Monday, November 03, 2014

The Unexpected Fitness Enthusiast Tells You How to Fitness

I was last picked in gym class and when I joined New York Sports Club in 2004, I quit 1 month later telling the sales guy "Sorry, it's boring and I just don't hate my body that much."

I didn't get it.  And I didn't enjoy exercise either.

Now at 33 I F'ING LOVE WORKING OUT SO MUCH.  It started at 31 when I tried Cardio Barre in LA for the first time, which is amazing - fun, total body workout, made my body feel feminine and move gracefully.  I searched for Cardio Barre or similar workouts in NYC and that's when I started trying new things I thought I'd never try.  

AND THEN CLASSPASS came into my life and changed everything!  Classpass is an affordable monthly membership where I try all kinds of fancy workout classes, so I mix up my workout and have tried just about every exercise class in NYC.  It's not often that one company's service changes my life like this one has.  This isn't a paid advertisement.  It's a raving review.

Here are my favorite classes:


Barre uses Ballet movements plus pilates and general strength training/aerobics.  Some classes focus more on strengthening movements with less ballet, some have more ballet and more cardio (that's my preference).

1. Xtend Barre - Brooklyn Heights.  I LOVE XTEND BARRE.  It's the closest thing to Cardio Barre I've found.  A beautiful studio with friendly staff, plus they provide towels.  There's cardio plus a lot of wonderful ballet movements.

2. Ballet Bungee - Chaise Fitness (Flatiron and UES) - negatives are that it's always booked and it's 45 mins vs an hour.  But I love the ballet movements and cardio in the workout, plus instead of a barre they use bungee hoops which incorporates balance in the workout.  They have a water fountain and towels.  No showers.

3. These are all tied for 3rd place: Fly Barre, Core Fusion Barre at Exhale, Barre at Chelsea Mind Body Studio, Local Barre - Hoboken; all 4 are great places but I wish they had more classical ballet movements and more cardio

Fly Barre - Flatiron and Lincoln Center: free water, towels, and showers, Fun music, great classes, great all over workout, high quality class and studio, some cardio in there; negative is assigned mats, they have a great dancy cardio w weights section with simple, easy to learn moves, I like that you can go barefoot and dont need the grippy socks

Core Fusion Barre - Exhale (many locations): some locations of Exhale have fancy facilities with a spa, some locations have more space than others too.  High quality classes and instruction, I love Core Fusion Sweat Barre which has more cardio

Barre at Chelsea Mind Body Studio - nice space, water, towels provided, no shower, large space, Total Barre and Sweat Barre are both great choices, solid teachers, always a good class, variety in instruction based on the teacher

Local Barre - Hoboken - beautiful space, love their ball shaped hand weights, overall great classes, whenever I'm in NJ I try to take a class here, they have towels and water, no shower

4. Pure Barre, Physique 57, Zalla Pilates - These are all perfectly good workouts, just based on my personal preferences they aren't ranked higher.  These classes focus more on strengthening movements and have less cardio and classical ballet.  Each class is different.  I really wish Pure Barre had a water fountain and provided towels.  Physique 57 has a fancy space and uppity vibe.  Zalla Pilates is small and personal with a great Greenpoint location, but I visit them less since they aren't part of Classpass.

I go to Pure Barre a lot because they have a great schedule with many classes and a convenient location for me in Williamsburg (they are all over).  It is a solid workout and I like the teachers so I feel bad ranking it lower - but here's what they'd need to get more love: water fountain, towels, and more cardio and classic ballet movements.

-- KM Barre - Fit + Flow Yoga - Williamsburg - I like the teachers there but I don't love the method. It goes against what a lot of other classes teach as far as tucking and posture and movement, and I feel I spend so much time on form, and I spend a lot of time confused.  Maybe their movements are better than other methods but I just can't tell.  This workout might be the perfect fit for someone else's preferences.  It's a convenient Williamsburg location with nice lighting.


There are many classes with different names that are 1 hour long, where your instructor guides you through a sequence of moves that strengthen each area of your body with weights or using your own body or bands, plus some cardio and tabata style movies.  I've learned to LOVE these classes, they are real, serious, total body workouts.  The key is finding a cool instructor who's fun and plays good music.

1. Geneva Simms - Cardio Circuit at Sync Studio Williamsburg, or a variety of classes at The Living Room Brooklyn; Geneva was my favorite right away, she plays great music and her energy is awesome.  I trust her exercises and enjoy how she changes it up.  She challenges me and also is understanding and flexible if something doesn't feel right so you can feel comfortable even if you aren't good at something ... yet.  You'll get there and have fun doing it.

2. Ania W - Body Sculpt - Awakening NY in Greenpoint - Ania is such a badass.  Greenpoint is a traditionally Polish neighborhood and many of Awakening's instructors are Polish like Ania, which makes her seem tougher in a good way.  She's also the fittest looking instructor I've ever had and her class is one of the hardest classes I've taken.  She pushes you to try heavier weights and do intense moves like burpees, but she's understanding if you can't do certain things so don't be intimidated.  It's always rewarding when I know I can keep up with her class.  She likes rock n roll and you'll catch some Metallica or similar in her music mix.

3. Shayla McGrady - P90X - Breakin Boundaries Greenpoint (recently moved to a new location!  will update with more info)
Shayla reminds me of Michelle Obama and she's gotten the comparison many times.  It's not just her looks though, there's something very calm about her which I like when she instructs.  She carefully calculates each movement and the timing, and there's enough variety in both the exercises and music that keeps me coming back.  Great total body workout.

4. Erica Robertello - The Living Room Brooklyn - really smart and fun, all of her classes are highly recommended and I trust her knowledge and expertise
Mindy - Breakin Down - Breakin Boundaries Greenpoint - just recently discovered her, a lot of intense cardio, I really broke a sweat
PNT Fitness - Awesome Arms and Butts and Gutts (I wish these were 1 single class instead of 2 half hour classes, I would go more often if that was the case)


Pilates - I love Flesh and Bone Studios in Williamsburg,  Monica's Pilates classes at Awakening NY are also hugely popular and very different I think.  Monica's classes have more strengthening involved.  Flesh and Bone leaves me stretched and rejuvenated and it's a special treat when you use their machines.  A friend recommended I do Pilates once a week because it's good for my body AND it helps lengthen you so you are actually taller - well, my height has gotten slightly taller, and it does feel like I'm reorganizing my body and setting everything right as it should be.

Dancy classes - there's a ton of really hard classes that infuse dance movements into the class.  I tried these for a while but don't take them anymore.  I'm not very coordinated or good at learning dance moves (don't get me wrong, I love to dance in my own way, but just can't learn a damn dance and feel stupid doing it)  If that's not a problem for you here's some amazing classes that infuse dance with aerobic strength training and sometimes barre:   AKT, Body by Simone, Hip Hop Aerobics (various locations - Davon Chance is a really awesome and fun instructor), Viva Bodyroll, Body Conceptions by Mahri (their dance moves aren't as hard for me as the others)
Many of these are "disciples" of Tracy Anderson - who charges $900 a month or some crazy ish like that.

Yoga, kickboxing, and Cycle classes - I'm just not into it, so I haven't tried many. Lots of folks swear by these things.

-- At McCarren Park there's some great boot camp classes like Traditional Tribal Fitness.  That's the only class I take that seems to have more men in it.  It's nice to work out outside and Kiki is truly awesome.  I just don't take it as often because I find the movements are not as targeted to the female body as some other classes I like.

-- Brooklyn Bodyburn is the only class I truly hate.  It seems unsafe, I feel no happiness or pleasure during the workout, and I feel like I'm going to hurt myself.  Plus there's no stretching!


2 more tips:  Stretching matters, so it and enjoy it instead of rushing away.  Eating: eat something about an hour to half hour before working out, and have protein at least 20 minutes after a workout.  I like yogurt and I read labels to get a higher protein to sugar ratio.


Long story short I LOVE WORKING OUT.  I've found a place for it in my life and you'll most often find me walking the streets in my workout clothes and sneaks these days.  

It's great for my health and I know that.  I love the way my body can move now and how strong I am.  It's brought a great deal of happiness to my life.  I'm deeply grateful that classpass exists as well as all of my wonderful instructors.

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