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.

o

 

 

 

 

 

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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Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Runner Too?

If you’ve ever enjoyed running, even once, or even thought maybe you could enjoy running, get thee to Mile High Run Club this winter. If you’re a true runner (whatever that means), then you might really enjoy running in 19-degree weather, but me, I’m from Florida. When I can make clouds with my breath, I head to a treadmill. And, it’s a lot more fun to treadmill with a class than all by my lonesome. I probably don’t push myself as hard when I’m running alone either. (Unless maybe there are some really killer tunes in my earbuds.)

While I’ve never really thought of myself as a “runner,” darned if I haven’t been really loving the running (especially the sprints) during my Orange Theory classes. I get such a rush from pushing that plus sign and going faster, baby, faster. I’ve also grown accustomed to the community, the coaching of a class, and the chance for a little competition.  So, instead of running in the park, I went to the Mile High Run Club to try their Distance class.

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I haven’t run more than 2 miles in long time. At Mile High’s DASH 28, OTF, and Barry’s Bootcamp you get time to run on a treadmill, but never more than 20-30 minutes, so I’m not logging too many pure running miles. But since it’s become my favorite part of the class, I figured why not try out a class where you run for 55 minutes straight?

The result: I’m sore. But happy. It made me feel like a runner. It was a lot different than just lacing up my shoes and going. There were timed intervals in which we slowly increased our speed and attempted sprints at faster and faster paces. And it was fantastic to get an explanation of how form can impact speed and protect you from injury. For more on how you can protect yourself from running injury check out this recent article from the Times, “Why We Get Running Injuries (and How to Prevent Them).” Spoiler alert: Consciously thinking about a softer landing, especially if you’re a heel-striker, is key.

I can tell the sprints worked their magic on me too because I hit 9.5 MPH during my last sprint at Orange Theory this morning. I’m sure to some people that is no biggie, but it’s the fastest I’ve ever gone, so I was pretty high on that all day. Maybe I am a runner after all.

But, just when I was feeling all comfy with my new treadmill habit, a friend of mine asked me if I’d join a soccer team with her through ZogSports. Just the words “team sports” have always been enough to make my stomach do flip-flops. Too many nightmares of middle school team picking during Phys Ed class. Why do they ever let students pick the teams anyway? Do the coaches secretly enjoy torturing the chubby, awkward kids? Anyway, it’s time to finally overcome the fears of being hated by my teammates for not knowing what I’m doing. It’s time to put my new fitness skills to the test. I signed up for a Saturday soccer league! If anyone wants to join me on the team, you can sign up here: ZogSports Saturday Indoor Soccer.

By the way, I’ve had this earworm all morning: I’m a runner. He’s a runner. She’s a runner. Wouldn’t you like to be a runner too? Dr. Pepper! (which is probably not the best hydration choice while running.)

 

Pushed but Squished at PushLab Fitness

Using my FitReserve membership, I’ve found a few go-to workouts, but part of the fun is getting to try new spots too. Last weekend, I walked over to Yorkville, home to frat-boy-filled bars, Gracie Mansion, and my destination: PushLab Fitness.

I’d heard good things about this spot from fellow class-hoppers, so I came in ready to sweat. And sweat I did. (Thankfully they have an easily accessible water fountain and provide small towels!) In our 45-minute workout we used light-weight dumbbells, kettle bells, TRX-like straps, and a rowing machine. We also did equipment-free moves like burpees, planks, and mountain climbers.

The trainer, Rick was friendly, but tough. If we rested at certain points, he would punish the whole class with extra reps. Also, if it was your turn on the rower, (there are two rowers in the back that we rotated through during circuits) and you didn’t make the 250-meter goal in a minute or less, the class had to go an extra 30 seconds on whatever station they were on. Thirty seconds may not sound like a lot, but when you’ve just done 35 squat-thrusts, you’d be ready to kill anyone who made you do even one more.

So, let me be clear, this is NOT a class for beginners! I was probably the oldest person in the class too, which doesn’t bother me too much these days, but I do feel safer when I’m given options for modifications and if I’m allowed to take a break when I need to without being yelled at. I work harder with encouragement versus punishment. In fact, threatening us with extra reps made me feel like the workout was a punishment rather than a joy. Working out is both physical and “mental,” or as I prefer to say, it’s a lot about mindset and how you frame it. Like Coach Fitz from Mile High Run Club said to us yesterday, instead of saying to yourself, “Oh man, this is really gonna hurt,” when faced with your next sprint interval, say “OH YES! This is gonna hurt!” with a smile, and feel the difference.

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The bathroom and coat hooks are behind the small, white wall.

My only other complaint about the class was the physical space. It was teeny-tiny. In suburbia, it would be like working out in someone’s walk-in-closet. No lockers or showers, but there is bathroom in the back that faces the 4 coat hooks.

It’s just one bare room with well-stored equipment lining the walls. There were 10 of us in class, making it was a tight squeeze. For a comfy workout the room shouldn’t have more than 8, but this is New York City where we all tend to settle for cozy rather than comfy. I was impressed that they made the space work as well as it did, and if I lived in Yorkville, I’d probably go back. But I don’t. So….

I’ll head back to some of my other faves, and also cross my fingers that FitReserve will sign up The Fhitting Room which I’ve heard is stellar.

Here’s the long story short:

PUSHLAB FITNESS

LOCATION: 249 East 77th Street – Yorkville/Upper East Side

PROS: Efficient HIIT workout in 45 minutes; small group class; total body is worked including cardio; friendly trainers.

CONS: Teeny-tiny space; no showers, no locker room with plush glamour products; it’s in Yorkville; not a class for HIIT newbies- they expect you to know what the moves are and don’t offer modifications.

 

 

 

My Top 6 Go-To HIIT Classes

If you’ve been reading, you know I recently joined FitReserve instead of ClassPass. This was because I was too overwhelmed by the choices with ClassPass, and often couldn’t book the classes I really wanted. Also, FitReserve offered me a great deal and gives me discounts on some services like Zeel, in-home massage. FitReserve also has a great selection of HIIT-style workouts to choose from.

My favorite workout of all time is the Orange Theory Fitness workout (and I still go there at least once a week even though they are not a part of FitReserve or ClassPass). But, because of OTF‘s price-tag and my body’s endless need for variety (I’m talking about workouts), I’ve let myself roam.

My favorite workouts tend to be high-intensity, bootcamp-style ones. The kind where you are getting both cardio and strength all at once and getting high on pushing yourself harder than you thought you could. Sorry folks, but despite the acute pain I experience doing Barre or Pilates, they just don’t give that I-am-strong-like-bull feeling, nor do they seem to burn as many calories if that’s what you’re after. I’d like to do more research on how HIIT fitness differs from Barre-style workouts and what benefits you get from each, but I’ll save that for another post.

In the meantime, here are my top 6 favorite classes for High Intensity Interval Training (a.k.a. HIIT):

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#6 As One Effect at As One Studios located at 3rd Floor, 1845 Broadway, New York, NY 10023 (Columbus Circle. See my full review here: A Hidden Gem.

 

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#5 EVF 360 at EVF with locations at both Columbus Circle and the Upper East Sid. I love this not-quite-cross-fit style workout in a Cross-Fit “box” studio. See my full review.

 

brick 2#4 The B/X class at BRICK NYC, with 3 studios in New York located in Chelsea, Grad Central, and Brooklyn. This is another Cross-Fit box that offers non-cross-fit classes that are non-stop and hard core, but fun and friendly. You can check my original review of BRICK too.

Logo_FeaturedImage-353x210.png#3 Barry’s Bootcamp with 3 NYC locations in Chelsea, Noho, and Tribeca (and more in Miami, LA, Boston and London). Yes, folks, it’s dropped down from my once favorite in recent experience, as the customer service skills at the front desk and the smoothie bar are sometimes NYC-snob, and it’s more of a “beautiful people” scene than I like these days. It’s still a great workout though, and it’s now available through FitReserve.

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#2 The Workout at Exceed Physical Culture (with Upper East Side and Tribeca locations), I loved the space, the trainers, and the workout itself. I felt safe, strong, challenged and encouraged. Here’s the full scoop: Exceeded Expectations.

 

And, as I said before, although not offered on FitReserve (yet?), my all time favorite workout is:

OTF-splat1-714x930#1 The Workout at ORANGE THEORY FITNESS .

I’ve been going there regularly for a year, and can say that it helped me discover the joys of sticking with one studio as opposed to constantly hopping around. They know me there. The trainers comment on not just my form, but my progress. And it’s just all-round awesome– treadmill, rower, TRX, and weights in every class. I don’t even use the heart rate monitor that often any more, but that’s another great benefit of the workout- you can see what your heart is doing. And they are located all over the country including my hometown of Tallahassee, Fl. You can read more about it here and here.

Tell me about your favorite workouts in the comments below. I’d love to find some new places to hop to!

By the way, if you’re interested in joining FitReserve (see pricing here), use my discount code (https://www.fitreserve.com/r/15affd93) and get $50 off!