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
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
I’ve been giddy about the Fhitting Room opening its new Flatiron space since the moment I heard about it. The Fhitting Room is just an awesome, challenging but fun take on a HIIT workout and its new spot is worthy of just how good it really is. The new studio is roughly 4 times the size of the original, with two floors, a large studio and a smaller one for more intimate groups, water bottle filling stations, lots of lockers, showers and a vanity bar- so that when you finish class in a puddle you can make yourself presentable before venturing out into the world!
So when offered the chance to host an exclusive class at the new studio led by powerhouse Daury Dross, I jumped at the chance. I quickly wrangled up a group of some of my favorite fitness fiends, most of whom had never managed to make it to the UES original but were excited to check it out. Our class was in the downstairs studio, which seemed tiny in comparison to the massive upstairs space. Turns out it’s the same size as the original studio and really, Fhitting Room has become masterful at fitting in a lot of challenging work in a small space!
Daury kicked off the class with a good, solid warm-up of 2 rounds of 45 seconds each of High Knees, Reverse Lunges and then Shoulder Taps while in Plank. As a group we were feeling pretty good about ourselves, warmed up and in it! Then it was to the suspension straps for two rounds, 45 seconds each of Alternating Pistol Squats, Rowing and the evil Hamstring Curls with your feet in the straps. Daury warned us that those last ones were going to suck and as he yelled out corrections to everyone’s form… they really DO make you seriously hate the person (momentarily at least) who suggested they might be a good idea.
After that section, a couple of my crew were starting to give me death stares but I just grinned back, we were in it now. Then it was on to the next section – another 2 rounds of 3 moves for 45 seconds each that hit everything, this time with dumbells. Daury went at the guys for going too light and made them all go back to get a heavier weight, which caused some grumbling but then every single one of them crushed it. Daury would yell at us to go faster… and tease us for breathing hard but really wanted to just see us give it our all. It was awesome to see everyone put their game face on and GO for it.
The final workout was a tabata of 3 different stations that you stayed at for 4 minutes – that 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest thing gets brutal fast. My first station was the rower, which I love. My goal for each 20 second burst was to hit 100 meters and somehow, I managed to make that happen but by the end, that was so damn hard. I got off the rower, spent. Next up was the Ab Mat sit-ups, which flew by – it wasn’t a breeze but seriously, Pilates work for the win there. The final station made me want to cry a little bit though – 4 rounds each of Squat Jumps and Hand Release push ups. At the end of that round we all collapsed, spent but fitness happy, until Daury was like – “Wait. You think you’re done?” The final 5 minutes were a partner round – one person did wallsits while the other did 8 burpees. We all burst out laughing but then got to work.
Daury is one of my favorites at the Fhitting Room because even with all of the cursing and teasing you just know he loves what he does and seriously just wants to make every single athlete in front of him reach their full potential. He pushes you because he truly thinks you can be great. I left class spent and proud of the work I’d put in but I also knew I’d being feeling it later.
I might have cursed Daury a little bit that next day…
Photos and video by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS.
Last week, I ended up in three random conversations about Barry’s Bootcamp. This isn’t so unusual but what was curious is that in each one, Matt Nolan’s name came up as one of their favorites. So, when Ryan Makely, Flywheel rockstar and one of my all time favorite fitness friends, threw out a possible fitness date at Barry’s that Matt would be leading, I was all over it. I signed up immediately.
I settled onto my reserved treadmill and steeled myself for what was about to happen. Matt told us that if we were on the treadmill, we needed to be moving while we were waiting for class to start – so that we could warm up for what was to come…and that we were going to do 3 rounds. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Barry’s class where we were told the breakdown at the start of class and I loved knowing! As class kicked off, Matt yelled “In this class, you will not walk. YOU JOG when you rest.” My heart sunk. I’m so a run/walker and not even a solid one at that. But I cranked the treadmill up to a jog and shook off my trepidation about the class ahead. As we launched into the run, Matt’s ranges were higher than I could do, so I spent the class about a good point below whatever he called out. I would do whatever the incline request was and launch into a (my version of a) sprint when asked. Matt never once made me feel bad about it – which was appreciated. I was trying hard.
On the floor sections, Matt would demo the next moves ahead and then if anyone seemed confused, he would go around and make awesome, concise, verbal corrections. Barry’s isn’t ever the place for hands on adjustments but Matt did an amazing job of spotting and fixing people verbally. His form corrections were on point and helpful. It was during the floor section that Matt’s good nature and love for what he was doing shone through.
Weirdly, even though I was slower than everyone else through the next two incline run sections, I managed to never walk. I just followed his calm, detailed instructions and just keep going. When we finally hit the last sprint on an incline, I hit a solid 7.2 at 6% incline and was just damn impressed with myself. Matt got me out of my head and out of my comfort zone.
After another ab and arm focused floor section, I was spent. Matt had us finish with a long stretch (for Barry’s) that I was eternally grateful for… I was happy and totally wiped but that stretch meant that I wasn’t as broken as I thought I would be at the end! It’s no wonder Matt is a rising star at Barry’s – he’s form focused, skilled and charming. I will totally be back!
Photos of Matt and treadmills from Barry’s Bootcamp’s website.
One of my favorite things about doing Crossfit, is that once you are part of the CrossFit community, you are part of a family no matter where you go. I mean, what is not to love about that? So when I recently went to St. Augustine in Florida, I finally got to be one of those Crossfitters asking for recommendations. Heidi, one of my Brick coaches, is down in the area often and had nothing but good things to say about Crossfit Atlantic, now The Academy, which totally sealed the deal for me. Didn’t hurt that they have a kick-ass logo and I totally wanted to rock one of their shirts…
So, on the one rainy, grey day of the trip, it seemed like the perfect time to check out one of their classes. I got really excited when I pulled up outside of their warehouse space (by NYC standards, it was HUGE) and walked in to a big, warm welcome from one of their coaches who was manning the front desk. She made me feel immediately at home, gave me a quick low-down on the big open space and introduced me to the coach of that WOD, Alan. After stashing my stuff, I was told to grab a rower and get 750m to warm up. I pulled mine to the back of the group so that I could be by the big, open bay doors and just took in the awesome surroundings.
Then, it was off to some hip-opening exercises and some conditioning drills across the floor. I chatted with the super-fit woman next to me and when we got to the final inchworm move across the floor, she groaned. Alan heard her and said “Come on! We have a visitor from New York! Let’s show her we do all of the inchworms!” I just grinned and as a pair, we made our way across the floor.
Alan went over the workout quickly and told us that we would be working on rope climbing as our strength section that day. I immediately felt doomed. The last time I even attempted a rope climb was in elementary school and it didn’t go so well. Alan demoed the move that would make climbing “more about your legs” and while I was game to try, I still thought this probably wasn’t going to go well for me. There were about 16 of us that day, so each rope had 4 people to it. I teamed up with another woman who wanted to try from the modified box start that had been given as an option, and her husband and friend rounded out our foursome.
Alan made his way over to us and asked me if I’d ever done a rope climb… and I, of course, immediately fessed up to having absolutely no idea what I was doing. He grinned and gave us a thorough demo from the box…and even managed to make me feel like “Oh, yeah! I CAN do this.” The key is to wrap the rope around your leg and pin it with your foot, and just stretch out but the TRICK is that to move up the rope, you have to spin your leg to move the rope down your leg and you up the rope. I wasn’t so good at that spin part but did manage to inch my way up the rope! VICTORY! Then, you let go of the wrap while keeping a firm hold on the rope so you don’t slide down, before you can come down with control.
I totally could have called it a day after that since it was such a win but there was a Workout of the Day to do. That day, it was a 5 rounds for time of 2 squat clean and jerks (heavy for you), 10 handstand push-ups, and 10 toes to bar.
This was an amazingly ripped group of athletes and while a little part of me wanted to go big like them, I knew a lighter load was the way I needed to go. Alan came over to see if I needed to modify the handstand pushups – which I always do. He had me grab a box and really focus on tapping the crown of my head to the ground. Then, we were off. The funniest part for me is that since they are in a warehouse space, dropping your bar at the lift is totally ok, but since at Brick that is an absolute no-no, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Don’t mind me, the weird one in the back! After a little under ten minutes we were done.
I snagged the owner at the end to settle up for my drop-in and inquire about one of those cool tanks they were all sporting but sadly, they were all sold out. Seems the only solution is to go back next time I’m in town… because if you didn’t get a t-shirt at your drop-in, did you really go?
Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS
When I heard that Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, 2014’s CrossFit champ, would be doing a few days of training at EVF Performance, I knew I had to go. The fact that I hadn’t actually done a CrossFit class since I sprained my ring finger 6 weeks ago? A slight wrinkle but not a complete deterrent because I just can’t say no to the chance to workout with the greats.
Camille is tiny height-wise but ridiculously ripped – I mean she is the newly crowned “2014 World’s Fittest Woman.” The class I was supposed to take was the final of the evening and they were running late – “Cami”, as they call her, likes to talk! The best part about that was that we got to watch the WOD that was ahead of us – and for me to snap a picture of Cami in action because I promptly forgot as soon as we were up. The first part of the night was hearing how she went from newbie to Champ in 5 years… which is just insane to me. Cami’s point: have a goal, then break it up into short and long term sections. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she had innate talent but I do think that breaking bigger goals down into pieces is a really good plan. The thing that I really needed to hear (and work on) is the idea that you have to work on your weakness, because your strength will still be there. Whatever that strength happens to be, it will still be there if you spend time on your weakness. All that happens is that you get balanced and more importantly, get better all around.
Although Cami was obviously the draw to the event, her husband, Dave Lispson, was there to coach too. Dave is one of the CrossFit Headquarters Level 1 coaches and was such an amazing resource for us to get to experience during the skill drills. He might not be the champ but he was awesome, concerned, helpful and thorough. The fact that he’s helping to train the next generation of CrossFit coaches I think is a very good thing. The section was exactly what I needed – a long, detailed breakdown of the clean and all of its various forms. We spent a long time with the PVC pipe and as we did it, Cami and Dave made their way through the room correcting us all. It was awesome to get tips from some of the best, who were both shockingly engrossed in helping us all get better.
The tip that resonated hard with me was exactly how far back I was supposed to push my hips in any clean that started from the ground. Dave said it to me a LOT until I finally got that what I needed to feel – your hamstrings should be on fire before you go. “Push your knees back” really needs to be my mantra. It didn’t matter where people were (I was one of the worst, out of practice and sloppy) both of them were just in it when they were in front of us. We progressed to the bar, then weights, and in each round they were right there. As Cami said at the end, it doesn’t matter if you are throwing up huge weight, it matters if you are doing your best – whatever that is.
The WOD was pretty straightforward a seven minute partner cycle of 5 Squat Cleans while your partner did burpees – evil but straightforward. The score? Your total burpees. My partner was focused on a good score, so I sucked it up and listened to her plan. To get a good score, 75+, we had to do at least 5 burpees for every 5 cleans. It sucked ass but at the end, we’d done a 106 – totally solid.
Here is the thing…I expected a good workout and it was. I knew I’d learn something and I did. The thing that floored me though, was how much I LIKED her. She was sweet, kind and effacing- while still knowing that she is a complete badass. That is an absolutely amazing, special thing. After we’d all peeled ourselves off the floor and told our score we did pictures – because seriously, if you are going to work out with the Champ, you really DO need a picture.