Archive of ‘pilates’ category
Crash Course: SolidCore is the first studio in DC to offer the Lagree Fitness Method, a high-energy, low-impact, full-body workout done on a monster spring-loaded pilates machine called the MegaFormer. The classes are small, the teachers are motivational, and the playlists are rockin – which is good, because you’ll need to muster all the extra oomph you can during this crazy sweat sesh. The class is a megawatt combination of pilates, barre, yoga, and body pump, sprinkled with a little zen and then doused in a pool of awesome. Click here for a full schedule of class times at SolidCore.
where: 1841 Columbia Road/Adams Morgan
bring: socks with grips
perks: small class size
sweat score: 9 out of 10
wear: whatever you’re comfortable sweating in
cost: first class is $17 ($20 after 30 Nov.), after that drop-ins are $35
SolidCore studio opened this past weekend in Adams Morgan on the same block as neighborhood favorites Mintwood restaurant and Fleet Feet running store. It’s the brainchild of Back On My Feet founder Anne Mahlum, who fell in love with the Lagree Method in LA and New York and decided DC needed to be in on the fun. And we are so glad she did, because this monster workout is the perfect match for DC’s slightly crazed, uber competitive, type-A intensity.
The SolidCore website describes the method as:
using slow and controlled full-body movements with constant muscle tension [to work] all muscle fibers to failure leaving them no choice but to rebuild, which leaves you with a more defined, toned and stronger body.
Let’s go over that again: Slow, low-impact movements + Failing muscle fibers = Toned body. Seems so civilized when you put it that way. But when Lorde is blaring over the loud speaker, the instructor is urging you to lunge a little deeper, the clock mocks you with a full minute to go, and your legs are simultaneously seizing and shaking…civilized is the last thing that comes to mind. More like: Challenging. Insane. Badass. Definitely badass.
The megaformer may look like a pilates machine, but let me be the first to tell you that this ain’t your momma’s pilates class. It’s the younger, hipper, crazier cousin from California. The one with the enviable tan and Jennifer Aniston arms.
While all of the pilates classes I’ve been to focus on posture, grace, and building lean muscles, this class is focused on making your muscles cry for mercy. All of them. All at once. And if pilates classes are soflty playing Norah Jones and Sara Barielles in the background, SolidCore is blasting rock while the instructor coaxes you into another round through his Janet Jackson headset microphone.
How was the workout? Really fun. It’s engaging from start to finish and there was never one moment when I was bored or unmotivated. Which is good, because if you haven’t caught on yet, the detail that stands out most in my mind is this: SolidCore is really, really challenging. Honed athletes and weekend warriors were struggling hand in hand. Which is awesome, because it shows the impressive versatility and accessibility of this workout for every fitness level. But it’s also awesome because I have never seen a class humble every fitness type, across the board, from start to finish.
Yes it’s hard. Yes it’s unlike anything you’ve tried before. Yes you will be sore in weird places for days after you walk out the door. But don’t let the workout itself intimidate you, because I can honestly say it is one of the most effective things I’ve ever done. As someone who injured themselves with too many high-impact miles on DC pavement, a low-impact, super high-intensity workout like this is a godsend. Not only does it scratch the masochistic itch to put yourself through the wringer, it also delivers the safe body strengthening benefits of a barre method or mat pilates class. I’m sold. Now, there’s only one problem…
The price. At $35 per drop-in class, SolidCore is hitting the top tier of high-end boutique studio pricing in DC. [Note: sessions are less expensive if you buy a package deal.] On my current budget, it’s is just not something I can realistically do all the time. Which is a shame, because I’d love to go multiple times a week and make it part of my normal routine. Yes, I liked it that much. As a fit crasher, that’s saying something. I ran into the same problem after falling in love with Capital Gyrotonic and Georgetown Pilates, both of which charge over $40 per session. Guess I have expensive taste in sweat.
Hey, I’m all about splurging on health and fitness. Believe me, nothing is more important to my own personal happiness and sanity. And if you can afford it, I think there’s no better way to spend your fitness budget than on something you enjoy, whether that’s CrossFit, SolidCore, or that carbon fiber triathlon bike you’ve been lusting after. But I also believe in living within my means. At least until my memoirs sell for millions or el bloggolito gets purchased by a major fitness publication. (Hey, a girl can dream!)
So, SolidCore, I will be back for your high-octane brand of awesome. Just know I may have to have a bake sale or two before I do.
What’s your take on boutique fitness studio pricing: too darn high or worth the splurge?
Crash Course: Potomac Pilates consists of three boutique studio locations offering pilates reformer and barre classes. Some of their more unique selections include pilates circuit training and something called “barre with gliding,” which seems to be a torturous combination of barre method and a slide board workout. Their pilates reformer class is a muscle-burning 55-minute session focusing on core strength and full-body toning. Aside from the newest Potomac Pilates studio in Friendship Heights, you can find them in the Palisades neighborhood and in Potomac Maryland. Click here for a full schedule of classes offered at leach location.
where: 5406 Wisconsin Ave, Chevy Chase
bring: socks with grips
perks: small class size
sweat score: 4 out of 10
wear: comfortable clothes for full range of movement
cost: $40 drop-in, packages available
Pilates is a mystery to me. Probably because I just haven’t learned my lesson yet. I always go into the class with the smug impression that because there isn’t a lot of cardio or heavy lifting involved, it will be a light workout. And sometimes it is. But eight-and-a-half times out of ten, there’s that moment 15 minutes into class when I realize there’s nothing light about that burning sensation in my shoulders. Such little movements. Such crazy soreness. When will I learn.
I have heard rave reviews about Potomac Pilates from a few friends, so I was excited to try out one of their classes at the newest location in Friendship Heights. That is, if I could find it. Full disclosure: the place is crazy hard to locate, despite their best attempts to put signage all over the place. I spent a solid 10 minutes wandering frantically around the Shops at Wisconsin Place development trying to find the studio entrance. Here’s the secret. If you are looking at Bloomingdales (see photo above), walk toward the courtyard until you see an alley on your right. There are a few shops tucked in there, and Potomac Pilates is almost at the very end on your right.
As you can see, the sign is crazy small and finding the place is not entirely intuitive. If you decide to check it out, hopefully these directions help a little bit. It’s in an awesomely convenient spot for folks working in the Friendship Heights area.
And when you finish, there are multiple restaurants, wine bars, shops, and a Whole Foods just a few small steps away. I’m all about getting errands done in as few stops as possible, so if you can sweat, shop, sip wine, and buy your groceries in the same block, I consider that a win.
The class itself was done entirely on the reformer machine with no extra props or gadgets. We worked on all the major muscle groups, with a special torturous grand finale focusing on the glutes and hamstrings. Hands down the hardest part of the class, for sure.
I really enjoyed Catherine’s instructional style. She was loud enough to hear (although a microphone would have really given some extra oomph), encouraging, gave great cues, and kept the pace of the class going at a good clip.
As a level one class, there wasn’t anything extra crazy going on and I felt like beginners would be able to follow along without too much confusion. But if you’re a pilates pro and are looking for a class with a bit more spice, I’d recommend checking out level two, which promises “new exercises” and “increased repetitions to keep the workout challenging and fresh.”
The studio itself is furnished to look and feel like an industrial style loft. The decor very sparse, the lights are bright, and there’s nothing that screams warm and fuzzy. You’re here to work and sweat, after all, so don’t get too comfortable!
Also, as with most small boutique studios in town, there are no designated changing or locker rooms. If you’re coming from work, scoot behind the reformer machines all the way to the back of the studio and change in one of the bathrooms. It’s a little awkward if there’s a class going on, but it’s more awkward doing tricep extensions in a pencil skirt and cardigan. Just sayin.
I’d definitely like to come back and crash their barre/cardio glide board class. Can’t say I’ve seen a similar class offered anywhere else. For someone as uncoordinated as me, it seems like a slippery recipe for disaster, but I’m willing to give it a try. If I do, you’ll be the first to know!
Until then…Happy Halloween!
Crash Course: Georgetown Pilates is a small, boutique, classical Pilates studio focused on quality instruction and attention to detail. They offer private reformer sessions, group mat classes, tower classes, massage, acupuncture, and muscle activation techniques. A private Pilates apperatus session will deliver a tailor-made workout integrating breath work, stretching, and various strength-building exercises. It’s not cheap, but the level of care and personalized approach were truly second to none. The experience was luxury fitness at its best. For a full list of services and prices, check out the Georgetown Pilates website.
where: 1230 1/2 31 Street NW
perks: filtered water, one-on-one instruction
sweat score: 4 out of 10
wear: comfortable clothes
instructor: Lissette Valdes
cost: single private apparatus session is $103*
The Georgetown Pilates studio is really tucked away, located in a gated collection of offices called Hamilton Court. If you’re having a hard time finding it, it’s almost directly across from the Georgetown Post Office on 31st Street. The gate should be open during normal business hours, but if not, there’s a call box to buzz in.
Walk all the way to the back of the courtyard and head to the the right, where you’ll find a small pathway that leads to the front door. The entrance is hidden from the main area – I had to be directed via hand signal by one of the instructors already inside.
Ta-da! Found it. You’ll be greeted at the front desk by one of the trainers, who will walk you through new client paperwork and give you a little tour of the studio. From the first moment I arrived, I knew this place was special. Everyone was extremely warm and welcoming, and the entire space gave off a calm, serene, spa-like vibe. There were no loud noises, there was no smell of sweat, there was plenty of space to move around in, it was well lit, and a member of the team was always available to answer questions. And the entire studio from top to bottom was gleaming with clean. Be still my heart.
I tucked around the corner to the small bathroom to change into my workout gear. There is no changing room, but the bright, cheerful purple bathroom does the trick in a pinch. It’s stocked with a few essential toiletries should you need to freshen up after class. There’s also a hallway with a row of hooks and hangars for your coat or clothes. I’m so used to rolling up my work clothes and smushing them into my backpack, being able to hang them nicely was a total luxury.
I almost forgot to mention this handsome fellow – the rescue pup who serves as chief-greeter, frazzled-nerves-corrector, and mayor of the studio. I’m sorry the photo is blurry, but the little guy was wagging his tail so hard it was difficult to catch him in stillness. Can you could see his amazing mustache collar? So fashionable! As an animal lover, it was a delight to be able to chill and de-stress with this dude before class. I know studies show animals in the workplace make for happier employees, but I think the same goes for customers too. Love!
The session I had with Lissette was unlike any other Pilates class I had ever been to. I’ve tried the reformer at Reformation Fitness, and done mat classes at Fuse in Dupont and other places. But this was something else entirely. From start to finish, the entire class was tailored for my specific needs, whether I knew what those were or not. I mentioned a few target areas I’d like to work on, but as the session progressed, I realized that often times we would work on muscle imbalances or weaknesses I didn’t even knew I had (until I was hanging over the cadillac machine, shaking like a leaf, wondering where my core strength went).
Every move, every breath was carefully guided and closely watched. I couldn’t get away with cheating if I tried. Lissette was right there to make sure every inhale and vertebrae was exactly where it needed to be. We worked on stretching, strength, and everything in between. I was pleasantly uncomfortable the entire time and sweating within 5 minutes, and it was wonderful – I knew I was in professional hands and trusted in the technique. After the warm up, I blurted out, “wow, I didn’t know Pilates was hard,” and got a few approving smiles and laughs. But really, I have never been to a class or session so focused or so challenging. It was absolutely wonderful.
This smile is fake – the chair machine torture device was absolutely my least favorite part, probably because it so clearly highlighted my biggest weakness: my knees. A few reps on this thing and I was toast. My thighs were burning, my core was shaking, and I was looking at Lissette with an “are you serious” face of panic. It was an eye-opener for sure, and made me realize how much work I still have to do to make sure my muscles are balanced. She calmly guided me through the exercise and encouraged me to do just a few more reps than I thought possible. That said, I was happy to leave this machine behind!
Here was my initial reaction after walking out the door:
It truly was mind blowing in every way. The studio was beautiful. The class was the most carefully constructed yet challenging Pilates session I had ever been to. It was completely customized and I never had any doubt that I was in the best, most professional hands available. I was greeted by name and spoken to genuinely. My clothes hung neatly on a hanger. The floor and equipment was sparkling clean. I got to pet an adorable dog.
Now, let’s get one thing straight – I’m a federal employee paying grad school loans and live within very real budgetary boundaries. At $103 per session, it should be this mind blowing and you pay for what you get. The honest truth is that I could not afford to come to this studio regularly, no matter how much I would love to. It’s just not in my budget at this point in my life. But if it is in your budget and you are looking for an incredible, one-of-a-kind Pilates studio to get you into tip top shape…this is the place for you. I wholeheartedly recommended the awesome work they do.
What’s your favorite high-end exercise indulgence?
*Georgetown Pilates generously waived the fee for this session. This review, including all of my opinions, are my own.
Crash Course: Reformation Fitness is a brand-spankin-new Pilates studio located near the Convention Center in the former Shakti Yoga space. It’s bright, beautiful, and has the lux feel of a high-end boutique studio. It has all the Pilates class bells and whistles one could hope for, including chair, reformer, jumpboard, and mat options. The studio offers both group and private instruction. For more information, check out the Reformation Fitness website.
where: 1302 9th Street NW
perks: small class size
sweat score: 3 out of 10
wear: recommend spandex bottoms
cost: drop in rate is $40*
Despite what it looks like, this is not a torture device. It’s a Pilates reformer – essentially a moveable mat with pulleys and springs to provide resistance. Classes at Reformation Fitness use this tool to build and tone muscles, work on flexibility, and challenge coordination. The studio opened just a few weeks ago, and I was so excited to get a first look at the beautifully renovated space. Want a tour? Of course you do!
The main studio area is bright, cheery, and clean with five reformer machines, five chair devices, mirrored walls, and a few other fun props. Leave your shoes on the rack by the door, please!
There is one bathroom, and it is darling. It has tiny little potted plants, a scent diffuser, and was totally spotless. A plus.
The private changing room has a full length mirror, fresh flowers, a leather bench, and plenty of space to move around in. I think that’s an old-fashioned Pilates machine in the corner serving as decoration, cool right?
The class itself was wonderful. I had never taken a Pilates class on the reformer – mostly because the cost is prohibitive and I’d rather spend that $40 on a few other things. But the entire system – the pulleys, springs, jump board, box, etc. – was designed in a way to make even the most micro movement challenging. I didn’t sweat as I would in a boot camp or even a yoga class, but I could feel the burn in my core, arms, and legs as we worked through the moves.
To be honest, the thing that impressed me most was the level of detail and care Michael put into each and every moment of the class. Everything was tailored to make my workout completely unique to my needs and abilities. He constantly adjusted the tension, checked my form, suggested alternatives, and offered encouragement. Despite the four other people in the room, I felt like it was a private class. It was totally indulgent and I loved every minute of it.
The other thing that really struck me: despite the high-end feel of this studio, the atmosphere of the class itself is not pretentious or stuffy. Michael was extremely down to earth – wearing soccer shorts and a plain t-shirt – and was friendly and approachable. The other students were great too, and we all banded together during some of the more challenging sets. Even though this was my very first time using the reformer, I never once felt out of place, judged, or uncomfortable.
Things I liked:
- beautiful studio with attention to detail
- small class size and a private-instruction feel
- passionate and knowledgable instructor
- it’s around the corner from Xtend Barre…double-header crash, coming right up!
Things I didn’t like:
- the price would keep me from coming regularly
- I prefer workouts that leave me in a pool of sweat; this just isn’t that kind of class
Reformation Fitness is offering a grand opening special that really is a steal of a deal. New students can purchase two classes for $20.13 by 28 February. If you’ve been before, you can get still get 20% off class packs with the code GRAND. Click here for the schedule if you’re interested in giving it a go.
Pilates reformer: enough of a workout to get results?
*Thank you to Reformation Fitness for waiving my drop in fee. This review is not an endorsement, and all opinions are my own.
As the snowflakes began to fall on Saturday afternoon, I cozied up at Off Road DC for their Inner Core Pilates/Yoga workshop. The studio is best known for their spin, TRX, and boxing classes, but they occasionally use their beautiful U Street space to host other special events to bring their clients a little something extra. Colleen – who regularly teaches spin class – led the yoga portion, and Jillian kicked things off with mat Pilates.
I really liked the combination of the precision of Pilates and the zen of yoga into one, core-burning 90 minutes class. I can’t say I broke a sweat during the session – which is completely a-okay – but I woke up the next morning with the acute sensation that I had worked quite a few neglected muscles to their max. The core and outter thighs, to be exact. Colleen and Jillian, I salute you for the sneak-attack workout that I’m still paying for. Loved it!
After class, V from Goûter, came by with a few tonic samples for us to try. I was so excited to see her again and loved hearing about how her business is bustling and growing all over DC. Hooray Goûter! I had the pleasure of reviewing a number of Goûter products back in December and was pumped that V brought Stretch – a tonic with tumeric – and a Mexican “hot” chocolate melk made with cashews, cayenne, and cacao. Delicious!
Of course I had to bring a few of these babies home with me. It tastes like a creamy milk chocolate shake with a cayenne kick. Definitely makes for a filling afternoon treat or something to sip after dinner in lieu of dessert. I love the idea of vegan “melk” and can’t wait to see what V and Steve come up with next.
Sunday was a day reserved for running. It was time to complete ten miles, so I made my way over to Rock Creek Park to join the DC Tri Club for their weekend group run. My friends Jenny and Joe are members and invited me to join in the snowy fun. I’m so happy they did, because the miles flew by and before I knew it, we were finished! No fuss, no stopping, no big deal. It’s not every day ten miles just flies by…but for today, I’ll take it!
Big thanks to Jenny for keeping me on pace and totally distracted with talk of wedding planning (and food, and running gear, and blogging, and puppies, and life, and anything else that came up over ten miles). She and Joe recently got engaged (hooray – congrats!) and I’ve taken it upon myself to offer all my best advice from watching one too many episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Bridezilla.” Regardless of my reality tv habits, I’m taking this official blog opportunity to extend happiest wishes to my best running buddy.
After warming up at home for a bit, I drove over to Union Market for some much-needed brunch. Something about long runs makes me insatiably hungry all day long, and this spot is every foodie’s dream come true. It’s essentially a big open space full of vendors selling every delicious thing you could imagine. Crusty fresh bread, smelly cheese, pastries, pickles, green juice, oysters, wine, fountain sodas, lattes…catch my drift?
First on the menu: caffein in the form of a hand-crafted soy latte from Peregrine Espresso.
Second on the menu: smoked hummus and avocado sandwich on a whole wheat everything bagel from Neopol Savory Smokery. This, my friends, is the most decadently scrumptious sandwich on the face of the planet and is currently number one on my list of favorite things.
A few other shots from the market:
It was a most awesome weekend. Tell me about yours!