Hopping Back to FitReserve

First off, I want to apologize for the long hiatus. I haven’t posted in a while or replied to comments as I was dealing with some health issues (more on that in a later post), but now, I’m back!

For the last 9 months I’ve been semi-exclusive with Orange Theory Fitness (occasionally visiting FlyWheel and Yoga to the People on the side). I LOVE OTF! But alas, monogamy fitness is not my cup of tea. The body craves variety. Orange Theory does mix it up between the treadmill, rowing machine, TRX, and weight work focusing alternately on endurance, strength, and power depending on the day. And I feel a bit guilty leaving them as they have taken me to a much higher level of fitness than I was achieving in my ClassPass days. I can run faster, and uphill. I feel stronger and have more definition in my legs, arms and abs. I love the intensity and efficiency of their heart-rate monitored, total body fitness classes. The coaches (especially Eddie!) are excellent– really watching your form and encouraging progress. Plus, there’s one in my hometown, so I can travel and still go to my own gym. I can safely say, that in all my class hopping thus far, OTF takes the cake (as in the cake I ate off of my butt).

Orangetheory-3

But it ain’t cheap. In NYC, a monthly membership for unlimited classes cost me $329 a month. I have NEVER paid that much for a gym before. Then, I thought, I’ll do it for one month, at least 4 times a week to get in shape for summer. I got hooked. I could no longer push myself without the coaches and the meticulously-planned full-body focus. I justified the expenditure because it was my health, and figured I’d cut back on eating out and clothes. I also found out that I could get $200 back from my health insurance with proof that I’d attended the gym at least 50 times in a 6-month period. But $329 a month is a big chunk of change, no matter how you cut it. I dropped down to the 8-times-per-month membership for $219 a month.

But now, It’s time to face the fact that I need to save a little money. That, and I’ve got to see how my new fit-self does back at Barry’s Bootcamp (now on the FitReserve roster!). With a wandering eye and a hankering to try some kinkier, wilder fitness forays in 2016 (like aerial fabric pole dancing and Thai Kickboxing, I’m putting my OTF membership on hold, and taking FitReserve for another spin.

I’m choosing FitReserve over ClassPass for now as the price of ClassPass has gone up (to $125 from $99 per month), and I’m haunted by nightmares of setting calendar alarms for the booking windows of my favorite classes, scrolling through endless choices, the choicest of which were always un-bookable on ClassPass.

But whether you’re using FitReserve, ClassPass, or just class-hopping on your own, this classhopper is happy to be sharing her adventures with you once again. I plan to try new classes, return to old faves, and hopefully catch up on some requests, like finding out which classes have the most guys in attendance.

Happy 2016 and Happy Hopping!

4th on the Fly and 60 Minutes at Drill

leaderboard

That’s right, I finished fourth on the leaderboard in my latest FlyWheel class! Granted, the class was on the small side, but that’s quite an improvement from my first SWERVE rides class two months ago where I finished 28 out of 35. Now’s the time that I’m thankful for those metrics since the numbers on my scale and my pants size haven’t budged much.

Since comparing FlyWheel to SWERVE is apples to oranges, I’ll have to head back to SWERVE soon. In the meantime, I did a 60 minute ride downtown at Drill Fitness. I was dragging a bit on a Sunday morning, but wearing a heart monitor and seeing my numbers on the screen kept my heart in it. (Pardon the pun.) Even though you can slack off during a ride by not pushing yourself as hard as you can or turning your resistance knob down when no one’s looking, staring at your hear rate on the screen shames you into going faster.

The teacher I had a Drill was Prozac-happy even though the crowd was hung over, and the facilities are pristine. Plenty of room in the locker room, free shoes, and a smoothie bar. It is tempting to purchase the heart-rate monitor so that I can sync-up with their system and track my progress. And I might if they weren’t so far away. Tribeca is a hike, and FlyWheel is everywhere. I’d love for someone to do some kind of test though to see how accurate the metrics are at all these place.  And, I’m kind of jonesing for a metrics-free drumroll ride at Cyc.

Drill Fitness 

Located in Tribeca, offers Indoor Cycling and Bootcamp-style, HIIT conditioning classes.

PROS

Super-solid ride with decent music; complimentary heart-rate monitors and shoes for your ride; beautiful facility with ample room in the lockers and nice showers; smoothie bar; they offer HIIT classes in addition to cycling.

CONS

Felt a little bit sterile, and the staff could have been friendlier; can’t track your numbers unless you purchase the hear rate monitor from them.

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.

Backtracking: Tribeca Health and Fitness and Pablo Fitness

I haven’t yet written about a couple of classes I took last week. That’s because they were nothing to write home about. But if you’re a ClassPasser or just passing by, you get to have my two cents about them anyhow. Both of them felt a bit like stepping back in time compared with some of the sparkling new studios I’ve been to lately.

The first was Tribeca Health and Fitness, which is not a boutique studio, but an actual gym with weight rooms and treadmills in addition to a windowless exercise class room. With the word Tribeca in the title, I was expecting understated swank and a little snobbery. Instead I was greeted at the door with a sign that said TANNING in bold print. It foreshadowed more anachronisms circa 1985. Either I was in a time warp or they just haven’t remodeled or changed their playlists in quite a while.

THF-2

Passing through a weight room of muscle-heads straining to Twisted Sister, I found the hidden room that houses the exercise classes which include Karate, Zumba, Elf Tennis (I really hope this does not involve tossing elves around), Flat Iron Express (I don’t think it’s a hair styling class), and the class I’d come for, Body Shred. The room was large, but dingy and covered in cushy padded vinyl flooring (see above). Even the teacher was wearing 80s-style floral leggings. But she was welcoming, asked my name, and had prepared a fun, sweat-filled class for us. Apparently, it’s not just a catchy title, Body Shred, but a specific kind of circuit training that includes several sets of strength training, cardio, and abs. We were constantly in motion. It was an efficient 30 minutes well spent, with a wonderful 15 minute stretch segment afterward using foam rollers (that once again looked as though they were purchased many years ago).

After my surprisingly gratifying workout, I headed two deep stories down where the locker room is. There was plenty of room, but don’t expect Bliss personal care products or any freebies. I was really wishing I’d brought my own flip-flops as I tip-toed across the moldy tiles into the shower which had a totally exposed light bulb on the ceiling. Health code violation? But maybe I’m being too harsh. I’m getting spoiled by David Barton and Exhale. There were two hotel-style hair dryers and some body lotion which was really all I needed to get ready for work.

PROS: Great teacher and a quick, efficient workout with a wonderful stretch afterward.

CONS: Bring flip-flops, or better yet, shower at home. Locker room leaves much to be desired.

pablo fitness

And now I’ve written so much about one place that I claimed was nothing to write home about that I don’t have time to write as much about Pablo Fitness. As a part of my quest to try all the cycling studios in Manhattan, I ventured to Midtown East to try out their Interval Cycling class. The bikes were basic, with RPM meters attached, and it was clean and well-kept, complete with two bathrooms (that also had small showers) and a changing area with cubbies (not lockers). I found the workout a little on the easy side, but truthfully, I could have put more energy in. The teacher was peppy and the music was better than most, with more of a Latin vibe. If I didn’t have so many other snazzy cycling options closer to my apartment, I’d probably go back if only to have a ride with good music.

PROS: Good music with Latin vibe; friendly staff; clean space; decent burn

CONS: Older style bikes with limited metrics; nothing special about the ride and no upper body; no lockers

Speaking of music, I’ve been to so many classes with mediocre music, I’ve stop expecting to get into my workouts through the music, but the class I took this morning at FlyWheel had the BEST playlist ever. I was singing along to Janis Joplin and Cindy Lauper (which reveals something about my age). I’ll write more about the class in my soon-to-come Tour de Spin post. In the meantime, check out Danielle’s classes at FlyWheel.

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.

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.

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.