The Stoked Trilogy: Kira Stokes’ Primal, Abs & 360 at Reebok Sports Club/NY

It’s been almost a year since I first caught a glimpse of Kira Stokes‘ “Stoked Primal” class and somehow in all of the recent talk about Primal, I had forgotten how HARD I thought it looked. So on Monday night, when I arranged to finally go check it out, when Kira said “Come, but really, you want to do all three right?” – my immediate response was “Of course!”

KIra Stokes Primal PantherThe Stoked Monday Trilogy at the awesome Reebok Sports Club on the UWS starts at 5:30pm with the 30 minute Primal. Described as “an intense 30-minute conditioning class utilizing your own body weight.  Glide, crawl, jump, push and pull your way to a more powerful, agile and toned body.” Based on animal movements, you spend the majority of the class on all fours going back and forth across the room. There were lots of moving variation planks with pushups and low crouching squat jumps onto all fours. As Kira demonstrated each of the successive moves she always looked amazing, strong and graceful. I did not. However, I had a lot of fun trying! It is a class where you really just have to get over how you look while trying out the fun and challenging Primal moves, because for the most part, I never looked once like Kira’s inspiring demonstration! I was ok at Gorilla, Bullfrog, Bear and Monkey, basically any of the least plank-like moves, but anything that resembled a low plank/pushup combo I was terrible at. Apparently, I also lack any sort of cat-like grace since my Panther was a lumbering, gimpy beast! I always think that 30 minute classes aren’t challenging enough to be a class on their own but Primal thoroughly kicked my ass. I do think that some of the moves could benefit from making the class 45 minutes – just so that there was more time to break down the moves into pieces. A little time with some of the set-ups would be helpful, although I doubt even that would have helped my sad panther! The “Primal” moves though, in that quick 30 minutes session, hit every single inch – 15 minutes into the class my legs, core and arms were quivering, I was dripping in sweat and having a ridiculously good time!  Of course by the end, I wondered how I was going to make it through the next two classes….

Next up was Stoked Abs, another short class, this one only 15 minutes. Kira is ripped and this class is filled with her signature Ab moves. For a brief moment I was really excited that we got to lay down for a little while, but I swear, Kira gets even harder when she knows she only has you for a few minutes and we immediately launched into a tough ab routine that killed me. Filled with so many crunch variations, constant unique moves to hit each section of your abs and ending with pike-ups with your feet on gliders.  It was an intense quick workout!

believe you can and you are halfway there

The third and final class of the Monday night Stoked series is Stoked 360. It is a 75 minute, “All-encompassing total body workout. This class combines elements of traditional and functional conditioning, with high intensity cardiovascular intervals and body weight exercises.”  I’ve written about this great class before, here, but once again I thought it was awesome. Kira does every set in this challenging class 3 times – “Once to learn it. Once to know it. Once to exhaustion.” A stickler on form, Kira’s constant attention to what everyone is doing and making sure all class members are doing each move correctly is always awesome to see. Each set has 3 moves, strength, plyo and a stretching/balance version and in each set all the moves are planned so that they flow easily from one into the next. While she demonstrates what the next set will be, everyone jumps rope to keep up their heart rate, which is always my least favorite part since it is hard for me to really focus on what she is showing us without just continually whacking myself in the legs. It is, of course, a meticulously planned class, as all of Kira’s classes always are, and every single muscle is targeted from head to toe.

Each class was fun, challenging and intense and I was ridiculously proud that I made it through all three but I’m really going to have to practice some of those Stoked Primal moves before I go back! My Gimpy Panther just isn’t cool….


Top photo Kira Stokes demonstrating how the Panther is supposed to look from her Facebook page. Quote just a little bit of internet goodness.

The Stoked Method: Kira Stokes & her massive following…

On Monday evening, I trekked over to the Upper West Side to check out Kira Stokes and her “Stoked” series at the Reebok Sports Club. I was planning on going to all 3 of them that were scheduled that night, but my slowpoking it out of Brooklyn didn’t let that happen – which was probably a good thing. I arrived on the UWS just a few minutes before the first class was going to start and headed over to find the gym.  It turns out that the Reebok Sports Club is a HUGE, gorgeous gym.
I took the elevator up to the reception desk and when the doors opened, I was surprised to see the super fancy, but very sweet concierge who greeted me.  After a brief once over of the interloper who obviously didn’t belong (sigh, I never remember to dress up to GO to the gym,) the Jeremy Renner look-alike found my name on the guest list and proceeded to turn on the charm. It was such a fitting introduction to the fancy gym – and holy moly, was it FANCY.  The nice thing was that, because I was a little late and missed the first class I was aiming for, I was able to take my time in the locker room and get up to the studio. The locker room was open, immaculate and pretty, which is rare – and the women in there were chatty and friendly. It felt a little like I had entered the other side of the looking glass.

After passing through all of the beautiful floors of shiny equipment, checking out their climbing wall (belay only, phew – something I didn’t like!) I finally made it up to the studios where I got my first glimpse of Kira Stokes. Now, mind you, I had seen pictures of Kira, looking all fitness-competition-fit but I had sort of assumed that isn’t what she walked around looking like. You know the type you see in Oxygen magazine and tell yourself  “they don’t really look like that.” Kira really looks like that in real life. As I sat there watching the class I had planned to be in “Primal Stoked”, I was floored at how hard it looked – and what a sight it was to behold. Kira was doing all of these crazy moving-across-the-floor plank variations. The people in that class were all in great shape and it was fun to watch everyone push themselves. The next class on the menu was “Stoked Abs”, a 15 minute ab intensive. It was fun, hard and full of weird variations that completely fried my abs in that one little quick session. When I had gone in with all of the teaming masses (this is a wildly popular class and the studio was packed to the gills,) I didn’t really think about where I was, I just made sure that I had a clear eyeline to Kira and staked out my space for the longer class. I really should have paid a little more attention, since it turned out that durning the long class, I was directly behind her – and in HER eyesight for the class I had really come for “Stoked 360” (see a theme here?). Which meant there wasn’t even a moment of slacking that was going to be allowed for the next 75 minutes. Kira has been a trainer for 18 years and is a stickler for form. Really, she isn’t going to let you get away with anything, and had I really thought it through, I would NOT have positioned myself right behind her! As Kira handed out jump ropes to a few of us, and yes, I did try to hide from that, she explained to us that we were to keep moving throughout the whole class.

Each segment was made of 3 moves that were done 3 times – once to learn it, once to know it, and once to failure. All were done to push our endurance. They were all compound moves that were challenging but really fun – lots of plyometric moves and changing directions. She corrected me a lot which I loved, but I wasn’t the only one by any stretch – when she said she was a stickler for form, I should have believed her! In a class that large, to really be so passionate about form in everyone, was awesome to see.  She kept the rowdy guys in the corner in check and still kept a keen eye on the inspiringly fit pregnant woman in the front. It is no wonder that Kira has such a following – she loves what she does, creates a hard, fun, challenging class AND keeps an eye on you? You really can’t ask for much more.

Now if I can figure a way to sneak back into Reebok Sport Center, I am totally trying that “Primal Stoked” class…plus, maybe that “Stoked Abs” again…but I now know that a third one on the same day would be the death of me!

(Image of Kira Stokes from her website. Bottom image from ESPNW’s Facebook page)