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):

as one

#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!

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Off the Beaten (aka Overbooked) ClassPass Path

ClassPass’s new cancellation policy is so much better than the old one! With the 12-hour window, rather 24, I’m able to make adjustments in my schedule more easily which is often a necessity having a preschool-age kiddo. More importantly, because there’s more of a penalty for no-showing ($20) versus late canceling ($15), there’s a bit more of a chance you can book a sought-after class last-minute. Bit being the operative word. Many studios don’t allow last-minute booking though and I’ve still got my alarm set in hopes of getting another date with Barry.

barry Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.01.22 AM

I’ve decided (thanks to a special rate offer) to also try out FitReserve this month in hopes of getting into some of the classes I just can’t seem to book on ClassPass as that is what FitReserve claims is what sets them apart: you can book harder to book classes at popular times, and you can go to each studio 4 rather than 3 times a month. I’m not giving up ClassPass yet though. For now, I’m just cheating on them a little with FitReserve. But alas, that still doesn’t mean more Barry’s Bootcamp in my life as they don’t have Barry on their roster yet. If they manage to get the new OrangeTheory Fitness that’s opening up in Chelsea, I’d switch over for good.

In the meantime, I’ve been talking to other class hoppers to get ideas about fun studios to book that are actually book-able. Here are a few of the best, less-discovered studios I’ve found. If you know of more, please share!

  • As One (Columbus Circle): HIIT-style total body workout
  • EVF Performance (Upper East Side and Columbus Circle locations): Offers CrossFit and HIIT-style classes, total body workout
  • Crank (Upper East Side and LIC locations): I can’t believe I haven’t done a whole post about this place yet. It’s one of my favorite indoor cycling spots because it’s the closest I’ve ever come to getting a total body workout on the bike, they provide shoes and the teachers are awesome!
  • Revolution in Motion (Garment District): A revolutionary approach to total body training, like nothing I’ve ever done before.
  • Revolve (Union Square): Loved this indoor cycling class too, especially the hour-long RIP class that incorporates more upper body.

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 15: Back and Forth at Row House

With my shin splints in full bloom on day 10 of my challenge, I decided to opt out of EVF and Barry’s Bootcamp and attempt an indoor rowing class at EVF’s sister studio, Row House, located in the same building. I’ve always liked the rowing machine. That’s probabrowhouse11ly because I’ve never done it for more than 5-10 minutes in all of my gym wandering. A 50-minute class was a bit more intense, and it turns out my form was all wrong before.

I attended the Full Body class (they also offer Core, Endurance, and Express classes), and between sets of power bursts on the rower, we did bootcamp-style exercises like push-ups, squats, burpees, and weight work. The class is reminiscent of an indoor cycling classes in that the instructor starts you off with an explanation of proper form and technique, leads you through a warm-up, and then has students sprint to faster music in intervals.

I found it a great balance of cardio and strength, and it challenged me without bothering my shins. I did take issue with a couple of things though. I wasn’t always sure I was doing the conditioning exercises correctly, and in some cases I wanted a modification, but the teacher (who was very nice), didn’t do much technique correcting. I was also a little miffed that she would often call out that we were “lookin’ good” while she was looking at her watch. The music was meh, and the transition between songs was often choppy. That said, we all have our lackluster days. So I’m heading back today, DAY 15 to give it another go, or should I say row.

13493053095_2ef5db44c4_zPROS: Good total body workout that’s not hard on knees or shins; nice space; friendly staff

CONS: Teacher was great at explaining moves, but didn’t do a lot of correcting or modification; music was so-so; they need more bathrooms and showers are located in the bathrooms of which there are only two.

Checkin’-in: 10 days out of 100

I’m ten days into my 100 days of classes.

The good news: I’ve lost 3 pounds! (Wasn’t even my main goal.) I’m also sleeping better (according to my FitBit I’m averaging 8 hours a night). I feel more energetic and happy. It’s sometimes hard to squeeze in the classes, but mostly I find that I’m using my time more efficiently. That said, I think it’s a pace that I won’t be able to continue after the intial 100 days.

The bad news: I have shin splints. I’m not sure how I got them, but probably it was sprinting in my EVF 360 class because I’m not that used to running fast. Then again, it could be a lot of walking around in my snow boots. Either way, they hurt like an explicative. I’m icing my shin as I write. And from what I can see on-line, there’s not much I can do except avoid running for a while. No Barry’s Bootcamp next week.

Here’s a list of the classes I’ve taken so far (almost all through Class Pass) with a quick overview of my thoughts:

1. Cyc Fitness Indoor Cycling Class with Lauren, non-ClassPass price: $25

Located at the Astor Place David Barton Gym, this was my favorite of all the cycling classes I’ve tried so far. It was a thorough workout, fun music, awesome space, and nice amenities.

2. Gyrotonics at the Living Room SoHo with Paula, non-ClassPass price: $35

Meh. Too much strange equipment for my liking, but probably great for people with injuries, or a day when you feel the need to work on your posture.

3. Barry’s Bootcamp Abs, Chest and Back with Alycia, non-ClassPass price: $34

Not for beginners, this is a super intense workout that includes both cardio and strength. They push you hard, and the instructors do very little explaining, correcting or coddling, and the classes are big. But the space and the music are great; the workout feels very efficient. (Just go at your own pace!)

4. Exhale Spa Power Yoga with Lauren, non-ClassPass price: $26

Very solid yoga class with a fun, engaging instructor. Super posh place. I’d go back, but so far my favorite yoga place in NYC is Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness.

5. Harlem Yoga Studio Family Yoga with Rena, non-ClassPass price: $5 w/coupon for 1st class, then $14

Fun kids class; clean inviting space. I’m going back this Sunday to do adult yoga and paying for my son to go to the drop-off kids yoga.

6. RIP Ride at Revolve with Jonathan, non-ClassPass price: $29 

Basic ride with good music and clip-in shoes ($2 rental). I liked that there were 2 upper body segments and the ride was a full hour. Otherwise, it wasn’t as impressive as places like Peloton, FlyWheel, Monster, and Cyc.

7. EVF 360 at EVF Performance with Farouk, non-ClassPass price: $20 first visit, then $35.

I really love this gym, or box as the regulars probably call it since they do a lot of Cross-Fit. Very positive vibe and personal feeling. The workouts feel intense, efficient, but also safe. One of my all time favs.

8. Headspace On-line Meditation with Andy, price: Free for 10 minute meditations, $8-12/month

I cannot say enough wonderful things about this site. I have wanted to throw my iPod out the window during guided meditations I’ve tried in the past, but this one is phenomenal. I have learned to still my mind and be in the moment for up to 20 minutes at a time so far. One day I will write a full post about this.

9. Flow at Yoga Vida with Zander, non-ClassPass price: $18 (30% discount for students, teachers and seniors)

Faster paced than many open level classes I’ve experienced. I’d say it’s definitely not for beginners. In all fairness though, I was very distracted by the teacher (see post) and my own thoughts during this class. Very nice studio space.

10. Core Fusion Barre at Exhale Spa with Kevin (on UES), non-ClassPass price: $38

I plan to do more research on these Barre classes. It was definitely hard, but very different than high-intensity workouts like EVF or Barry’s Bootcamp that are designed to efficiently burn fat and grow muscle. This class felt more like Jane Fonda meets ballet and Pilates. There was a burn, but not a lot of sweat. I’m not sold on the method, but I enjoyed showering there, using the sauna, and wearing the complimentary robe and flip-flops even though I was surrounded by Uptown Abbey blue-bloods dabbing their dewey faces with handkerchiefs.

Tonight I’m icing my shins because tomorrow I’m trying out Row-House! And stay-tuned, because I hope to give this blog a bit of a face-lift over the weekend.

Feeling Like Bridget Jones at Yoga Vida

I thought today would be a run-of-the -mill, stretch-out-my-sore-muscles Yoga day, always needed after an EVF 360 class (which I took on Monday and am still feeling 2 days later!). I’d never been to Yoga Vida before, but it’s near the school where I teach Lego Robotics so I figured I’d give it a try.

As I set up my mat ($2 rental) and looked around, I noticed the usual yoga crowd: 90% female, slim and trim up front (by the way, for more on the whole front row crowd, here’s an interesting NY Times article), pregnant yogi in the back along with those of us who need lots of blocks and blankets to stay comfy in our poses. However, this class also had several preening pre-class stretch-ers already down like dogs, one of whom had on a long-sleeved, bare-midriff top. (This is an item of clothing that really makes no functional sense as you’d never find yourself in a situation in which your arms were cold, but your belly wasn’t. But hot she looked.) And just as I was wondering why this class seemed unusually heavy on the lipgloss-wearing showboat types, in walked our instructor.

10597382_1447585792189484_341146290_n zander_altimages

His name is Zander (“with a Z”) Gladish. In addition to being a heartthrob yoga instructor, he’s an actor, a board certified Heath and Wellness coach, and an EFT or “emotional freedom technique” specialist (sounds liberating). He does Reiki and Thai massage too. You can even find his workouts on an on-line workout platform called Booya Fitness (looks like an interesting way to squeeze in a fitness class when it’s too cold, rainy, or snowy to make it out of the house this winter.)

The class was fast-paced, and I think it was good, but really it’s hard to say. I was much more interested in catching glimpses of Zander and his interactions with the students whose poses he chose to correct as he circulated the room. I found myself, in a very Bridget Jones-like way, bending deeper into my twist as he walked by. Then, as I looked up at him in hopes of some correcting, I toppled to the ground, and he moved on to the deeply tanned, flat-bellied, Lululemoned Asian girl. I swear he corrected the 6-foot blonde waif two or three times, but he never made it to the three dudes in the back nor to me.

So then I moved on from ogling to amusement making Shavasana pose an impossibility. I mean, it was starting to feel more like an episode of The Bachelor than a yoga class. Could these girls act more like peacocks? After class they loitered. I think I even saw him exchange numbers with one. Me, I scurried out to change. I’d never stoop to fawning over an instructor. But then, as I was putting on my hat and coat, there he was behind the counter, tucking his long strands past his glasses behind his ear. And as another girl passed by gushing at him about how great his class was, I suddenly found myself walking over to him too.

“I really liked the music you played in class. Do you have a list of the songs?”

But, really, I did like the music, I swear.

You can find the playlist on Spotify by searching Zander Gladish by the way.

Confessions of a Class Skipper Part 2: Down the Rabbit Hole

An update on the class skipping situation:

As I mentioned in my first Class Skipping post, I’ve missed some ClassPass classes, and I’ve lied about it. When you log back into ClassPass after a scheduled class, a window pops up asking you to rate the class out of 5 starts or click that you missed the class. After lying twice to avoid the $20 penalty fee, I finally fessed up and clicked on the “I missed class” button just to see what would happen.

At first, nothing, but last night I got an e-mail from ClassPass that said:

Hi Karla,

According to our records, you missed the following class:

FlowCycle at FlowCycle on 01/08/2015 at 9:15 AM

This missed class is subject to a $20 late cancel fee.

As a reminder, all reservations must be canceled at least 24 hours before the class time. Reservations may be canceled directly in your ClassPass account or by emailing info@classpass.com.

We appreciate your help in canceling all future reservations before the 24 hour cut off. Doing so makes our class providers happy and gives fellow ClassPass users a chance to book the spot!

Thanks.
The ClassPass Team

p.s. We know that technology is not always perfect! If you did attend this class, please email us back to let us know and we will follow up with FlowCycle.

So I got my first $20 penalty. Now it’s up to me and my conscience as to how to deal with any future slip-ups.

Today, I missed another class, but this time I really did try to go. I genuinely couldn’t find it. Instead I found myself down the rabbit hole in one of those where-the-hell-am-I-? moments that NYC likes to throw at you every so often. These moments always seem to include a receptionist or bouncer that serves as a portal protector between you and the secret world you are entering. I was at Stepping Out Studios (“home to world champions, celebrities and you”) in search of a class called BoCo Power 45. This particular receptionist had a thick Russian accent. With a vague nod of her head, she said something about Studio C. I didn’t see any sign marked Studio C, so I went to the bathroom (located inside a studio in which several leotard-clad cabaret dancers were shimmying all over, under, and around their chairs). After changing, and watching a class of clearly professional level dancers plié en masse wearing only lacy bras and black pantyhose in the only other studio I saw, I tried again to ask where Studio C was.

“Tru dere. Second door to da right.”

Hmmm, back through the chair-dancing room, I found another door. Inside this one were heavily made-up women and men in suit vests rehearsing the tango next to a grand piano. That didn’t seem quite right either. Just before they stopped to stare at me, I slipped out and chickened out, finding my way back to the elevator.

Body Conceptions is a method founded by Mahri Relin, a former modern dancer and theater performer who was the Creative Director of FlyWheel’s Fly Barre. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect of the class because the description was vague: “Body Conceptions is a full-body lengthening and sculpting method that combines the principles of dynamic movement and muscle exhaustion.” I imagined a bit of dancing though considering the founder and that it’s located in a dance studio. I thought it would be a nice compliment to the EVF 360 class that I went back to yesterday (and was happy to have Farouk again as my trainer there!).

I promise to go back to BoCo and try again, but for today, I’m taking an on-line meditation class through Headspace instead. Hopefully that will help me work up the courage to open up more mysterious dance studio doors.