Best of ClassPass and Me, Day 28

8950165394_534b1c43dc_zIt’s day 28. I was back at Brick New York in Chelsea today for another awesome workout. It’s high on my list of favs. Really feel stronger after my workouts there with an extra side of endorphin rush. Then chatting with some other ClassPassers in the locker room, I got some more suggestions for new, similar-in-style studios to check out. These were some serious class-goers. Here I thought I was daring with 100 classes in 100 days, and these girls are often hitting two different studios a day. (Granted one was a professional actor/dancer.)

But I’m feeling strong, sleeping better, am down 3 pounds in weight, and 1 whole inch off my hips, and discovered the answer to world peace. Actually, I can’t even keep the peace in my own house sometimes. I struggle to make it to every class and find time to write about it. I always feel better after a great workout though. Here’s a list of my favorites of the 26 studios I’ve tried thus far:

Best Total Body Workouts

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1. BFX Studio – love the Fusion workouts that involve both cycling and weight training. Beautiful space with lots of personal attention from the staff.

2. Brick New York– Honestly I had a hard time deciding between this place and EVF Performance for #2. Both are intense total body workouts that leave you feeling strong and motivated because of amazing instructors. But Brick has a nice lounge area and locker room and EVF doesn’t.

3. EVF Performance – Like Brick, it’s a CrossFit gym that also offers classes that are super intense, functional fitness workouts for non-CrossFitters. Instructors pay attention to form and encourage you by name. Really love this place.

Barry’s Bootcamp was also a kick-ass workout, and I plan to return. I’m just a little concerned about the size of the classes that make it hard for the instructors to check your form. And locker room gossip has it that I should also check out Exceed and PushLab Fitness. I’m also looking forward to trying out Drill Fitness this weekend.

2945594079_d28487da4f_zBest Yoga Studios

1. Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness – The more yoga I do, the pickier I am about the studio space and the instructor. This is a clean open studio, and the classes I’ve taken here are the perfect balance of mind and body alignment.

2. YogaMaya – Again this place has a large studio and instructors who take the time to remind you of the new-ness of every pose every time you experience it. They also often start class with a short reading, reminding you of the more spiritual aspect of the practice without overwhelming you with it.

3. Exhale Spa – This was the most luxurious of all the studios so far, and while it wasn’t spiritual yoga in any way, the instructor was fun, accommodating, and knowledgeable. And then there were the plush robes in the locker room.

I’m loathe to start my next list since I haven’t yet hit all the cycling studios I want to. I definitely already have my favorites though.

2370276576_c1d308368b_zBest Indoor Cycling

1. Cyc – It has a special place in my heart since it helped me kick off my 100 days, but it was also the most fun of all the cycling I’ve done so far. And my upper body got worked too!

2. Crank – This was a pleasant surprise find. It’s smaller than most and located only on UES and Long Island. They include more of an upper body workout mixed in with the cycling and it was FUN!

3. FlyWheel – (especially with Danielle) These classes are consistent. They are challenging and they track your metrics. I LOVE that they provide shoes, free water, and fruit, and the space is clean with nice amenities. Secret hint: the blue lockers at some locations have plugs so you can charge your mobile device while you ride.

That stated, I’m scheduled to take an off-ClassPass class at the infamous SoulCycle tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing whether they really are worth the hype as the industry standard. Pretty soon I’m gonna have to move on to a new genre. I’m thinking dance so I can try out this new ClassPass studio addition: StripXpertease.

Day 25: Brick by Brick at BRICK New York

brick class

Have your abs ever been so sore that it hurts when you laugh? That’s me today after the Friday Abs B/X class at Brick New York in Chelsea. If there’s anything that’s clear after 25 days of my ClassPass adventure, it’s that there is no shortage of awesome gyms and boutique studios, especially in Chelsea. Brick New York was another great find.

I flew into the studio one minute before my scheduled class, and the girl at the front desk checked me in, and assured me that all was fine– that I should change and go on in. Downstairs, it took me a minute to figure out which locker room was the women’s as the two doors facing me read, “Squat” and “Jerk,” a little CrossFit inside humor perhaps? While not huge, the locker room space was well-planned for minimal traffic jams. The lockers (bring your own lock) are outside the locker rooms, so that inside there’s space to change, hang your coat, use the bathroom, and shower. They have all the little amenities you need like the hair ties and complimentary razors, deodorant, and tampons. I so appreciate the gyms and studios that provide these things for forgetful me.

The workout was equally well-planned and efficient. CrossFit gyms or boxes, as their known, don’t mess around. I sidled past an actual CrossFit class into my own B/X class which, like the EVF 360 classes at EVF Performance, seems to be a class reminiscent in style to CrossFit, but a bit more accessible. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s gonna be in any way easy. I thought maybe I was in the wrong place when the first thing I saw the instructor demonstrate (as a part of the warm-up, no less) was a move called a “Wall Walk” in which, basically you start in push-up position an then literally walk your feet up the wall and your hands backwards until you are in a hand stand against the wall.

“What?” I yelped. The class laughed, and the instructor gave us an example for a modification that still involved walking up the wall as far as we could, and surprisingly, I was able to get much straighter than I thought I’d be able to. I couldn’t do all of the exercises without modifications (the Toes to Bar, for example), but I did more than I ever thought I was capable of. We were in constant motion going through 5 stations of 3 exercises each. The music was spot on, cranking me through my Plank Jacks (on the rings!) when I wanted to quit.

brick lobbyAfter the workout, I enjoyed a large free sample of a protein shake in the lounge. You can also purchase all kinds of Paleo salads and snacks as well as coconut water and protein bars. I feel inspired to go back, and perhaps even try out the Academy classes which are a series of 8 classes that you’re required to take at Brick before beginning the CrossFit classes. I love that, because I’ve been completely intimidated by CrossFit, and frankly worried that I might injure myself. The Academy is designed to make sure you know proper form and technique so you don’t get hurt. This is a studio that will help you become an athlete, brick by brick.

BRICK

LOCATIONS: Chelsea, Grand Central, Brooklyn, L.A, Chicago, Boston

PROS: Challenging, efficient workout. Classes are not tiny, but small enough for instructors to pay attention to your form and push you to our max; good music; plenty of amenities including showers, towels, shampoo, lockers (bring your own lock), and a protein smoothie bar.

CONS: They should make the towels and water available in more places than the front as it’s a big space, and you will need extra water. Towels and a water cooler in back workout room would rock. There was no stretching after the workout, and I could’ve really used a stretch.

WHAT TO WEAR: Regular workout clothes and sneakers. Bring water and a lock.

MY BRICK GOAL: Toes to the Bar

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!