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.

kari_nicolle_2081

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.

The Inspiring Weekend Kickoff – The Kara Liotta / Kate Hickl Double Burn at Flywheel Sports

One of my favorite things that I learned in the recent Flybarre Challenge was how much I loved the Flybarre/ Flywheel double. For me, the key to a good double is when the Flybarre come first. My body just responds better when the conditioning/toning part comes before cardio – there are others who feel the exact opposite but I need my double to start with Flybarre. Before the challenge, the few times I tried a double, it went the other way and I was miserable – however when Flywheel is the second class, some how my legs get a beautiful second wind moments after starting to pedal and I FLY.

Kate Hickl’s Saturday 9:30am Flywheel class has long been one of my favorites but getting up to get to Kara Liotta’s Flybarre class before just always seemed impossible. Between the goofy train schedules from Brooklyn and my love of sleeping in, getting to an 8:15 on a Saturday morning always seemed like just a daunting prospect. However, Saturday’s double was the only one that worked for my schedule, so I sucked it up and set my alarm for 6am. Turns out it this slightly infamous “KK Double Burn” is just ridiculously good.

As Kara was getting ready to start the class, she asked us if we were ready to really work since it was so many people’s first class back, to which one of the regulars said: “What I am hoping for is that you take it easy on us!” The whole room erupted in laughter, since I am pretty sure Kara’s version of “easy” would still be a killer. We all knew what we were in for, an awesome, super challenging and fun class where Kara would systematically kick our asses. She really is so brilliantly good at keeping every single class fresh and challenging, it is really amazing. I always feel lucky to get to be in a class with a master of any method and Kara really is a master at Flybarre. As the class settled in to get started, she introduced Emily Sferra, a Flybarre Seattle instructor who was in town for the holiday and was going to be jumping in to teach us the arms section. In my slightly sleepy state I was irked by the fact that we were going to have someone else teach part of the class.  Dang it! I woke up early for Kara! However, as soon as Emily hopped up to teach, I was immediately won over by her charm, easy command of the room and fun arm section. She even managed to make the dynamic arms section completely make total sense and easy to follow along – which is pretty much a miracle for me.  I was still terrible at it but I felt much closer to on than normal! The biggest sign that Emily is a star Flybarre instructor is that by the end of the section, I was like “Wait, can we steal her from Seattle? Just once in awhile at least?” She was GOOD – Seattle really has a star over there. Kara jumped back in front and proceded to teach one of the most challenging and fun classes to date. We even got to try a new seat movie that was awesome.

The nice thing about the way these two classes fit together is that really, by the time you have collected your stuff and gotten your shoes from your little bin, it is time to set up your bike. Kate’s Saturday class is always something special. It has been since the Flatiron studio opened. It’s funny, I sometimes forget just HOW great Kate is and then I end up in one of her classes and am blown away again by just how good she is. There is a reason I refer to her as Kate the Great. She is always so supportive while really challenging everyone – Kate truly believes in the Flywheel method and pushes people to get better each time.  I almost always do just a little bit better than I thought was possible when I walked in. On Saturday, Kate was on fire and blew the room away with her drive. I walked out totally inspired and grateful to get to take class with one of the greats. 

By the time the classes were over, I was wide-awake, blissfully happy to have gotten to take such amazing classes and totally convinced it was worth losing sleep for! The Kara/ Kate duo on Saturday morning was so amazing, inspiring and kick-ass, I might even have to do it again next week….

 

Top photo from Flywheel’s Facebook page, photos of Kara & Kate from Flywheel Sports website, bottom image just a little internet goodness.

Finding Joy At The Barre & The End of The Flybarre Challenge

Last Sunday, I took my final class of the 6-week Flybarre challenge with the ridiculously charming Kolina Nouhan. One of the best things about the challenge has been the fact that it forced me to try out more Flybarre teachers.  As a group, they are an amazing, vibrant crew and I have loved trying the different instructors.

One of the huge treats though, has been getting to take a class every week with Kolina. She is an absolute treasure of a teacher and before the challenge, I had somehow missed that fact. For some reason, her classes were always the ones I went to when I was just trying to squeeze in my 3rd or 4th of the week and was slightly grumpy about it, when it is the last place I want to be. That said, I’ve never walked out of Kolina’s class without a smile on my face and glad I got to spend an hour with her. She is so positive, sparkly and charismatic that it is fully impossible to remain grumpy. Her classes are so surprisingly hard, and yet her overwhelming sweetness always seems to wipe the ass-kicking from my mind as soon as I walk out. She also is so sweetly, genuinely concerned about any injury that not only does she check up on you before the class starts but continues to check in with you in any position that seems like it might stress your injury. It is so thoughtful, that half the time when she did it, I just wanted to hug her for remembering my random gimpyness.

At the after challenge meeting, Kolina was the leader and asked us what was our favorite thing about the challenge, I didn’t answer because really, my favorite thing about the challenge was finding the amazing Flybarre teachers like her. Without the challenge I would have never spent so much time in her classes and found out what a treasure Kolina is.

People keep asking me if I am going to keep up with going to Flybarre now that the challenge is done, and the simple answer is absolutely. I haven’t been a huge barre class fan for the last few years, the challenge helped me get over that and finally try this awesome method. Flybarre is an athletic, always-changing version of a barre class and was constantly challenging. I had always sort of lumped Flybarre with the more standard barre classes, this challenge allowed me to figure out how different it really is…

In 5 weeks, I lost 8 inches – and have seen some amazing changes in my body. In my waist alone I lost 3 inches. Due to everything being closed last week, I didn’t get a chance to do my final 6-week measurements with my team-leader, the inspiring Kara but the 5 week total to me is just crazy. Tighter arms, waist and a lifted butt is such an amazing result from any exercise and to see that kind of change in such a short period is just flat out awesome. So will I continue, hell yes.  Will I do it 4 times a week? No – but 2 times a week or so, absolutely – I don’t want my hard earned results to go away!

Photos from the challenge final meeting by Eric Stafford. Bottom quote just a little bit of internet goodness.

Finding Magic In Week 1 Of The Flybarre Challenge: The Ridiculously Talented Todd Allen

All of my favorite Flybarre people have been telling me for ages how amazing Todd Allen is but I just could never bring myself to take one of his classes. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe what people were saying but after a bad experience in another Barre studio years ago with their beloved male instructor, I have just avoided taking any male taught barre class. Which I knew was lame and unfair but it meant that Todd languished on my “to-take” list for a ridiculously long time. Last week, I took my very first Todd Allen class and immediately loved him. His hype is deserved and I feel like a fool for not making it to his class sooner. Todd is that amazing treat of an instructor – sweet, encouraging, funny, exceptionally good at verbal corrections and even better at physical ones.

This week was my second class with Todd and being one week into the challenge and my fourth day of class in a row, I was wiped out. After last week’s amazing class with Todd that seemed to fly by, I was just hoping to make it through his class this week. As I made my way into class, Todd stopped me to find out how my measuring had gone the day before.  When I told him that I had lost 1/2 inch on each arm, both legs, and 3/4 off my waist (which is insane to me in only a week but awesome) – he was almost as excited by the news as I was! That sort of enthusiasm is infectious and was just what I needed to refocus on getting the most out of the class in front of me. Plus, there is a part of Todd’s class where you feel you somehow have gotten to be in the practice room at a Broadway show – as he dances his way through the class, it makes me feel like I stumbled into a musical. Todd’s banter through the class is funny, with lots of great visuals for some of the crazier moves you do in a Flybarre class.  Not even Todd can make me actually rhythmic enough to not be embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms, but he makes it so fun that I don’t care that I suck! Which every time seems like a huge gift. Tuesday’s class FLEW by – one of my favorite things about Flybarre is that there is so much latitude given to the instructors to mix and match in each section of the class, which means you never really know what is coming next. I love being kept on my toes (well not literally, I am not so good when we are supposed to do that) and having each class feel so unique. On Tuesday there were at least 6 moves I had never done in another Flybarre class but were fun & HARD! Todd has a masterful talent at sneaking hard in, while masking it with a great grin and funny imagery – it’s sneaky and I love him for it.

Todd is an ultimate showman who reminds me of Gene Kelly, because he can make a mundane movement – something you have done a million times – suddenly seem like part of a dance. It makes me so happy to watch, I forget how badly he is kicking my ass and spend the entire class just being glad to get to be around someone so magical …

Image of Todd Allen from the Flywheel website  and the bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.

Fall Flybarre Challenge: The Kickoff to Exactly What I Needed

Last week, I got the news that running, jumping and anything “impactful” had to be tabled for “at LEAST a few weeks” – which means that some of the things I HAD planned for the Fall just weren’t an option anymore. Then, almost the very next day, I got an email about the Flybarre Fall Challenge starting and immediately emailed saying I wanted in! It’s the PERFECT thing for following the Doctor’s orders while still getting to really challenge myself – because without a challenge, the foot prognosis was going to make me nuts!  It doesn’t hurt that I think Flybarre does some crazy good things to women’s bodies and I really wanted to know what actually dedicating myself to it would do. It was the challenge I didn’t even know I was waiting for!  So for the next 6 weeks, I will be taking 4 Flybarre classes a week. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about that, since it seems like every time I take one, I am sore for days.  I’m hoping that the sore part doesn’t last all six weeks!

On Sunday afternoon, we had our kickoff meeting at the Flatiron Studio. We learned the ins and outs of what the Flybarre Challenge entails. The cool thing is that for the challenge, you are given a “Team Leader” – one of the awesome Flybarre instructors who will be the point person for 6 weeks. As we got into our groups, I was giddy that I got Kara Liotta – who I adore, and who always pushes me to work a little bit harder, which really is exactly what I need.  I can already picture her giving me “that” look if I don’t give it my all and knowing myself, that alone will make me focus harder on getting the best results!  As we split into groups to meet and talk a little bit, Kara pulled each person off to the side to measure us. The thing I didn’t realize, was that we are going to be measured EVERY week.  Oh, buddy.  For some reason, this snapped me to attention, since I sort of assumed that it would be a before and after thing, just like the pictures. The reality is that in one week, I will be accountable for some sort of change and it made me realize there will be no easing into this Challenge. It’s go time. NOW.

Monday morning bright and early, I was on a mat in Kara’s class. It was the “Power 45” version and unlike the 1 hour version, this one zipps through the moves. I really like the speed of it but am always surprised by how much harder it seems – somehow, that stretching bit in the middle really makes a difference! I was still embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms but luckily, the class was the “wild card” arms (the week where instructors choose a random arm routine, instead of the one that everyone has been practicing).  So, no one was really perfect at it and it was slightly less noticeable exactly how off I was! Maybe 6 weeks of doing the dynamic arm thing will make me less spastic looking? A girl can only hope….

After class, I hustled into Holly Rillinger’s always awesome Flywheel class. The class was packed with some of my favorite folks rocking the front row with me, including my awesome team leader, Kara. That kind of morning, filled with such amazing, inspiring people is hard to top… and for the next six weeks, I know where I will be every Monday morning!

Top picture from Flybarre’s Facebook page, middle picture by Eric C Stafford and bottom picture from FlywheelSports.com

Being All In : 3 Flywheel Greats Remind Me To Be In the Moment

It has been a little while since I posted, since the week following the absolutely epic high of the NYC Triathlon, I got an evil head/chest cold that I just couldn’t shake. I have slowly been making my way back into working out after taking a full 10 days off. In retrospect, my cold was probably my body’s not so subtle nudge that rest isn’t such a bad thing. What can I say? Rest isn’t my strong suit! Last weekend was my first weekend really back on schedule and awesomely included classes with some of my absolute favorites at Flywheel Jesse Alexander, Alison Cohen and Aleah Stander. It was one of those random weekends when teachers I love all seem to be teaching classes that I can actually make – a super rare occurrence in the summer, when everyone seemingly defects to the Hamptons.

Jesse and Alison’s hour-long classes were both hard, challenging and made me REALLY push myself. Jesse’s Saturday morning class was filled with a fun, party atmosphere (as his classes always are), plus some of my favorite folks were rocking out the front row with me and really, that is always inspiring. Jesse didn’t talk about “feeling sexy and riding like it” in this class, but his riders obviously had it engrained in their head so much at this point that it’s just natural! It’s funny, no matter the time of day, Jesse’s class always feel like pre-game to going out – even early on a Saturday!

Sunday’s Warrior Ride with Alison was so freaking hard (which I adore) but much quieter than Saturday’s, so I was easily the loud one of the class again! It has been awhile since I took that class but to jump in and see how strong that group is can be both staggering and inspiring. Alison is such a star at getting her riders to rise to every challenge she throws at them and her Warriors are the prime example of that. Alison inspired me to be in full beast mode but even at that, I struggled to stay on the board at 359! Apparently, I need to up my game to hang with Alison’s Warrior crew!

My third and final class was Monday’s class with Aleah which, of course, was awesome. She is such a rockstar. I was bummed when she decamped for Miami but Monday, we got the rare treat to have her back in NYC – even if it was for only a day. I didn’t think it was possible but it seems like she has actually gotten even better down in Miami. Aleah’s classes are always hard and inspiring but this one was epic. She rides with her whole heart in and expects the same in return. Being all in and fully present really is what it is all about – big or small- be in that moment.  Aleah’s passion for what she does makes that the only option when you are in front of her. It was exactly the reminder I needed this week.

After 3 days of kick-ass classes, I had finally fully shaken off my sickness and for the first time in weeks felt like myself.  It seems like I can always count on Flywheel to help me snap myself out of a funk – this weekend was no exception.

Logo and bottom image from Flywheel’s Website for New York. Top quote just a good thing to remember.

Punching & Pulsing: Flybarre for Men with Kara Liotta & Khori Petinaud

Last Saturday afternoon (after an amazing morning yoga class at I.AM.YOU studio) I made my way up to Flywheel Flatiron to try a class called “Flybarre for Men”. Given my non-male status, it was one of those classes I went to only because I was specifically asked to attend, by none other than the amazing Flybarre instructor Kara Liotta – who I basically can’t say no to. She called out my friend SINworkouts and I on twitter and it quickly became a big group of some of the toughest & most inspiring women around- Lacey Stone, SIN, Kindra from Peak Performance and Kate Hickle. Seriously, that is one fierce, fun group and if I could workout with them all the time, I would. When we all got there, from our various other workouts, SIN made quick work to rearrange us so that I got to be over by the group since apparently, I totally booked the wrong mat.  Kara just looked at me and said “So you want to be with the loud ones, huh?” The answer to that question is always a rousing “hell, yes!”

Kara Liotta and Khori Petinaud, who co-created the men’s Flybarre variation taught Saturday’s class. A powerhouse of a team, they are strong, skilled, and have an easy ability to take command of the room. Kara, who I have written about before (here) was amazing of course – but it was my first time taking a class with Khori. I immediately liked her – she has an infectious grin and didn’t allow anything to throw her off her game, plus, she was so obviously amused by my group’s loud enthusiasm that went along with our complete lack of skill, that it totally endeared her to me. Not the easiest thing to do when greeted by a room full of people who, for the most part, where complete newbies to the method, and who cheered at the end of each section. Kara and Khori are serious about what they do but both handled the rowdy group with a joyful ease that only the great instructors ever seem to be able to do – allowing fun to be had while still staying completely on task and never letting up about form. They were a brilliant pair!

I have taken a handful of Flybarre classes and am always left feeling like the most uncoordinated person on the planet. Seriously, while pulsing at Flybarre is always fun, I can’t follow a dance count to save my life. The men’s version of the class, however, was hands down my favorite version so far and not just because of the loud hooting and hollering of my cohorts.  This version includes lots of pushup variations, jumping jacks, a couple of killer ab sections but also less work actually AT the barre. My favorite change though was that the dynamic arms section was boxing move based – now THOSE are counts I can follow! I loved the change up of that and can totally see why they did it to appeal to guys but it also did wonders for my enjoyment of the section. Kara was totally right to call me out on coming in to try this version. it really was totally up my ally. So, although our class had 5 guys, which is definitely more than have ever been in any of the other Flybarre classes I have taken, I just wish it was called something else!

Top image from Flybarre’s Facebook page of Kara, Khori and Kate practicing the Flybarre for Men’s routine, middle image of Khori from Flywheel’s website, bottom image just an awesome bit of internet goodness.