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.

Brynn Jinnett & finding the church of the Refine Method…

Wednesday night on a whim, my friend and I went to try a Refine Method class uptown. We had been in one of those twitter chains where EVERYONE seemed to be raving about Refine Method and specifically about how amazing Brynn Jinnett is. I had been to a class before, in the then under construction new studio in Union Square but it wasn’t with Brynn, the founder of the method, and I REALLY wanted a chance to get to take class with her. So, when the opportunity popped up to take a class with her, I jumped on it – for both of us! Luckily, my friend is game for almost any fitness class, so I knew it was safe to rope her into this one.

With the address to the studio in hand, I headed to the UES. I knew it was little and in the bottom of a building, however, when I got to the address, I was faced with a church.  Thankfully, there was a plaque on the window for Refine but no separate entrance to get into it.  I braced myself for seemingly breaking into a church as I walked in, but then I heard my friend laugh through the first metal door on the left and knew that I really was in the right spot. Phew – no altercation with an angry church worker for me that evening! Seriously though people, that is worth mentioning… “studio is in a church, don’t be weirded out by walking right in!”

The studio itself is tiny – like a NY studio apartment tiny- and every inch is used. As I walked into Brynn and my pal chatting, I tossed my stuff into a locker and sat down at a station.  In a few minutes the room was packed and every station was full – and almost all were regulars. As soon as we started, I knew why everyone raves about Brynn.  She is funny and slightly relentless in her teasing about the correct form. It is done with love, but it took me a minute to get into the constant teasing about form – you have to love her or you would just want to punch the beautiful, graceful, former ballerina. I chose love and by the end, I am pretty sure my friend did too – although it was touch and go there for a while when Brynn kept taking about her “pregnancy Lululemon top” making it too hard to see her form. I really like the basis for Refine, the move away from the barre to more functional fitness. Bynn is very good at transitioning people in this way, she absolutely knows her crowd and how to motivate them to move away from the barre! As someone who absolutely prefers functional fitness over most barre classes , I think that is a very good thing. The class consists of lots of cardio circuit moves mixed with lots of lunges with kettlebells and work at the specialized pulley system and planks for good measure. Brynn is amazing about form, shockingly good at corrections (one of the best I have seen) and passionate about her method. It was inspiring to watch her and I can see why she has a devoted following. It was a challenging, fun method – midway through the class I was dripping sweat and ran to the bathroom to grab a towel – that is always a good sign for me!

I am glad I got to see the original home, and will definitely be taking Brynn again, but I will be going back to the spacious Union Square studio for my next session!


(Top image of Brynn Jinnett from the blog section of the Refine Method site which is full of interesting back story on the development of the method and bottom image a little internet goodness)