Flying Incognito: The Awesome, Needed Class With Kari Nicolle

The last month has been a little crazy and getting in my workout has been a ridiculous challenge –I make it happen, but my workout window is so small that if anything goes wrong, it quickly gets hard to do anything. I’ve being going to a lot of classes with instructors I know and love. Last week, I realized that I needed to shake things up. On Wednesday night, when my big plan to go try something new the next morning fell apart, I immediately went to Flywheel’s schedule to look and see if there were any options to squeeze in a ride before work –even though I’ve been out of credits for ages. The fella, it turns out, had a few credits and offered to book me a bike when he saw me looking longingly at the Flywheel site.  I immediately said yes. He snagged me a front row bike in Kari Nicolle’s class the following morning and I couldn’t wait for the ride. I was in dire need of a good sweat session.

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When I arrived to check in, my buddy SinWorkouts was just getting there and it turned out we would be riding next to each other – score! Sin never fails to inspire me to work harder in a class and it had been FAR too long since we had caught up. So I snagged a pair of shoes and proceeded to class without a second thought.  Kari Nicole is one of the newer teachers on the Flywheel, but she is a total rockstar. I knew I was in for a good class with Sin by my side and Kari leading. The room was stacked with an impressive group of riders and I just hoped I would be able to keep up. I hunkered down and rode, inspired by clear coaching, awesome music and the kick-ass women in the room.

When Kari flipped on the board for the first race of the class, I glanced up and realized I was 1st on the men’s board. I just smiled and kept my head down, trying to keep up with Sin next to me since she was already crushing my score. Each time the board flipped up I would glance up to see if I’d fallen yet but as the ride wore on, I stayed at the top of the board.  By the end of the class, I was totally spent and still in the #1 position on the men’s board…well, the fella was! I finally looked over to see where I would have fallen if I’d been with the women – 5th solid. While I may have won the men’s board, the strong women in that room kicked my ass!

Being stong is important

At the end of class I was a sweaty and happy – Kari taught a hard, fun class that inspired us all to give our best and as she walked over to my bike to high-five me she leaned over and said “So, you’re incognito today, huh?” I just laughed and shrugged. Being incognito wasn’t my plan but winning the board was a lot of fun….

Oh Flywheel, I’ve missed you! And Kari, you are now on my list of go-to instructors!

Photo of Kari from the Flywheel website, bottom quote just a little bit of internet goodness.

Epically Good: Soul Cycle’s Charlee Atkins

Recently when I fessed up that I had never been to a Charlee Atkins class, one of my Soul Cycle friends was horrified…. his exact response was “that is unacceptable” followed the next day by a list of classes he was going to be taking with her the next week. Turned out there was really only one that I could make, her Saturday night class in Tribeca – which is easily my favorite of the Soul Cycle studios. I am always game for any new class and always have fun at Soul Cycle, so I immediately wrote back and said “I’m in!”

soulcycle Charlee AtkinsWhen I got to the studio, my friend had already checked me in and after a brief moment of horror at realizing I was in the front row, I shrugged it off and snagged a pair of shoes for the ride. When I turned around there was Charlee, sporting a bright red baseball cap worn backwards, who really is stunning in person but also has a wide, disarming smile. I’d seen so many serious, smoldering fitness shots of her that the smiling, sweet, open person asking me how I felt about “aggressive rides” in front of me threw me off a little. In those first few minutes of meeting her, I realized that my preconceived notions of what this class was going to be were just completely out the window.

In the room, I got all set up and waited for the class to start. My friend was across the room so I sat there in the front row and just took in the scene, which was filled with regulars (always easy to spot) and a few newbies to the class like me. After everyone got settled, Charlee immediately got down to business. The music was aggressive but in the best possible way and I immediately was sucked into the ride. The songs had us riding on a heavier, slightly slower beat than a lot of the Soul Cycle classes I have been to, so with the heavier resistance and more seated work, it was a class that just felt GOOD – hard & challenging but good.  She also did a thing I loved, she broke down the pushup moves. Charlee would start the pushups in a slightly slower tempo section and then would allow the music to ramp up the speed of them naturally. It made so much sense to me that I was pretty close to being able to do all of the chorography – even the clapping pushups towards the end! It was like a miracle – I was in the front row and didn’t feel totally hapless!

CAtkins

Charlee was just amazingly charismatic – on the bike or when she would get down off and move around the room- she pounded out the beat with her whole body. I totally get now why my friend was so horrified that I hadn’t taken her class…I walked out of her class completely blown away and trying to figure out when I would get to take another one.

Charlee really is just epically good.

Charlee Quote

Photos of Charlee from the Soul-Cycle Website & quote from their Facebook page

The Sports Bra Challenge 2013

This year was the 3rd annual SEAK Foundation’s Sports Bra Challenge. The session I went to was lead by the amazing Jenny Gaither (SEAK founder) & Ayana Curtis -it was filled with so many awesome people and was just an epic, joyful thing to be a part of…

sports bra4Check out the video of this amazing event held Sunday, April 14, 2013:

 

Video by Eric Stafford from Stafford Sports Media

Crashing The Party: Rocking Out With Ryan Foley At SoulCycle

Months ago, I read Ryan Foley’s SoulCycle story about going from being 60 pounds overweight, working 90-hour work weeks on Wall Street to finding SoulCycle and becoming one of their newest instructors. I love stories like that – about finding your passion and just going for it. I’ve wanted to take his class ever since, then on Friday, in a flurry of Twitter exchanges with another exercise fanatic, I was invited to Ryan’s class the very next day.

Ryan Foley In January 2012, Ryan discovered SoulCycle and by the end of the year he’d made his radical (and AWESOME) leap – but this would be his first birthday on the bike in front of the room. Held in the stunning Tribeca Soul, it was in the smaller of the two studios but the class was packed to the rafters with friends. There were a few randoms like me, who hadn’t taken Ryan before but mostly it was his crowd and they roared for him almost instantly – it was one of those rides that when you were clipping into the bike you just knew was going to be special.  I felt a little bit like I had snuck into a party and was just hoping no one would realize that I didn’t belong and kick me out!

As I entered the room, the charming, handsome Ryan hollered “FBS in the house! I think you are over there!” I grinned, waved and set out to set up my bike as quickly as possible since it was almost time to start. I was in the middle of the room (for me a Soul score) but surrounded by obvious Soul-ers. Ryan got the room going from the bike and immediately the playlist rocked. The very first song was Linkin Park and two women in the front row and directly in front of me had their hair down and started to rock out the moment the class started. The idea of riding with your hair down just confounds me and I was completely captivated when one of them full on started head banging when Nine Inch Nails came on. Watching it, I was totally smitten with the coolness. It looked so awesome that I really wanted to try it but I could just see myself launching over the handlebars and toppling half the room. Another song of awesome rocking out, then she put her hair up and I went back to focusing on Ryan, whose tshirt had lit up at some point. We launched into the classic Soul pushup chorography that never fails to make me feel like the least coordinated person on the planet (especially when added to my lack of head banging ability) and Ryan rocked it out. My favorite moment was when at one point, when we were doing beats, where we were supposed to all be on the same leg, Ryan busted out what looked like Airplane Wands, rocking left and right for which leg we were supposed to be on. It was so ridiculously fun and was the only time I was remotely on the right leg!  Ryan’s playlist was awesome – filled with mixes & songs I’d never heard in any other class. He managed to have a playlist that made me think often, “I’d have NEVER thought you could ride to that!” Towards the end of class, Ryan pointed out the awesome headbanger and said anyone here who hasn’t gotten to Janet Fitzgerald’s class, you need to now. AHH! I was still crushed out on her but I suddenly felt better about the fact that head banging was out of the question for me!

Ryan’s birthday ride was also one of the few classes where I wasn’t even remotely the loudest person in the class and it was just ridiculously fun -I loved every single moment of it. The ride itself was so loud that by the end Ryan blew out his mike. It made him burst out laughing –“anyone take bets on that?”  Soul inspired him but on Saturday night, he showed a whole room of people that following your passion can lead you to a really wonderful place….

Collect moment not thingsIn the lobby, people were getting ready to celebrate but I slipped out before they realized I didn’t really belong at this party… and left on a glorious, inspired high.

Photo of Ryan from Twitter (follow him @24_7_Ry) and bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.

If At First You Don’t Connect: Stephanie Nieman & Finding A Flywheel Rockstar

Sometime between when I took my first class with Stephanie Nieman and now, she has developed into a Flywheel rockstar.  On Monday, in her packed 12:30pm class, I was blown away by what a force she has become. There is almost nothing as awesome as seeing someone completely own a room and challenge everyone to be better – while still having a ridiculously fun time. Stephanie’s energy was contagious and while some of her torque call out seemed like they were crazy high, it was impossible not to just go for it. It was a ride that was all about staying out of your comfort zone and I adored every last minute of it.

It has been a very long time between taking my first class with Stephanie and finally, going back for a second time. That first class was solid, I thought she had some “Holly-like tendencies” that were awesome – but – and this is a big one on my pet peeve list – she gave different torque numbers for men and women. A range is good, I REALLY like ranges, but different torque #’s based on gender and not skill makes me nuts. It is a pet peeve that makes me so bonkers, I will write off instructors who do it completely, even if I think in other ways they are great – and this is why after a really solid first class, I hadn’t been back to Stephanie’s class in well over 6 months. But for the last month or two, I have been over-hearing her classes while waiting for others and they always sound like a class I would love and even my stubborn self thought it might be time to try her class again.

 

On Monday, I finally got myself to one of her classes. I had made a spinning date and when my friend had to cancel, I almost did too but thankfully I chose to ride. The energy in the room was awesome and riders from the very start were really loud – she definitely has a crowd.  I was steeled to try to get over the torque thing, but one song in, I realized that she was just giving one torque range. I proceeded to allow myself to be swept away into the ride at hand. Stephanie is very slight when you see her in person in the hallways of Flywheel but up on that instructor bike, she is a force to be reckoned with.  So much so that it is almost hard to believe the two Stephanies are the same person. She yells a lot, shouts out lines from the music playing to focus on for motivation, hops off the bike and bounds around the front of the room, and gets in the faces of front row riders to get them to push harder… it was inspiring to see her just totally own the room. If I hadn’t been killing myself to go harder, I might have had the chance to revel in seeing that kind of rockstar performance but I was to busy trying not to die – her class is freaking HARD but completely and utterly awesome.

I am glad I finally got to witness what a Flywheel rockstar Stephanie Nieman has become….

 

Images of Stephanie from Flywheel Sports website. David Bowie quote just a little internet goodness.

 

Miami Is Getting A Rockstar: Aleah Stander & The Celebration Ride

On Wednesday night at 7:30pm, almost all of the Flywheel instructors gathered to ride in Aleah Stander’s class, since this is her last week before she heads down to Miami to spearhead the new Flywheel opening down there.  She is beloved by the Fly family – and they came in full force to celebrate that fact and yet, somehow, managed to keep it a secret. Included in that evening’s packed house were Ruth Zukerman, Kate Hickle, Chris Tracey, Jesse Alexander, Danielle Devine, Ryan Makey, Alison Cohen, John Wellmann, Carrie Green and Shay Kostabi and some of the awesome back office staffers. They had gone all out to make the ride feel like a party, sporting glow-in-the dark bands, glowsticks, a few of the guys rocked big afro wigs, Danielle had a cute pair of sparkly horns, and Ryan sported the headgear of the night – a wildly funny pair of bunny ears. The rest of the room was filled to the brim with Aleah fans.

It was nice to see the sweet, endearing Aleah that she is off the bike up there, just basking in the love of her friends hooting and hollering for her, packing the house. Then, she grinned a big grin and went right back to being the kick-ass, hard instructor that we love. The room was never quiet. I don’t know that I have ever been in a room that was AS loud as this one was and it was so much fun. I am notoriously loud in class and it was fun to not remotely be the loudest in the room. Aleah’s playlists are always awesome but the one that night was just ridiculously good… and filled with lots of songs that were straight up fun, but distinctly not the “clean” versions! It was the kind of soundtrack that just made you go faster and inspired you to work harder. I don’t know that I have ever been to a class with Aleah were I am not blown away by how hard she can get you to work – I almost always best any number I’ve done before. She is just motivating like that! The energy of the room was like a wave and it just made me want to try a little bit harder. As a rider, to be surrounded with people who inspire me was a huge treat.  The Flywheel instructors are an insanely strong group and there is nothing like being surrounded by the best to make you better.

I was in the second row, smack in the middle, and directly in front of me was Kate and Ruth. Talk about feeling like I need to step my game up! From the angle I was at I could see Ruth’s little board, and all I have to say is damn. That woman is a powerhouse! She crushed me from right out of the gate. I had my best 45-minute ride and she beat me by almost a 100 points -totally and utterly inspiring. Aleah made us all work hard and pushed that room to do their best -it was electrifying to see everyone in that room rise to the occasion.

The 45 minutes FLEW by. When she called out that it was the last song I was shocked, I so didn’t want it to be over just yet. As the stretch song played, it was awesome to see her take in the room before her, filled with people who love and totally support her. I think it was the only time I have ever seen Aleah slightly flustered and it was totally endearing. The cheers were deafening and the towels whipped over everyone’s head as the class ended – it was an amazing thing to witness that kind of pure love pouring out at the end of her amazing class. The thing about Aleah is that she is just so consistently great, that I sometimes forget just HOW great she really is but seriously, Aleah really is a rockstar. I hope Miami knows what a treasure they are getting.

Top picture from Aleah’s Facebook profile, middle picture from the Flywheel website and bottom image my hope for what Miami has in store for the amazing Aleah Stander….

FLY for Fisher House with Steven Little & Aleah Stander

After taking an awesome class with Steven Little at Flywheel on Monday evening, I came home and found in my mail box a note from running coach extraordinaire, Abby Bales, about an event she is hosting at Flywheel this weekend, May 5th at 3pm with Steven and Aleah Stander. The ride is a fundraiser for the Fisher House and as Abby wrote:

Fisher House builds houses near military hospitals for the families of injured soldiers to stay for free while their soldier is recovering in the hospital. It is a 501c(3) charity with a 5-star ranking by charitynavigator.org, meaning 97% of the money raised goes directly to the houses and needs of the families and not to advertising and administration costs.”

I don’t normally write about events before they happen, but an event that supports such an important cause and lead by 3 amazing people is worthy of an exception to that rule.

As I read the mail about the mission of the Fisher House to the Fella (a former Navy man) he just looked at me and said, “You know you have to go right? We’ll figure out how to come up with the money for it, but you HAVE to go support that.”  That is totally true. With a partner who used to serve and as the daughter of a retired Naval Officer, the mission of the Fisher House is something that I think is very special and important to support. The fact that the event is at one of my favorite places in NYC, Flywheel, is just an extra sweet bonus.

For more information about the ride, check out the FB page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/364397176940125/

Check out my original review of Steven here.

Abby and Aleah led one of my favorite workouts of 2011, an inspiring “Brick” workout that made me feel like a true athlete.  Check it out here. I love them both for that moment and can’t wait to see what they bring to this new event…

Hopefully, I will see you there!