Spinning Loudly at Cyc

cycFor my first class hop with my new ClassPass membership (two-week free trial edition) I needed a place that I didn’t require me carrying gym shoes around with me all day. That’s one of the reasons I love spinning studios that hand out clip-in cycling shoes when you walk in the door.

Cyc, which offers 45-minute beat-based rides with hand weight work has four locations. I went the Hell’s KitchenScreen Shot 2019-04-29 at 1.00.57 PM location on 8th Ave btwn 44th and 45th. As I walked in straight from work, I was really hoping to find a little container of hair ties like so many studios now have at the front desk. Instead, there were mints and little orange earplugs. I thought the earplugs seemed a strange choice until I walked out of the class half deaf in one ear.

The volume of music didn’t bother me during the class (I’m not that old yet!) In general, the music wasn’t memorable. The instructor, Tom was upbeat and encouraging although he did shout “Yeah?” quite often as though he was constantly asking us if we were on board.

The class includes weights and is not at all metrics focused, but I don’t think I pushed myself as hard as I do at FlyWheel or Peloton. The suggested torque knob turns just didn’t seem all that difficult and it was my first spin class in over a year. But at only $22/ride (discounts for packages) this indoor cycling class is on the budget end for NYC, and a good value for the price. You’ll pay $30-36 at the higher end for FlyWheel or Swerve (or Soul Cycle which is still not on ClassPass.)

I did like the fact that Glam and Glow Salon located just across the hall, so you can potentially wear your heels to work, take a Cyc spin class, shower, get a blow-out and go out on a date all in one day.

Here’s the skinny:

Cyc Beat Based Cycling

NYC Locations: Astor Place, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, UES

PROS: Great value for the price, solid 45-minute spin class with weights, clean space with high-end amenities like showers, lockers, mints and earplugs. Beat-based, so great for riders who prefer a Soul Cycle-style ride without too much of a sermon or the high price tag. Glam and Go studio across the hall from the Hell’s Kitchen location.

CONS: Not as challenging as some studios I’ve been too; the music is so loud, you’ll probably need those free earplugs they offer at the front desk. No metrics, so if you prefer to see your calories, miles, and/or are motivated by competition, this is not the ride for you.

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Back with Barry (and ClassPass too!)

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A couple of young women I work with recently headed out of the office to a Barre class together, excited about their new ClassPass memberships. I too wanted to be going to a fun class instead of the treadmill at my $15/month no-frills gym.

The magic words were “Two Weeks Free,” and “No commitment.” And, I’m back in the class-hopping game. I have abandoned FitReserve (although I’m definitely willing to try them again too) and am taking the new face of ClassPass for a spin! (Pun intended.)

The first class I tried was a 45-minute spin class at Cyc in Hell’s Kitchen which reminded me of all the reasons I both love and hate spin classes. More on that in my next post. And then, yesterday I went back to my first ClassPass love, Barry’s Bootcamp (UWS location).

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Barry’s still tops the charts of my all time favorite, most challenging, and most effective workouts. They may well be what they claim to be, “the best workout in the world,” at least the best that I can access on ClassPass (since Orange Theory Fitness still isn’t available as an option). I feel stronger an leaner after just one class.

ClassPass has switched up its pricing and plans to be more reasonable and sustainable. When I first joined back in 2015, it was $99/month (the price of an average gym membership) for UNLIMITED classes. Then about the time they suddenly upped the price to $125/month, I jumped ship to FitReserve that had more flexible pricing plans. See an updated comparison of the two here.

Currently, I’m still in my two-week free trial (which limits your visits to some studios including Barry’s, and FlyWheel), but I’m leaning toward signing up for either the $49/27-credits a month plan or the $79/45-credits a month plan.

Assigning different studios different credit amounts was a genius move. I’m willing to dish out the 16 credits class for Barry’s, but as my credits run low, I can hit up a Crunch Gym for open gym time at a mere 2-3 credits (depending on the time of day).  Up to 10 of your unused credits will roll over to the next month. You can also buy extra credits if you run out, but they aren’t cheap. If money were no object, I’d opt for the $159/100-credits a month plan. (They have higher priced plans that include an unlimited membership to Blink Gym as well, but with so many open gym time options in the class selection, unless you live right next door to a Blink, I don’t see the point.)

I’m down to only 10 credits after running and lifting with Barry yesterday, but it was so worth it. Shout out to instructor Kat S who had me feeling strong enough to push myself, and confident enough to know my own limits and to celebrate my personal progress instead of comparing my capabilities to my neighbor’s. She gives just the right blend of challenge and encouragement with a big, warm smile!

What I read on the way to the gym: the Skimm

If you haven’t discovered The Skimm yet, it’s a great way to get your daily news brief without having to flick through FlipBoard or Facebook. You get the skinny on major headlines delivered to your e-mail every weekday. I find it an enjoyable way to stay on top of important news stories and get caught up on anything I missed while I was watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt instead. The often have cool book and wine recs too.

Sign-up using this referral code: http://www.theskimm.com/?r=f0363e7f

It’s  easy train-time reading! Leaves me more time to sign up for new, fun classes like this one at Titan Total Body in Chelsea.

Regenerate Fitness Has My Heart

I decided to try out a new studio that FitReserve recently added to their growing roster: Regenerate Fitness located at 1616 York Ave on the Upper East Side, and I’m so glad I did!

After receiving a friendly greeting from Reggie, the super-buff trainer who set me up with a chest-strap heart rate monitor, our class of four people got warmed up on this crazy contraption, the Helix Lateral Trainer:

This machine was perfect for my bursitis-blighted hip that stopped me in my tracks on the treadmill at Orange Theory Fitness a few days prior. After talking with a physical therapist, I was ordered to stop running for a while, ice my hip, and strengthen my adductors and abductors. The Helix got my heart rate up just as well as running while working those inner and outer thigh muscles.

After the warm up, Reggie led us in a series of targeted-strength training exercises using the ever-popular kettle bell, TRX, straps, and dumbbells. We hopped back on to the Helix for 5-minute intervals to get our heart-rates back up between strength intervals for an efficient workout rivaling my oft-touted Orange Theory Fitness fave.

In fact, Regenerate had almost everything I love about OTF, and they offer different kinds of classes too like Kickboxing and Yoga. Plus they don’t force you to buy the heart-rate monitor, nor do they pressure you to get to a certain zone like OTF does. They provide you with the monitor, advise you on a personalized target heart rate to aim for, and post it for you to watch. The individualized attention of the small class size really made it feel like a personal-training session.

If only I lived on the Upper East Side! Yorkville in particular seems to be the land of the fitness elite. There you can choose from places like Regenerate, EVF, Exceed, The PE Club, PushLab Fitness, and one of my favorite spin spots, Crank.  Meanwhile, over here on the other side of Central Park, the boutique-fitness-studio pickings are slim. I did try a new class in my hood though, at BeFitNYC, and it was a challenging twist on the HIIT circuit. More on their classes and space soon to come!

Regenerate Fitness

Location: 1616 York Ave, between 85th and 86th

PROS: Efficient, HIIT workout with complimentary heart-rate monitors available for use, small class sizes, total body workout – cardio and strength, friendly, knowledgeable trainer, various kinds of classes offered, clean space.

CONS: No locker room or showers, small space, but they keep the class-size small too and offer cubbies for your belongings.

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I Hate to Say I Told You So

but… I think FitReserve really is a better bang for your buck than ClassPass. ClassPass just upped their prices, and not by a little. I did a double-take when I saw that they doubled their monthly price for unlimited classes. What used to cost $99 is now $200.

I originally compared the two boutique-fitness-studio-subscription services in a post awhile back and have since updated the post, but here’s a breakdown of why I chose FitReserve.

  1. With FitReserve I can book the classes I want at the times I want.One of my biggest beefs with ClassPass was the amount of time I was spending trying to book the best workout spots. I was setting alarms on my phone for when the booking windows opened. I’d drop whatever I was doing to click “Reserve” and still get a message that the class was full. And forget about peak times. Sometimes booking a 10 am class was impossible. Since I’ve been on FitReserve, I haven’t had any trouble booking preferred studios, and…

 

2.  FitReserve allows me to go to any one studio 4 times a month.

ClassPass only permits you 3 visits per month per studio. Seems like a small difference but if you have a favorite studio or class, it’s nice to be able to go at least once a week.

3. FitReserve has great customer service.

At first, I was hesitant to consider FitReserve because until recently they were a lot pricier than ClassPass, and they didn’t have as many of my favorite studios, like Barry’s Bootcamp. But then, when they did add Barry’s to their roster, someone e-mailed me personally to let me know they’d added it and offered to let me try them out. They now have a ton of new studio options like Exceed and SurfSET at Chelsea Piers to name a few. Also, anytime I’ve ever had a question, they get back to be right away. And I was super happy to find out…

4. FitReserve offers some member perks and discounts at participating partners like Instacart and Zeel.

5. This is just a theory, but I think FitReserve offers more realistic deals to the studios.

Both services negotiate contracts with all their participating studios, but it seems like FitRerserve’s pricing structure is more realistic, and hopefully that allows the studios more of a win which is ultimately good for everyone.

ClassPass is still a tiny bit cheaper at $135/month for 10 classes versus FitReserve at $149/month. Sometimes though, you get what you pay for.

 

Personal Excellence: The P.E. Club

I’m not at all sure what the P or the E in The P.E. Club really stand for (if not the traditional Physical Education), but this boutique fitness studio does offer an excellent and personal workout, so that’s my best guess. I was impressed as soon as I walked in the door.

Picture the scene: a pristine Upper East Side boutique studio space, waxed wood floors, cream walls, shiny chrome equipment. In walks a model-esque trainer with not a hair out of place wearing the hottest new sports bra trend, the string-back (seriously, I’m seeing these everywhere I go all of a sudden), an open-backed top, and floral sneakers. (Yes, I wanted to hate her for being beautiful, but she was welcoming, friendly, and almost hugg-abble. It was impossible not to love her because on top of all that, she knew what she was doing.)

Through the walls of the bathroom, where I stood in front of the mirror trying to tie back my greasy, unwashed locks and adjust my Hello Kitty t-shirt to hide a small hole in my thinning Old Navy leggings, I overheard comments about someone rocking some shiny green spandex leggings, and how so-and-so was looking great today. “Lo-ove that outfit!” Suddenly I realized it was the kind of place that people dressed for.

Even though I felt a bit self-conscious and out of place in the land of the too-rich-to-be-doing-anything-but-working-out-everyday a.k.a. the Upper East Side, the instructor, Nedra Lopez, put me right at ease in the TRX workout room. And truthfully, so did the smiles of my seven classmates.

PE-ClubThe class was “TRX Xtreme Total Body,” and I’d been curious to give it a try when I realized how quickly the class books up. I’ve been spoiled with FitReserve, being able to constantly book almost any class I want at the last minute. But this class fills up faster than most because it’s very small and personalized. Only 8 students per class.

Everything about the class was deliberate and well-planned. We started with dynamic warm-up stretching, hit all our major muscle groups, and finished with static stretching. It was a full 50 minutes of purposeful strength training. Nedra not only walked around to gently correct our form as we squatted and planked, but she also continually reminded us how each part of our body was connected to every movement. She actually helped me understand what it looks and feels like to “keep your shoulders down and away from your ears,” something I hear trainers say all the time, but never fully understood until Nedra’s class. As a result, the day after class, I could feel the activation of small muscle groups that I don’t usually get to.

The class was challenging, and although not cardio heavy, I did sweat a lot. It activated a blend of large muscle groups that HIIT and bootcamp-style classes target, as well as the smaller muscles that Pilates and Barre classes seem to focus on, therefore increasing both muscle strength and tone. On leaving, I was sweating, but with better posture. Even though it wasn’t a cardio workout, the P.E. Club allows you to use their cardio equipment before or after class if it’s not being used by one of their personal trainers.

In short, I give this fancy place a 2 thumbs up! Even though it had the potential to be elitist and snobby, it wasn’t at all. And it managed to pull off not feeling cramped despite not having a locker room. (There are 2 bathrooms with showers and cubbies.) It really did feel personal, inviting, and all-round excellent.

The skinny:

The PE Club

Location: 238 E. 75th Street, 1st Floor New York, NY 10021

PROS: Beautiful space, personal attention, careful, deliberate and thorough workout. Challenging, but do-able, and works for beginners through athlete; fun, friendly atmosphere.

CONS: No locker room, but not really a need for one since it’s small enough to keep your belongings nearby; expensive; you might have to think about your wardrobe a little– it’s not the Monster Cycle crowd.

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Hook Up with an Ex on V-Day: Barry

Why is it so hard to resist the hook-up with the former flame that tortured you? This Valentine’s Day I found myself back at Barry’s Bootcamp, and half-way through I had that sinking feeling, like when you run into an ex and then you suddenly find yourself in his bed knowing that you will probably regret it the next day. I’m speaking hypothetically.

I used to wait longingly by my computer everyday at noon to try to book a coveted session at Barry’s Bootcamp through ClassPass. If I got in, I had to make sure I dressed as fashionably as I could (without owning one piece of Lululemon, mind you) to make up for the fact that I weigh more than 110 pounds and don’t have a six-pack. The regulars at Barry’s look they could quite literally be models and professional athletes. And when I first tried it, it was one of the best and most challenging workouts I’d ever encountered. Just like looking past a hot ex’s narcissism, I looked past Barry’s snobbish front desk crew and beau monde crowd. I reasoned that not knowing proper form on the floor lifting weights was my fault, not the trainer’s. The dark lights and smoothie bar were just so irresistible.

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I know better now. Granted, the front desk crew and trainer were quite friendly today, (they even allowed me to enter the class 5  minutes late). But, now that I know how good (and glitz-free) a similar-style workout can be because of Orange Theory Fitness, I could really see all the cracks in Barry’s bronze.

First, they keep it waaay too hot in the workout room! I had to leave at one point to get some air. They must do it so that you feel like you are breaking a sweat fast, but sprinting uphill on a treadmill and increasing every minute by 2 mph doesn’t feel so great in a sauna. Also, it’s cramped on the weight floor. I accidentally kicked someone in the head today. And there is very little explanation or correction of form. There’s just too many people in one room for the instructor to possibly watch what you’re doing. I didn’t feel safe.

I think I may have finally learned my lesson. I will no longer be lured in by the possibility of fitting in with the fit crowd and busting my butt for Barry….except…. they do offer weekend afternoon classes, and well, the smoothie bar. And it’s really convenient to book there now that I have FitReserve. Sigh. As long as I go in knowing what to expect, right?

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