to remember.

Miami Is Getting A Rockstar: Aleah Stander & The Celebration Ride

On Wednesday night at 7:30pm, almost all of the Flywheel instructors gathered to ride in Aleah Stander’s class, since this is her last week before she heads down to Miami to spearhead the new Flywheel opening down there.  She is beloved by the Fly family – and they came in full force to celebrate that fact and yet, somehow, managed to keep it a secret. Included in that evening’s packed house were Ruth Zukerman, Kate Hickle, Chris Tracey, Jesse Alexander, Danielle Devine, Ryan Makey, Alison Cohen, John Wellmann, Carrie Green and Shay Kostabi and some of the awesome back office staffers. They had gone all out to make the ride feel like a party, sporting glow-in-the dark bands, glowsticks, a few of the guys rocked big afro wigs, Danielle had a cute pair of sparkly horns, and Ryan sported the headgear of the night – a wildly funny pair of bunny ears. The rest of the room was filled to the brim with Aleah fans.

It was nice to see the sweet, endearing Aleah that she is off the bike up there, just basking in the love of her friends hooting and hollering for her, packing the house. Then, she grinned a big grin and went right back to being the kick-ass, hard instructor that we love. The room was never quiet. I don’t know that I have ever been in a room that was AS loud as this one was and it was so much fun. I am notoriously loud in class and it was fun to not remotely be the loudest in the room. Aleah’s playlists are always awesome but the one that night was just ridiculously good… and filled with lots of songs that were straight up fun, but distinctly not the “clean” versions! It was the kind of soundtrack that just made you go faster and inspired you to work harder. I don’t know that I have ever been to a class with Aleah were I am not blown away by how hard she can get you to work – I almost always best any number I’ve done before. She is just motivating like that! The energy of the room was like a wave and it just made me want to try a little bit harder. As a rider, to be surrounded with people who inspire me was a huge treat.  The Flywheel instructors are an insanely strong group and there is nothing like being surrounded by the best to make you better.

I was in the second row, smack in the middle, and directly in front of me was Kate and Ruth. Talk about feeling like I need to step my game up! From the angle I was at I could see Ruth’s little board, and all I have to say is damn. That woman is a powerhouse! She crushed me from right out of the gate. I had my best 45-minute ride and she beat me by almost a 100 points -totally and utterly inspiring. Aleah made us all work hard and pushed that room to do their best -it was electrifying to see everyone in that room rise to the occasion.

The 45 minutes FLEW by. When she called out that it was the last song I was shocked, I so didn’t want it to be over just yet. As the stretch song played, it was awesome to see her take in the room before her, filled with people who love and totally support her. I think it was the only time I have ever seen Aleah slightly flustered and it was totally endearing. The cheers were deafening and the towels whipped over everyone’s head as the class ended – it was an amazing thing to witness that kind of pure love pouring out at the end of her amazing class. The thing about Aleah is that she is just so consistently great, that I sometimes forget just HOW great she really is but seriously, Aleah really is a rockstar. I hope Miami knows what a treasure they are getting.

Top picture from Aleah’s Facebook profile, middle picture from the Flywheel website and bottom image my hope for what Miami has in store for the amazing Aleah Stander….

FLY for Fisher House with Steven Little & Aleah Stander

After taking an awesome class with Steven Little at Flywheel on Monday evening, I came home and found in my mail box a note from running coach extraordinaire, Abby Bales, about an event she is hosting at Flywheel this weekend, May 5th at 3pm with Steven and Aleah Stander. The ride is a fundraiser for the Fisher House and as Abby wrote:

“Fisher House builds houses near military hospitals for the families of injured soldiers to stay for free while their soldier is recovering in the hospital. It is a 501c(3) charity with a 5-star ranking by, meaning 97% of the money raised goes directly to the houses and needs of the families and not to advertising and administration costs.”

I don’t normally write about events before they happen, but an event that supports such an important cause and lead by 3 amazing people is worthy of an exception to that rule.

As I read the mail about the mission of the Fisher House to the Fella (a former Navy man) he just looked at me and said, “You know you have to go right? We’ll figure out how to come up with the money for it, but you HAVE to go support that.”  That is totally true. With a partner who used to serve and as the daughter of a retired Naval Officer, the mission of the Fisher House is something that I think is very special and important to support. The fact that the event is at one of my favorite places in NYC, Flywheel, is just an extra sweet bonus.

For more information about the ride, check out the FB page for the event:

Check out my original review of Steven here.

Abby and Aleah led one of my favorite workouts of 2011, an inspiring “Brick” workout that made me feel like a true athlete.  Check it out here. I love them both for that moment and can’t wait to see what they bring to this new event…

Hopefully, I will see you there!

FBS’s top 5 classes for 2011


Closing out this year, I am sick, which means that I have far too much time to reflect on all of the amazing experiences I have gotten to have this year.  I have done a lot of workouts, done a huge variety of classes, and written about a lot of them here.  When I think about my top 5 experiences, it becomes a challenge…because I write about the things I love.  So, narrowing it down to a top five was a little daunting, but it turns out that there ARE a top 5 that really stand out for me when reflecting on 2011:

  1. Jesse Alexander’s 1 Year Anniversary Ride: At that point, I had just taken a handful of classes with Jesse but it fully cemented him as one of my absolute favorites. It was one of those perfect classes, where everyone there was completely, raucously invested in the ride AND the instructor was completely in the zone. At the beginning of class, no one knew why this one was so special, but there was this moment of awareness when the place erupted with love – it was awesome to witness and changed my love of Flywheel to a flat out love of the community that has been built there.

  1. Holly Rilinger’s Training Camp:  Holly is awesome. Plain and simple.  In fact, one of her Flywheel classes was the reason I finally started my blog. It was the very first thing I posted about. She just has that sort of effect on you. However, it isn’t the class that I think of anymore when I think of Holly. In September, I was chosen by Health Warrior to participate in one of her Training camps.  It was 4 weeks of getting to workout with one of the best trainers in the city, in a small group setting. It was easily a highlight of my year. It says a lot that this night owl woke up voluntarily at 4:30 a.m. to attend – and never missed a class or was late – and that by the end, I really believed in my inner athlete.

  1. AS 1 – I didn’t know what to expect, really, when I got there but the one thing I didn’t expect was to love this workout. It is one of my absolute favorite classes I tried this year, hands down. As 1 is definitely going to be in the mix in the New Year. It was hard, exhausting AND made me feel like a bad ass. I love the minimal space, the exacting coaching and the functional based training – PLUS whacking those big ropes against the ground rocks. I left tired and invigorated – the sign for me of the greatest kind of class.

  1. Brick Workout v. 2 – This year I did two Brick workouts, sponsored by the Lululemon 66th Street and Flywheel. I loved the idea of indoor cycling and running back-to-back, and it was just as hard as I thought it would be. The first one was on a perfect, beautiful, crisp fall day and was great challenging fun. The second one though, is the one I loved, since it was during the season’s freak snowstorm in October. The indoor cycling portion with Aleah Stander (Flywheel rockstar instructor) was packed, but only 4 of us made it over to the park for the 3 mile run in a snowy Central Park with Abby Bales, the run coach who amazingly motivated me to keep going in the snow AND made it seem like fun. It was a workout that made me feel like both a bad ass and an athlete. It also made me think that maybe in the new year I should try and get some more running coach time in – it made a huge difference that day!

  1. Soul Cycle with Danny Kopel: A friend of mine invited me to my second Soul Cycle class (I had really enjoyed my first with Jenny Gaither, too) and it was ridiculously fun. It felt more like being at a concert and it made it easy to see why Danny has groupies – but it was also a just a good sweaty workout too. Of the handful of Soul Cycle classes I have taken, this one was the most fun and was the one that made me know I’ll be back at some point next year.


Images: 1. Internet goodness 2. Flywheel’s Flatiron location for one of my many visits 3. Our first Training Camp session from Holly’s Facebook page with our Health Warrior goodie boxes 4. The As 1 space from their website 5. Another bit of internet goodness 6.  Union Square Soul Cycle studio from their website

The 2nd Brick workout: the snowy, slightly crazy version…

First off, now that it is over, I seriously can’t believe that I actually did a Brick workout on Saturday – with the snow and cold and just generally crazy weather, it just seems amazing that it really happened. Not only did it happen but it was so much fun and I REALLY didn’t think I would be able to say that!

The morning of the second Brick class I woke up to a rainy, cold, generally crappy day and was bummed. I am not so good about wanting to run outside in rainy weather and add to that the cold, well, I was just convinced that the run portion of the Brick just wouldn’t happen.  Of course, the fact that I was going to get in a Flywheel class anyway meant that really it was going to be a good day – but the weather seriously put a damper on my spirits.

So I trekked up to Flywheel UES for what I was sure was going to just be the biking portion of the “Brick”. When I left Brooklyn it was raining, but by the time I got out of the train station on the UES, it was full-on snowing. At the studio, everyone was buzzing about the snow and about how crazy running after the class would be. Aleah Stander and Abby Bales were both in high sprits – as always – and ramped everyone up to start the workout and be in the moment. Aleah was amazing. I LOVE taking her class since she teaches such a great, positive, challenging class, plus today, her music was crazy good. She played songs I sang along to and even one I had to ask about after class – nothing helps make class better than great music! All through class, though, I debated with myself about the run afterward, so I rode really hard to make up for the fact that I didn’t think I would do it. I was sweaty and tired by the end but I also knew that if the run WAS going to happen, I was going to do it.  It suddenly just seemed possible.

I got asked A LOT if I was going to do it.


“… really?”

‘Yes. It’ll be pretty – a snowy Central Park? If I don’t do it now, I will never, ever do it. So yes, I am going to do the run.’

Over at the store, it turned out that out of the 30 or so people in the class, only 5 of us made it over to the run. Abby explained the route to us and was just her glorious, positive, supportive self and we got ready to head out. The others in the group were runner-runners and immediately I was like “Crap, I am so not this person”.  But the thing is, I am.

Saturday, running in the sludgy mess to the park, I felt like an athlete. I wanted to quit, but didn’t.  Saturday, I took a hard, awesome spin class and ran 3 miles in a snowy Central Park. It was cold and miserable and I have never been prouder of doing anything. Abby and Aleah ROCK, but that day, I thought that I rocked too!

Now THAT is a great workout.

(Image: a little internet goodness because it was too cold & wet to take any photos during the run!)

“Brick” workout: The workout that made me feel like I was hit by a brick…

On Saturday afternoon, I got the chance to try a “Brick” workout. A “Brick” is when you do a cycling/running back to back, two of the legs of a Triathalon – and the name apparently comes from the fact that it makes your legs feel like they are made out of bricks. It is one of those things I have wanted to try for awhile but just never have, since really, after a spin class, the last thing I have the motivation to do on my own is run! So, when I heard that Flywheel and Lululemon were teaming up to do one, I signed up right away.  Seriously, any chance to take a Flywheel class I take and to get to try something new? I’m in!

Even though MTA seemed like they were actively trying to make me miss the class, I made it up there in plenty of time to get all signed in, pick my bike and get my shoes. It seems like the UES Flywheel is a million miles away but every time I go to the studio, I am amazed by how quick it is to get there – plus the UES location is really starting to grow on me. Aleah Stander, who I have heard such great things about and who I have wanted to try for ages, taught the class.  It was such a great group of people who made it to try their hand at a Brick workout! They were so happy to be there and energetic about our unified adventure.  It made for a great time. That sort of packed, energized crowd always makes for an amazing ride. Aleah is awesome, positive, supportive and rallying – just as great as I had heard she was. Not only that but I got to ride next to Danielle, another fabulous Flywheel instructor, which totally upped my game for the ride. Did I mention I loved the group who assembled for this workout? The ride was just that: a straight spin class with no arms section, which made a few people grumble but which I loved. I mean really, we were doing a Brick, and there is no arm break in a Triathlon! As always, the ride inspired me to go all out and by the end my legs were quivering, so the idea that there was a run following that awesome class was hard to imagine.

We all gathered our stuff at the end and headed over a few blocks to the Lululemon store to get sorted into groups for our run.  I am pretty sure we lost some folks in the transition but 20 or so of us made it there. Abby Bales was the leader of the run portion of the Brick and she set about quick work of describing the route (bless her for choosing a route that ended with a downhill) and sorting us into pace groups. My group was the 10’ers and included both Aleah and Danielle. It was a 3.3 mile route but my legs really did feel like bricks so it was a really challenging 3 miles! Having the group support was awesome though and kept me going. Abby kept meeting the groups and cheering us on – which was so great! Having Abby on the trail rooting for us all was amazing. It was the first time I had ever run with a run group leader and really, I can see why people love it!

Word has it that there is going to be another “Brick” Workout again at the end of the month, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

(Photo: Abby Bales via Facebook of the Brick group at the end of our run. Our fearless leaders are in the center and that is me hiding up in the top row!)