Brooklyn Bodyburn’s Second Location: The Sweaty New Fitness Destination

It’s not exactly like I’ve been avoiding going to check out Brooklyn Bodyburn but until it opened in Cobble Hill last week, I’d never made it to a class. The original studio opened in Williamsburg last year to rave reviews but it was a pain to get to from my part of Brooklyn. However, the new studio is super convenient and finally, all of my excuses for not getting my butt over to check out Tracy Carlinksy’s studio flew out of the window.


The studio is a Lagree Fitness™studio and Tracy was quick to point out that this was NOT a Pilates class…which, I appreciated. The new Cobble Hill studio is equipped with the very latest version of the machine, the M3S, which is the newest, extra large souped-up version of the Megaformer.


For the opening weekend, the new studio hosted a special Lululemon and friends Bodyburn class. The basics of the workout is that the movements are slow but the transitions are fast and as Tracy went over the M3S at the beginning of class, I could already tell this class was going to be a lot more challenging than I had anticipated –there were a lot of moving parts to contend with!


I have a bunch of friends who’ve been raving about it and I finally get why. 10 minutes into this class, my muscles were shaking and I was dripping in sweat. Our crew was filled with fitness fiends – CrossFitters, Dancers, Barre addicts and Triathletes and not one of us had an easy time with this one… which was slightly comforting, considering I was dying. Tracy’s cues were spot-on and she gave a lot of hands-on corrections that were really helpful – especially for a class filled with people who had almost no experience on the Megaformers.


The machine is made up of a large main platform that is spring loaded with two stationary platforms on either end to change how you balance on your weight while making the carriage move. The biggest surprise for me given my experience on the traditional Pilates Reformer, is that on the Megaformer there weren’t any moves where you are on your back – at several points during the class this was a fact that made me very sad. There were planks, pikes and pushups – sometimes with your hand on the stationary platforms, sometimes with your hands out on the moving carriage.


The twisting pikes were my favorite – awesome and super challenging but I could see getting good at them. The series that made me want to cry, though, was the leg section in the middle. Occasionally, the lunges would be done with the front foot planted on the solid platform and the back foot pushing out the moving carriage to pulse. Then, we ran to the back of the machine so that our front foot was the one pushing out to pulse.


In both positions, Tracy ran around grabbing our knees to make sure that they were held in the right position and didn’t launch over our toes, which would be a recipe for knee disaster. She was a stickler for form, which I love… but occasionally, as she held my knee, I really wanted to burst out crying because it was so damn hard. At one point, I had to hop off my machine and grab a towel since I thought I was going to slide off the platform because I was so very, very sweaty.  Note to self: next time, grab the towel before heading to the machine!


The following day, sitting was comically painful. I don’t think I’ve gotten my ass handed to me that badly in a long time… I can’t wait to go back.


photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

Plank Pilates & The Tower Class In This Tiny LES Gem….

Plank Pilates window -ESOn Monday, I got the chance to try out Plank Pilates, the LES studio that I have wanted to check out for a while. I knew it was a “small” studio since almost every single review mentions it but I didn’t have any idea how teeny-tiny this studio is until I showed up at the front door. The way the space is set up, you walk directly into the studio, slip off your shoes and then cut through the space to the stairwell to get down to the reception area. When I got there, a private session was going on so I quickly made my way to the back and down the stairs where I found the cozy, spa-like reception area. It is small but lovely with cucumber/lemon water jars, a large changing room with warm Eucalyptus and cold Lavender towels prepped to use. It was such a pampered introduction to Plank, I briefly thought the class would be a breeze. I was VERY wrong.

plank pilates classAll of Plank’s group classes are based around the Tower, an awesome wall-mounted apparatus that gives studios the ability to do some of the traditional super-effective Pilates machine moves in a group setting, without the need for the larger Cadillac machines. Plank has 5 of them lined up against one of their walls and they take up the majority of the studio. When I finally made it upstairs, after thoroughly enjoying the pampering touches downstairs, I snagged a Tower and settled in for class. I always feel like I am suffering through a Pilates mat class but once springs are involved, it is a whole different story. Pilates designed machines using heavy springs that you pull and push in varying ways and it is that resistance that makes all the difference. I have loved every Tower class I have ever gotten the chance to take and was really excited to get to try another one.

Plank class taught by JuliaLeading our Tower class was Julia Fouts, who actually created Plank’s signature “Plank 360” class. On top of her Pilates certifications, Julia is certified in Sports and Personal training, which I have to say, now makes me really intrigued by the 360 class. One of my absolute favorite things about Pilates in a boutique setting is how focused on form and good at corrections instructors are – Julia was no exception. She had the ability to spot even the smallest miss-alignment and correct it. Her verbal cues were clear and helpful but more often than not, I would just miss the mark of where I was supposed to be and she would come over and deftly fix what I was doing wrong. Julia moved the class through a fluid series of movements, using the arm and leg springs and the roll down bar – while never allowing the class to feel choppy as we changed from one set of springs to another. I loved her take on the leg series, too, with a couple of fun versions of my favorite classic Pilates machine moves. It was a challenging, quick hour and by the end I felt thoroughly worked out from head to toe. I really just wanted to lay there on the mat and bask in that happy good workout bliss but another class was already making its way downstairs to get ready for their class, so I hopped up and wiped down my Tower mat instead. I walked out of Plank with a new spring in my step, just a little happier to have found this gem of a studio in the hustle and bustle of the city.

Top photo by Eric Stafford, middle & bottom photos from Plank Pilates Facebook page.

A Little Tinkering is a Good Thing: Pilates ProMethod with Jenn Seracuse

On Tuesday afternoon, I finally made it over to Pilates ProWorks to take their signature “Pilates ProMethod” class with Jenn Seracuse, the head of their Pilates program. I had met Jenn briefly when I had gone to Steven Little’s TRX class and had immediately liked her, so I knew I would be in good hands. Plus, I have been SO curious about what their take is on the new trend to use “amped-up” versions of the classic Pilates’ Reformer. There was a time in my life when I was totally obsessed with Reformer classes and for about a year, I took at least 3 a week. Those classes were my gateway into working out at all, changed what I thought I was capable of and because of that, I am hard pressed to think that a great reformer class needs much tinkering with. Of course, those original classes were taken over 10 years ago and really, sometimes things need a little tinkering!

Pilates ProWorks’ take on the classic is called the FitFormer and damn, is it a pretty machine! According to their website, it is made from stainless steel, titanium and bamboo but it is also just an elegant, sturdy machine, with super cushy pads and basically just super swanky. Jenn went over the machine with me before class so I wouldn’t be lost, since really, the class was filled with a group of super strong regulars. I was immediately sorry that I hadn’t at least worn a pair of regular grippy socks since everyone had on special toe-socks – grippy on the bottom but open toes. It totally didn’t occur to me that we would wear socks during the class! It was also at that moment that I realized my socks that morning didn’t even match. Sigh… at least I remembered a towel! It is worth noting again, they don’t stock towels here, so if you are sweaty like I am, remember to bring your own.

The class started with a quick warm up, which I always miss when a class just launches straight into the workout. The music pumped in the room but Jenn was great about giving clear, helpful instructions on what we where supposed to be doing on each exercise. She roamed the room, demonstrating on different machines, so we were always able to see what the move was meant to look like and she was able to keep a keen eye on everyone’s form. The moves we did felt like Pilates moves, sometimes tweaked a little bit but always feeling grounded in that original practice.  We also got to do the Frog, a classic Reformer move that I swear hits a part of your inner thigh that no other exercise targets quite as effectively. It was always my favorite move and it was all l could do not to clap when she announced it.  Thankfully, I managed to not make a total ass of myself by doing that!  I was absolutely the worst in the room, so I got a lot of physical corrections (always ok with me!) but her cues to the whole class were really helpful and precise. They were very much Pilates cues, but for this kind of workout, that is really what you need. It was a class filled with regulars who were all so strong and graceful…I might have been the worst but I kept up and was totally inspired.

I always think the best sign of a Pilates based class is when it is challenging but never hurts as you are doing it, yet still makes you feel like someone sucker punched you in the stomach the next day. The day after my first Pilates ProMethod class, I winced every time I laughed – making every funny thing I heard just seem really mean. In my book, the sign of a great Pilates class…or perhaps just that I really need to do more of them!


Top image from Pilates ProWorks NYC’s Facebook page, image of Jenn from her Twitter profile @leanbodypilates

Sometimes it takes time: I finally take my 3rd SLT class…

I’ve mentioned it before, but my goal, always, is to only talk about classes that I love. I don’t write up a lot of the classes I take, some because I have written about them so much that unless something new happens, I figure I have covered it. Some classes, though, it is because for whatever reason, I just didn’t love them. That doesn’t make them a bad class, per say, just not for me. There are classes people adore, that I spend the entire time wanting to throw my shoe at the instructor’s head. These days, I have gotten pretty good at knowing what I will hate and just skipping it. However, there are some classes that take a little bit to warm up to, which is why if there is a deal for something that seems like something I will love, I will snap it up. SLT was one of those cases.

This week, I went to my final SLT class, I had gotten a 3-class Gilt City deal ages ago and have been really slow in using them up. My first SLT class was with Jamie Lugo and I liked it but didn’t LOVE it. There wasn’t anything bad about that first class, but it just didn’t hook me. The second class I took with Natalie Uhling Pozatek, I really loved her class and it made me realize why people were completely hooked on SLT. Then, I got a tweet last week from a devoted SLT’er about joining her in a class, and I immediately said yes. After a little back and forth, we figured out the perfect time… and then I realized it would be with Jamie again. I signed up, figuring it would be fun anyway, even though I hadn’t been crazy about it the first time.  I was right.  It probably didn’t hurt that it was my 3rd class, the Megaformer moves were less foreign, and I was able to pick up what was supposed to be happening a little more quickly.  In this class, I was totally won over by Jamie. She was sweet, helpful and had good, solid corrections. All of her sequences flowed, were really challenging, with moves that were interesting and creative. My friend, who I went to class with, has been going every day and it was completely evident. She was so strong and I had to work extra hard, not to match her skill at this method (that wasn’t going to happen) but at least to keep from making a total ass of myself. It made the class tons of fun. I like it when someone in class is so inspiring – especially when I know them!

By the end of class, I was tired and felt really challenged by the great, interesting workout. I was also really sorry that it was the last time I was going to get to do it.  It might have taken me a little while to warm up to SLT but by the end of those 3 classes, I really loved the method and think it would be an amazing addition to any workout regimen. I finally really get exactly why they have such a devoted following.  They are one of the FITiST studios, though, so next time I spring for one of their awesome 4 packs, I might just have to make my way back to SLT….

Top image & design from SuperBrutte

Natalie Uhling Pozatek & finding the love for SLT…

I finally took my second SLT class on Monday (SLT, short for Strengthen- Lengthen- Tone, is a Pilates-inspired class that uses an apparatus called the Megaformer, which is basically the standard Pilates Reformer on steroids.) This time, I took the class with Natalie Uhling Pozatek, an instructor who also teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp. I had heard some great recommendations for Natalie but the kicker was when Kira Stokes mentioned her and said that Natalie was a stickler for form too! I knew my next SLT class HAD to be with her since really, praise like that doesn’t come every day. When it comes to any workout method a form stickler for me is a good trait, but in something so new and challenging like SLT, it is an absolute necessity and that missing piece was what kept me from adoring SLT the first time I took it. I liked it a lot, but didn’t love it.

On Monday morning, I finally made it into Natalie’s class. In person, Natalie is just as stunning as she appears in all of her fitness modeling gigs but much more importantly, she is ridiculously charming and personable. She has a sweet, goofy side that made me immediately like her. Natalie is just so comfortable when she starts to teach and most importantly VERY sure of what she is teaching. Seriously, nothing charms me more than that. Charming and commanding is a hard line to walk and she does it with ease.

In SLT, like in Pilates, it makes all of the difference if you are doing the moves correctly and the moment Natalie started the class, I knew we were in good hands. Her instructions were clear, concise and with almost every move she demonstrated it long enough to make sure that we were all doing the move before hopping off and making the rounds to each of us. She was very hands-on and I LOVED her for it. The moves are really challenging in SLT and it is easy to over compensate by leaning out of alignment, but she never once let anyone of us get away with any cheat at all. She would quickly move over to anyone doing the move wrong and correct us.  Even though Natalie’s corrections made the moves a million times harder, it also made the class intense, exciting, AND a fun experience – because even though I knew I would be sore the next day, I also knew her keen eye wouldn’t let me hurt myself by doing something wrong. That is a huge big deal, if I know an instructor is really watching, correcting and intensely engaged with making sure I am doing the move right, I will do anything asked. Two days later, I was still sore (seriously there were some crazy moves that apparently hit muscles in my inner thighs that I didn’t know existed) BUT I am now completely smitten with SLT, which is exactly what I had been hoping for when I walked into class on Monday!

I can’t wait to take another class with Natalie…

Top and bottom images from SLT’s website. Middle image of Natalie Uhling Pozatek from a recent photoshoot by Coty Tarr via Natalie’s Facebook page.

Week 3: Appreciating the day…

Some days come at exactly the right time. Tuesday was one of those days. After fighting off a funk, due to a pulled groin muscle that had been hampering my activities for a few days, that morning, I woke up and I drank my protein shake with some of the Health Warrior Chia seeds and was reminded of how lucky I was to even get to go to Training Camp.  So, already in a better state of mind, off I went to my favorite part of the week. I say it every week, but I am constantly amazed at how much I like the people in my Training Camp. I know that it feels like such a tight team because of the amazing and vivacious Holly but the group as a whole, just rocks. I am not a morning person by any stretch but Tuesday morning, for the second week in a row, I was there without coffee – and was HAPPY about it. Seriously people, that means a lot. Once again, class was a mix up of some things we had done before but varied enough to be interesting and engaging – even if Holly was a little whistle-happy during the session!  It was just plain fun – kicking my ass yet still feeling like play time, all while watching the sun rise over the city while working out by the water. That is just a mighty fine way to start the day!

Then, it was off to coffee before heading home. I walked with the group heading to Flywheel, since I always walk over that way to get the Q home.   I sometimes will train-hop to get as close as possible but on the way home, I like the straight shot express train.  I was back in Brooklyn by 8:30am and while I was in the train station, ran into the fella heading off to work. It is amazing to me, after all of these years, how excited I get when I randomly run into him, never failing to make my day a little brighter.


My afternoon plans got a serious upgrade the night before when I won a free spot in a Real Pilates mat class with Juan Carlos Penuela.  I love random classes popping up! So, ok, just last week I was lamenting the state of mat classes and my dislike for them but, this was at a studio that I adore. I could go to ANYTHING there and be sure it was going to be great.  The class was tiny and when I walked in, the instructor asked me “How long have you studied Pilates?” I totally stammered through an answer–since once a long time ago I did lots but in the last few years almost not at all. I remember enough to fake it though most classes, but a really good teacher will see though it in a minute and know I might as well be a newbie. Juan was really good and I didn’t stand a chance of bluffing my way through the class. So the very charming, handsome dancer poked and prodded me for a whole hour making sure my form was correct. Luckily, his accent made the constant reminders about my abdomen come out charming and not annoying! It was the kind of class that reminds you why Pilates can be so great, because it is so hard when every millimeter is watched. Seriously though, I swear, I think he had just a sick sense when my core wasn’t engaged enough. “Abdomen!” It will be a long time before I get that out of my head when I do any core work…which is probably a good thing!

It was such a beautiful, Indian-Summer kind of day that I decided after class to walk home, since really, the walk over the glorious Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn is one of my favorites in the city.


Tuesday felt like the universe giving me a little reminder of this important fact: Life may not be perfect but it really is wonderful.

Springtone at Real Pilates

In a world filled with terrible “gym Pilates” mat classes it is so easy to forget how amazing Pilates can be – when taught by someone who is really well trained and in the classical method. I HATE mat classes with a passion, largely from one too many bad experiences. Since equipment classes are always too expensive for me, it is a very rare treat that I get to take one. It is easy to forget just how amazing it is to have access to the best of the best in NYC, but once in a while, it is awesome to be reminded.  This is how I feel when I get to take a class with Alycea Ungaro, the founder of Real Pilates in Tribeca. She wrote the first Pilates book I ever bought, which I got because the way she described movements really helped me in the classes I was taking at the time. Being around Alycea almost always makes me a little star-struck but because she is so immensely down to earth and friendly, thankfully, that usually subsides for the class.

Recently, Daily Candy had a deal for a class at Real Pilates and of course I had to snap it up. The great thing about the studio is that all of the group classes are small and in some part, use the Pilates tower, an apparatus that basically uses attached springs with handles that you loop on your feet or hold in your hands for resistance. While you might not think it, getting those damn springs to move can be a huge challenge at times, and the class I took called Springtone – mostly forgoes any regular mat moves and just works with the springs for the entire 45 minutes of the class. Exactly what I was looking for: a Pilates challenge.


The thing about the use of resistance in the subtle movements of Pilates is that it works muscles in such a unique and intense way, it is so easy to see why people get obsessed with it. I was obsessed – when I could afford the equipment classes. The amazing thing about Springtone is that it makes the resistance aspect of Pilates accessible in a group class. YAY! The only part of the class I didn’t love was the beginning 3-pound weight section that thankfully, was really brief and transitioned into challenging abs, arms and leg sections with the springs. Of all of the great parts of the class, the leg section was easily my favorite. Those straps and springs target your inner and outer thighs like nothing else I have ever done. Man, I would love to be able to add this class into the mix of classes I get to take regularly! I love the mix of the exercises and pace of the class, which, while methodical and precise, kept a good, consistent clip.  I never once thought, “Oh, when will this end?” – although, I did burst out laughing at one point when, while laying on my stomach, I couldn’t both move the springs toward my ass and lift my thighs off the mat. I mean seriously, there would have to be a LOT more of these classes before that move even seems like it might be remotely possible! The other ladies in class were not amused at how funny I thought it was but thankfully, Alycea did, or else that might have been a little embarrassing…