Tag Archives: class review

Surfset Fitness: Riding the Wave

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I’ve mentioned Surfset a time or two, and just recently had the chance to experience it for myself. After being closed out of all the April classes at the Chelsea Market pop up,  I was happy to see that Surfset was holding an event at the Setai to kick off their summer season.  Surfset will have classes in the Hamptons and Atlantic City and will return to Manhattan in March with a permanent studio.

After a little confusion with registration, I was able to claim a board and get ready for class.

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The class is taught almost entirely on the board pictured below.  The board is on top of two stability balls and everything is on a stand about 1.5 feet off the floor.

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This set up makes the board quite springy and you can actually fall off and tip the board over to one side of the stand if you aren’t well balanced. I did this a time or two! There were also to handles on pulleys that we used for arm work.

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The atmosphere was a little like a spinning class–the room was dark, the music was loud, the energy was high! The class was a 3 series of three different exercises.  Each series was repeated 3 times.   The whole class was 60 minutes.

The exercises, not surprisingly, mimicked surfing movements.   Here are a few examples: 

  • Stand on one  leg and paddle off the side of the board with the other with the other. 
  • Lunges on the board. 
  • Sun salutations on the board
  • Jump over the board from side to side  and  from the top to the ground and ground to top.
  • Rowing with the handles in kneeling position.

By far my favorite activity was when we popped up from laying on the board to crouched in surfer position.  It totally reminded me of the Forgetting Sarah Marshall scene with Paul Rudd and Jason Segal.  “Pop Up, pop down, pop up!  You’re doing too much! Do less Pop down.”

I definitely got a workout.  As most of the exercises required lots of balance, so every muscle group was worked. There were a few I just couldn’t do without immediately falling off the board, so I made my own modifications.

Overall, I really liked the instructor and had a lot of fun.  At $35 a class, I can’t imagine I would go all the time, although it could be tempting at a lower price point. It’s definitely a fun workout worth checking out—there’s no way you will find it boring!  Besides, there’s a little surfer in all of us! I’d rate the class a solid B+!

CLAY INSIDER

I was sad to see my 2 weeks at Clay come to an end yesterday.  It was nice to have access to a gym that felt like a spa and was never the least bit crowded. To me the biggest difference between Clay and all the other gyms I have been to was the atmosphere.  It was, in a word, zen.  I always felt relaxed and calm.  There was no competition.  The colors were neutral, so it didn’t feel manly or too feminine.  The classes were very small, and the instructors very knowledgeable and encouraging.

  I asked one of the clay membership advisors a few questions, which I think will give you a better idea of the concept behind a boutique gym like Clay.

What do you find are the benefits of a boutique gym over a larger gym chain?

One of the real benefits of a boutique club such as Clay is that we don’t get the high amount of passport traffic normal to a large chain with thousands of members citywide.  Clay has a capped membership and is more in line with a private club experience that has less peak time usage than your typical health club.  This also enables a Clay member to have a more personalized experience.

What are the most popular classes at Clay?

SWEAT
bodyBARRE
  ( I LOVED this class! Review here)
Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga (any of our yoga classes are quite popular)

I enjoyed an open vinyasa class.  I also noticed that they have some pretty famous yoga instructors on their schedule. Kristin McGee for one.

I found all the classes I took to be be challenging and small enough to have plenty of room and instructor attention.

What are the most popular personal services, i.e., training, nutrition, spa?

Our personal training and massage are the most popular of all of our services being offered.  Our Café is enormously popular as well in terms of what Clay offers as part of its amenities.

On each of my visit’s there were clients with personal trainers and complimentary massages.  The cafe had a delicious menu and was definitely a popular spot. Also check out the smoothie menu, for ideas if nothing else. I tried a yummy Clean and Green.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a look inside:

See what I mean about Zen?

One of my favorite Clay features was the lockers with locks you set yourself.  It is so nice not to lug a lock around.

Member lounge with computers

The locker rooms provided almost everything you needed: towels, slippers, robes, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hair dryers, mouth wash, cotton balls, wash clothes, and razors.

Strength area

I don’t have photos of the cardio area, but it had all the standard machines and many I had never seen. I was also told that they rotate machines frequently so that the latest technology and trends are always available.

Areas not photographed:

  • spinning and boxing studio
  • fitness class studio
  • cardio area
  • spa
  • roof top
  • stretch area

If you would like to try Clay, I noticed that they offer a free day pass with their roof top brunch to non-members–$20 for brunch and a workout, bargain.  Call to inquire.

360 Fit Boot Camp Review

Last week I received an exciting offer to try a Boot Camp workout class.  Of course, I said yes.  The 360 Fit studio just opened in early January and happens to be only one subway stop from my house, on 43rd Street and 3rd Ave.  blog 003

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but I said to myself as I entered the building, I hope this is a good workout

Turns out, I had no need to worry, the workout kicked my ASS! Oh my god, just hours later, I am already sore!

So the studio is actually a very small, very plain room with mirrors on one side on the 11th floor of a large office building.  I felt a little weird taking photos in front of everyone, but it is no bigger than the small yoga studio in my building—pictured below, which fits about 8 people comfortably. blog 004 blog 006

But boot camp isn’t exactly about the frills.  As I entered Shanna, the instructor, introduced herself and a few minutes later we got started. The class was 4 girls and 3 guys.

We started out with a “warm up.” The warm up was lunges and then for some added pain, low lunges involving a ground touch and hop!  I immediately wondered what I was in for!

Next up were wall sits while raising one leg and jumping jacks with a weighted ball.

Then we took the weighted ball and raced up 12 flights of stairs!

The workout alternated cardio, strength, plyometrics and static strength moves-burpees, squat hold jumps, mountain climbers, push up with many many variations. We used resistance bands, gliding discs and weighted balls throughout the workout. Towels and water were provided, and needed!

It was a lot like the 30 Day Shred, but harder.  Yes, HARDER.  It was like doing level 3 two times and half times in a row at a bit faster pace and with no rest.  Jillian says you get no rest, but there are moments between moves.  Not in Shannon’s boot camp.  Your transition between moves is ziltch!  Yet, she is so sweet and has such a calm, soothing voice, it’s hard to moan and groan when she says, just 5 more!

There were moments when I worried about how the burning sensation in my legs and arms would affect my running and swimming in prep for the indoor tri later in the afternoon.  Yup, it’s going to hurt!  But what is the point of a workout, if you don’t even feel it? pain is weakness leaving the body peeps!

All in all, I loved the 360 Fit Bootcamp Workout! It was much harder than the Crossfit workouts I tried this summer.  I might have had a different playlist, but the music didn’t bother me.  Speaking of music, you have to check out Tanya’s Go Hard Like Sharks Workout Playlist! Love.

Shanna started 360 Bootcamp started as a one-on-one workout for personal and corporate clients and then also started an outdoor group class in the warmer months. The winter class schedule is a little limited right now since it just opened a few weeks ago, but here are the class descriptions and the schedule:

  • Full Body Definitions: body weight resistance, gliders and bands to challenge you for a total body workout.
  • Core/Cardio: a fast paced mixture of abdominal and lower back strengthening mixed with intense cardio.
  • Boot Camp: circuit training integrating strength training, cardio endurance and core conditioning.
  • GLIDE: a full body workout using the Pro Glider system to strengthen, define and tone.

The first class is $25 and your second is free!  Not bad!

Tomorrow night there will be a Yoga Class to Help Haiti from 5:00-6:15PM.  The class is free with a $20 suggested donation, which will benefit Doctors without Borders.

I wish I could go, unfortunately, I have friends coming over for dinner tomorrow.  But for those interested, here are the details:

There will be a yoga fundraiser tomorrow at 360Fit Studio from 5-6:15pm. The address is 211 East 43rd Street, Suite 1105. Amy Elers, the instructor, is one of NYC’s top yoga instructors and currently teaches at PURE Yoga and Equinox.
Please let me know if you can make it, it would be great to have you! 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders. There will also be a NIKE shoe raffle.

S Factor Review: Pole Dancing 101

***GOOD LUCK TO MEGHANN, RACHEL, and MELISSA on the DISNEY MARATHON THIS WEEKEND.  YOU FABULOUS LADIES WILL ROCK EVERY MAGICAL MILE!***

I am sure many of you have heard of S Factor, or at least pole dancing as a form of exercise. Celebrities such as Teri Hatcher and Kate Hudson have brought it to the mainstream, and for a while there it seemed like every gossip rag has pics of our favorite pretty young actresses was learning to work the pole for their next role.  The S Factor book is always prominently featured at my local Barnes and Nobles.

A few nights ago, Liz and I decided to check out a class for ourselves.  For Liz, a huge fan of StripXpertise (which both she and I have reviewed), it was the next logical step in expanding her sexercise repetoire. For me, I am up for any new and interesting sweat inducer that comes my way–and if I get to do that workout with Liz, all the better!

So what did we think?  I pestered relentless asked Liz for her thoughts, so you will get both of our reflections. Actually, we hadn’t discussed it before she sent me her email, but our thoughts were astonishingly similar for two people who have very different workout styles.

Before we get into the review, here’s an idea of what your average pole dancing class experience looks like.  I arrived at the very posh and cosy studio, which looked a lot like a nice yoga studio with lots of plush couches, complimentary water, magazines and racks of workout gear and other merchandise.  The staff was exceptionally nice and welcoming and showed me the changing room and studio. It was much larger than I expected. There were several studios ranging in size and everything was sparkling clean and very zen on all counts.  The photos make it seem much brighter than it is due to my flash, but actually the rooms are very dimly lit by heavily draped lamps and low lighting. pole dancing 009 pole dancing 010 pole dancing 011 pole dancing 012 pole dancing 013 pole dancing 014

Liz arrived and we hung out on the couch as we waited for the teacher to call us into the studio. The class was larger than I expected, about 12 or so first timers. We actually had two instructors, one’s name was Ilove. That is her real name.  She brought us into the room, bare feet only.  And asked us about why we were taking the class and the usually chit chat.  We had to wait for over 15 minutes for the other instructor to arrive, so I was getting really impatient with all the going around the room jazz.  I am not a fan of waiting or lateness, especially when I am really excited to start a class.

But at least it gave us time to discuss the class structure and the different classes.

The typical class is two hours.

It involves a 45 minute warm-up/workout.  This part is a lot of stretching, some ab and leg work, a lot of stroking and touching and using your assets.  It is all one long connected flow, it actually has a very similar feel to yoga.

Then you get to play on the pole for about 20 minutes. Believe it or not, 20 minutes of pole work and your arms are shot.

Next you learn a dance, which you add onto as you progress through the levels.  There are 6 levels which move you through pole tricks and dance routines to lap dancing and stripping, although no nudity is actually allowed at the studio.

And finally you have some time to freestyle.  The major emphasis is about embracing your sexuality and letting go and loving your body and your femininity.  The environment feels very safe and free of judgment to do this, almost anyone would feel comfortable letting go a bit.

The intro class went like this:

  • 45 minute warm up
  • 10 minutes learning the S walk
  • 20 minutes learning the Firefly move on the pole—too fun for words
  • 20 or so minutes learning and practicing the routine
  • 10 minutes watching the instructors do their own freestyle routine—which was honestly amazing.  I wasn’t necessarily turned on, but I was in totally disbelief and how these women could climb the pole and effortlessly contort themselves around them.  It was like watching Cirque du Soleil.

And on to our thoughts, as I said, Liz and I ended up feeling almost exactly the same, so I here our Liz’s reflections and I will just add a few additional thoughts at the end.

The studio itself was gorgeous.  Really clean, dimly lit, no mirrors.  The no mirrors thing was surprisingly liberating.  Even when you knew you were looking a fool, you didn’t actually have confirmation of that fact, so it was easier not to feel silly.  The whole “when it feels right you’ll know it’s right” thing was really true.

There was plenty of the standard stretching I would expect, and lots of ab work which was fabulous, but ultimately this went on much too long for my liking.  As someone who is incredibly inflexible, I see the value of all this stretching, but admittedly really hate it. As someone who favors strip tease workouts over yoga, it just seemed to drag.  In fairness, it probably wasn’t THAT long, but I was anxious and excited for pole dancing!  Later when we were working the pole and doing the beginning of the dance routine, a lot of it made more sense and was put into context, and I was immediately less annoyed by all the stretching.

The pole trick we learned was a basic spin, and every one I did went sooo differently.  One or two felt really fabulous, and a couple others were total fails.  I bruise like crazy, so I was a bit concerned about what my legs and arm would look like today, but nothing too bad.  It was really fun, though!  I think we might have to try to convince our other roommate that putting a pole in the living room would be a good idea so that we can practice.  The beginning of the routine we learned was really fun, too, although almost exactly the same as the first one I had done at Strip Xpertease.

All in all, I loved the class and really want to go back, but it’ll be a while before I can save up for a series.  The emphasis on doing what feels right and teaching your body a new way to move was great, and the instructors clearly believe in one of my very favorite things: embracing the inner sexy.

I will second that the warm up seemed a lot like yoga for someone who doesn’t really like yoga.  I was kind of dying to get on with it, and the instructor was speaking in this weird, rhythmic voice that was sort of sensual and sort of creepy.  It bothered me. A lot. However, the stretching was definitely much needed and very beneficial.  Like yoga, I had a hard time being in the moment and practicing body and mind awareness, instead I was thinking about what might come next, what I would post about, my plans for the evening, etc.  I did like how everything flowed together, there were some fun moves and despite the fact that I didn’t love dragging my hair across the floor, I felt oddly empowered by the whole experience.  Again agreeing with Liz, once we learned that many of the warm up moves were necessary for the dance routine, I didn’t mind them at all and everything made sense.

As for the pole, I definitely took a swing immediately after the warm up, I couldn’t help myself.  It was calling to me.  The move we learned, the Firefly, was pretty easy, just your standard jump and spin. It was definitely everything I had hoped, and while some went better than others, each was exhilarating though brief. All I could think was, I want one!  And when can I do it again!

So all and all, the class was a success, we had a lot of fun.  The series are 8 weeks, one two hour class a week, so it would easily fit into my workout regimen without taking up too much time.  However, the series are almost $500 each and there are 6 series, so while I had a good time, I can’t afford to do this for more than the occasional single class treat.  While I would love to master the pole, my desire to learn to give lap dances is beyond minimal, so life goes on.

In terms of “feel the burn factor.”  The class probably burns about the same amount of calories as the average yoga class, but like yoga, that’s not really the point.  The ab work was fairly intense, but very brief.   My arms, on the other hand, are really really feeling it today.  My shoulders have been burning since I woke up this morning. I also have a very unsightly bruise on my calf from one of the less successful pole spins.

If you have the desire to unleash your inner sexy and try something new, I definitely recommend checking out an intro class. Most people came with a friend, which makes it a little more fun, but if you are spinning solo, there is no need to be intimidated!

Fall In Love with New York

***Just realized this can really be added to my Fit Recessionista series, all of the ideas will are targeted toward affordable health and fitness for fall!**

Most people say fall is their favorite season.  I am not one of those people, but I definitely understand appreciate for crisp, fresh air and an escape from the humidity that only Manhattan and Miami can provide. I will say that fall is a wonderful time to get in as many fun city activities as possible before the bitterness of 17 mile an hour winds howling through skyscraper tunnels makes you reluctant to go outside to do anything more than get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

Fall displays the marvels of nature releasing and cleansing and preparing to rest and renew.  Even though most NYCers don’t seem to realize that they are missing the beautiful foliage offered elsewhere in the vast part of the state that doesn’t get nearly enough credit—ahem ahem, nyers are more than willing to pitch in and do their part to help create a sustainable future for the city and beyond. 

My job involves a lot of programming and event planning and this month we dedicated a week to focusing on sustainability and green living. I really feel in love with some of our activities, and I wanted to share them with you, so that you could take advantage of all the green knowledge going around on our urban archipelago. If being green is not your thing, don’t worry, I have lots of fun ideas for your too and some fitness finds as well!

Check out Design for a Living World at Cooper Hewitt Museum, which features fashion designers from all over the world using sustainably grown and harvested materials to create conservation focused designs.

Round up the gang or plan a meet up with sustainability-minded strangers at a sustainable, organic restaurant for a night full of green conversation and yummy food.  We are checking out Gusto Organics.

Get the behind the scenes scoop on bargain shopping at Whole Foods.  Whole Foods offers free “value” group tours of the store, showing shoppers where to find the best buys in the store and simple ways to economize.  I was actually wondering if people would be interested in attending if I organized a blogger bargain tour.  Takers?

Go apple picking.  Time from tree to apartment doesn’t get any shorter than if you go a pickin’ yourself.  We are heading to Stuart’s Farm, but here are 6 places that are public transportation accessible, some involve a little more effort than others. For ambitious folks here are 25 orchards that only require a day trip. Don’t forget to throw in a hayride for good measure.

Foliage Run!  We are heading to the tree lined Van Cortland Park for a fun 5K!

Green Market Tour, if you have been holding out on the Union Square Green Market, don’t miss it in its most bountiful season, it’s open M, W, F, and Saturday.

Those are just a couple ideas.  A couple practices I am trying to implement in my own life are never taking plastic bags and reducing the amount of bottles and cups I purchase. 

I also do my best to eat at the sustainable, mostly organic and locally grown dining hall.   There are many great green dining initiatives at NYU.  All of our to-go containers, cups and utensils are biodegradable. And many of the dining halls are Tray Free Zones:

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We also like to feature local produce—yum-o

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Okay for those who only do Green on St. Patrick’s Day, Time Out  New York has an excellent list of fall diversities. Here are 101 Fun Fall Ideas.

My favs from the Time Out list:

  • visiting the cloisters
  • watching the NYC marathon
  • Go to the Gugg for free
  • Checking out the Tim Burton Exhibit at the MoMa (can’t wait for that)
  • Renting a weekend cabin with friends
  • learn to knit
  • checking out the botanical gardens (never been)
  • Getting spooked in sleepy hollow cemetery
  • Brooklyn Brewery Tour—never been heard only great things

If I had to create my own list, I would add:

Finally, just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t break a sweat! If you are bored with your gym routine, shake it up with Time Out’s latest reviews of 50 city-based workouts!  And, even better, take advantage of TONY’s workout deals, discounts and freebies!

CrossFit LIC Confessions

So let’s consider this Crossfit review part 1!  I really think that you have to take a class a couple times to get a real sense of it. But Crossfit LIC only has one instructor, so at least that will give some standard level of measure.

(interruption: there is an amazing lightening storm going on outside my window right now! love)

First, the confession.  After all my virtuous professing that I will now be the exemplification of a morning worker-outer, um (picture me bright red), I overslept this morning!  I woke up around 7 instead of 6:15! Oops.

Well, I felt guilty enough to get my butt in gear and do a nice 4-mile morning run instead.

The ying and yang of my feelings about am exercise immediately came back to me:

Good:

I have tons of energy and enthusiasm throughout the day when I workout in the am

Less Good (aka bad):

my body is stiff and resistant in the morning, hitting cruise control mode when running takes quite a while

So anyways, I really wanted to try Crossfit, especially since I had already signed up for my free week trial. So I may have canceled my plans tonight to try an evening class.  I seem like the biggest flake, but the plans were not a big deal.  Plus, starting on Friday there is a 90% chance that I will be working 12-14 hour days/ 7 days a week for a minimum of two weeks, so I thought a little me-time and time to do laundry before things get crazy was a good plan.   The anticipation of a more than doubled work week was also part of the impetus to switch to AM workouts.

In any case, I raced home from work to try out the 6:00 class.

Right off the bat Crossfit has two major things going for it.  Things essential for any new workout class/plan/studio to become part of your life, no matter how addicting:

  1. Convenient Location: less than a block from my apt.—check!
  2. Good Class Schedule: 4 classes a day, 6:30 am (best time for before work), 6, 7 and 8PM…perfect for any evening worker outer’s schedule. double check

So I arrived at the “studio,” which is basically a garage with gymnastic rings and fitness equipment, but really it is a concrete room with a wide open front.

I passed a very cute guy killing himself on the rings.  I was more than a bit nervous as it is me and a bunch of buff and sweaty men.  I quickly found the also very cute studio owner and introduced myself. (I really come off as boy crazy on the blog, don’t I? I guess I just appreciate a pretty face and I am not shy about giving compliments when they are due.) I also whipped out my preprinted, signed release form like a total workout rockstar, by which I mean, teacher’s pet.

The owner/instructor was very nice, far less scary than i anticipated.  He asked me a bunch of standard questions, including when was your last intense workout and can you jump rope.

Hmm, I wasn’t too good at punk rope, so that would be a not too recently and not really.

He found me a rope and gives me some pointers on my form that improve my experience jumping 100%, but I was just not able to master double spin jumping or knee tuck jumping. So he told me, I should substitute standard jumping.  Given that I was pretty sure I was about to make a total full of myself no matter what, I happily agreed to downgrade.

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The class assembled and  I was still the only girl—suddenly i was not feeling very hardcore. We started with a warm up, neck, hip and arm circles. Then we moved on to push ups, which the instructor actually let me do on my knees as long as I touch my nose to the ground.  Wow, the marines aren’t as crazy as nalini method, physique and core fusion instructors! After that there were inch worms, walking lunges, walking lunges with stretching, sit ups and squats.   Despite being the only female, everyone was very welcoming and supportiv–a lot of, first time? congrats and good luck!.  And the instructor was great about correcting my form in a non-embarrassing way.

Next came  kettle ball strength exercises.  When I first picked up my huge, light pink (tres girlie) kettle ball, I thought, holy crap, this is not going to happen, this is like a million pounds.  However, I followed the instructions and focused intensely on correct form throughout the series so I didn’t hurt myself, and everything went pretty much okay.  At one point, I am pretty sure the cute instructor even said nice job while looking in my direction.  This wass about the same point that the instructors smoking hot wife arrived to join us.

Now for the workout.  Apparently that class was a “bench marking workout” which is one of the easiest ones.  I guess that was lucky.  In each class, the main workout is an assigned set of exercises (completely different each day) that you must complete within 20 minutes.  As you finish you are given your time, which you write on the dry erase board.

Here is was:

  • 50 double spin jump ropes, 50 sit ups
  • 40 double spin jump ropes, 50 sit ups
  • 30 double spin jump ropes, 30 sit ups
  • 20 double spin jump ropes, 20 sit ups
  • 10 double spin jump ropes, 10 sit ups

(This alone would be a great at home mini workout if you are strapped for time.)

I modified with my single jumps, which made it way easier for me the the other poor people in the class.  I also didn’t realize on the first round that you had to do all the jumps consecutively and if you miss you start over, so I kind of cheated the first round!  I still need to  learn how to double jump or double the number to make it more of a challenge.  But I will say that doing back to back jumping then sit ups is a great workout.  And the time flew by, actually that part only takes me 10 minutes and 20 seconds.  So I will amp it up and push myself to try the harder versions next time.

In any event, by the end, I was covered in sweat, but it was also 80 something degrees outside with only a fan for air circulation, so I was sweaty within the first 5 minutes. What is with LIC and bikram workouts?  Oh, I should say, not only was I soaked in my own perspiration, but the hot wife was taking TONS of photos during the class.  I was like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  please stop!

The class ended with stretching. Everyone was really excited to hear what I thought of my first Crossfit Experience, and tell me about their amazing fitness improvements thanks to their CF experiences.

So hear is what I thought:

  • I love the team environment of this class!
  • I like that every day the workout is completely different
  • I like that people told me they saw huge changes in their strength and ability in just a few weeks.
  • I love the convenience of schedule and location
  • I liked the emphasis on form and personal attention
  • I left the class with A TON more energy than I went into it with.  It was a great stress reliever, and I still feel on top of the world.
  • I like that the time goes really fast
  • I like that there is always room to challenge yourself further
  • The Crossfit playlist rocked my world, lots of stuff I was listening to about a year and a half ago, but great to hear again, paralyzer, beck, cake, and Eminem, and great stuff I didn’t know off the top of my head, curious!
  • I like that the website has videos and home workouts
  • I don’t love the no AC, but I guess fall is around the corner
  • If swanky workout ambience is high on your list of getting fit importance, this is not the space for you.  Other studios are different i am sure.
  • It wasn’t as killer as I expected since the really hard stuff only last 20 minutes max, but I also did the beginner version, so that really isn’t the workout’s fault. But I am not sure the workout would be quite enough on its own.  TBD

Clearly so far Crossfit has been a very positive experience. I am excited to try it at least 4 more times this week before deciding whether to buy one of the packages.  I have enlisted my friend Derek, who happens to be a marine, to go with me on Thursday, so maybe he will offer his perspective of the workout on the blog!

Bottom line: I missed exercising a lot!  Even just one day of a fairly intense endorphin rush has made a huge difference in my mood and energy.  I’ll keep it.

Night kids!

Weekend Wrap Up, Workouts, Reviews!

Wow, I feel like more has happened in the week I have been home than in the entire six month before I left.  Fortunately, a lot of it has involved two of my favorite things, fitness and friends!

I have mentioned that I am getting back into my workout routine and that it has been more difficult than I anticipated, hello sorebody!  However, I am definitely beginning to feel like myself and 30 minutes of cardio no longer kills me!  In fact, I am back to normal as of today! 

Just to recap, this weekend I went for my first official long run of the marathon training session—one down!  I met Katherine and one of her great friends for an easy 10 miles.  One full loop, plus the 4 mile loop of the park.  We took it easy and enjoyed the fact that NY Road Runners was having a long training run, replete with plenty of water stations to steal from hehe!  I was thrilled to have finished 10 miles, six longer than I had run in a month without much difficulty at all.  Especially considering I had consumed more than a couple glasses of prosecco while out with a girlfriend at Dove and Otto the night before! 

That evening I went out to try a place I have heard a lot about, but had been resistant to try: Studio Square (aka the new beer garden).  I had been resistant to try it not because it didn’t look nice (in fact it got 4 out of 5 stars in the Time Out Review), but because I have such a love and esteem for the old beer garden, and I didn’t want to cheat on it for it’s younger, chicer, hipper cousin. (photos below from google images)

Studio Square

I have to say Studio Square thoroughly impressed me.  It was packed, there must have been easily 1000 people spilling over the surround bar patio and out of the huge outdoor seating section.  I actually wasn’t sure if we could find seats.  But fortunately we did and the night involved lots of fun, meeting new friends, learning new games, and flip cup—during which we were enthusiastically cheered on by at least a hundred fellow patrons.  haha. While I do not consider myself a beer fan by any stretch of the imagination, I would definitely recommend skipping the sangria, it was way too sweet. 

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On a final note, the new beer garden is not replacing the old, it serves a different purpose.  If I want to wear heels and have a slightly lounge/club vibe, I will go to the new beer garden.  For a laid back, bring the (big and boisterous) family and wear flops experience, that’s beer garden classic.

YOGA ROOM REVIEW

On Sunday I woke up surprisingly full of energy, and was eager to try out The Yoga RoomI have Gena’s awesome yoga post to thank for that! The Yoga Room has two locations in Queens, and the LIC studio just moved to a gorgeous space just three blocks from my casa! I took advantage of the $10 classes open house special and signed up for Hot Yoga and Hot Bodies Pilates.  

This was the fourth Bikram class I have taken, and the first one in a few years.  The room was HOT, definitely 110!  The class had a good mix of veterans and newbies.  Bikram involves 26 poses, and you do each twice in a row.  I really enjoyed the standing series.  Interestingly enough, the standing side stretch was one of the most challenging for me.  I seemed to have plenty of strength and flexibility for all of the others, although I got wobbly at times—balance is apparently not my forte! I like the 26 poses because you can really focus on getting into the pose or focusing inward, since there is not a lot of jumping around from position to position.  That said by the time we got to the mat poses,  I was experiencing occasional bouts of boredom and wanted things to move a bit faster.  The second half involves sivasina between each pose.  Nevertheless, at the end of the class I felt longer, more limber and even a bit leaner, it was a wonderful stretch for my entire body.  I was also fairly invigorated and totally drenched in sweat, in an extremely cleansing way not a gross way.  I went to the changing room to switch outfits and get ready for Pilates.

I grabbed a free mango zico coconut water—yum, that was being given out in the lobby.  When I asked where my Pilates class would be, they said the same studio.  Wait, what?  The hot room?  Stupidly, I thought hot bodies Pilates was just a cute name for a vigorous Pilates class.  It never occurred to me that a Pilates class would be hot.  I have never heard of bikram Pilates.  I was more than a little nervous to spend 2 and  a half hours in a such a hot room, but my yoga instructor was taking the class, so I decided to just try it and see if I would be okay.  Fortunately, the Pilates class wasn’t as hot as the yoga, maybe 90 degrees. 

While I really enjoy Pilates, I don’t get the chance to take it very often, so this was a nice treat.  The class was about a fifth the size of my yoga class, so we got lots of personal attention from the instructor.  The class was pretty challenging.  We used the ring a lot, which really added to the intensity of the ab work.  I like that Pilates feels like a workout more than yoga, but I like how yoga lets you focus on something beyond the workout and get in touch with yourself and the world.  I will say that I don’t really see the need for heat in Pilates (or even yoga for that matter).  I definitely appreciate the renewing feeling and opportunity for focus that a bikram yoga class offers.  But I see it as an occasional novelty, not something that I would take on a regular basis. I do look forward to trying the non-bikram yoga and Pilates and reformer classes at the Yoga Room since you can work more intensely when you are not in such hot conditions, and consequently, drenched in sweat. 

Overall, I really enjoyed both classes, the stunning and spacious—rare in yoga–studio (will take pics next time) and friendly staff! The Yoga Room isn’t cheap, classes are $18 each, although you save a few bucks when you purchase a class card. They are offering a special of $89 for unlimited monthly classes, almost half off the regularly cost and far cheaper than the Core Fusion or Physique 57.  Speaking of P57, workout dvds have finally been released for those non-NYers, NYers (like me) that can’t afford $35 a class, or NYers that like the convenience of not having to stick to class schedules, which tend to fill up anyways!

On a final note, I always think of taking a yoga class as a way of doing something special just for myself.  I think of it as treating myself and my body really well.  I hope the Yoga Room continues to offer great specials, so that I can treat myself more often :) Sunday was definitely a great day for some “me time,” some R and R with the roomie, and settling happily back into my life in the city.

Working out…in stripper heels

Working out can be sexy – when you do it in stripper heels…photos for blog 007

Hey everyone, I know you will be excited to welcome back my roommate Liz!  While her amazing post will definitely speak for itself, I would like to confirm a few facts about Liz and her workout of choice—who I am sure I am missing terribly right now :(.

1.) I have taken this class once, and it was a GREAT workout.  Far harder than I expected from someone who almost never ever works out….Liz.  The fact that she does it in the heels seen above makes her some kind of heroine. I think her review does the class more justice than mine because she has taken it for years. 

2.) She has a bangin’ body—and stripper strength just adds a little finely piped icing to the delicious cake.  Soley to validate that statement—and not to embarass her—after our recent trip to the beaches of MV, one of my friends said to me, “for someone who says she doesn’t workout, Liz has an amazing body.”

So.  I think we can safely say that there are approximately 2 things we have learned about “Melissa’s roommate Liz” from this blog.  1: I hate working out.  2: I think feeling good about yourself and being in touch with your inner (and outer) sexy are at the top of the list of important things to do. 


In theory, I love working out.  I love the adrenaline, the endorphins, and most importantly, how good it makes people feel.  My main problem is that I just think it’s boring.  I don’t care if I can watch TV while I climb stairs and never get anywhere; I only watch a few shows, and I really don’t want to admit my secret love of VH1 reality shows to everyone in the gym (especially since in my building the gym has been known to be hot guy central).  So, I’ve found a way to combine something I hate with something I love to make it something I actually like quite a bit – a strip workout class, specifically, Strip Xpertease

Taught by Kim Smith, a former dancer, this class isn’t for the faint of heart (it’s a no-nudity, women-only class, but has a fair amount of ass slapping, chest grabbing, and general self-groping – all in good fun, of course).  Instead of a cardio strip class like some offered by gyms, this class uses actual dance moves, and through repetition coupled with core strengthening, gives you a ridiculous workout.  Also, Kim teaches a bit of a routine at the end of the workout, so you get some bona-fide sexy from the class to take back to your lova. 

The class focuses on some core and leg strengthening moves (and puts a twist on well-known moves like squats and lunges), stretching (which of course has its own twist), and often includes the use of a chair (for moves like the “sexy bicycle” – a version of the more boring pilates move).  The class is taught twice a week, and after 2 months, gave me some rock-hard abs (and another healthy dose of self confidence).  It’s an hour and 10 minutes, and hosts a variety of women of all shapes and sizes, ages, and flexibility.  All of the rates and dates are available on the website. 

Now the inevitable question: what do I wear to such a class?  Well, wear whatever makes you comfortable.  Because of the moves, I recommend yoga pants or spandex, and whatever top makes you comfortable.  Some women wear sports bras out of work-out habit, and some wear push-up bras for that little extra dose of sexy.  In terms of footwear: heels!  I’d suggest starting in whatever height of heels you would wear on a Friday night (but make sure they have rubber soles) – it’ll help you with balance.  As you get comfortable, upgrade your game to 6-inchers.  I have to admit, there’s just something really satisfying about wearing stripper heels while toning up!

So, if you’re looking for a little change-up to your workout routine, I highly recommend giving this a try.  It helps bring out the inner (and outer) sexy, and really, who doesn’t want that? 

P.S.
In addition to workout classes (known on the website as “Stripper Strength”), Strip Xpertease teaches a variety of non-sweaty classes – ie, Basic Moves (basic dance moves), Lap Dance Intensive (speaks for itself), Down ‘N Dirty (a floor routine), and the Desire Series (a little bit of everything).  You can do it in a class or private lessons (yay birthday/bachelorette parties!).

Smart Workout Review!

Today I had the opportunity to check out a gym that specializes in personal training and small “semi-private” group classes.

The gym is called Smart Workout.  It is located on 40th street between Lex and Park, which made it an easy breezy sub-fifteen minute trip from my apartment.

For a small gym, the offer a great variety of classes, pilates reformer, kickboxing, spinning, yoga, pole, a variety of dance classes, hula hoop, trampoline, strength and more.  There was also a small area with weight machines.

I was signed up for a 45 minute pilates reformer class followed by a 45 minute personal training session.

The classes are limited to 4-5 people, and my pilates class was full.  It was actually my first time doing pilates reformer, so I was really excited to finally try it.  I have always really enjoyed mat pilates, but haven’t taken it since I moved and canceled my NYSC membership.  I think pilates is something that small classes are very good for because it is easy to think you are doing a move right, but just a small adjustment by the instructor can may a huge difference.  While I interned at Self, a private instructor would come give pilates classes once a week, and I quickly learned how challenging pilates could be when you were in the right position.  Anyways, Meghan the reformer instructor at Smart Workout was great.  She explained things very clearly and with great visuals.  I was more challenged by the reformer than I thought I would be.  You are always working several muscle groups to stablize and move either your body or the machine.  I didn’t realize how many props were involved, there is a bar, weights, straps, and a box, and you use the little reformer in all different ways, lying on your back, on your stomach, sitting up facing front, lying on your back with legs in table top.  The class flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it–and there wasn’t even music!  I have always been more of a pilates girl than a yoga girl and I am excited that I now have reformer under my repetorie.

Next up was my personal training session.  My instructor’s name was Meghan, different Meghan than the first one!  She was full of energy and enthusiasm from the moment we shook hands.  She said we could do any kind of workout I wanted to do, within the format: 5 minute warm up, 20 minutes cardio, 25 minutes strength and 5 minutes stretch.  I said I was up for anything, I just wanted it to be HARD.  She then asked me if I had areas I wanted to work in particular.  I said yes, the areas I most want to tone are my hips, thighs and glutes, and under arm area and calves.

She turned on some great tunes and we were off.  She did the cardio part with me, which was kickboxing.  I find kickboxing to be really fun, kind of Rocky meets Billy Blanks.  In fact, she played this song, which I liked so much I just downloaded: Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That ny Robert Rudoulph and the Family Band 

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from a personal trainer.  I was half expecting a very Jillian approach, replete with choice phrases like ” i want you to feel like you are going to die” or ” you should be gargling your heart by now.” But Meghan was actually really friendly, enthusiastic and focused on how I was feeling.  After every move she asked me how it felt. It wasn’t as intense as I had imagined, but I definitely learned some things about my form that will be very useful.

The strength portion was fairly standard, squats, lunges, arms with weights, some abs.  It was nice having someone correct my form throughout, and it was nice that it wasn’t embarrassing since no one else was around.  I hate being called out in group classes.  I also liked having the chance to ask lots of questions.  I learned that lunges and squats are really the best exercises for the lower body and high intensity cardio intervals are best for body fat reduction. 

I also learned a  new ab move.  It isolates the lower abs.  You lie on your back with both legs bent in 90 degree on top (not on the sides) of an exercise ball. You squeeze the ball toward your butt between your calves and hamstrings and reverse crunch in.  This was really effective. Here is a great description.

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SmartWorkout has a variety of membership, day pass and party package options.  

  • Annual membership: $245 intiation and $145 a month or $1585 for 14 months prepaid membership
  • Six week shape up-12 45-minute personal training sesions and 12 classes for $1100
  • Day pass-six for $210
  • Fitness party $1400 for 3 hours with 5 trainers and a new class every 45 minutes
  • Pole party: $360 for 2 hours of pole fun for up to 12 guests aka “the divorce is final party”

Sadly the never-ending rain meant the Blogger Hike had to be canceled since slippery muddy rocks and rain does not for happy hikers make.  Sorry ladies :( So instead, I have to get ready for the Blogger Brunch.

Oh, last night I saw The Proposal with a friend.   I was nervous it was going to be really bad, but since it was a midnight movie, I didn’t think I could handle anything too intense or thought provoking. 

If you ignore the fact that the premise, plot, character’s decisions and the outcome are completely unrealistic in everyway, the movie is pretty funny and totally enjoyable if you are just there for the ride.  There are some great lines and funny scenes and Alaska is gorgeous, but it is really hard to buy how ridiculous the storyline is, but I won’t spoil it for those who want to see it.  Go see it, if you are just in the mood for fun. 

Gyrokinesis at Kinespirit

This week I tried a new class: Cardio Gyrokinesis at Kinespirit.  Typically, I have some idea what I am in for when I take a class, this is was not the case for gyrokinesis.  I read  about Kinespirit on VJD a few weeks ago, and was pretty curious as to what a class that blended yoga, pilates, dance and tai chi would be like. 

I went to the studio only knowing what I could find on the Kinespirit website, which wasn’t much, but that made it more exciting in a way.

The Madison Park studio was basically a very open loft, very calm and zen.  The front desk was just a desk, so there was no pretention of some of the other upscale studios in the city. 

In the front were really large Gyrotonic Tower machines, kind of like big pilates reformer machines.  Kinespirit decribes Gyro as:

a three-dimensional exercise taught on unique weight and pulley based equipment (pictured at right). Founded by Juliu Horvath, in the principles of yoga, dance, tai chi, and swimming, Gyrotonic training is a series of circular and fluid exercises that works the entire body through muscular, skeletal, and cardiovascular stimulation.

In the middle of the studio was a little seating area with tea, water, MAGAZINES and seating, plus some chocolate. Huge points for cozy factor and chocolate.

In the back of the studio was a small space for mat classes and pilates reformer machines. You can see Rachel Ray trying it out for her show here.

There were a few people taking private gyrotonic lessons.  And one girl taking a private pilates reformer lesson when I arrived. 

The class I took , Cardio Gyrokinesis, is in its infantcy at the studio, and it was just me and one other person, the instructor and another studio instructor. 

The class took place on a chair, mat and standing.  The main portion of the class was on the chair using flowing motions to align the body and strength the muscles.  I would say the class was closest to pilates, but had the body awareness and presence of yoga.  Unlike most yoga classes, my mind never wandered, and I never got bored.  It was definitely engaging, although I felt a little silly doing some of the moves.

(something like the above for a visual idea)

I am not sure if I would really consider the class cardio because my heart rate never got up to high, but it was definitely a killer ab workout-surpisingly intense actually.  Sitting on the chair circling your legs just off the ground really torches up the stomach muscles.    We moved from the chair to standing to do some squats integrating large circling arm motions and spirals.  The flowing nature of the movements really allowed me to stretch out my tight muscles–huge bonus.

After another round of chair-based exercies, we hit the mat for pilates-like toning moves that like in yoga and pilates really got some heat going in my legs and abs.

We ended the class with some turning and then rapid blinking to “re-enter the world.”  That was a little weird. 

Overall I think this class is a little more my style than yoga.  If you have a short attention span, there isn’t a lot of repetition, you move from one thing to the next fairly quickly. I can see why it would be good for dancers-allignment, elongation, but it is not really what I would consider dance based. I can see myself doing it once a week to stretch, allign and center myself. But it is definitely a supplement to a workout regimen, it really isn’t enough cardio or even enough strength on its own.

In addition to the mat classes Kinespirit offers the Gyro Tower and Pilates Reformer class which I actually find even more intriguing.  I may have to try those next. The studio is definitely affordable by NYC standards, plus due to its small size you get lots of personal attention.

So what are the benefits of Gyrotonics and Gryokensis?

I can not really attest to anything from one class, but according to the studio:

Core Benefits

  • Promotes strong, lean muscles
  • Increases flexibility, coordination, and balance
  • Enhances joint mobility and articulation
  • Frees the body of pain and restrictions
  • Increases circulation of blood, lymphatic fluids, and energy
  • Strengthens the nervous system
  • Compliments/supplements physical therapy and other rehabilitative body work
  • Helps prevents osteoporosis
  • Helps to slow the aging process through mental and physical stimulation and regeneration
  • Promotes spine and joint articulation and mobilization
  • Increases muscular contraction, extension, flexibility, and coordination
  • Increases circulation of blood, lymphatic fluids, and energy
  • Improves elimination and absorption
  • Compliments traditional cardiovascular activity and cross-training
  • Provides a mobile workout that can be easily performed while at home, office, or traveling
  • Increases body awareness