The Perfect Combo: Noah Neiman & The Workout On The Pier

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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photos for FBS by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media

Finding gratitude at Virayoga with the help of Elena Brower

I recently came to the conclusion that I need to add more yoga into my schedule, at least once a week. Tuesday was the first day of that resolve, when I made my way to Virayoga and the amazing Elena Bower. I had been hearing about Elena for what seemed like forever, however, the closest I ever came to taking a class from her was that big yoga event in Central Park a few years ago that got cancelled due to a thunderstorm. At the time, I just thought I wasn’t supposed to do yoga in the park that day but it turned out that it also marked the last time yoga was a regular part of my life. That needed to change.

I decided that a good first step to my returning to yoga was to finally take a class with Elena, since Virayoga is on the FITiST list and I had a credit I needed to use before it expired. It is so easy to get distracted with all of the choices on FITiST but because my back was acting up, I was dead set on getting a yoga class in to loosen things up. So on Tuesday, after my great morning spin class with Holly at Flywheel, I snagged a yummy and free latte at Joe’s (oh how I love a full coffee card) and slowly meandered down to the 12pm class at Virayoga.  The studio was a beautiful, high ceiling, loft-like space that was huge, but was full by the time I got there. Since the class was in the middle of the day, 90 minutes long and on a Tuesday, I assumed that it would be sparsely attended – I was so wrong. It was PACKED. I got there about 15 minutes before class started and there were already 30 people all set up in the room. I set up my mat in the midst of obvious regulars, figuring that I would at least be able to follow along if I got totally confused about what pose we were supposed to be doing – which almost always happens to me in a yoga class. By the time class was set to start, there were 41 people in the room, which suddenly didn’t feel expansive anymore. Right after everyone settled in, Elena came in and made her way to the head of the class. I was floored at how beautiful she was and how it seemed like everyone held their breath as she walked in. For the first 20 minutes or so, I just didn’t get the hold she had over the room, but it was amazing to watch. The poses were challenging and held for what seemed ages to my tight muscles.  As she sat in the front of the room talking us through them, I was fully resistant to being in the moment. I internally grumbled and thought “this is going to be a LONG 90 minutes”. There were two assistants in the class but they never came to me, seeming to stay with the more experienced practitioners in the class.  For the first part of class, I assumed that Elena would stay at the head of the room, talking us through the poses while the assistants corrected the room physically. Then it happened – I Iooked up and Elena was in the middle of the room with her hand on someone’s back and the graceful demonstration of that touch made me realize why everyone had held their breath when she came in – they were waiting for that moment. She was amazingly good a talking people through poses and articulating small adjustments she wanted us to make, however, Elena is breathtakingly good hands-on. The first time she adjusted me in a Warrior pose, I fully understood the breathless anticipation everyone had. She moved me deeper into the pose, firmly, while explaining what I needed to be thinking about physically in the movement.  Then, she moved my hair, which had gotten caught in a funny way as I had moved in to the pose. That completely won me over. It was a thoughtless gesture, I am sure, but it was so sweet and comforting, that I practically swooned.  The rest of the class flew by.  I was completely open and entirely in the moment when we finally laid down for the Shavasana at the end of class. It was one of those moments where my mind didn’t wander at all as I laid there.  A woman named Spring started singing a chanting based song while playing her guitar softly. It was a beautiful, magical end to a class that made my heart feel three times bigger and my soul a little lighter.

As I walked out into the beautiful, sunny day, I felt grateful for the chance to have taken that glorious class and for life in general …you really can’t ask for more than that.

 

(Top photo of Elena Brower from the Virayoga website and bottom image a little internet goodness.)

The perfect ride that was also a celebration…

On Sunday night, when I came home from Jesse Alexander’s pre-game ride, I was almost shell-shocked from the awesome. The fella looked at me and was like…  “It was that good?” and I told him “I am pretty sure it was the best spinning class I have ever been a part of.”

Last week, I got a message from Jesse that he wanted me to come to his Sunday night 6:30pm class if at all possible. Since I have my FITiST 4 pack, I had a class to play with and so my immediate response was “I’ll be there!”-  I don’t think I have been to a Flywheel weekend class in about a year and suddenly, I would be going to two classes in one weekend. That was a weekend plan I could love! I didn’t really take into account how jello-y the Brick class would make my legs, so when Sunday came around, I wasn’t nearly as excited as I should be. BUT, I love Jesse’s class (as evidenced here) and had heard that his Sunday 6:30 class was insanely good.  In fact, I heard one of the girls talking about it during the Brick even! So, even though there was a part of me that just wanted to curl up on the couch after the fella and I had a long walk around Brooklyn, I rallied to go AND managed to get my excitement back too. Because seriously, every Flywheel class is a treat and I wouldn’t bother to waste a treat by having a lack of motivation!

The studio was already buzzing when I got there.  I snapped up my shoes and went to drop off my stuff in a locker.  It occurred to me that maybe I should check in at the front desk and see if there was any chance that I could switch bikes. Originally when I signed up, there were only bikes in the back row available, and while I will sit anywhere, really, I LIKE being closer. I am a “need to be in eyesight of the teacher” kind of girl because then I feel like I have to go all out all of the time. What can I say? The back row means I can cheat and slack off and since my legs were sore from the day before, I was worried that I would take that to the extreme. It turned out that there was one bike in the front row available, which I snapped up.  No half-assing it possible in the front row!

From the moment the class started, you could just feel that it was going to be something special. Jesse was in the moment and full of energy and motivation that just sucked everyone in. The music was mostly rap and rock and just fed the crowd. Every question was answered by the class with a roar that threatened to take the roof off the place. It was one of those rare classes where the energy of the teacher is fully matched by the crowd and it gets more intense and inspiring for all as it goes along. Turned out it was Jesse’s one-year anniversary of teaching at Flywheel.  No wonder it felt so much like a party – it WAS and I am so glad that I got to attend.  Jesse really is a rocking, inspiring, amazing instructor and I can’t wait to see where the next year takes him.

(Image: Random internet goodness that seemed perfect for Jesse)

Starting the month off on the right note….

I have been thinking about it a lot lately but last week, I finally froze my regular gym membership. I have been spending so much time doing other fun fitness things that I haven’t been going to the gym very much – and really I would rather use that money to try out new things. The kicker though, was that FITiST was offering a 4-pack deal that really was almost the same price as my monthly membership. Most of their plans have very specific class breakdowns (2 Spin, 2 Core, 2 Yoga etc.) and are a little out of my range at the moment, but this one is a free-for-all usage. I LOVE that.

Since today was the first Monday of a new month, I wanted to get the week off to a good start and also set the tone for the whole damn month – so I went to my favorite spot in the city, Flywheel’s Flatiron studio. I know I have said it before but if I could, I would be there every day. I have never taken a bad class there and as a whole, the instructors are overwhelmingly positive and energetic. I may have favorites but I would take a class with any of them and be totally confident that I would have an amazing ride. PLUS, I love that they give you shoes for free, that there are bottles of water to take (which is good, my bottle just doesn’t sit well in the little water holder on the bike) and the studio is just SO nice! I signed up for my class last night and was a little worried that I wouldn’t have made it into the system, but they had already converted my FITiST reservation into the Flywheel system, which meant my shoes were already in the little cubby by the front door waiting for me. It is the little things.

This morning was a Holly class. Not a big shocker, I know. I adore her classes and figure that two days of a little Holly motivation is a damn fine way to start the month off right. I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of Training camp!  The class today was great, challenging and a total sweat-fest – exactly what I was looking for!

My grand plan with my 4-pack is to take one class a week, either at Flywheel or at Barry’s Boot Camp. It is funny looking at FITiST’s list of participating studios; it makes my head spin!

So

Many

AMAZING

Options!

I love that I have a few to play with this month!

I have a good feeling about October…

The Holly Experience

For the last year or so it seemed liked everyone I knew was mentioning Holly Rilinger. It always seemed to be in that “I am letting you in on a little secret” sort of way. Geeze, even my fella was like “oh you know about Holly?” since apparently in the NY Jujitsu circles she is whispered about. Not too long ago there was even talk about her going to Biggest Loser (given the news about Jillian Michael’s recent investment in Flywheel, it seems like that might be the basis of this bit of gossip) that was sort of the straw that broke the camels back so to speak – I knew that I had to check out what the hell was going on in that class.  I never seem to have the money to go to Flywheel but when I DO get to go I always go to Kate’s class (she is also awesome, btw) so when the amazing site FITiST offered me a free class of my choosing I just had to see what all the fuss was about Holly. It seemed like a sign.

I love Flywheel. It really is my absolute favorite workout place, if I suddenly won the lottery, it would be where I would go everyday. But sadly the lottery hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t get to go very often.  So Monday’s 9:30am class with Holly was a treat, a free, joyful treat.

When I go to Flywheel classes, I like to be in the second row but right in front of the instructor. Weird but I like being accountable – I like being in eye site of the person kicking my ass. The slight bummer of this experience is that there was a hiccup with the booking of the class and I ended up on a bike in the corner under the monitors. Ugh. It was so irksome but it happens and I settled into my sideline bike and prepared to have Holly’s class not live up to the hype. As I set up my bike I realized Jimmy Fallon was on the bike behind me, so I guess the sideline corner bike has some perks for noisiness!

The class itself was really all it was cracked up to be. It was hands down the most inspiring, hard indoor cycling class I have ever been too. Holly is passionate, joyful, challenging, and ridiculously ripped. I wanted to keep up. I wanted to do her proud. I wanted to have arms like her. Damn people. When they talk about “celebrity trainers” they need to be talking about Holly. She should be snapped up by someone for the big leagues, but until she is, even my super broke self walked out of the class and tried to figure out how to budget in a class with Holly at least once a month.

Holly has a great site which I have been pouring over of course. Now if I can only figure out how to try her boot camp class…..

photo: Copyright © 2011 Holly Rilinger