Archive of ‘review’ category
Crash Course: The TRX/Kettlebell class at Reformation Fitness is 50 minutes of intense cardio, weights, plyometrics, and agility training sure to kick your keister into crazy shape. Warning: this is not a class for the faint of heart or for those who don’t like to sweat when working out. This is a class full of traditional, good old fashioned hard work that makes every minute and every move count. Prepare to be tested mentally and physically. Suspension trainers are tricky, and swinging kettlebells is harder than it looks. If you want a total-body workout to work you over and leave you with nothing left in the tank, this is the class for you. Click here for a schedule of classes.
where: 1302 9th Street NW
perks: small class size, towels
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: whatever you like to sweat in
instructor: Ivan Black
cost: $22 drop-in
I feel the need to provide full disclosure regarding the photos in the post. They were taken after my class at Reformation Fitness because I was too busy getting my tush handed to me during the session itself to stop and snap a few. So that serene, calm expression on my face in the photo above? Fake. Staged. Aspirational at best. Consider this your friendly warning. Now on to the good stuff.
I know two things to be true. TRX suspension training is incredibly challenging. Kettlebells are also incredibly challenging. Put the two together, and wham bam holy sweat factory, you’re in for one heck of a ride. When Reformation Fitness reached out to me about crashing this class – one of the newer listings on their schedule – I knew I was signing up for a full-body beat down. And I was excited about it.
I crashed a pilates reformer class around this time last year just after the studio first opened and hadn’t been back since. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to discover that the place more than doubled in size during that time period. The new area sits adjacent to the original studio and includes a downstairs room full of fun fitness gadgets (where the TRX class takes place) and an upstairs room used for yoga and other classes.
There was another class going on when I arrived, so I ducked into a bathroom in the waiting area to change into my workout clothes. I grabbed a towel off of a rack by the cubbies, filed up my water bottle, and waited for the next session to begin.
The first thing I noticed when we all filed into the room is that we were working out in tight quarters. I never felt overly cramped, but just know that you won’t have a ton of space to spread out in while lunging or doing burpees. After a short dynamic warm up, we started into the first set of the day: an ungodly number of pushups, lunges, TRX mountain climbers, dolphin plank dips, and other adventures.
As Ivan was going over each part of the set, I almost thought it was a joke. Were the moves challenging and sure to work up a sweat? Absolutely. But after 80 lunges and 80 pushups I’m bored. I want out. I would honestly rather be doing anything else. There’s something to be said for switching things up and keeping the pace of class quick and interesting. Obviously, this experience was unique to that day’s designated workout, but I bring it up because it’s one of the things that stick out most prominently in my mind.
Things really picked up during the second half of class, when we did a ladder of exercises involving the TRX and steelbells (which are basically neoprene disks filled with heavy sand). We didn’t actually use any kettlebells during this particular class, but I wasn’t disappointed because throwing the steelbells around was just as challenging.
The ladder included all sorts of fun and unique exercises, including dynamic lunges with resistance bands around the ankles, steelbell overhead slams, TRX rows, and lateral ski jumps. I was impressed with how Ivan weaved together strength, cardio, and agility moves, making sure the second half of class was well-rounded into a total body conditioning experience. While I was frustrated with him for making us do seemingly insurmountable repetitions of (in my opinion) boring exercises, I began eating my words during the second half of class and left with nothing but the best impression of his training. The man knows his fitness, and I would absolutely love to come back and workout with him again just to see what he comes up with.
So, what’d I think of the class? I‘d say it’s a no-nonsense, effective, creative full body experience built around the principle of good old-fashioned hard work. This class will make you sweat and will push your body beyond your comfort zone. Ivan is upbeat, fun, plays good music, and encourages you every step of the way. It’s a great addition to any current conditioning program, or an excellent place to build a foundation for new fitness goals.
If you go or if you’ve been, please leave a comment and share your experience!
Note: While Reformation Fitness invited me to try a free class, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience. Thanks for reading!
Crash Course: Studio Body Logic is located in Ballston and Alexandria and best known for teaching authentic pilates. Open since 1996, the studio offers five different levels of mat class and an impressive number of apparatus options. Lesser known are the studio’s other sweaty offerings, including evolved sculpt, yoga, ballet, and Barre Body – a 55-minute cardio workout with a foundation in classical ballet moves. Expect weights, balls, therabands, upbeat music, and a sore tush the next morning. Click here for a full schedule of classes at Studio Body Logic.
where: 4001 N. 9th Street, Suite 108 // Arlington, VA
perks: small class size
sweat score: 6 out of 10
wear: sticky socks
instructor: Adrienne Pough
cost: $25 drop-in
Studio Body Logic is a hidden gem in the heart of Ballston, tucked away on the first floor of an unassuming apartment building. I had a very hard time finding it in the building itself, so if you’re going for the first time, give yourself five extra minutes to make your way through the maze of doors in the sprawling complex. Or, better yet, learn from my mistake and ask the front desk attendant how to get there before wandering into the labyrinth alone.
The space is well-lit and cozy, with every square inch occupied by strange contraptions with names like the “electric chair” and the “Pedi-Pole.” Don’t let their sleek and minimalist look fool you, these devices will make you beg for mercy. I’m itching to come back and try a traditional pilates session here. Something tells me, by sheer deviceage alone, this studio can whip up some mean workouts.
Thanks to a bad combination of DC traffic and the last coughs of winter weather, I was running late to class. I shimmied my way into the already-started Barre Body session of 12 ladies, hoping not to cause a fuss or disrupt anyone. Karmic irony would dictate that the only spot still available was right in front. Of course. Totally busted.
Luckily, the class was still warming up and doing a stationary leg march with an added arm lift, so I did my best to join in and follow along. I’m not the most coordinated, so it took me a few counts before I synched up with the rest of the class, but I eventually fell in line. Right arm lift, left leg lift. Right. Left. Okay, I think I got this. The warm up was definitely more aerobic than I was used to in other barre classes, which I liked because it got my heart rate up and made my forehead glisten. I like to work up a sweat when I work out, what can I say.
The exercises and motions in Barre Body were also different than I was used to. Not enormously so, but enough to make you feel like you’re trying something a little different than your traditional tuck and lift barre class. In fact, there was zero awkward tucking, which I give two big thumbs up to. However, we did an entire series of floor exercises that mirrored something out of a Jane Fonda workout video. At first I was skeptical. Laying on our side and doing leg lifts and sweeps? Pass the leg warmers please. But by the time rep 15 came around, the burn was real folks. And the reps kept coming. And I started to wonder what the heck I had gotten myself into.
We also did a series at the barre doing squats and plies with a ball between the legs for added resistance. I had one hand on the barre for balance and another around a two pound weight extended out to my side. Again, my inner skeptic scoffed at the two pound weight. What the heck is that going to do? And then we began to squat, plie, squat, plie, releve, plie, releve. Oh my word. It was much more challenging than I had anticipated. My inner barre critic was eating her words.
Adrienne – who was an awesome instructor with serious command of the moves and a killer playlist, by the way – finished the class with a final cardio segment. I was officially tuckered out at this point. My legs were wobbly, my arms were burning, and the glisten on my forehead morphed into a full-on sweat stream. The closing stretch and cool down was magnificent, and my body was so very thankful for a chance to take a break and work out the kinks. Was I sore the next day? You betcha. Abs, legs, and arms were all thanking me for trying something new.
So how did Barre Body stack up? Here are my takeaways:
- More cardio-centric than your average barre class.
- Lots of props, get ready for some creative burn.
- Not as much focus on “tucking.” A plus for those of us who think it’s a painfully awkward movement to do in public.
- The moves are more fluid with a heavy emphasis on their ballet and dance origins.
- Tiny class size with a personal, causal atmosphere.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Note: While Studio Body Logic invited me to try a free class, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience. Thanks for reading!
I took a quick trip up to New York City last weekend and here is what I discovered: that city is a veritable cornucopia of fit crashing potential. Folks jaunt about in fashionable fitness clothes with yoga mats and green juices in tow, ducking in and out of bikram this and tone that. I honestly lost count of the number of times I said “oh hey, that looks like a great spot to crash!” And that was just on the first day. That city is packed to the brim with every kind of fitness staple, trend, fad, and everything in-between. I was overwhelmed. I was enamored. I was in desperate need of more than just a few days!
While I originally planned to visit more studios, the truth of the matter is I only visited two. Being in NYC was also a welcome opportunity to reconnect with friends, visit with family, explore the city, and just take a break from my normal routine in DC. That said, I want to share a few of the weekend’s fitness highlights:
1. Sweating with ClassPass
I had the fantastic opportunity to spend Friday with the team from ClassPass, who were kind enough to show me exactly what they do best: enabling fit crashing at the hottest studios all over town. Can you handle two crashes in one day, they asked? Bring it on, I said. Bring. It. On.
We started the afternoon at Uplift, a ladies-only boutique fitness loft in Chelsea offering strength training, cardio, and private events like their workout+wine series. You read that right. There’s no way that’s not amazing; unless, of course, the wine comes before the workout. But back to our fit crash. I joined Simona for the ”Uplifting – Strength” class, a full-body workout incorporating weighted interval training. She promised I’d love it. She was absolutely right.
The studio itself is lovely and perfectly New York. It is nestled into an airy, light-infused loft that has gorgeous crown moulding, gleaming hardwood floors, and towering bay windows. If you go, I recommend checking out Liz’s strength class. Crazy energy, creative moves, and you’ll leave with wobbly legs and an urgent need to foam roll.
After class, we popped over to the NYC Sweetgreen location to join the rest of the team for lunch. It’s enormous and bustling to the brim with salad-loving locals. Since Sweetgreen started in DC, it also felt like a little piece of home, so you can imagine my excitement as I whipped out my app and rattled off my usual order like no big deal.
We let our lunch settle over conversation about workouts, fitness apps, blog posts, what exactly makes the Sweetgreen bread so delicious, and other topics of the day. Before we knew it, it was time to hike over to Revolve NYC for an ultra-sweaty spin class with Jason Tran.
This class was bananas. I have never been to a NYC nightclub, but I swear the experience has to be the spitting image of Jason’s class. There as bumping music. Flashing lights. Sweaty bodies. Spontaneous dancing and gyrating. Sing-alongs. Beyonce. You name it. It happened. Ba-nananas. What a fun way to close out my time with the ClassPass team. They truly knew how to treat a fit crasher right, and I am so thankful to have had the chance to connect with them during my stay. ClassPass expanded to Boston last week, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed DC is next!
I adore DC’s bikeshare system. So when I laid eyes on the bright blue docks on street corners in NYC, I knew it was only a matter of time before I was whirling around town on two wheels. It’s such an easy way to see the sights, and so much more convenient than taking public transportation. It didn’t hurt that the weather was abnormally warm and sunny on Saturday, reaching into the mid 60s by the afternoon. Perfect biking weather if you ask me! I rolled along the West Side Highway, around the Meatpacking District, over to Chelsea Market, up to the High Line, and finally to a dappled roof-top bar for some much-needed hoppy refreshment. Cheers!
3. Running Along the Hudson
Before spending hours sitting on the train back to DC, I work up early on Sunday morning to log a few miles along the West Side Highway running path. Luckily it was easy to find and just a few blocks from my hotel. Sending a “thank you!” to fellow fitness blogger and NYC local Evann Clingan for the excellent suggestion. My Cherry Blossom 10 Miler training plan called for eight miles that morning, but tired legs and a tight timetable meant I only had thirty minutes to scoot around. That was perfectly fine by me! It was just long enough to get the blood flowing, work up a sweat, and take in the NYC skyline one more time.
I had the most fantastic time on my little weekend getaway to the Big Apple. There are so many more studios and classes I’m itching to try, so I’ll have to make a return trip soon!
Do share! What are your favorite NYC fitness spots?
Crash Course: Studio CenterPointe delivers functional fitness training in a personalized, small group environment. The trainers specialize in crafting strength, mobility, agility, balance, power, and endurance. The Bring Your Own Body (BOYB) bootcamp class is designed to use students’ own bodyweight to build strength and balance. Expect a healthy dose of air squats, wall walks, burpees, and other favorites. This class is a great introduction to functional training and a fantastic training compliment for the more advanced athlete hoping to round out their routine. Every class is different and moves are scaled to your ability. Click here for a schedule of class times.
where: 1802 Adams Mill Road/Adams Morgan
bring: towel, water bottle
perks: personalized attention, small class size
sweat score: 6 out of 10
wear: whatever makes you happy
instructor: May Bend
cost: $20 drop in
Studio CenterPointe is located in the basement of 1802 Adams Mill Road, just under the Starbucks and a lunge away from Stroga. The space used to be a hemp shop, but now stocks barbells instead of bongs. Go figure. The sign doesn’t pop out at you when passing by on the street, so be sure to keep your eyes down, especially if they’re a little bleary before the 6 a.m. BOYB class.
I’m testing out this new map widget to help give a better sense of where studios are located – what do you think?
Back to the crash. I showed up at 5:50 a.m., completely dazed and not quite sure what to expect. I’m familiar with the concept of functional training, it’s the stuff CrossFit fame is made of, but wasn’t sure how much function or how much movement we’d be asked to perform at this harrowing hour. I hadn’t had breakfast or coffee and was in desperate need of both.
But let the record stand that my laces were tied, I had a clean shirt on that wasn’t backwards or inside out, and by golly I was ready to rock.
It helped that blogger friends Mary and Allison were also part of the early morning pain train. It was fun to see friendly faces and have a few fellow bloggers to laugh with during those awkward moments when the spirit compels you to take that action-shot during a burpee or snap a selfie while stretching. Ahem. Guilty as charged. Moving on.
The studio itself is spartan. Except for the olympic rings dangling from the rafters, there are no large pieces of equipment cluttering the floor. The functional training toys at CenterPointe are stored in the back, leaving the entire floorspace open. I loved the feel of having all of that blank space. For some reason, it really got my imagination going about all the different types of workouts one could construct. Just add equipment, stir in a little sweat, maybe a dash of classic rock, and voila.
As the clock cranked to 6 a.m., we three bloggers circled up with the rest of class – six ladies in total – and after quick introductions we started the morning’s warm up. This involved many, many jumping jacks, a few long-hold planks, and some range of motion drills. I was definitely warmed up by the time we were through. It was time to move on the workout of the day, which looked something like this.
But before we got around to the actual workout, we spent a great deal of time going over each exercise in detail. May is an encyclopedia of functional fitness knowledge, and from my experience that morning, she definitely brings an enormous amount of smarts and passion to making sure each student learns in a safe, welcoming, and professional environment. She is adamant about proper form and took the time to walk us through the ins and outs of double-unders, air squats, and wall walks.
We started with a number of jump rope drills to get everyone comfortable with the proper technique. We then practiced trying to do advance from single jumps to doubleunders, which is a lot harder than it looks. I managed to complete one, and spent the rest of the time accidentally hitting myself with the rope during my fevered attempts to whirl it around twice.
Thwack. Ouch. Thwack. Dang it. Thwack. Ouch!
I was encouraged multiple times to “show that rope who’s boss,” and believe me I tried, but this is just one area I’ll have to mark as “needs improvement.”
We spent the next few minutes going through the technical details of air squatting and wall walks. Again, form is king here, so don’t expect to get away with breezing through the movement without focusing on the specifics. After May finished demonstrating both, we were asked to complete a round in front of the group. This definitely ups the intimidation factor for new students, but I appreciated the opportunity to get personalized feedback. Just know that you should be prepared to air squat on cue.
It seemed like we spent the majority of the class learning and practicing technique, with the actual workout serving as a homework assignment at the end. By the time we got around to the morning’s scheduled WOD, we had 15 minutes to complete the AMRAP of wall walks, doubleunders, and air squats. Don’t get me wrong, this was plenty hard, but I left feeling like the focus of the morning’s class was more on teaching and practicing the technique and less on the workout itself. Not necessarily a bad thing at all, but just not what I expected going in.
That said, if you are new to functional training, getting the movements right from the very beginning is absolutely essential to staying safe and getting the maximum benefit. So I think this class offers an important resource with those goals in mind. If you have a more athletic background with experience in this kind of training, I suggest reaching out to May for more information about some of her more advanced class offerings, like Raise the Bar.
Thank you to May and her athletes for hosting me, and thank you to Allison and Mary for completing the fit crashing blogger trifecta. Next time – coffee first!
What time do you workout in the morning? Is 6 a.m. really early for anyone else?
Note: While CenterPointe invited me to try a free class, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience. Thanks for reading!
There’s a lot of working out that goes on behind the scenes here at DC Fit Crasher. My week typically includes one day of fit crashing at a new studio and six other days of sweating all over the place. Literally. So I thought it’d be fun to share some of the workouts I do outside of my official studio reviewing duties. Here are eight from the past two weeks. I’d love to hear what you got into too, so be sure to leave me a comment and share your crashes!
WEDNESDAY: SolidCore megaformer
pain cave studio opened a new location last weekend in Shaw, right next to the metro stop. After wobbling and sweating and wincing through their popular classes in Adams Morgan, I knew I had to christen the new space with a proper fit crash. I took Ashley’s evening class and, as usual, left with wiped-out muscles and a sweaty smile. That megaformer elicits such a love-hate-love-reallyhate relationship, but I keep coming back because the no-impact workout is so good for my runner’s knees. The new studio is bigger than the original, with lofty industrial ceilings and extremely flattering lighting (wink). If you’re going to get housed by the megaformer, you may as well look good doing it. Am I right?
THURSDAY: The last few weeks have been nuts. Way too much going on in way too short a period of time. You know what that’s like, I think we’ve all been there. There came a point when I honestly just needed help to reset, refocus, and get my head in order. While I can typically do that on a run, I craved something gentler. So I signed up for a sunrise class at Yoga District’s studio in Glover Park. It was my first visit to the studio, but it won’t be my last. The space is sparse, clean, and no frills, but the class was exactly what I needed. Warm, welcoming, calm, no expectations or stress to be a super yogi, and it sent me out the door with a clear head and ready to get back to business.
CUCB Training Run
SATURDAY: I’m training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler road race here in DC on April 6, so I’ve been incorporating more running into my weekly workout schedule. This includes longish runs on the weekend to help get my legs ready for those double digit miles in April. The weather was freakishly nice last weekend for my seven mile loop; shorts, t-shirt, and sunglasses nice. It definitely made those miles fly by and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a run that much in quite some time. Hear that spring? You’re good for my training, so arriving any time now would be great!
SATURDAY: I had the fun opportunity to demo a new fitness invention last weekend. The company is called True Form and they created a wearable resistance band training unit. You wear special shoes and a velcro belt and then hook resistance bands to the front and the back. The system doesn’t get tangled (I did burpees, jumps, grapevines, and bicycle crunches) and adds just enough resistance to your normal routine to really kick your training up a notch. I demoed it for just a few minutes and was really tuckered out when I left. I don’t know that I’m ready to wear this to all of my fit crashes, but it definitely was neat to try!
SUNDAY: After a not-so-hot first encounter with Barre3 in Georgetown, instructor Alicia Sokol invited me back to crash one of her classes. “Let me make this one up to you, girl,” she wrote, “I will have you quaking and shaking.” Game on! Within ten minutes, I was sweating and struggling through series of push up variations and lunges. You win, Alicia! Your class was challenging, fun, and I left feeling like I had gotten the workout I came for. I also learned (lightbulb moment) that Barre3 isn’t purely a traditional barre studio – the class is a combination of yoga, pilates, AND barre. So if you go and wonder why you aren’t tucking and barre-ing the entire time, that’s why. Consider me schooled!
THURSDAY: CenterPointe functional training studio in Adams Morgan was my official “fit crash” for this week, so all you’ll get is this teaser photo. Check back later this week for the full write up!
FRIDAY: 6:30 p.m. Most of DC is either still at work or celebrating the start of the weekend at various happy hours across the city. Me? This is my happy hour. A $7 workout in a small boutique pilates studio, classic rock blaring, just a handful of other students, and my muscles having a blast networking with each other. Fuse Pilates in Dupont Circle offers this apprentice (teacher-in-training) class every Friday, so if this sounds like your cup of tea, mosey on by and check it out sometime.
SATURDAY: My teal bike has not seen the pavement in years. I bought it in college as I was first getting into triathlons, but it quickly got pushed aside by a sassy yellow racing bike I have since sold. Thanks to some new-found motivation to get back on the bike, I dusted her off, brought her to The Bike Rack for a tune up, and now she’s ready for miles of adventure. I’ve been having a lot of fun re-learning the delicate ins and outs of cycling, like how to properly snot rocket in motion and how horribly uncomfortable bike seats are despite the horribly-unflattering padded shorts. You know, the important stuff! I’m looking forward to warmer weather soon so I can take my old teal friend out for some longer rides. Allez!
Your turn: where was your favorite fit crash last week?