OUTWOD & the Wildly Supportive Crew

OUTWOD September

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!

Check out the video of September’s session of OUTWOD!
Photo and video by Eric Stafford

Finding Zen On The Helipad: SoundOff Yoga

Nightfall at #HelipadYogaThis 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…

sunset at #helipadyoga

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.

Brooklyn view

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.

Working Hard, Having Fun and Doing Good: OUTWOD

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!

outwod

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.

outwod 2

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.

OUTWOD at CFSBKAt 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

No Rest For The Motivated: Kira Stokes Joins BFX Studios

Kira Stokes has taught a killer “Stoked” series of classes for years at Reebok Sports Club/LA, the super swanky and expensive UWS gym, developing loyal and rabid fans of workouts that kick your ass from head to toe. The problem was that really only the people at Reebok had access to that awesomeness on a weekly basis – this week that all changed.  Kira joined the new Boutique fitness venture BFX, which offers both monthly membership options and single classes.  This is a VERY good thing.

Kira Stokes BFXInvited to preview week, I didn’t even think twice & signed up immediately for both of her Monday night classes. It’s been ages since I’ve taken even one of Kira’s classes and even longer since I’d tried a double – I don’t know what I was thinking! On Monday nights she’ll be teaching her C3 Barre Max class and her signature Stoked 360.  I’d taken 360 (and loved it) but her Barre class was the wild card, so I knew I had to try it.  In my head I figured it would be just a lot of barre with Kira’s spin on it but that I would be fine.  I was wrong – those 3 C’s stand for Core, Cardio and Conditioning.  In the first few minutes of class, she told us that this class used to be 75 minutes, so really, she just had to make sure that we thoroughly felt it in 60.  10 minutes in, when we were still on planks and pushups, I knew that this double would be much harder then I’d anticipated.  My recent Pilates work made the roll-up/c-curve portions of the class my strongest part. We planked, did multiple variations on push-ups, did mountain climbers on sliders, c-curve pulses with weight, and did a few plyometrics for good measure. It was about at the halfway mark before we even touched the barre, and I knew I was in trouble with this double.  The barre work really consisted of maybe 6-10 minutes, because really, Kira didn’t need that prop to get to every tiny little muscle in your body. I was sweating buckets by the end of that Barre class.

1623678_1494765160740176_5429448453707692703_n I steeled myself for the next class, Stoked 360, and tried hard to regroup. There were a group of us doing the double, mostly Kira’s diehards who would follow her anywhere and trained with for years, and then me, who hadn’t been to a class in ages.  I’d taken it before and knew that on it’s own it is tough, but with all of my training recently, assumed I’d be fine. The idea of 360, is to hit all of your muscle groups with compound movements done in sets, then repeat it three times before moving on. One: first to learn the move, two: to understand it and three:  perfect it.  As Kira would explain each new set, we would jump rope. It was that cardio spike that made it so there were absolutely no breaks built into the workout.  As Kira said in the middle of class “I don’t cue rest breaks”- if you needed one, you had to take it yourself, she wasn’t going to give you the permission.  Stoked 360 is awesome because it hits everything – and is constantly changing so that you are always challenged. Half an hour in, Kira announced, “We have 45 minutes left and we have a lot to get done. Don’t stop now.” I must have looked visibly stunned, since she looked directly at me and said “YES, this class is 1 hour and 15 minutes and I expect you to give it your all.” Everyone hooted and hollered but I literally wondered if I would just fall over before that full 75 minutes ticked down. It was amazing how many people had followed her to her new spot… but really, considering how good Kira is at challenging you in a way few can, it isn’t THAT surprising.

She's Mad but she's magic

Kira’s BFX classes are going to be capped out at about half of the size of some of largest Reebox classes.  They are going to be hard to get into because Kira’s crew will follow her there. That said, now there is at least FINALLY a chance of training with this master in her field – and really is there better fitness news than that?

 

Top photo from Kira’s Facebook page and bottom just a little internet goodness.

Really Listening: I.AM.YOU’s Live DJ Class With Lauren Imparato

IAmYouDJclass

Things go wrong when you think you know an address…so on my way to Lauren Imparato’s I.AM.YOU, I took one of those random street elevators to a super sketchy second floor of an entirely different building, that instead of offering me a yoga sanctuary, offered massage services by the minute.  I thought, for a brief second, this is how a horror film would start and backed out quickly. Once I was back on the street, a quick Google search gave me the right address (I was two doors down) and moments later, I was finally in the right elevator and headed to I.AM.YOU.  I was running late, like class is about to start late, and I almost bagged out completely since I HATE being that person rushing in at the last minute.  But when I got to the floor, the door was still open and people were still being checked in, so I threw my stuff in my bag, ditched my shoes in the hallway and checked in. I walked into the darkened, stunning loft with its black mats carefully laid out and was grateful that I had actually made it.

The room was packed – of course. I had a momentary panic that my normal hide-in-the-corner-of-the-room spot wasn’t an option, and I thought about fleeing. Lauren saw me freeze, gave me a fierce hug and said without flinching, “You are going THERE” and pointed at an open mat in the middle of the room.  I paused. “GO”, Lauren said firmly and then was off to someone else.  I poked my way over to the mat and tried to settle in but with only a sliver of space between each mat, I also start praying that I didn’t take someone out during this class with my non-yogi ways.

IAmYouMats

Once all thirty mats were filled and everyone was settled in, Lauren told us the focus of the practice.  In most I.AM.YOU classes, Lauren has everything completely planned out, but during the live DJ class, there is an improv to music that is played.  So that night’s focus was all about really listening. That if, for one moment of your night, you were truly able to tune everything out and just really listen to yourself and the moment– that was success. That night, Jennifer, another of the I.AM.YOU teachers, was assisting and as we went through the athletic flow of the evening, it seemed like there was always someone there guiding and correcting my movement. Lauren and Jennifer seamlessly moved around the room, adjusting people, working as a team to get everyone in the room.  Sigh. Have I ever mentioned HOW much I love adjustments? I.AM.YOU instructors, for how amazing, challenging and athletic the practice is, are really just masterful at making sure everyone is in the right position.

Lauren Imparato

Lauren’s flow that night made us work with each other to get a little bit of space to fling ourselves around on the mat but because of the vibe of the night, everyone would just smile and shift. As the songs would change, the flow would morph and you had to really listen to the cues Lauren was giving. I strained to follow but occasionally would just peek at the girl on my left who was a regular and seemed grasp what the next thing was immediately. I never felt totally lost but occasionally my mind would drift off to the great music and cool vibe of the room and I’d suddenly realize I’d missed a cue or two. The hour and 15 minute practice flew by and at the end, as we lay in Savasana, I was totally blissed out. When Lauren made it to me to rub my temple to seal the practice, I melted. At the end of class, as I threw on my clothes and made my way out into the night, I wondered why I wasn’t at I.AM.YOU every single week… it really is just a magical spot in the world.

Photos from I.AM.YOU’s Facebook page. Top photo is from the actual class, if you look very closely you can spot me!

Training With The “World’s Fittest Woman”: Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet Showing Us How It’s Done At EVF Performance

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 LeBlanc-BaznekCamille 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.

FBS - Camille Leblanc-Bazinet Demo

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.

FBS Camille Leblanc-Bazinet coachingThe 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.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and FBS

EXCEED Physical Culture: The Awesome Addition To The Tribeca Fitness Scene

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VII

I have always loved Exceed – but getting to their UES location made actually GOING to classes there a huge challenge. So when I heard they were opening a studio in Tribeca, literally around the corner from work, I was giddy.  Last week I got the opportunity to host a workout in their new space during their soft opening. I immediately jumped at the chance and set about snagging a fun crew that would be up for a challenging, high intensity interval class.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VI

Exceed Tribeca is made up of two floors.  Upstairs was still under construction but it looked like it is going to be much bigger than the UES location. The ground floor is going to be the group classes space and the downstairs space is going to be where they do personal training sessions, which is where we held our class during the soft opening. Our group was tiny so it actually worked out really well to have it in the smaller space downstairs – although it easily could have fit more people if needed. Leading our class was Mike Jock, one of Exceed’s staples at their UES location (and who I’ve been wanting to take a class with) and Max Motkowski who is new to their crew.  Mike took the lead in the class and after giving a breakdown of the reasons their classes were shaped the way they were, gave us a demo of each of the four first stations. We then paired up and picked a station to start on.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca IIII

In the first round we had TRX rows, a rowing station, box jumps (or jump overs if you wanted the challenge) and a Med Ball station.  I started on the TRX and when my shoes started to slip, Max was quick to come over and brace my feet to make sure I got in every rep. Then we rotated through each station and I watched happily as Mike and Max worked the room, making sure people got the form cues they needed and made adjustments when needed. I LOVED knowing my friends were in good hands! The next round was TRX pushups, lateral box jumps and rowing. MedBall sit ups became slams and by the second station in that round I was already dripping in sweat. Each round got harder, but also was more fun! The third and fourth rounds replaced the TRX with Kettlebells and the rower with a heavy jump rope. My favorite moment was when at one point Mike described to one of the teams who was struggling at the Kettlebell station that the way to swing it was “Like in Legally Blonde, remember? Bend and snap!” while showing the perfect form for the swing. They laughed and then promptly started rocking perfect swings.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VIIII

The final round was a sit up ladder challenge. Each pair was supposed to do 10 straight leg sit ups passing the medicine between them, then scissor legs passing the ball, then straight again, then a version with a bridge, then straight, then frog legs while passing the ball, then straight before ending on one that included a double leg tap before tossing the ball. It was hard but also wildly funny since my partner and I kept almost beaming each other with the ball. The challenge ended when one team finished, and thankfully, the Real Pilates crew on the end came through in the core challenge and got through the ladder fast! My team was on the last move but I was grateful when time was called!

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca

It was a class that kicked my ass but was also just really fun. Exceed will be doing a “Friend and Family” preview week, starting on Monday, June 9th. It is first come, first snags the class. So get in there and check out this awesome addition to the Tribeca fitness scene!

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS