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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

equipment

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.