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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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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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.

 

 

 

Not HIIT with Best Shot at KORE Method

When I heard there was a swank new HIIT studio (with chilled, eucalyptus-infused towels!) in the trendiest of hoods,  I booked a session on FitReserve and headed to Kore on West 13th Street.

I was primed for intensity, hopeful for a dark, clubby vibe with killer tunes. The room was dark. It was also spartan, the only equipment being TRX straps, kettle balls, and bands. They boast a 5 step-format HIIT workout (high-intensity interval training) that targets strength and cardio without the treadmill. After some active stretching, the highlight of the workout is the 8-minute series of high-rep body weight strength and stability movements.

While the trainer was knowledgable and encouraging, and the method mixes up such a variety of movements that I was never bored, the intensity was not much higher than a shetland pony, and the music was less than memorable.

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That said, I did break a sweat and was challenged by the kick-ups (in which several classmates made it to hand stand). Many of the moves were original and creative– not just a bunch of burpees, which I liked. It was kind of like boot-camp meets pilates with some kettle-balls and TRX thrown in. While I won’t be putting them on my regular workout rotation, it was an above-average workout.

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And sure, there were the fancy skin care products, and the chilled eucalyptus towels, but there was only one bathroom. The lobby was cramped enough to bump into 6 people while trying to remove my coat. I opted not to try out the showers to avoid the closet-like “locker” room.

The short story:

Kore New York

Meatpacking District, 336 W 13th St, New York, NY 10014

Pros: Interesting workout with great instructors. Small group format. Chilled eucalyptus towels and free lockers. Dark room, loud music. Some challenging and origianl moves.

Cons: Not as high-intensity as they claim. Trying to be too cool. Teeny-tiny lobby and even smaller locker room/bathroom.

 

 

Day 69: Back in the Game at End Game Training

I’ve been on hiatus. Not from class though, just from writing. I’ve been busy writing other things, like the new preschool Building Buddies curriculum for RoboFun.

But I’m back with a bang, and traveled all the way to Murray Hill from the UWS to do to End Game Training. No one should try to get to Murray Hill from the Upper West Side on a weekend. You might as well hike to Jersey. I did enjoy their circuit training Afterburn Metabolic Workout though.

I’ll cut to the chase because I have some catching up to do on my ClassPass adventures.

End Game Training (Park Ave and 30th Street, basement of an office building)

They offer small group classes (circuit-style) and personal training in a big open space with a smoothie bar, smallish, clean locker rooms with two showers (Frederic Fekkai hair products!) The Afterburn class which they claim helps keep your metabolism revved up for hours after class consisted of 11 one-minute stations that we did 3 times (and climbed the stairs in between). It sounds harder than it was. It was challenging, but unlike some places (Brick New York for example) the instructor wasn’t pushing us to go super fast, and one minute is pretty do-able for almost anything. The squat and presses had me willing the stopwatch clock to move faster, but I had fun pushing a slider loaded with weights across the astroturf floor and then pulling it back again!

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PROS: Efficient circuit-style class; small group for more attention from instructors, clean locker rooms with nice amenities, smoothie bar.

CONS: For me the location is a bummer, and I’m not sure there’s enough here that sets them apart from more conveniently located HIIT, circuit-style training classes like PT6 at Focus, As One Fitness, and Epic Hybrid Training; energy of the class/instructor felt a little low, but it was a rainy Saturday morning so that didn’t help.

Learning from the Heart at OrangeTheory Fitness

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I did not want to like OrangeTheory Fitness. On a brief visit home to Tallahassee where my ClassPass membership is meaningless, I decided to give it a try for the sake of the blog. The reason I didn’t want to like it is that it’s a chain, a nationwide franchise, and in Tallahassee they’re located right across the street from one of my favorite locally-owned studios, Sweat Therapy.

But my body hasn’t felt this way in a while. Totally spent. Like I really pushed myself to places I didn’t think I could go. The set up is a lot like Barry’s Bootcamp, but they also have rowing machines, and the most important feature, you wear a hear rate monitor. I’ve seen these at BFX, and even wore one at Drill Fitness, but this was the first time I was sold on their true value.

In the past, at Barry’s I’ve been hesitant to try the big numbers the teacher calls out, convinced that my body can’t handle them and I might go flying off the machine. I’m a max-out-at-6.0mph kinda girl. Or I used to be. Tomorrow will be day 50 of my 100 days, and despite my body shape (or at least my body image) not changing a whole lot, I’m definitley MUCH more fit than when I started. Feeling strong is the best high. Wearing the heart rate monitor today helped me realize how strong I am.

orange theory

At OrangeTheory Fitness (soon to open a Chelsea studio in NYC), like at Barry’s, you move from intervals on the treadmill to strength training floor work. Unlike at Barry’s, the workouts are a little more varied (sometimes you’ll only be on the treadmill for 5-minute stints, and other times for longer). Also, your name is on the big screen with a bunch of numbers, the most prominent of which is your heart rate. It’s highlighted in a color that corresponds to your ideal and maximum heart rates (which are calculated based on your gender, age, and weight). I can’t remember the exact breakdowns they tell you are ideal, and I liked the fact that the teacher told us to just ignore them if they were distracting us. The idea is to be in the Green zone (fat-burning) for part of the time and in the Orange zone (84% or higher of your max heart rate) for part of the time. According to the people at OrangeTheory, by getting that time in the Orange zone you will experience Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC. This means you’ll have an increased metabolic rate even after you stop working out.

I’m looking forward to that, and can actually feel it. Even more importantly though, looking at my heart rate numbers taught me more about myself. I actually had to go a lot faster than I thought I could to get to the orange zone, like 8.0-8.2 without an incline. I also learned that inclines are the killers for me. I had to slow way down when the incline was 5.0 or higher. Plus, I saw that I had a pretty quick recovery rate and my starting heart rate was pretty low which means I’m fit!

This kind of workout also means you CANNOT CHEAT or fake it! Which I’m often tempted to do in spinning class. Sigh. It means that even as I get fit, I can keep my workout challenging by pushing myself to the zone every time. So, as much as I hate the idea of a franchise beating out the local guy, this was a fantastic workout. Now, let’s see if they’ll be on ClassPass once they open in NYC!

ORANGETHEORY FITNESS (nationwide locations)

PROS:

Heart rate tracked by monitors shown on a video screen; progress tracked and sent to you via e-mail; clean space; efficient total-body workout; great instructors and class sizes small enough for them to help you with your form.

CONS: 

Not as many amemities as at some studios I’ve seen– the location I went to had limited locker/cubby space and only two showers; pricey.

Florida Hoppin’: Bikes that tilt and lean at Sweat Therapy Fitness

I’d almost resigned myscropped sweat therapyelf to making due with on-line classes using my free trial of FitnessGlo while I was home for the holidays. I’ve been motivated to do one whole 10-minute mommy stretch video since signing up. Yet another reminder that I need in-person classes.

Then at Christmas dinner, between bites of roast beast and sips of wine, I chatted with my aunt about a new fitness studio she thought I should try while I was home visiting: Sweat Therapy Fitness. She described indoor cycling bikes that tilted and turned, giving you a total body workout. I was intrigued.

I left Tallahassee over 15 years ago, and it has gotten much hipper in my absence. I haven’t even seen these kind of bikes in NYC yet, although apparently they do exist at FlowCycle in Tribeca. They’re called Real Ryders, and their creators claim that the bikes increase core strength and stability by recruiting more muscles during leaning and steering movements, and in so doing allow you to burn 20% more calories than on a traditional stationary bike.  You definitley have to use your muscles (both upper body and core) to get the bike to turn, and as Brian, my instructor at Sweat Therapy’s Real Ryde class, told me, it takes some getting used to.

I enjoyed the challenge, but even more, it was fun to pretend we were riding along the scenic roads shown on the two giant flat screens in the dark cycle room that took us from mountain hills to country roads and beach cliffs. It was a little too intimate of a class to totally let loose (it’s Tallahassee, after all, filled with Southern charm and personal attention in contrast to New York’s annonymity), but I found a groove and found myself concentrating on pumping to the cadence of the music rather than constantly watching the RPM monitor. After the class, they gave me a tour of the facility which includes TRX Suspension Training rooms, the “Boat House” for Indo-Row classes, and the Real Ryder cycling room decorated with motivational quotes on framed chalkboards and strings of big red lights that come on when the room darkens and the music starts.

I was also able to take a class called Sweat Fest at Sweat Therapy while I was in Tallahassee, and it is appropriately named. I brought along my 21-year-old cousin who is a super-fit capoeirista, and she too was left challenged, drenched, and sore. This was a circuit-style class with about 10 different stations including rowing machines and TRX equipment. What I liked most was the fact that there was a true variety of fitness levels within the class, and the teacher was able to modify accordingly. That said, there were a few too many circuits for her to keep an eye on all of us, watch form, make adjustments, and answer questions. Luckily, Jake, the cutie from the front desk who is clearly a fitness guru in-training was able to assist demonstrating the exercises for various stations as we got there. (Jake also showed us around the studio, and was a bastion of Southern hospitality, a refreshing respite from the aloof SoHo snobbery at some of NYC’s more elite boutiques.)

Here’s the skinny on Tallahassee’s locally-owned boutique fitness studio, Sweat Therapy Fitness:

  • 2 Locations (Midtown and Uptown Tallahassee)
  • A variety of classes are offered including, Real Rydes indoor cycling, TRX, Rowing, plyometrics, Barre and variety classes that are high-intenisty interval (or HIIT)- style classes that use a combination of all of the above.
  • Variety of class packages are offered and your first class is only $5. After that, prices range from $18 for a single class to packs of 10 for $100 or unlimited workouts at either location for $179/month. (This seems to be a bit high for Tallahassee prices, although not as high as some, and super-affordable by NYC standards.)

PROS

Beautiful space with lots of room, showers, bathrooms, water, and snacks; wonderful family-like atmosphere with a very friendly staff; great variety of classes.

CONS

Not all the bikes are hooked up to the electronic RPM readers, so not as high-tech as some studios as far as recording your stats; the teacher I had for the Sweat Fest class seemed a little flat/tired, which was a contrast to my first class there.