The Inspiring Weekend Kickoff – The Kara Liotta / Kate Hickl Double Burn at Flywheel Sports

One of my favorite things that I learned in the recent Flybarre Challenge was how much I loved the Flybarre/ Flywheel double. For me, the key to a good double is when the Flybarre come first. My body just responds better when the conditioning/toning part comes before cardio – there are others who feel the exact opposite but I need my double to start with Flybarre. Before the challenge, the few times I tried a double, it went the other way and I was miserable – however when Flywheel is the second class, some how my legs get a beautiful second wind moments after starting to pedal and I FLY.

Kate Hickl’s Saturday 9:30am Flywheel class has long been one of my favorites but getting up to get to Kara Liotta’s Flybarre class before just always seemed impossible. Between the goofy train schedules from Brooklyn and my love of sleeping in, getting to an 8:15 on a Saturday morning always seemed like just a daunting prospect. However, Saturday’s double was the only one that worked for my schedule, so I sucked it up and set my alarm for 6am. Turns out it this slightly infamous “KK Double Burn” is just ridiculously good.

As Kara was getting ready to start the class, she asked us if we were ready to really work since it was so many people’s first class back, to which one of the regulars said: “What I am hoping for is that you take it easy on us!” The whole room erupted in laughter, since I am pretty sure Kara’s version of “easy” would still be a killer. We all knew what we were in for, an awesome, super challenging and fun class where Kara would systematically kick our asses. She really is so brilliantly good at keeping every single class fresh and challenging, it is really amazing. I always feel lucky to get to be in a class with a master of any method and Kara really is a master at Flybarre. As the class settled in to get started, she introduced Emily Sferra, a Flybarre Seattle instructor who was in town for the holiday and was going to be jumping in to teach us the arms section. In my slightly sleepy state I was irked by the fact that we were going to have someone else teach part of the class.  Dang it! I woke up early for Kara! However, as soon as Emily hopped up to teach, I was immediately won over by her charm, easy command of the room and fun arm section. She even managed to make the dynamic arms section completely make total sense and easy to follow along – which is pretty much a miracle for me.  I was still terrible at it but I felt much closer to on than normal! The biggest sign that Emily is a star Flybarre instructor is that by the end of the section, I was like “Wait, can we steal her from Seattle? Just once in awhile at least?” She was GOOD – Seattle really has a star over there. Kara jumped back in front and proceded to teach one of the most challenging and fun classes to date. We even got to try a new seat movie that was awesome.

The nice thing about the way these two classes fit together is that really, by the time you have collected your stuff and gotten your shoes from your little bin, it is time to set up your bike. Kate’s Saturday class is always something special. It has been since the Flatiron studio opened. It’s funny, I sometimes forget just HOW great Kate is and then I end up in one of her classes and am blown away again by just how good she is. There is a reason I refer to her as Kate the Great. She is always so supportive while really challenging everyone – Kate truly believes in the Flywheel method and pushes people to get better each time.  I almost always do just a little bit better than I thought was possible when I walked in. On Saturday, Kate was on fire and blew the room away with her drive. I walked out totally inspired and grateful to get to take class with one of the greats. 

By the time the classes were over, I was wide-awake, blissfully happy to have gotten to take such amazing classes and totally convinced it was worth losing sleep for! The Kara/ Kate duo on Saturday morning was so amazing, inspiring and kick-ass, I might even have to do it again next week….

 

Top photo from Flywheel’s Facebook page, photos of Kara & Kate from Flywheel Sports website, bottom image just a little internet goodness.

Finding Joy At The Barre & The End of The Flybarre Challenge

Last Sunday, I took my final class of the 6-week Flybarre challenge with the ridiculously charming Kolina Nouhan. One of the best things about the challenge has been the fact that it forced me to try out more Flybarre teachers.  As a group, they are an amazing, vibrant crew and I have loved trying the different instructors.

One of the huge treats though, has been getting to take a class every week with Kolina. She is an absolute treasure of a teacher and before the challenge, I had somehow missed that fact. For some reason, her classes were always the ones I went to when I was just trying to squeeze in my 3rd or 4th of the week and was slightly grumpy about it, when it is the last place I want to be. That said, I’ve never walked out of Kolina’s class without a smile on my face and glad I got to spend an hour with her. She is so positive, sparkly and charismatic that it is fully impossible to remain grumpy. Her classes are so surprisingly hard, and yet her overwhelming sweetness always seems to wipe the ass-kicking from my mind as soon as I walk out. She also is so sweetly, genuinely concerned about any injury that not only does she check up on you before the class starts but continues to check in with you in any position that seems like it might stress your injury. It is so thoughtful, that half the time when she did it, I just wanted to hug her for remembering my random gimpyness.

At the after challenge meeting, Kolina was the leader and asked us what was our favorite thing about the challenge, I didn’t answer because really, my favorite thing about the challenge was finding the amazing Flybarre teachers like her. Without the challenge I would have never spent so much time in her classes and found out what a treasure Kolina is.

People keep asking me if I am going to keep up with going to Flybarre now that the challenge is done, and the simple answer is absolutely. I haven’t been a huge barre class fan for the last few years, the challenge helped me get over that and finally try this awesome method. Flybarre is an athletic, always-changing version of a barre class and was constantly challenging. I had always sort of lumped Flybarre with the more standard barre classes, this challenge allowed me to figure out how different it really is…

In 5 weeks, I lost 8 inches – and have seen some amazing changes in my body. In my waist alone I lost 3 inches. Due to everything being closed last week, I didn’t get a chance to do my final 6-week measurements with my team-leader, the inspiring Kara but the 5 week total to me is just crazy. Tighter arms, waist and a lifted butt is such an amazing result from any exercise and to see that kind of change in such a short period is just flat out awesome. So will I continue, hell yes.  Will I do it 4 times a week? No – but 2 times a week or so, absolutely – I don’t want my hard earned results to go away!

Photos from the challenge final meeting by Eric Stafford. Bottom quote just a little bit of internet goodness.

Finding Magic In Week 1 Of The Flybarre Challenge: The Ridiculously Talented Todd Allen

All of my favorite Flybarre people have been telling me for ages how amazing Todd Allen is but I just could never bring myself to take one of his classes. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe what people were saying but after a bad experience in another Barre studio years ago with their beloved male instructor, I have just avoided taking any male taught barre class. Which I knew was lame and unfair but it meant that Todd languished on my “to-take” list for a ridiculously long time. Last week, I took my very first Todd Allen class and immediately loved him. His hype is deserved and I feel like a fool for not making it to his class sooner. Todd is that amazing treat of an instructor – sweet, encouraging, funny, exceptionally good at verbal corrections and even better at physical ones.

This week was my second class with Todd and being one week into the challenge and my fourth day of class in a row, I was wiped out. After last week’s amazing class with Todd that seemed to fly by, I was just hoping to make it through his class this week. As I made my way into class, Todd stopped me to find out how my measuring had gone the day before.  When I told him that I had lost 1/2 inch on each arm, both legs, and 3/4 off my waist (which is insane to me in only a week but awesome) – he was almost as excited by the news as I was! That sort of enthusiasm is infectious and was just what I needed to refocus on getting the most out of the class in front of me. Plus, there is a part of Todd’s class where you feel you somehow have gotten to be in the practice room at a Broadway show – as he dances his way through the class, it makes me feel like I stumbled into a musical. Todd’s banter through the class is funny, with lots of great visuals for some of the crazier moves you do in a Flybarre class.  Not even Todd can make me actually rhythmic enough to not be embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms, but he makes it so fun that I don’t care that I suck! Which every time seems like a huge gift. Tuesday’s class FLEW by – one of my favorite things about Flybarre is that there is so much latitude given to the instructors to mix and match in each section of the class, which means you never really know what is coming next. I love being kept on my toes (well not literally, I am not so good when we are supposed to do that) and having each class feel so unique. On Tuesday there were at least 6 moves I had never done in another Flybarre class but were fun & HARD! Todd has a masterful talent at sneaking hard in, while masking it with a great grin and funny imagery – it’s sneaky and I love him for it.

Todd is an ultimate showman who reminds me of Gene Kelly, because he can make a mundane movement – something you have done a million times – suddenly seem like part of a dance. It makes me so happy to watch, I forget how badly he is kicking my ass and spend the entire class just being glad to get to be around someone so magical …

Image of Todd Allen from the Flywheel website  and the bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.

Fall Flybarre Challenge: The Kickoff to Exactly What I Needed

Last week, I got the news that running, jumping and anything “impactful” had to be tabled for “at LEAST a few weeks” – which means that some of the things I HAD planned for the Fall just weren’t an option anymore. Then, almost the very next day, I got an email about the Flybarre Fall Challenge starting and immediately emailed saying I wanted in! It’s the PERFECT thing for following the Doctor’s orders while still getting to really challenge myself – because without a challenge, the foot prognosis was going to make me nuts!  It doesn’t hurt that I think Flybarre does some crazy good things to women’s bodies and I really wanted to know what actually dedicating myself to it would do. It was the challenge I didn’t even know I was waiting for!  So for the next 6 weeks, I will be taking 4 Flybarre classes a week. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about that, since it seems like every time I take one, I am sore for days.  I’m hoping that the sore part doesn’t last all six weeks!

On Sunday afternoon, we had our kickoff meeting at the Flatiron Studio. We learned the ins and outs of what the Flybarre Challenge entails. The cool thing is that for the challenge, you are given a “Team Leader” – one of the awesome Flybarre instructors who will be the point person for 6 weeks. As we got into our groups, I was giddy that I got Kara Liotta – who I adore, and who always pushes me to work a little bit harder, which really is exactly what I need.  I can already picture her giving me “that” look if I don’t give it my all and knowing myself, that alone will make me focus harder on getting the best results!  As we split into groups to meet and talk a little bit, Kara pulled each person off to the side to measure us. The thing I didn’t realize, was that we are going to be measured EVERY week.  Oh, buddy.  For some reason, this snapped me to attention, since I sort of assumed that it would be a before and after thing, just like the pictures. The reality is that in one week, I will be accountable for some sort of change and it made me realize there will be no easing into this Challenge. It’s go time. NOW.

Monday morning bright and early, I was on a mat in Kara’s class. It was the “Power 45” version and unlike the 1 hour version, this one zipps through the moves. I really like the speed of it but am always surprised by how much harder it seems – somehow, that stretching bit in the middle really makes a difference! I was still embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms but luckily, the class was the “wild card” arms (the week where instructors choose a random arm routine, instead of the one that everyone has been practicing).  So, no one was really perfect at it and it was slightly less noticeable exactly how off I was! Maybe 6 weeks of doing the dynamic arm thing will make me less spastic looking? A girl can only hope….

After class, I hustled into Holly Rillinger’s always awesome Flywheel class. The class was packed with some of my favorite folks rocking the front row with me, including my awesome team leader, Kara. That kind of morning, filled with such amazing, inspiring people is hard to top… and for the next six weeks, I know where I will be every Monday morning!

Top picture from Flybarre’s Facebook page, middle picture by Eric C Stafford and bottom picture from FlywheelSports.com

Punching & Pulsing: Flybarre for Men with Kara Liotta & Khori Petinaud

Last Saturday afternoon (after an amazing morning yoga class at I.AM.YOU studio) I made my way up to Flywheel Flatiron to try a class called “Flybarre for Men”. Given my non-male status, it was one of those classes I went to only because I was specifically asked to attend, by none other than the amazing Flybarre instructor Kara Liotta – who I basically can’t say no to. She called out my friend SINworkouts and I on twitter and it quickly became a big group of some of the toughest & most inspiring women around- Lacey Stone, SIN, Kindra from Peak Performance and Kate Hickle. Seriously, that is one fierce, fun group and if I could workout with them all the time, I would. When we all got there, from our various other workouts, SIN made quick work to rearrange us so that I got to be over by the group since apparently, I totally booked the wrong mat.  Kara just looked at me and said “So you want to be with the loud ones, huh?” The answer to that question is always a rousing “hell, yes!”

Kara Liotta and Khori Petinaud, who co-created the men’s Flybarre variation taught Saturday’s class. A powerhouse of a team, they are strong, skilled, and have an easy ability to take command of the room. Kara, who I have written about before (here) was amazing of course – but it was my first time taking a class with Khori. I immediately liked her – she has an infectious grin and didn’t allow anything to throw her off her game, plus, she was so obviously amused by my group’s loud enthusiasm that went along with our complete lack of skill, that it totally endeared her to me. Not the easiest thing to do when greeted by a room full of people who, for the most part, where complete newbies to the method, and who cheered at the end of each section. Kara and Khori are serious about what they do but both handled the rowdy group with a joyful ease that only the great instructors ever seem to be able to do – allowing fun to be had while still staying completely on task and never letting up about form. They were a brilliant pair!

I have taken a handful of Flybarre classes and am always left feeling like the most uncoordinated person on the planet. Seriously, while pulsing at Flybarre is always fun, I can’t follow a dance count to save my life. The men’s version of the class, however, was hands down my favorite version so far and not just because of the loud hooting and hollering of my cohorts.  This version includes lots of pushup variations, jumping jacks, a couple of killer ab sections but also less work actually AT the barre. My favorite change though was that the dynamic arms section was boxing move based – now THOSE are counts I can follow! I loved the change up of that and can totally see why they did it to appeal to guys but it also did wonders for my enjoyment of the section. Kara was totally right to call me out on coming in to try this version. it really was totally up my ally. So, although our class had 5 guys, which is definitely more than have ever been in any of the other Flybarre classes I have taken, I just wish it was called something else!

Top image from Flybarre’s Facebook page of Kara, Khori and Kate practicing the Flybarre for Men’s routine, middle image of Khori from Flywheel’s website, bottom image just an awesome bit of internet goodness.

Flybarre with Shay and the moment of believing…

On Tuesday morning, not so bright or very early, I showed up at Flywheel Flatiron for another session of Flybarre, this time with showstopper Shay Kostabi. I have wanted to try one of Shay’s classes for a while now, after stumbling across her blog “Shay’k It Up” a few months ago, and hearing raves about her awesomeness from Jesse Alexander.  She just seemed like someone I would like. However, until recently, I had been actively avoiding Flybarre (and every other Barre class out there.)  But after my great class with Kara last month, and my goal to get more barre class into my schedule this year, it suddenly seemed like the perfect time to get in a class finally with Shay. I settled onto my mat a little early and waited for class to start. I was surprised by how full it was for a 9:30am class on a Tuesday, with only a few mats open. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, since the newest round of the Flybarre challenge had just started. The class was filled with Challenge people committed to getting their 4 classes in a week, and so I had a moment of “Oh, damn! I really am going to be the clueless ass again!”

Shay is stunningly charismatic in person and the whole class seemed to hang on her every word. There is an “I will be whisked away any minute to make a fitness video” quality to her that is palpable – she just has that “I should to be on camera” quality. Shay is a dynamite, engaging, group instructor – every explanation was clear, right on the money and I never felt lost. However, when we got to the arms section, I was fully expecting to be totally, embarrassingly lost again.

The Dynamic Arms sections are routines that you learn and do for 3-weeks at a time, however, it turns out this week was “wild-card arms” – meaning that every teacher would be teaching a different dynamic arms section.  As Shay was telling us that, all I could think  was “sure, still going to feel like a spaz” and while I am really ok with spaz-dom,  that first class of Flybarre dynamic arms made me feel really uncoordinated. So, as she started, I just steeled myself for embarrassment and mistimed moves. Then, an amazing thing happened. As I listened to Shay’s instruction and watched, I was almost right on-time for most of the moves!  Shay made me believe, for at least a brief moment, that if I had time to learn the moves, I might actually be able to do the dynamic arm sequence and look like I had MOVES.

Thank you, Shay, for giving me a moment of believing.

(P.S- Next week, a new arms section is happening, just in case a little slow breakdown is right up your alley too! Maybe with a full three weeks of training, I can have moves too! A girl can dream, right??)

 

(Quote a little internet goodness, image of Shay from her blog )

Finally trying the pulse: Flybarre with Kara Liotta

I have been checking out the Flybarre class through the windows every time I have taken a class at the Flatiron Flywheel for what seems like ages – so very, very curious but I never could get myself to actually sign up for a class. There is no good reason for not doing so, I have been hearing so many good things about it for so long that I knew that EVENTUALLY I would take one. Then, one day not too long ago, I was introduced to Kara Liotta – and knew that I was going to take my first Flybarre class with her.  In almost every new class I try, I try to take one from the trainers’ trainer. I feel like it’s the best way to know what the class is really supposed to be like. For Flybarre, that trainer is Kara.

On Saturday, walking into the room for the first time, I expected her to be a good teacher, but I wasn’t prepared for how warm and sweet she was. I went from being slightly nervous to being really excited about finally trying Flybarre. I have to say, I really loved the class I took, even though in general, I was TERRIBLE at it. Well, not at the whole thing, but there were definitely moments that I was embarrassingly bad. For me, the best thing about Flybarre was how athletic it felt, and how much sense it made as a companion to Flywheel’s core program. I really enjoy barre classes but I wasn’t really sure how a barre class and spinning programs really fit under the same roof. Flybarre though, seems less ballet-based and more tailored to just making you lean and strong. We spent very little time at the actual barre, which I really liked. We did lots of sections away from the barre or using the barre to anchor our feet during an especially challenging ab section. I was stunned at how hard the class was and LOVED it for being so challenging. Kara was great at explaining all of the “pulsing” moves and made some perfect corrections that completely upped the ante on the movements. I loved the multiple Abs sections too –since they were so varied and hit EVERYTHING. The arms section, though, was just embarrassing. I am really just not a coordinated human being, so the arms section, while fun, I was exceptionally bad at. The arms section is basically a choreographed dance routine, it looks awesome when you are doing it right, but I would say maybe once out of every 5 moves was I doing the right thing at the right time. Right now, the dynamic arms section made me feel more like Napoleon Dynamite than “So You Think You Can Dance.”

The class FLEW by and by the end I was sweaty, sore, and happy. Kara was inspiring, charismatic and just so very good. I had so much more fun than I thought I would in Flybarre, although for the last few days, I have been seriously SORE!  In fact, the Fella’s favorite joke has been “the ballerina broke your ass!” Yet, even with the sore and being embarrassingly bad at the arms moves…I can’t wait to go back.

( Image above: This picture of Kara, is hanging in the Flatiron location, back by the lockers I always use, and every time I see it, it has motivated me to work harder – and that was before I even knew her. I mean seriously, look at that picture! Damn. Now that I know her? I really have to get back to work now… )