FBS x The Fhitting Room Flatiron & Daury Dross

Fhitting Room x FBS 1

I’ve been giddy about the Fhitting Room opening its new Flatiron space since the moment I heard about it. The Fhitting Room is just an awesome, challenging but fun take on a HIIT workout and its new spot is worthy of just how good it really is. The new studio is roughly 4 times the size of the original, with two floors, a large studio and a smaller one for more intimate groups, water bottle filling stations, lots of lockers, showers and a vanity bar- so that when you finish class in a puddle you can make yourself presentable before venturing out into the world!

Fhitting Room x FatBottomSlimSo when offered the chance to host an exclusive class at the new studio led by powerhouse Daury Dross, I jumped at the chance.  I quickly wrangled up a group of some of my favorite fitness fiends, most of whom had never managed to make it to the UES original but were excited to check it out. Our class was in the downstairs studio, which seemed tiny in comparison to the massive upstairs space. Turns out it’s the same size as the original studio and really, Fhitting Room has become masterful at fitting in a lot of challenging work in a small space!

Fhitting Room x FBS 2Daury kicked off the class with a good, solid warm-up of 2 rounds of 45 seconds each of High Knees, Reverse Lunges and then Shoulder Taps while in Plank.  As a group we were feeling pretty good about ourselves, warmed up and in it! Then it was to the suspension straps for two rounds, 45 seconds each of Alternating Pistol Squats, Rowing and the evil Hamstring Curls with your feet in the straps. Daury warned us that those last ones were going to suck and as he yelled out corrections to everyone’s form… they really DO make you seriously hate the person (momentarily at least) who suggested they might be a good idea.

After that section, a couple of my crew were starting to give me death stares but I just grinned back, we were in it now. Then it was on to the next section – another 2 rounds of 3 moves for 45 seconds each that hit everything, this time with dumbells. Daury went at the guys for going too light and made them all go back to get a heavier weight, which caused some grumbling but then every single one of them crushed it. Daury would yell at us to go faster… and tease us for breathing hard but really wanted to just see us give it our all. It was awesome to see everyone put their game face on and GO for it.

Fhitting Room x FBS 3

The final workout was a tabata of 3 different stations that you stayed at for 4 minutes – that 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest thing gets brutal fast.  My first station was the rower, which I love. My goal for each 20 second burst was to hit 100 meters and somehow, I managed to make that happen but by the end, that was so damn hard. I got off the rower, spent. Next up was the Ab Mat sit-ups, which flew by – it wasn’t a breeze but seriously, Pilates work for the win there. The final station made me want to cry a little bit though – 4 rounds each of Squat Jumps and Hand Release push ups. At the end of that round we all collapsed, spent but fitness happy, until Daury was like – “Wait. You think you’re done?” The final 5 minutes were a partner round – one person did wallsits while the other did 8 burpees. We all burst out laughing but then got to work.

Fhitting Room x FBS 4

Daury is one of my favorites at the Fhitting Room because even with all of the cursing and teasing you just know he loves what he does and seriously just wants to make every single athlete in front of him reach their full potential. He pushes you because he truly thinks you can be great. I left class spent and proud of the work I’d put in but I also knew I’d being feeling it later.

Fhitting Room x FBS 5

I might have cursed Daury a little bit that next day…

 

Photos and video by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS.

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.

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

Challenging What You Think is Possible: Brick New York and the Awesome Workout

Brick - Handstand Pushup Prep copyA few weeks ago, I went to an introductory class at the new CrossFit studio: Brick New York.  I was immediately smitten with this awesome CrossFit spot. Brick, which started in LA, just recently opened in Chelsea. I’d heard great things about them but since I have been hesitant to start CrossFit at all, I was surprised at how much I loved it immediately. Brick New York, is a gorgeous space, but more importantly it is filled with super friendly, concerned, form-obsessed coaches.

I started Brick’s Academy the very next week. Their version of CrossFit foundations, it basically focuses on learning one or two of the core moves for eight sessions, with each ending in a short 10 minute or less “Workout Of The Day” that involves the moves that had been practiced in that day’s session. I’ve loved every single academy session I’ve been to but still have 4 more to go before I can take the regular CrossFit classes….
Brick - Erica Setting the Clock copyTo supplement the Academy classes, I’ve been going to Brick’s B|X class – a bootcamp based class. The idea of the class is to get used to the moves & speed of CrossFit without the weight. I fucking love this class. Every time it is something new.
I’ve been going on Saturday mornings but this week’s B|X class was filled with lots of Bricksters and as a result, the class seemed extra hard. Erica Giovinazzo, who had taught at one of my Academy classes and co-taught my first B|X class, was leading the charge and she was on fire from the moment the class began. As with every Brick class I have been to, it started with a group introduction and random question of the day. The first time, I thought this was so weird but after a few classes, I’ve grown to love knowing everyone’s names and some random fact about them. It makes you a team from the get-go.
Brick -Warm Up  copyAfter the intro, we went into the warm up. It included a lot of squats, bench jumps and pushups before moving on to an evil “duck walk” drill. The move is basically a deep squat that moves, this drill involved a twist -that it was actually a game of tag.  I was tagged early on but quickly passed it off to someone else and then waddled away as fast as I could. It hurt but was just ridiculously funny.
After the warm up, Erica went over the workout of the day for B|X:
100 Double Unders
50 Handstand Pushups  / Handstand Hold
50 Toes to Bar / Bar Hang
50 Pistol Squat / Wall Sits
50 Pushups / Plank Hold
100 SitupsWhen Erica first ran though the workout, my immediate thought was that I was completely screwed – handstands, the dead hang with touching your toes to the bar and the Pistol Squat?? Literally, I almost left. But for each crazy, perfect move Erica demonstrated, she gave us several different options for those of us that couldn’t do the full versions. They still seemed really hard but doable…

We paired off and my partner Andy was a rockstar. He powered through the Double Unders and then we went to work going though the next items in the list. The way this worked is that one partner did the move and the other did the “hold” move. First up, the handstand pushups – which were easily the thing in the demo that seemed impossible but the L-Wall Handstand variation was right up my alley. I was super proud of the 30 I did! My partner did the Full Handstand Version, which was insanely impressive.

Brick - FBS Toe to the Bar Prep copyNext up, was the “Toes to the Bar” – from a dead hang, the idea was that you tapped the bar with your feet. I couldn’t even remotely do that. I basically did a dead hang while my partner V-ed up and then when it was my turn, I did a knees up version that Erica cheered for, so  – at least she knew I was trying! Then came the evil Pistol Squats, which my partner ran over and grabbed a heavy band for – an awesome modification that made them so much better!  Still crazy hard but doable. We powered through those then moved on to the Pushups/ Plank hold and then the situps. We finished with a time of 19:19. Brutal but awesome.
Brick - FBS Wiped Out copy
As I breathed a sigh of relief, Erica announced we had a “4 minute cash out” that we could choose to do. EVERYONE stayed. I still don’t know exactly what that means other than we suddenly had an extra 4-minute workout tacked on. This one ….15 second plank, 15 second side plank on both sides, 15 second superman – over and over again. Hard but after what we had been doing, it almost seemed easy.
Brick - Side Plank Group copyErica high fived me at the end and although I was wiped out, I was grinning like a fool…. just like I am every single time I leave Brick. As I slowly work my way though Academy, it is awesome to get the chance to get to do B|X which is basically CrossFit workouts without the weights. Of course the fact that it so throughly kicks my ass makes me slightly worried about when I do get to the regular classes with all of the people who don’t balk at all at Handstand Pushups – but I’ll worry about that when I finally DO make it to a regular CrossFit class! 
Brick -Erica High Five copy

Finally Trying The Fhitting Room: The Kick-Ass Session With Daury Dross & Benjamin Wegman

Fhitting Room studioOn Sunday, I finally made it to the Fhitting Room. I had been avoiding it because of the name and as the daughter of a teacher, things that are intentionally spelled wrong make me crazy. That said, I had had been hearing SO many good things about this studio it was starting to get embarrassing that I hadn’t tried it.  Walking in to the Fhitting Room, located on the Upper East Side, I was immediately handed a bottle of water and green hand towel and while I was filling out my form, the instructor for the class, Duary Dross, came out to say hello.  This small studio was quickly winning me over!  As I got the rundown and saw the tiny lockers, I wondered how in the world I would be able to stuff my huge bag in it…this was not going to be pretty. Luckily, there were big “cubbies” in the main room…phew! Ok, first thing first – walking into a studio that has a springed floor made me just want to hop around like a fool. I had heard that they had it – but since I’d never really been on one, I didn’t think it would be so springy when you were just walking on it! I seriously had to reign myself in.

In the main studio, the second instructor, Benjamin Wegman, was getting to know all of the new faces in this class. There were only 8 of us, so the fact that every class there has two instructors made the student to instructor ratio completely awesome…but it also meant that there was no room to hide!

Fhitting Room Daury Dross and Ben WegmanAfter a quick check in on everyone to see if there were any injuries, we launched into the warm up section – a flurry of jumping jacks, squats, pushups and planks. Daury and Ben would switch off between demonstrating the moves we would be doing and correcting everyone’s form. The two guys played off of each other, keeping things light and fun while they KICKED our asses. Along with many versions of squats & planks, we also used a TRX-like device to do incline rows and one-legged pistil squats – doing these moves, slowly and with Duary and Ben keeping a keen eye on our forms where ridiculously hard. Then there was a plank, pushup, mountain climber balancing on a medicine ball while Duary would bounce around us making the challenging moves, comically hard with the floor shaking under us. I  was breathing hard and wiped and when I did my first time check in this kickass session, I realized that we were only 25 minutes into this class  – my only thought was “Oh, I am screwed.”  The next section was a timed “As Many Rounds As Possible” of 12 Thuster Squats, 12 Push-ups, 12 Squat Jumps, 12 High Knees. which was just evil. It was 12 minutes of going as fast as possible though the moves while still having our forms constantly monitored. By the time we got to the final section, I was feeling like I was going to keel over but thankfully it included a rowing section. By that point, just know that there was something I could kill made me really happy.  At the end, when we were finally stretching, I was completely wiped out -in a way I haven’t been in a VERY long time.

In 55 minutes, Daury and Ben kicked my ass, while keeping an eagle eye on form so you never worried about getting hurt while still making it a ridiculously fun class – that is an amazing feat!   I can’t wait to go back.

Be in the business of being Awesome

Top photos from the Fhitting Room website and bottom image, just a little bit of internet goodness.

 

Sweaty Saturday at Peak Performance With Joe Dowdell: A Prowler, Sled, and Battling Ropes… Oh My!

This weekend, as part of the “Sweaty Saturday” event, Peak Performance opened their private training facility to put on 3 very special classes.  The one I took was led by none other than Joe Dowdell.  Seriously, if Joe, the founder of Peak, celebrity trainer and go-to fitness authority for magazines like Men’s Health, Shape, Women’s Health and Fitness (to name a few), is teaching a rare class for the masses, I am goin to be there!  That said, I really didn’t have any idea what a metabolic training class would actually consist of when I signed up…

It was my second class of the day and when I made it up to the amazing Peak Performance, I was heavily in one of those moods where I just wanted to bag everything and call it a day. However, the minute the elevator doors opened on the awesome, loft-like space of Peak and I see the smiling face of Kindra, Peak’s General Manager, I snapped out of my funk. This was going to be fun – no matter what the class was really going to be! The group that had gathered for the rare treat of a Peak class was a solid group of 14 fellow fitness fiends who knew what a treat this was and came to work. We paired up and then got around to working out.  The first few minutes were a dynamic warm up section before Joe got around to explaining the class. The class was a basic HIIT class, 30 seconds on, 30 off, but ramped up with all of Peak’s killer toys. There were 8 stations and we were set to go for 3 rounds. As Joe went through the stations I got more and more excited. After he was done with the quick run through, we were all sent off to pick a station to start with – I ended up at the battling ropes as the lead-off station. My partner, who had run to the lockers and saw where we were starting, sort of looked at me like she wanted to kick me but quickly rallied. We cheered and clapped for each other for the entire class, it was surprisingly awesome to have a partner because it meant that you had someone rooting for you all the way through!

Our circuit was:

1. The battling ropes

2. Treadmill sprints with the machine in dynamic mode (which is when you have to move the belt with your own power)

3. A 10 lb medicine ball slam and catch station

4. The Prowler

5. A weighted sled rope pull

6. TRX squat

7. Powermax 360 (a push-pull machine often used for fight training, that I did not love)

8. A low box shuffle-squat

Of the stations, I found almost all of them both ridiculously challenging and freaking awesome. There is something so satisfying about pushing yourself that hard. I also loved that there were other trainers on the floor checking on our form every second. During the weighted sled pull, there was a trainer pulling the rope out from under us, so that the minute that the sled hit our feet, we ran to the end of the rope to start again. The whole time though, our form was being coached – “chest up! Squat deeper!” – I love that kind of attention to detail. During the medicine ball throw, Joe would yell to really get our arms above our heads and “slam it like you mean it!”.

Midway through the 2nd round I wondered how I could possibly make it through another round. That 3rd round was brutal but at each station, when I knew it was the last time I would face it, I pushed harder. As I told my partner – if I sit down, I am not sure I’ll get up – I have to keep going. It was awesome. It was a challenging hour and I haven’t worked that hard in ages.

I loved every second of it.

Top photo and headshot of Joe Dowdell from the Peak Performance Facebook page, bottom quote a little internet goodness….

AS 1: Tabata is not my friend.

Part of my kick-off-the-year-right plan was that I scheduled as many classes that I was excited about as possible around New Year’s Day. This might have been a slightly over-ambitious plan since it included 3 spin classes with my favorites at Flywheel (Jesse, Alison, and of course, Holly), a new barre class and THEN rounding it out at As 1 on Tuesday night with a session taught by George Vafiades.  I LOVE As 1 – I think it is one of the best workouts in the city but, admittedly, after all of those classes, I was a little nervous walking in on Tuesday night. I know how tough a class can be and I was just getting over the sore from the Flybarre and Flywheeling adventures that I rang in the New Year with.

This class was packed for the small As 1 space, although, everyone got sorted into their own corner of the mat quickly.  While George got all of the stragglers situated into their spots (myself included – damn MTA), Lisa, another trainer there, led the warm up. She also teaches a yoga class at As 1 on Saturdays, and it was interesting that some of the standard warm up moves actually did feel more yoga-like when she was teaching them. Then, George took over, telling us with a mischievous glint in his eye, that I now know means trouble, that we were going to be doing a “Tabata” workout.  Turns out that Tabata is basically a workout where you go full-out for 20 seconds and then rest for 10, for a total of 4 minutes per round. It is high intensity training at its most extreme – which I love.

There were 4 minute rounds of weighted squats, burpees, back rows and dead lifts. The ‘easiest’ round was one that alternated between push-ups and sit-ups – since it was the only round that by the end didn’t make me feel like just falling over. It is truly amazing how LONG four minutes can seem! The worst was easily the 8 minute alternating split squat section (4 minutes per side, apparently) – which left me really shaky by the end! The 4-minute rounds didn’t end at that point but we moved onto the props section – box jumps, jump ropes, wind bikes, stair running and my favorite thing of all time, the ropes! I LOVE whacking those ropes on the ground…I know I’ve said this before…but it really is just the best sound and was the only round I wished was longer! We ended the Tabata with another 4 minutes of burpees and by the end, mine were vaguely pathetic but I did them and didn’t fall over – a win in my book! Class always ends with some foam rollering, which I think makes all the difference. My legs are sore but not ‘whimpering-sitting-down’ sore, like they should have been with that many split squats!

The class flew by. I am always amazed at As 1, how a class so challenging can seem to go by in the blink of an eye. I love being pushed like that and challenged to do more.  George is so good at assessing everyone and keeping an impressive eye on everyone’s form. You know you are in really good hands while you are being challenged to do more and work harder then you ever thought you could.

(Top image: Internet goodness, Bottom image: George at the rope station from As 1’s Facebook page)