A few months ago, I heard a solid report that Soul Cycle had signed a lease in Brooklyn, near the Borough Hall stop in Brooklyn Heights/Downtown area. I was pretty sure at the time that this was true, but when I saw the recent posting on Soul’s Career section looking for Front Desk peeps for “Brooklyn Heights, CT” I knew it had to be getting close. CT has no Brooklyn Heights… but BROOKLYN’S Downtown/Brooklyn Heights area is ripe for an awesome Indoor Cycling option and given the lease report, I’m now counting down the days ’till it’s officially announced. The Downtown Brooklyn area is massively lacking in fitness options and the studio that gets to this area first is going to have such a stronghold by the time ALL of the huge new buildings go up, it’ll be hard for anyone to compete. I’m not even a little surprised that Soul would see an opportunity and swoop in.
One of my VERY favorite yoga studios – I.AM.YOU in Nolita is beginning to offer community classes (donation based) on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. This loft-based studio is just freaking cool – athletic flow and awesome music. These classes will be taught by one of I.AM.YOU’s finishing school trainees, but knowing Lauren, she wouldn’t have anyone teach in her space that wasn’t amazing. I’m so hitting this up.
In classes that seem both fascinating and slightly terrifying – STREB has started to offer German Wheel (aka the giant hamster wheel) as a weekly class. This used to only be offered as special workshop but now you have the option of dropping in – for $35. Flip, roll, swing and invert yourself inside this giant metal wheel – it encompasses all of the fun and excitement of gymnastic tumbling without the high impact. These classes are taught by Chris Delgado, a certified German wheel instructor who has over 4 years of teaching experience and STREB says it’s open to all levels from beginner to competitive level training. I’m both curious and terrified of this one…
Images from Soul Cycle & I.AM.YOU and Chris Delgado‘s Facebook pages.
Things go wrong when you think you know an address…so on my way to Lauren Imparato’s I.AM.YOU, I took one of those random street elevators to a super sketchy second floor of an entirely different building, that instead of offering me a yoga sanctuary, offered massage services by the minute. I thought, for a brief second, this is how a horror film would start and backed out quickly. Once I was back on the street, a quick Google search gave me the right address (I was two doors down) and moments later, I was finally in the right elevator and headed to I.AM.YOU. I was running late, like class is about to start late, and I almost bagged out completely since I HATE being that person rushing in at the last minute. But when I got to the floor, the door was still open and people were still being checked in, so I threw my stuff in my bag, ditched my shoes in the hallway and checked in. I walked into the darkened, stunning loft with its black mats carefully laid out and was grateful that I had actually made it.
The room was packed – of course. I had a momentary panic that my normal hide-in-the-corner-of-the-room spot wasn’t an option, and I thought about fleeing. Lauren saw me freeze, gave me a fierce hug and said without flinching, “You are going THERE” and pointed at an open mat in the middle of the room. I paused. “GO”, Lauren said firmly and then was off to someone else. I poked my way over to the mat and tried to settle in but with only a sliver of space between each mat, I also start praying that I didn’t take someone out during this class with my non-yogi ways.
Once all thirty mats were filled and everyone was settled in, Lauren told us the focus of the practice. In most I.AM.YOU classes, Lauren has everything completely planned out, but during the live DJ class, there is an improv to music that is played. So that night’s focus was all about really listening. That if, for one moment of your night, you were truly able to tune everything out and just really listen to yourself and the moment– that was success. That night, Jennifer, another of the I.AM.YOU teachers, was assisting and as we went through the athletic flow of the evening, it seemed like there was always someone there guiding and correcting my movement. Lauren and Jennifer seamlessly moved around the room, adjusting people, working as a team to get everyone in the room. Sigh. Have I ever mentioned HOW much I love adjustments? I.AM.YOU instructors, for how amazing, challenging and athletic the practice is, are really just masterful at making sure everyone is in the right position.
Lauren’s flow that night made us work with each other to get a little bit of space to fling ourselves around on the mat but because of the vibe of the night, everyone would just smile and shift. As the songs would change, the flow would morph and you had to really listen to the cues Lauren was giving. I strained to follow but occasionally would just peek at the girl on my left who was a regular and seemed grasp what the next thing was immediately. I never felt totally lost but occasionally my mind would drift off to the great music and cool vibe of the room and I’d suddenly realize I’d missed a cue or two. The hour and 15 minute practice flew by and at the end, as we lay in Savasana, I was totally blissed out. When Lauren made it to me to rub my temple to seal the practice, I melted. At the end of class, as I threw on my clothes and made my way out into the night, I wondered why I wasn’t at I.AM.YOU every single week… it really is just a magical spot in the world.
Photos from I.AM.YOU’s Facebook page. Top photo is from the actual class, if you look very closely you can spot me!
On Saturday morning, at the perfectly reasonable hour of 11am, I was standing in front of a non-descript door in Little Italy wondering just what I had signed up for. I had been hearing amazing things about I.AM.YOU studio for awhile, but have been so wary of signing up for it since every description seemed just too cool for me- and I honestly thought it just couldn’t live up to the hype. I was so wrong.
To get up to the studio, you get onto a creaky elevator that opens directly onto the street and then drops you off in front of a large metal door. I was one of the first to arrive but the hall was quickly filled with a ridiculously attractive crowd, who were all very serious about their I.AM.YOU class. When the doors finally opened, a few of us were new and had to sign in so the crowd behind us surged around, since people really wanted to snag their favorite spots. I ended up in the back row with the two other newbies to the studio – which was nice because I could scope out the studio before the class started. I.AM.YOU is in a gorgeous, open loft and all of the black mats were laid out before all of the students arrived. I LOVE not having to bring a mat to class and when they are already out so there isn’t that weird moment of trying to fit in somewhere. Saturday’s class, though, had more people than expected, so there was a little shifting around of rows. Everyone was reminded to always RSVP so the class count is right and starting class goes smoothly.
The class starts off with a 10 minute section of visualization and chanting. I really hate chanting usually, as those of you who have read my previous posts know, it just completely sets me on edge. But this class was the first time that wasn’t the case. Lauren Imparato has a deep, sexy, melodic voice that was just amazing to listen to – the chanting sounded more like singing. Even when people answered her, they tried to match the melody of it and it was absolutely beautiful. Lauren then told us a wonderful, relatable story about intention and learning before putting on the music and beginning the flow portion of the class. The first song that came on was a rap song and you just knew you were in for a VERY different kind of yoga experience. I.AM.YOU’s flow is challenging, non-stop and so very, very good, set to an amazing, energizing playlist. Good music always helps me in a challenging class and this class was really challenging. I loved every minute of it even though it was hard. Lauren’s adjustments were so sure and helpful – you just knew you were in good hands. By the end of class I was wiped out and blissful and fully in love with the I.AM.YOU experience.
Lauren and the I.AM.YOU studio really are just as good as everyone has said. For the first time in ages, I have found a yoga class that I can’t wait to go back to and I am grateful for that.