Kira Stokes’ Fusion Ride At The Epic New FIDI BFX

When I heard that BFX had designed an indoor cycling studio, where half of the space was a dedicated workout floor in their new Financial District location, I was curious. I haven’t actually had a class where we got off the bike in the middle really slay me, but when I heard that Kira Stokes had been given free reign to develop the program that put it to use, I knew this one had to be good. Last week, I finally got to test out the new Fusion Ride.

BFX Kira Stokes II

The new BFX is just seriously beautiful – with lots of marble and clean elegant space. The Chelsea location is nice but this one is just next level. At check-in, I ran into people I knew and totally missed the part where they tell you whether you start on the bike or the floor! So as we were filing into class, everyone was going to their assigned places and I was completely lost. I snagged Kira and asked if I should go back out and find out where I was supposed to be, but she shook her head and sent me off to a bike. I was SO glad to start off on the bike, though, because it let me warm up and get to see what was coming up when it was my turn on the floor.

Each part of the workout was broken into 3 blocks – Power, Strength and Endurance. On the bike that means – interval drills, heavy hills and endurance pushes. It was weird to be on a bike with my sneakers on, but I got used to it after a little bit – plus, it made the transition off the bike quicker. BFX does use the standard bike pedals so if you have your own shoes you could totally rock them- just make sure you are quick at changing them. Kira doesn’t have much tolerance for dillydallying during a workout!

BFX Kira Stokes

The thing that I’ve always liked about Kira’s classes is that there is a reason for every single move and where they are in the program – this class isn’t any different. On the floor, I snagged a spot next to my friend and after a quick demo from Kira on proper form of the 1st round of exercises, we were off. In a super helpful move, this class also used projections on the wall with the moves we were doing for each block. My friend was much better at following what we were supposed to be doing but a sneak peak up at the wall came in handy for me often! One thing I really liked in this class was that there was another instructor, the awesome Claire Gould, on the floor with us. She’d demo a move if anyone looked lost, fix form for people and just generally keep the energy up. It was Kira’s class and she was all over everyone but Claire totally had her back, keeping tabs on that huge, split group.

BFX Kira Stokes III

The first segment was a power segment and that night’s version involved a couple of AMRAPS (as many rounds as possible) using moves that built off of each other like TRX Squats to Squat Jumps to a row, then weighted Lunges and plyo alternating Lunges rounded out with a TRX Tricep push up. It felt very classic Stoked series. The next segment was geared towards strength and used heavier weights and slower movements. Those sandbags with their shifting weight were deceiving! One of the moves involved a Squat Thruster with a Tricep press, and while the weight that had been fine in the classic Squat Thruster, suddenly wasn’t fine when it went back behind my head. I couldn’t raise it up to save my life. I got totally stuck – but of course Kira noticed immediately and was swapping the bag out before I even had a moment to process! Then it was down on the ground to finish that round out with a plank sandbag pull – which when Kira demoed, it sailed across the room but when I did it, moving it even fully over to the other side of my body was comically hard.

The final segment, the endurance round – made me feel a little bit like I didn’t have any. It was all about keeping moving with full body movements that blasted up your heart rate. That round was a little bit of a blur because by the time it hit I was totally wiped out! The Fusion Ride was challenging, fun and actually really worked with the spinning combined with the floor work. In an hour that flew by, the ride and floor work had effectively kicked my ass… but man, I really do have to work on those bag pulls – that was just embarrassing.

Photos and video: Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for Fatbottomslim


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.

The Joy of Flying: Alison Cohen shows the Fella the way….

This week was all about going to see the Hunger Games. I REALLY wanted to see it; what can I say? So, I bought tickets to the late showing at BAM cinemas on Saturday night, as a fun date-night for the Fella and me.  I realized that I had signed up for Alison Cohen’s Flywheel class early “Warrior Ride” on Sunday morning, so as I cancelled out of that, I decided that maybe the Fella and I should go to her later class on Sunday at the Flatiron studio. It is fair to say that I have a little bit of a Flywheel addiction, and love getting to share a ride with the Fella.  After last weekend’s crazy-great Holly class, I figured it was finally time to get him to one of Alison’s classes on the weekend. I will admit it, I didn’t entirely give the Fella a choice, but more announced it as a thing: “I got us tickets to the Hunger Games late show and because I had to cancel out of my early class on Sunday, I got us bikes for Alison’s 4:15 class instead!  Awesome, right??” He was so excited about the movie, that it was a little bit later when he realized the other part I snuck in!

I have loved Alison’s classes at Flyweel since the very first time I took one. She teaches a hard, challenging but fun class and is just so completely herself. Since she found out that the Fella had gone to one Flywheel class, she has wanted to know when he would be showing up to hers. It had gone on long enough that I think she was beginning to believe that the Fella didn’t really exist. He was fast becoming my very own Big Foot – whispered about but few have ever actually seen…

On Sunday, we headed into the city to Flywheel’s Flatiron studio for Alison’s 4:15 class and the cold, grey day made being inside for a class seem like the absolute perfect thing to do. At the studio, we quickly stashed our stuff and headed up to the front to wait for class. I ran into Alison and she excitedly asked if the Fella had really made it and as soon as I pointed him out on the bench, she ran over and hugged him. It was flat-out endearing and you could see the Fella was totally won over by her immediately. It turned out that she had had a crazy stressful morning with classes to teach and a broken Ipod, which led to lots of franticness getting her hands on a replacement. Yet, somehow, she had still managed to get the two groups on our class’ playlist that I had told her were the Fella’s favorite. I thought she was amazing before but after that? Seriously, that is above and beyond. He was floored.

As we settled into the class, the playlist rocked and we quickly fell into a solid groove of work. It was Alison’s signature challenging, engaging class with lots of long intervals and heavy torque and when I looked over at the Fella in the middle of it, he was fully in the moment and grinning from ear to ear. This class obviously had finally cemented what I have been telling him all along, that when you are fully into a class, there really is nothing better. The Fella killed it and at the end of his 4th class, he had beaten me by one point.  When I pointed it out to him, he was gob-smacked.  When you are fully in the zone, there is no denying it, and as I high fived him, he asked me when we get to come back. The love of Flywheel has finally, officially, been spread in my house thanks to Alison’s amazing, challenging class. Is there anything more you can ask for than that?


(Top photo of Alison from Flywheel Sports website and the bottom a little internet goodness)

Work: Flywheel with Steven Little

On Monday evening, I went to Steven Little’s Flywheel class. I didn’t really know what to expect from him or what the vibe of his class would be, but I have been curious to try it out for a while now. As it turned out, this class was the complete antithesis to Saturday’s class, and I loved every minute of it. The thing is, I love a class that’s primary purpose is to kick my ass. Steven’s class is just a hard core training session, designed to work you out as hard as possible. In fact, he even told us that exact thing during class:

“I didn’t come here for a dance party, I came here to fucking WORK. Training is WORK. Getting lean is WORK. Getting fit is WORK. NOW. GET. TO. IT.”

Considering the class I had gone to that weekend (yes, an amazing Soul Cycle Dance Party), I buckled down and got to work. No more horsing around! I love that kind of intensity, so even though it was my second class of the day, I busted my ass to work as hard as I could. I love being asked to rise to an occasion!

Steven’s class was about knowing your own ride and how hard you can push that day. It was interesting because there was no tolerance for slacking, but also not the normal “your torque is this” and “your RPM’s should be here” but more of “this is what you should be doing but if you need a rest, take one, and then get right back on.” At the beginning of class, we were directed to figure out where our flat, our hill and our challenging climb was. When he first said it, I was confused, but during the class, it made perfect sense – we were supposed to own our own ride. It took a minute for me to really get into the class but once I was in it, I was totally into it. I worked REALLY hard in that class because I kept thinking, I can keep going, I don’t really need a break…

It was one of those rare classes that felt more like a personal training session than a group class. All of Steven’s motivation and prompting really worked for me. It wasn’t about playing, it was about getting stronger and more fit – sometimes, that is exactly what you need. To be seriously pushed by someone who wants you to be your best self and doesn’t believe the bullshit excuses you tell yourself that allow you to slack. He truly gave the impression of someone who believed you could be a greater version of yourself – wherever it was that you started your journey. It was a weirdly quiet class – and he really wanted people to be more vocal, but at 5:30pm on a Monday, that just wasn’t happening. So, once again, I felt like the freak for being loud. But what can I say? It helps! He was totally inspiring and absolutely motivating.

I really can’t believe how freaking good the class was and on that day, it was exactly what I needed. I can’t believe it took me so long to try it.

(Image: Steven Little via Flywheel website, quote via ESPNW’s Facebook )

Danny Kopel’s Soul Dance Party

Last week, I got a message from my Soul Cycle friend that read “I booked a second bike in Danny’s Dance Party – it is yours if you want it.” My immediate response was: “Hell, YES!”  The first class I took with Danny Kopel at Soul Cycle had felt more like a party than a class, so the fact that there was an actual dance party class sounded like a damn fine way to begin a Saturday night. The first class I took with Danny, he didn’t ride the bike at all and I couldn’t really picture him on one since he has a frenetic and boundless energy that seemed almost impossible to keep in one spot for 45 minutes.

Danny was, of course, fabulous on the bike and off it too. He still bounded around the room like a rock star on stage, but also held the room on the bike. He is so magnetic and impishly charismatic that it is almost impossible to not get caught up in the vibe Danny is creating. The packed class felt more like a club with a star DJ at the helm of your evening, and the music was a little more club/techno-y than the first class I took with him. There was lots of “dancing” on the bike – the Soul Cycle pushups and dips moves that sometimes I got and sometimes I just didn’t – I am not the most coordinated when it comes to those things!  The class certainly had more “moves” and chorography then the first one. It was fun, but some of the moves, I just didn’t get at all. However, my absolute favorite part of the class wasn’t the strobe light (which Danny WORKED) but the bubble machine. It was so ridiculous that it had to be loved, because seriously, how often do you get bubbles in a class? Plus, Danny has a signature high kick move, that really is damn impressive, and several times he popped the bubbles with a high kick. I loved that. This class FLEW by… I swear it felt more like 20 minutes then 45.  Total sweaty fun.

Trying to describe Danny’s Soul Dance Party is like trying to tell someone about the amazing party you went to that never sounds as fantastic as it was – the class was a ridiculously good time.  It was a good workout AND a fantastically good time.  Afterwards, I was in a great mood and headed back to Brooklyn to get ready to go to my friend’s Holiday party – the class really was the perfect kickoff to a festive evening! A workout improves my mood, but this one also made me feel like partying was in order, too.  And during this season, that makes it just about perfect.

(Image from Soul Cycle’s Facebook page)

Finding the magic: Danielle’s Flywheel class on the UES

On Saturday night, thanks to the kick-off of Lululemon 66th Street and UES Flywheel’s December weekly freebie class, I got to take a class with Danielle. I LOVE that they are doing that this month! I plan on being at all of them because really, I can’t afford to go nearly as much as I would like to, so if there is EVER a chance to go to one, I am there.

The way it works is that it is a first come, first serve deal – that always worries me a little when I have to make if from Brooklyn to the UES but I just planned for way more time to get there than needed. After checking with the Lululemon store (I had thought you signed up for the class there –nope!) and poking around the store for a little bit, I was STILL ridiculously early, about 45 minutes early – and wasn’t the first person there! All the front row bikes were taken but I got my favorite 2nd row bike, which was nice, although really, for free, I would sit anywhere as long as I had a bike!  Mostly, I was just excited to be getting to take a class at all. People rolled in at a pretty steady pace and the class was soon filled to the brim, still, everyone seemed to get a bike.  As we waited for our class to start, people started to come out of Danielle’s earlier class– they all had that drenched, blissed-out, slightly dazed look of people who have just taken a great class. Looking at their faces as they came out, I knew that Danielle was on fire and we were in for a great class. I just didn’t really know how true that was.

Once in a while, a class completely and utterly blows your socks off with its greatness. Danielle’s class on Saturday was like that. It was a class filled with people who hadn’t really done Flywheel very much, a really quiet group, and yet, it was still completely amazing. In lots of classes, it is the crowd’s energy that supplies the intensity and drive.  In this one, it was all Danielle. Though the crowd was quiet (well, except for me who hooted and hollered a lot- the class was too good not to), Danielle pulled everyone along with her. It was really a sight to see. The music was good but Danielle was AMAZING. She kicked my ass and I walked out of the class just as drenched and blissed-out as everyone that I saw walk out of the earlier class. Danielle really has claimed rockstar status in my book for that joyful, kickass class.

On Sunday morning, the fella and I went to Paragon to sign up for the free snowboarding trip they are sponsoring with Burton to Mountain Creek, NJ. Unbelievably, we were the first people in line!  I can’t wait.  I have never been snowboarding and not only is it a free trip, but it is also for beginners.  It includes a lesson and all of the gear you need, the stuff that always makes trying it out for the first time seem so crazy expensive. The fact that it happens to be on a random Monday that the fella has off? Really, doesn’t get better than that!

After our snowboarding score, we walked down to La Colombe for a yummy coffee and just to enjoy the crisp, sunny day.

December is going to be a VERY fun month it seems….


(Picture of Danielle from Flywheel Sports website and quote a little bit of internet goodness)

Flywheeling with the Fella

The fella and I never take classes together – while I run around the city like a loon getting my fitness fix, he really just sticks to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. On Sunday night however, since we were going to have a random Monday hooky day off together the next day, I got the brilliant idea that it was about time that the fella take his first indoor cycling class.  I knew the perfect first class to take him to. One of my favorite instructors at Flywheel, the ridiculously motivating Jesse Alexander, had some spots in his 12:30 class open – the perfect time AND the perfect first class teacher. Plus, it didn’t hurt that there was not enough time for the fella to back out of the plan once he agreed to it and it was set in motion. I have wanted him to come try Flywheel for a while now because I knew he would totally get into it – once he GOT there.

The funny thing is that, because I take so many random classes, I forget that first classes can be worrisome at all and that first indoor cycling ones can be the worst. The fella truly didn’t know what to expect. I always talk about the feeling of a class but gloss over the basics. Yes, you wear special shoes that clip in but Flywheel has them for you, and they have towels and water there too. They will help you with the bike set-up…no one will leave you to flail around confused. In the fella’s case, I helped with the set-up of the bike and then Jesse came over and finished it to get it perfect. The best instructors give you clear directions on what you are supposed to be doing (one of my favorite lines that Jesse says in every class is: ”I will always count you up, I will always count you down”).  And Flywheel’s torque board make the class easier to follow too, since you are given “your torque should be this, your rpms in this range”… which I love. It frees you of that “Am I doing this right?” bit and allows you to just focus on working out as hard as possible.  And my final piece of advice to the fella: bring a change of clothes!  You WILL be a sweaty mess and will be sorry if you don’t have something to change into.

Jesse really is amazing and it was the perfect first class, as I knew it would be. It is always so gratifying to be able to share that first class experience with someone, and with one of my absolute favorite instructors, it was just awesome.  The class was great, the music rocking and invigorating, and the entire class was completely in the zone. The fella did great for his first class, as I knew he would, and it was ridiculously fun to ride beside him. The class was really challenging and kicked my ass, but almost more importantly for me, it was so good that the fella suddenly and completely got my Flywheel addiction.

As we walked out of the class he looked at me and said “That class was outta control, sick.  I really thought I was in shape before I went in there but that class kicked my ASS… my legs feel like jello!” After such a kick-ass class, we wandered through the city and enjoyed a blissful rest of the day.  Later that night, the fella said… “I can’t believe how great that class was… I really think we should go do that again. “

Hell. Yes.

The power of a great class

So, over the weekend, my computer crashed and just wouldn’t come back to life.  Instead of any of the fun fitness adventures I had planned, I spent most of the weekend dealing with that. Turns out my hard drive got corrupted and needs to be replaced – I do like a clean slate, but I wouldn’t have chosen this one! At the end of last week, before the computer meltdown, I had decided I just had to take one more of Holly’s classes at Flywheel, and this morning was that class. I almost canceled out, since I was in a foul mood and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get really into the class and didn’t want to “waste it” by not being present for it.

I should have had a little faith!  It took all of about 5 minutes after I arrived to start forgetting about the ridiculous computer crap and start to have a good time. As we were all settling in, Holly was up there grooving away to early Micheal Jackson and ramping everyone up. Really, you can’t be around this kind of joyous energy and not give into it. Holly danced her way through class from the bike and through the aisles. It was like being at a dance party, so much so that I almost forgot she was kicking my ass with a hard, fast class. When she called out that it was the last song, I was floored.  It seemed like we hadn’t been there nearly that long! It was exactly what I needed this morning. I left with jello legs and unabashedly happy. It doesn’t get better then that.

It might be awhile before I get to go back, given the new hard drive expenditure, but next time I am in a funk, I know exactly where I am going to snap out of it. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: Holly is amazing.

The Holly Experience

For the last year or so it seemed liked everyone I knew was mentioning Holly Rilinger. It always seemed to be in that “I am letting you in on a little secret” sort of way. Geeze, even my fella was like “oh you know about Holly?” since apparently in the NY Jujitsu circles she is whispered about. Not too long ago there was even talk about her going to Biggest Loser (given the news about Jillian Michael’s recent investment in Flywheel, it seems like that might be the basis of this bit of gossip) that was sort of the straw that broke the camels back so to speak – I knew that I had to check out what the hell was going on in that class.  I never seem to have the money to go to Flywheel but when I DO get to go I always go to Kate’s class (she is also awesome, btw) so when the amazing site FITiST offered me a free class of my choosing I just had to see what all the fuss was about Holly. It seemed like a sign.

I love Flywheel. It really is my absolute favorite workout place, if I suddenly won the lottery, it would be where I would go everyday. But sadly the lottery hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t get to go very often.  So Monday’s 9:30am class with Holly was a treat, a free, joyful treat.

When I go to Flywheel classes, I like to be in the second row but right in front of the instructor. Weird but I like being accountable – I like being in eye site of the person kicking my ass. The slight bummer of this experience is that there was a hiccup with the booking of the class and I ended up on a bike in the corner under the monitors. Ugh. It was so irksome but it happens and I settled into my sideline bike and prepared to have Holly’s class not live up to the hype. As I set up my bike I realized Jimmy Fallon was on the bike behind me, so I guess the sideline corner bike has some perks for noisiness!

The class itself was really all it was cracked up to be. It was hands down the most inspiring, hard indoor cycling class I have ever been too. Holly is passionate, joyful, challenging, and ridiculously ripped. I wanted to keep up. I wanted to do her proud. I wanted to have arms like her. Damn people. When they talk about “celebrity trainers” they need to be talking about Holly. She should be snapped up by someone for the big leagues, but until she is, even my super broke self walked out of the class and tried to figure out how to budget in a class with Holly at least once a month.

Holly has a great site which I have been pouring over of course. Now if I can only figure out how to try her boot camp class…..

photo: Copyright © 2011 Holly Rilinger