Last Saturday morning, I finally went to my very first class at the Global Strongman Gym. I didn’t really know what to expect but knew that as soon as it opened in Brooklyn, I would be there to check it out. The new space is HUGE and apparently at least 3 times the size of the old Chelsea location. In the new space, they offer both individual training and a group class to dip your toe into learning the Strongman way. Hans Pirman, who started out as a body builder and personal trainer before finding his passion for Strongman and opening his dedicated gym in 2011, is like meeting a very friendly Viking in person and I knew I was going to like him immediately.
The space is filled with all of the Strongman toys you could want and I wanted to play with ALL of them. For that very first class, about 10 of us showed up…and at least 5 of us had never done it before. The class as Hans describes it is a push movement and pull movement, which makes it sounds like it’s going to be a pretty standard workout but really, it’s anything but! After a short warm up, the first up was a “log” press – the ones we used are a metal version, but in the gym there is an actual log with handles carved by Hans. The ladies were divided off into our own group and at first the log was really light for me, but on round 2, Hans added more weight and when he jumped me up again for round 3, I really started to feel it. I was so glad I didn’t ask to jump up to the next log size! Also, I pretty much learned in that class that when Hans gives you a weight to lift, you just do it. “Just pick it up” was not a statement to question from the Viking!
Next up was the pulling portion – working on the classic Strongman move of being able to lift a car. The heavy version in our class was lifting a 450lb tire that was set on a rig with handles, which most of the guys did. Then there was a bar option that the women went on. At first, I felt sort of grumpy that I wasn’t in the tire group but that bar version was heavy…and while the first round was easy(ish), once Hans added plates for that second and third round, it was super challenging. I’m going to work my way up to that damn tire group though! After a few rounds of the Farmer’s Carry, which for my group was 75lbs in each hand (a PR for me), I figured we were done. We weren’t done but it WAS the water break section!
One of the guys in class has been working out with Hans for over year and told me it was the only gym he’d ever been a member of. “The first workout I ever did was supposed to be an hour, I lasted 30 minutes before I seized up. As Hans was stretching me he said ‘you are very out of shape. Did you know that?’ I was like YES. That’s why I’m here and he told me he could fix that…and he has.” I mean, if you have to pick only one gym ever, Strongman is a very cool one and I also completely see why you’d place your trust in Hans.
Getting ready for the Atlas Stones, I heard something I’ve never heard in a workout: “Put out your arms, I need to duct tape them.” Again, I didn’t really question Hans, just stuck out my arms and he explained while he did it that it was to protect your forearms when you lifted the cement spheres. I was a little concerned that it’d hurt coming off, but my friend who’d joined me in the class and is a seasoned strongman pro, assured me I’d sweat so much it’d come right off. I was dubious but she was totally right. My stone was the lightest option, 90lbs. Basically, the goal is to just pull up the stone from the ground into your lap and then roll up your body and hoist onto a chest high platform. Then, pull it off the platform and let this big cement ball drop at your feet to start again – which was easily the only thing that truly scared me during the whole class. I was terrified I wouldn’t move my feet out of the way fast enough. It was fine and once I did it a couple of times, it seemed like the most sensible way to get the thing back to the start. We did 3 rounds of 5 and even though I stayed at the same weight, that damn ball just seemed to get heavier every round.
We capped off the class with a round of ab work and then the most awesome surprise ever…Hans pulled out a stretching table and called us over one by one to get stretched. It was amazing and the best end to a strength class ever…like Savasana for Strongman. A few days later, I made my way back to the gym to see if I could take some pictures for this post and Hans asked if I was sore after class. I laughed: “I haven’t been THAT sore after a workout in ages ..and I can’t wait to come back.” Seriously. I walked out of class feeling relaxed, strong and almost giddy at getting to really challenge myself. Plus, I really have to go back because being able to lift a car might come in handy if there ever is a zombie apocalypse…
Photos by Eric Stafford
One of my favorite workouts is always the monthly OUTWOD. Held in a different crossfit box every month, it is the brain child of Will Lanier. An all-inclusive gathering of LGBT & ally crossfitters from different boxes all over the city who get together to have fun and raise money for charity.
The WOD itself is always challenging since it’s a seriously strong group. The first time I went, I was totally intimidated, knowing I’d have to drastically scale the workout and worried that it would be a thing. No one cared, of course, and a ton of scaling options were offered. Though I was one of the few to actually scale it, I found the OUTWOD crew to be wildly supportive to anyone who comes to play.
I’ve been to three so far and can’t wait to go again. The next one will be at Bowery Crossfit on October 17th. Want to join in the fun? Sign up at outwod.com and come play!
This summer I went to a LOT of outdoor yoga and did no actual yoga. I loved being outside, the vibe of large groups of people gathering to practice but never actually laid out my mat since I was in charge of an event series. When I first heard about SoundOff’s HeliPad Yoga event with yogi superstar Elena Brower and Miami’s Jennifer Pansa, I couldn’t really wrap my head around what it really was. I was pretty sure though, that the views from downtown’s helipad at sunset would be worth the uncertainty, and my final chance before summer ended to practice outside. I quickly accepted the invite and then a day later, I took the train to a station I’d passed through but never gotten off at and let the adventure begin.
After waiting for a little while as they finished setting up, we were let in. A quick check-in, and drinks from Butcher’s Daughter and WTRMLN water, we were handed our headphones as we made our way out to the helipad. Sliding on the headphones, I went to find what would be my spot for the next hour and half. It was amazing to be completely surrounded by the normal NYC city noise and suddenly only be able to hear the pumping music and the occasional directions from Elena. It got me really excited for what was to come…
The thing that didn’t excite me at all, was ALL of the bird poop. It was everywhere… and I do mean EVERYWHERE. The germaphobe in me momentarily panicked and almost ran away. Then I had a stern talk with myself, picked the least terrifying spot and laid down my mat. I just spent the class being very, very aware of the parameters of my mat. Others seemed not to care in the slightest which was probably a much healthier response… but that dude who walked barefoot between mats really did freak me out. I tried to just let it go and focus on the absolutely amazing view around me since being on the Helipad meant that you were actually out in the water and both Brooklyn and Manhattan are a sight to behold from that vantage point.
Elena and Jennifer led a joyful flowing class to the sounds of DJ Tasha Blank who really just seemed to understand how to both sooth and motivate you through music. It was easily one of the best soundtracks to any yoga class I’ve ever been too. Since we were on the Helipad, the flow focused on taking flight and being uplifted in every movement. I really went for the view… but found that as the sun set, the practice got more magical. As the night fell and the only lights were from the glowing headphones, I got lost in the beauty of the night and the practice. I stopped worrying about anything else and just let myself go with the flow of the evening.
As we lay back for Savasana, I looked up and fiinally, away from all of the building lights of the city, I could see the stars above me. I breathed in and was just fully grateful for this adventure.
By the time I was old enough to be at the pool by myself, I was swimming a mile a day. I LOVED being in the pool and it was always my happy place on many a military base when I was growing up. Then, everything changed. I went from looking like a little kid to having large breasted D’s in less than three months, and the young guys on the base suddenly started to treat me very differently. In my swimsuit, I suddenly felt exposed and uncomfortable, so I just stopped swimming, put on a bunch of weight, and hoped people would just stop paying attention to my body. It took me years to shake that weight hiding mentality… but the swimming avoidance has stuck around. When I was training for the NYC Triathlon a few years ago, I had to get over being in the pool but it just didn’t stick. The moment the race ended, I was back to coming up with a million reasons why I couldn’t swim. You know what that is? A whole LOT of bullshit.
I was recently asked to be a Dare to Bare Ambassador for the Movemeant Foundation, a foundation that focuses on fostering body positivity (especially for young women) through physical activity. I am a firm believer in that for everyone but recently when I signed up for a summer membership at the YMCA which has an amazing pool, I realized I didn’t really have it for myself when it comes to swimming. I’m usually so good about not caring about being bad at something (It’s fun to learn! Getting out of your comfort zone rocks!) but not in this one thing that I used to love.
So, last week, I packed my gym bag and ONLY packed my very plain lap swimsuit, goggles and cap. There would be no back up plan “in case the pool is too busy.” I felt a little panicky about it. What if I had to circle swim? People would be so mad. I’d be too slow and they’d be pissed to have to share the lane with the fat, slow girl. Which is just silly. NO one cares, and that is just some seriously mean made-up story in my head that’s hung out there for far too long. I got there and every lane was full but I still suited up and sucked it up, it was time to stop being mean to myself in the pool. And it was fine. I shared a lane, then some came to join and we circle swam…. and no one cared. I wasn’t fast but I swam and swam and swam. And as I finished my last lap of the ½ mile swim, I let out a long breath underwater and felt like I’d reclaimed my happy space.
Each time it gets a little easier. I may be slow and out of practice but that mile of zen will happen again this summer. But I really do have to get a cuter lap suit, I mean there is no reason to be completely stoic about not caring how I look while I swim…
Founded in 2012, OUTWOD began as a social group of 8 LGBT NYC crossfitters looking to build a supportive community, but has since grown into a group of 600 who now use their monthly bi-coastal workouts to raise money for charity. Will Lanier, the Founder of OUTWOD, whom I know (and adore) from Brick NYC, always posts an open invitation to anyone who wants to attend if you identify as LGBT or if you consider yourself an ally in support of the community. As a longtime ally, I have always wanted to attend but haven’t been able to because of work. Thankfully, I was finally able to make it on this weekend that was being held at Crossfit South Brooklyn. This month’s charity was Family Equality Council, which helps LGBT families deal with some of the absolutely crazy red tape and roadblocks put up to loving families being legally recognized. After recently watching one of my dearest friends jump through crazy hoops to have the law recognize her AND her wife as their son’s parents, the idea of supporting anything that helps make that even a little better for others was something I couldn’t pass up!
Another friend is a member of CFSBK and when she heard I was doing a workout at her box that benefitted an awesome charity, she immediately signed up too. I arrived a little early and ran into David Osorio, owner of CFSBK and he told me we were going to be in the new space, which rocked because I’d been dying to check it out – and it really is such a big, open, bright addition to their workout space. Turned out that I knew a lot of the guys there and actually, Brick was heavily represented! I made my way over to Will and re-read the crazy workout ahead of us.
The WOD of the day was:
1000m run – with each team member running one at a time, tagging the other to follow when you finished your 1000m.
Then, when you’d both made it back and with one partner working at a time:
4 Rounds of 6 Squat Cleans 135/95RX – which I thought was bonkers heavy so took the scaled version of 65lbs!
Then, 28 Double Unders or a scaled 84 Singles, followed by:
4 Rounds of 6 Shoulder To Over Heads of 135/95 (again, wow- heavy! Also, I might need to get my game up…) paired with 9 Burpees.
Finally, finish up with a 1000m run with your partner.
I, for a long time, was the lone name under the scaled division. Until my girl sidled up and added her name under mine and leaned over and whispered “Dude, where are the other girls? Is it all just stupid hot boys and us?” I burst out laughing and assured her there were at least two other girls in the building and Will said 6 were signed up but yes, we were going to have to hold it down for the girls. The turnout for this event was HUGE – 70 or so strong and we were split into two heats. My girl and I were in the second round. I watched some of my super crazy strong Brick friends work through it, and it looked hard…hard and long. This group was so STRONG, I was so impressed with how many did the actual RX weight…which was insanely out of my league! The next round, we spilled over to the original CFSBK space and as we made it over, I leaned in to my girl and said “I know this will be hard but we can’t be the last…ok?” She nodded and we started in on that long, hard WOD. We weren’t last, but it was brutal. Everyone cheered and encouraged each other and it was hands-down some of the most fun I’ve ever had at any workout.
At this event, OUTWOD raised over $2000 for the Family Equality Council. OUTWOD says that they openly invite anyone wanting to join their welcoming CrossFit family – and I found that to be totally true. I mean seriously – awesome people, a killer workout and money going to great charities? I can’t imagine a better way to spend a day!
Video and photos: Eric Stafford for Stafford Sports Media
When I heard that BFX had designed an indoor cycling studio, where half of the space was a dedicated workout floor in their new Financial District location, I was curious. I haven’t actually had a class where we got off the bike in the middle really slay me, but when I heard that Kira Stokes had been given free reign to develop the program that put it to use, I knew this one had to be good. Last week, I finally got to test out the new Fusion Ride.
The new BFX is just seriously beautiful – with lots of marble and clean elegant space. The Chelsea location is nice but this one is just next level. At check-in, I ran into people I knew and totally missed the part where they tell you whether you start on the bike or the floor! So as we were filing into class, everyone was going to their assigned places and I was completely lost. I snagged Kira and asked if I should go back out and find out where I was supposed to be, but she shook her head and sent me off to a bike. I was SO glad to start off on the bike, though, because it let me warm up and get to see what was coming up when it was my turn on the floor.
Each part of the workout was broken into 3 blocks – Power, Strength and Endurance. On the bike that means – interval drills, heavy hills and endurance pushes. It was weird to be on a bike with my sneakers on, but I got used to it after a little bit – plus, it made the transition off the bike quicker. BFX does use the standard bike pedals so if you have your own shoes you could totally rock them- just make sure you are quick at changing them. Kira doesn’t have much tolerance for dillydallying during a workout!
The thing that I’ve always liked about Kira’s classes is that there is a reason for every single move and where they are in the program – this class isn’t any different. On the floor, I snagged a spot next to my friend and after a quick demo from Kira on proper form of the 1st round of exercises, we were off. In a super helpful move, this class also used projections on the wall with the moves we were doing for each block. My friend was much better at following what we were supposed to be doing but a sneak peak up at the wall came in handy for me often! One thing I really liked in this class was that there was another instructor, the awesome Claire Gould, on the floor with us. She’d demo a move if anyone looked lost, fix form for people and just generally keep the energy up. It was Kira’s class and she was all over everyone but Claire totally had her back, keeping tabs on that huge, split group.
The first segment was a power segment and that night’s version involved a couple of AMRAPS (as many rounds as possible) using moves that built off of each other like TRX Squats to Squat Jumps to a row, then weighted Lunges and plyo alternating Lunges rounded out with a TRX Tricep push up. It felt very classic Stoked series. The next segment was geared towards strength and used heavier weights and slower movements. Those sandbags with their shifting weight were deceiving! One of the moves involved a Squat Thruster with a Tricep press, and while the weight that had been fine in the classic Squat Thruster, suddenly wasn’t fine when it went back behind my head. I couldn’t raise it up to save my life. I got totally stuck – but of course Kira noticed immediately and was swapping the bag out before I even had a moment to process! Then it was down on the ground to finish that round out with a plank sandbag pull – which when Kira demoed, it sailed across the room but when I did it, moving it even fully over to the other side of my body was comically hard.
The final segment, the endurance round – made me feel a little bit like I didn’t have any. It was all about keeping moving with full body movements that blasted up your heart rate. That round was a little bit of a blur because by the time it hit I was totally wiped out! The Fusion Ride was challenging, fun and actually really worked with the spinning combined with the floor work. In an hour that flew by, the ride and floor work had effectively kicked my ass… but man, I really do have to work on those bag pulls – that was just embarrassing.
Photos and video: Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for Fatbottomslim