ClassPass just got some competition

Look what popped up on my Facebook feed: Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 8.36.50 PM(an ad, of course),

but an ad about some competition for ClassPass, a service that also offers a way to access fitness, dance, rowing, strength training, pilates, and yoga studios all over the city.

It’s called FitReserve, and its website is almost identical in appearance to ClassPass. Like ClassPass, you have to provide your e-mail address and “request an invite” to sign-up. Unlike ClassPass, FitReserve claims to offer access to “peak class times” that can sometimes get filled up before being offered on ClassPass. FitReserve is only in NYC right now, and while it doesn’t have as many studios on its list yet, it does offer access to a couple different ones like Clay Health Club and Spa, as well as offering discounts with partners like Instacart grocery delivery, Bestowed healthy snacks service, and Zeel massage on demand. It’s also a bit more expensive. $149/month gets you 10 classes a month and $249/month gets you 20.

For now, I’m planning to stick with ClassPass, but I’ll be watching to see if FitReserve partner deals and studio access are too tempting to pass up. If Soul Cylce or The Class suddenly deigns to offer classes with them, I’d pay the extra fifty bucks in a heartbeat.

Here’s a breakdown on what I see as the differences between the two:

ClassPass:

  • $99/month for unlimited classes at over 300 studios in New York metro area
  • offered in 14 major cities
  • 3 classes per studio each month
  • no included discounts with affiliated partners
  • can be hard to book classes at peak hours for hot studios like Exceed

FitReserve

  • $149/month for 10 classes, $249 for 20 classes at over 70 studios (so far) in NYC
  • offered only in NYC Metro area (so far)
  • 4 classes per studio each month
  • incudes discounts with affiliated partners on things like clothing, healthy snacks and massage
  • access to all classes at included studios, even during peak hours

Florida Hoppin’: Bikes that tilt and lean at Sweat Therapy Fitness

I’d almost resigned myscropped sweat therapyelf to making due with on-line classes using my free trial of FitnessGlo while I was home for the holidays. I’ve been motivated to do one whole 10-minute mommy stretch video since signing up. Yet another reminder that I need in-person classes.

Then at Christmas dinner, between bites of roast beast and sips of wine, I chatted with my aunt about a new fitness studio she thought I should try while I was home visiting: Sweat Therapy Fitness. She described indoor cycling bikes that tilted and turned, giving you a total body workout. I was intrigued.

I left Tallahassee over 15 years ago, and it has gotten much hipper in my absence. I haven’t even seen these kind of bikes in NYC yet, although apparently they do exist at FlowCycle in Tribeca. They’re called Real Ryders, and their creators claim that the bikes increase core strength and stability by recruiting more muscles during leaning and steering movements, and in so doing allow you to burn 20% more calories than on a traditional stationary bike.  You definitley have to use your muscles (both upper body and core) to get the bike to turn, and as Brian, my instructor at Sweat Therapy’s Real Ryde class, told me, it takes some getting used to.

I enjoyed the challenge, but even more, it was fun to pretend we were riding along the scenic roads shown on the two giant flat screens in the dark cycle room that took us from mountain hills to country roads and beach cliffs. It was a little too intimate of a class to totally let loose (it’s Tallahassee, after all, filled with Southern charm and personal attention in contrast to New York’s annonymity), but I found a groove and found myself concentrating on pumping to the cadence of the music rather than constantly watching the RPM monitor. After the class, they gave me a tour of the facility which includes TRX Suspension Training rooms, the “Boat House” for Indo-Row classes, and the Real Ryder cycling room decorated with motivational quotes on framed chalkboards and strings of big red lights that come on when the room darkens and the music starts.

I was also able to take a class called Sweat Fest at Sweat Therapy while I was in Tallahassee, and it is appropriately named. I brought along my 21-year-old cousin who is a super-fit capoeirista, and she too was left challenged, drenched, and sore. This was a circuit-style class with about 10 different stations including rowing machines and TRX equipment. What I liked most was the fact that there was a true variety of fitness levels within the class, and the teacher was able to modify accordingly. That said, there were a few too many circuits for her to keep an eye on all of us, watch form, make adjustments, and answer questions. Luckily, Jake, the cutie from the front desk who is clearly a fitness guru in-training was able to assist demonstrating the exercises for various stations as we got there. (Jake also showed us around the studio, and was a bastion of Southern hospitality, a refreshing respite from the aloof SoHo snobbery at some of NYC’s more elite boutiques.)

Here’s the skinny on Tallahassee’s locally-owned boutique fitness studio, Sweat Therapy Fitness:

  • 2 Locations (Midtown and Uptown Tallahassee)
  • A variety of classes are offered including, Real Rydes indoor cycling, TRX, Rowing, plyometrics, Barre and variety classes that are high-intenisty interval (or HIIT)- style classes that use a combination of all of the above.
  • Variety of class packages are offered and your first class is only $5. After that, prices range from $18 for a single class to packs of 10 for $100 or unlimited workouts at either location for $179/month. (This seems to be a bit high for Tallahassee prices, although not as high as some, and super-affordable by NYC standards.)

PROS

Beautiful space with lots of room, showers, bathrooms, water, and snacks; wonderful family-like atmosphere with a very friendly staff; great variety of classes.

CONS

Not all the bikes are hooked up to the electronic RPM readers, so not as high-tech as some studios as far as recording your stats; the teacher I had for the Sweat Fest class seemed a little flat/tired, which was a contrast to my first class there.

More than a stretch: Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness

5423423505_6c0504a96a_zAfter my EVF class soreness and then another workout with my cousins at their traditional gym here in my hometown of Tallahassee, FL, I’m longing for a good stretch. I’m hoping to find a yoga studio down here that might match a couple of my experiences at Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness.

I’ve never thought of myself as a yogi. In fact, some of my loved ones claim, “I’ve got ants in my pants.” I’m one of those people who thought yoga was for lightweights. How could I possibly burn enough calories posing like a dog or a cow? In more recent years I’ve taken quite a few yoga classes that have convinced me otherwise, and while I don’t maintain a regular yoga practice, I’m a convert. I’ve been challenged physically and mentally by some of the classes I’ve taken, and if the class is especially good I come out feeling stronger, walking lighter, and perhaps even taller. (I have a good friend who claims she grew two centimeters since she started a regular yoga practice.)

Like anything, not all classes are worth the time, and so much depends on the teacher. Shortly after I had my son I took classes at Yogamaya and loved them. I also took a few classes of Bikram or hot yoga at Bikram Yoga NYC. Warning: do not attempt hot yoga with a hang-over. It’s hard core, and you supposedly burn about 700 calories in a 90 minute session.

But more recently, I tried some classes at Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness. After the first class, I wasn’t super impressed. It was a Level I class, and while the teacher was kind and knowledgable, the class didn’t seem to flow. We got out chairs, moved to the wall and back, and I felt a little confused at times.

yoga-and-wellnessMy friend, who’s a regular there though, convinced me to go back for a class with Stephan, the studio’s co-owner, and now I believe that she might actually have grown those two centimeters. I will definitely be using my 3 alotted ClassPass classes per month here.  My second class was a 75-minute Open Level class, and I even managed to break a sweat. I got what I call the yoga-buzz, that balance of peace and energy that children seem to have, that most adults lost somewhere along the way. My back felt aligned and my hips open, and that’s what I’m looking for right about now in the after-math of burpees and box jumps. I’ll shout out to my Southern peeps and let you know what I find down here. In the meantime, if you need to lighten your mind and body after carrying packages and party-hopping in New York, I’d recommend a class with Stephan or his wife, Ingrid. Here’s what you can expect:

UPPER WEST SIDE YOGA AND WELLNESS

LOCATION: at 75 West 85th Street (just east of Columbus),

Enter a cozy lobby where you can hang your coat, cubby your shoes, and browse the bookshelf. Get there about 5-10 minutes before your scheduled class so you have time to set up your mat (rental for $2), blankets, and blocks, and to stake out your preferred spot. The studio is spacious, but fills up so you have to stagger to stretch your arms. Most classes are 75 minutes and teachers vary the classes to focus on different body areas or intentions. There was the traditional Ohm chanting in each class, but otherwise not much in the way of chanting or readings. There’s an optimal balance of concentration on body, breath, and mind. 5423423515_ca55935d4c_z

PROS

Clean inviting space; warm, professional staff; ideal balance of challenge and safety; teachers walk around to gently to correct poses; attention is paid to body, mind, and breath; focus on strength, flexibility, and endurance.

CONS

Bathrooms are in the studio so you can’t use them if you get there early and the previous class is in session; very small lobby for storing coats and shoes that can get cramped in the winter between classes.

WHAT TO WEAR

Loose, comfy clothes with a good sports bra (for the ladies) underneath. Too loose and baggy could trip you up though (literally). Yoga pants (duh!) and a tank or tee are ideal. PopSugar has some good yoga wadrobe advice here.

MY GOAL

To be able to do headstand!

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Holiday Gifts for the Fitness Lover in Your Life

ATHLEATS NUTRITION

What to get the person who has everything? Simple – a fitness gift! No matter how much you have you can never have enough fitness, gear, accessories or healthy treats!

My top fitness gift picks this holiday season

Noizy10672196_702262406534827_3266861395789102674_n Brand bluetooth speaker and earphones. This speaker connects to your phone, computer, tv and any other bluetooth electronic device with enough sound to fill any NYC apartment. Workout in the park? No problem! Beach volleyball- bring it along!! Did I mention its water resistant, lightweight and takes up about as much space as a water bottle in your gym bag?

iphones (1)What’s more annoying then earbud pulling the wires out of your ears during a heavy lifting session? NOTHING….I went wireless and it changed my quality of life!  http://noizybrands.com/

Looking for a new fitness activity or trainer around NYC ? Look no further-  SportSetter gives you access to exclusiveve trials at over 300 activities around NYC…

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What is ClassPass?

class-passA gym? A passport? A miracle. ClassPass, formerly Classtivity, is an alternative to a gym membership. By signing up on their website, you pay $99/month and get access to take classes at boutique studios all over your city. In the New York metro area that currently includes 326 studios which is up from 308 when I joined three weeks ago, so it seems their popularity is growing. You can also get a ClassPass memebership in 13 other cities including Boston, Miami, L.A., D.C. and Chicago. (If you travel a lot, it’s probably worth getting a ClassPass Flex membership in which you can use your membership in all 14 cities.)

For someone like me who tends to get bored with my fitness routine faster than I can find my running shoes, ClassPass is my savior. It feels like it was made for me. In fact, I’m so psyched I finally joined the blog-o-sphere. So far I’ve tried Yoga, Zumba, indoor cycling, EVF Performance, and something called Yogilaties (a cross between Yoga and Pilates). I plan to try Pilates, CrossFit, and dance classes at Alvin Ailey as soon as possible.

Here’s the skinny on what you can expect with your membership:

Cost: $99/month (no sign-up fee); recurring billing on the day of the month you sign up.

What you get: Access to all the classes at participating studios in your city. You can take as many classes as you like all month long, but only up to 3 classes at any one studio.

Kinds of Classes: Yoga, Pilates, Dance (from ballet to Zumba and Bollywood), martial arts, CrossFit, rowing, rock climbing, pole dancing, strength training, barre, and indoor cycling.

What’s the Catch? You have to sign-up for the classes on the ClassPass website at least 2 hours in advance and if you cancel less than 24 hours in advance you get charged $20. (This is actually quite motivating for me to get to the classes instead of lazing out. Also, their customer service is good, and I think if you had an emergency you could call and talk to them about it. This happened to me when I accidentally booked something I didn’t want to book– they were very nice on the phone.)

PROS: Amazing selection of studios and classes; easy to book; great value for your money if you use it at least a couple times a week and don’t cancel at the last minute; great for people who want to get fit, but are terrified of commitment; easy to put membership on hold or cancel; you can filter a class search by location, studio, or type of class; maps of area studios included.

CONS: Cancelling at the last minute could get expensive; as of yet SoulCycle classes aren’t included (but many other indoor cycling classes like FlyWheel are); when you do a search using their filters option, it doesn’t save your filters so you have to re-enter them everytime you click on a class description (I wrote to them about this issue and they say they are working on it, and that in the meantime you can open the class descriptions in a new tab so as not to lose your filters); you can only go to studios you like 3 times each month and for FlyWheel Studios, that includes FlyBarre.

EVF = Everyone Very Fit (except me, but I’m getting there)

52aa0e0c0cf2d71287c9de3aAnd I thought the indoor cycling classes were hard. Today I went to my second class at EVF Performance (Columbus Circle location). Everything is going to be sore. I know this because everything was sore (including muscles I didn’t even know I had) after the first class, but back I came for more.

EVF actually stands for Eric Von Frohlich, the trainer who started the company and gym. The class I tried was called EVF 360. It’s an hour of strength training and conditioning using kettle balls, your own weight, and various hellacious cardio-inclusive movements like burpees and box jumps. Even though it’s a full hour, the class goes by fast because you switch movements often and are being cheered on by the teddy-bear-cum-drill-sergeant coaches. And according to the one I had today, Jamie, who really helped make me feel safe and challenged, I’ll be able to jump up on the giant box in a couple of weeks, rather than the step-ups I was doing.

I asked Jaime about the differences between EVF 360 classes and CrossFit classes (also offered at EVF gyms). He said that EVF 360 doesn’t use any barbells, but instead, lighter weight kettle balls and your own body’s resistance. It also focuses more on cardio by keeping you moving and utilizing lots of reps. I haven’t tried CrossFit yet, as I’m terrified, but this EVF class was no joke either. I took my first class there mid-week at 1pm with a trainer named Farouk who looked like he walked off the Mr. Universe stage. There was only one other person in the class, so it was like having a personal trainer. In fact, that’s how I’d describe the feel of the class in general– you’re getting a really unique workout each day with a coach that’s training a whole group personal-trainer style.

Here’s a breakdown of what I thought and why I’ll be back:

EVF Performance

There are two locations (Upper East Side and Columbus Circle), and the Columbus Circle location also houses one of the group rowing classes that Von Frohlich and his wife started called Row House. You check in at the front desk when you arrive and then head downstairs to the “box” as CrossFit gyms are referred to because of their spartan decor that warns all who enter they must be serious about actually working out. There’s no waltzing from one fancy machine to another (which is what I often do at gyms like New York Sports Club and Crunch). Like CrossFit, EVF 360 classes have a WOD (Workout of the Day). You’ll start with a warm-up that includes some dynamic stretching and then move onto different sets of movements. My first class had us do three cicuits of 4 different excercises and then as many circuits as we could of a second round of exercises which inculded running upstairs, outside and up the block. In the class I took today we paired up to complete our sets of reps taking turns, and I really enjoyed the experience of encouragement from my partner. Unlike a traditional gym, EVF feels much more personal and caring. But by caring, I don’t mean coddling– they are going to push you to your limit.

PROS

Very efficient, intense, total-body workout that left me feeling like I was strong and capable of more than I thought I was. Teachers pay attention to your form and help you adjust accordingly. Feels like personal training with a small group. There are lockers (though they don’t have locks), towels and a water cooler.

CONS

No frills or fancy bath products in the shower stall (which by the way, there are two of located in the only two bathroom stalls upstairs in the lobby, not in the main gym or “box”). There was no stretching offered at the end of the first class I went to and very little stretching after the second class. They seem to expect you to take care of stretching on your own.

WHAT TO WEAR: Regular gym clothes, sneakers, and a sweatshirt in case they make you run outside.

PERSONAL EVF GOAL: Be able to do a pull-up!

Indoor Cycling Classes: FlyWheel Sports

That’s me, at the door of FlyWheel, getting ready to get my butt kicked. Yesterday was my second FlyWheel class, and my 4th indoor cycling class since I began my ClassPass adventure. This is one of those perks of the $99/month ClassPass membership because FlyWheel classes are $34 for one clasIMG_20141217_122113993_HDRs, or $30/class for a 20 pack, or unlimited classes for $375 a month! One of the catches with the ClassPass membership is that you can only go to 3 classes at any one studio per month. For FlyWheel Sports that includes their other studio classes called FlyBarre as well. So even if those were the only 3 classes you did all month, you’d have gotten your money’s worth out of ClassPass.

Ever since I first heard the buzz about SoulCycle (which isn’t a part of ClassPass) and FlyWheel, I’ve been wanting to try an indoor cycling class. I will definitely be using my 3 classes per month at FlyWheel. I also really liked the SWERVE Rides class I tried.  In 45 minutes you get an intense cardio workout with some added strength-training for your arms. The time flies by because the teacher has you switching speeds and positions and pumping your legs to the beat of dance party music. The room is dark so you can close your eyes, let yourself go, and not worry about anyone in the class thinking you’re a weirdo since they can’t really see you anyway.

Here’s a breakdown on my FlyWheel experience. Stay-tuned for a comparison of FlyWheel to SWERVE and Pedal/FIT RxN.

FLYWHEEL

There are six different locations in Manhattan (I’ve been to the Lincoln Center and Flatiron locations). You’ll be asked to create an account on-line prior to going to class. Then upon arrival, you can check in to track your progress and participate in races during the class (if you want to). After class you’ll get an e-mail with all your stats including your average and fastest speeds, calories burned, and the total distance you biked in miles. They provide you with cycling shoes, towels, and water. The friendly staff will help you set up your bike. As you ride, you adjust the torque (or resistance) on your bike and try to reach an RPM goal that the teacher requests of you. You’ll also be asked to rise out of the seat to pedal standing off and on. After class, you can take a shower using Bliss Spa body products and grab a complimentary apple or banana.

PROS: Water, towels, cycling shoes provided; high-tech bikes and a system that tracks your progress; intense cardio workout with fun music in 45 minutes.

CONS: Some classes have better music than others; isn’t really a full body workout even though about 5 minutes of weight work with arms is included; unisex locker area (and many of the electronic locks on the lockers were broken at the Flatiron location)– there are private changing rooms though.

WHAT TO WEAR: Good sports bra and tank and pants that are fitted (capris are probably best). You don’t want any flowy yoga panta because they could get caught up in the bike; good socks of course. You can bring your own spin shoes, but FlyWheel does provide them.