Archive of ‘review’ category
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?
Crash Course: Zengo is a spin studio with a work-hard play-hard hardcore attitude. I have never been to Soul Cycle – the cycling studio in NYC with an enormous, cult-like following of sweaty spin devotees willing to shell out $35 per class – but from what I have heard of its intensely energetic, full sensory experience, Zengo seems like it’s on the same wavelength: loud music, use of upper body weights, lots of movement on the bike. Not to mention the mirrored, steamy, candle-lit studio where instructors mummer motivational musings into a sweaty mic as you “feel the energy” in the room and “find the positivity to push through.” If ever you need affirmations with a side of sweat, this is the place to look. Classes sell out in less time than it takes to brew your morning cup of coffee, so be sure to plan this visit at least a week in advance. Click here to see the full schedule at Logan Circle.
where: 1508 14th Street/Logan Circle
bring: water, bike shoes
perks: showers, rental bike shoes
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: bike shorts/shoes
instructor: Gregg Pitts
cost: $22 drop in
Lululemon Logan Circle contacted me a few weeks ago about setting up a crash with some of their employees. As big fans of the “sweat once a day” concept, they wanted in on the fit crashing action and I was more than happy to oblige. The more the merrier, I always say! I sent over a long list of studios options, and they decided on the newly-opened Zengo spin studio just down the street. Which was perfect, because I have been dying to see what all the buzz is about. Let’s do it!
As part of the fun, the team generously offered to set me up with some fresh new spinning duds to wear to class. When I stopped by to try on a few options, I was super candid with them about my anxiety over the barely-there rear coverage in some of their pants. I also made it known that my thighs indeed do touch, thank you much, and I’ll need a pair of bottoms that can handle the friction.
They brought out a few pairs of their newest pants specially designed to address those concerns, at which point I commenced a number of unscientific tests in the dressing room to make sure everything was in check. Down dogs, awkward hamstring stretching, lunges, squats…I put them to the test in front of the mirror, waiting for a hint of sheer. Thank goodness there were no hidden cameras, because I’m pretty sure I looked ridiculous.
That said, I was adamant about having pants that held up to the standards I’d expect from a major athletic retailer, and I was happily surprised that the newly engineered pants did just that. To my relief, there wasn’t a move I could do that made the fabric see-through. If I’m bending over a spin bike with rows of folks behind me, this is key. Well played, Lululemon. Finally a pant I can squat in with confidence.
I also went home with the new core kicker tank because I thought the wide open back would make for excellent ventilation during a hot and steamy spin class. So now that I had non-see-through pants and a sassy new top, it was time to get them sweaty at Zengo!
The Zengo Logan Circle studio has a very different vibe than the one in Bethesda. It has a funky, urban feel to it that really fits well with the neighborhood. The space is actually in the basement of the building, so when you enter the front door go down the stairs to sign in at the front desk. You can also rent bike shoes if you didn’t bring your own pair, and make sure to grab and extra towel. Trust me, you’ll need it.
The locker area has floor cubbies for street shoes and lockable storage areas for your personal belongings. No need to bring your own lock, these puppies have a built-in security system. This area gets really cramped before and after class, so be prepared to channel some zen as you get bumped into while bending over to crank into your bike shoes.
The Logan Circle location also has two bright, clean shower rooms to use after class if you’re headed off to work or a night on the town. Wherever you go, you’ll be squeaky clean. They’re fully socked with products, towels, and a hair dryer.
After exploring the rest of the studio, it was time to get down to business in the spin room. What’s it like in there? Dark. Mirrors. Blue lights. Surround sound. Sweaty bodies bumping to the beat. Basically like walking into nightclub with bikes on the dance floor.
Gregg leads a high-energy, high-sweat class full of handlebar pushup combos, climbs, and the occasional sing along. It’s a total blast. I especially appreciated his upbeat attitude and positive encouragement throughout the class, without being overly preachy or sounding like a self-help book on tape. The music selection was top notch (um…acoustic One Direction, anyone?), the cues were spot on, and there wasn’t a single moment when I wanted to be somewhere else.
You know those classes, the ones where you’d love to just hop off the bike and walk away out of boredom or general blah-ness. Yeah, this isn’t one of those.
I circled the wagons with my fellow Lululemon crashers after class and the one word they used over and over again was “fun.” I think that about sums up the Zengo experience. Sure it’s a calorie scorching workout that’ll make you a sweaty hot mess. Sure it’ll give you sculpted legs, a tight bum and core, and some rocking arms. But on top of all of that, it’s just plain fun. And with so much of the typical 9-5 day being not so much fun, it is alway a breath of fresh air to step into a studio and just lose yourself to the beat for an hour.
Thank you to the team at Lululemon Logan Circle for setting up this crash and outfitting me with some seriously cool new spin clothes. The pants held up great, dried quickly (which is clutch), and the shirt was exactly the mix of supportive and ventilated I needed to get through Gregg’s class. Also, a huge shout out to the folks at Zengo for hosting our crash party and to Gregg for an awesomely fun time spinning, pumping weights, and singing along in class.
Logan Circle nowhere near your neck of the woods? Be sure to check out my crash review from Zengo’s Bethesda studio as well.
Have you found any favorite new spin clothes? Do share!
Note: While Lululemon invited me to try a free class at Zengo, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience. Thanks for reading!
Happy Friday fit crashers!
TGIF, right? I don’t know about you, but my past few weeks have been absolutely packed. 2014 flew in with a zing and is still going strong. Despite my best attempts to capture everything in real-time on social media, I thought it’d be good to put pen to paper and document a few of the most awesome moments for blog posterity. So here we go!
1. Escaping Winter at the Lavender Retreat
I was given the most wonderfully generous opportunity to visit the newly-opened Lavender Retreat Wellness Club in Capitol Hill last weekend. With all of my crazy fit crashing adventures racking up major sore muscles, they offered to treat me to an hour-long massage to help work out the kinks. I was elated – what a treat!
The outside of the Lavender Retreat looks like any other traditional row house. But walk in the front doors, and my oh my, you are transported into a colorful, clean, calm oasis. Smack dab in the middle of the DC! Every room is beautifully appointed with bright, gleaming windows and custom decor. No two are the same. I did a whirl through the hallways just to check out all of the nooks and crannies. There are dedicated rooms for massage, skin care, acupuncture, reflexology, and relaxation. It’s an enormous two-level house…you don’t think they’d mind if I move in, do you?
My hour-long session with Bonnie was a dream. I haven’t had a massage in years, so I’m certainly not an expert, but never have I felt so well cared for or pampered. Highlights included: hot towels on my back to help relieve a few stubborn knots, a to-die-for foot massage followed by moisturizer + steaming hot towels to lock everything in, and extra care placing pillows below various joints so I was constantly comfortable.
I was handed a bottle of water after my session and spent the next few minutes chatting with Bonnie and other staff about the studio, life in DC, and anything else that came to mind. There was such positivity, joy, and pride as they described the Lavender Retreat, and I was really impressed by everyone’s professionalism. They really put every effort into making the experience memorable. I can’t way to go back again and try one of their signature skin care treatments. Oh la la!
2. The Joy of an Unexpected Crash
If you follow along with me on Instagram, you may have seen that I was out in Nevada for a friend’s wedding two weeks ago. It was an absolutely beautiful getaway, but any weekend involving cross country flights, jet lag, snow storms, no workouts, and an unplanned overnight layover (sans luggage) would naturally cause a little stress. So when I returned to the office on Tuesday, I was in desperate need of a workout. Not just any workout.
Say it with me folks…yoooo-gaaaaaaaahhh. Doesn’t that sound relaxing? After the hustle and bustle of a weekend away, it was the only thing on my mind. I did a little googling at work to see if there were any studios in the area I could pop into at the last minute. And wouldn’t you know, I came across a cute website for The Source Yoga in McLean, VA. Not only that, one of my favorite teachers from my early days at Down Dog Yoga was leading the class. Win! Where do I sign?
I was surprised – no, scratch that, elated – to have the class almost entirely to myself. The second student was one of the owners, so in reality, it was very much a private session with me, my mat, and I. And with the blustery weather outside, I tucked my bright green mat right next to the space heater and blissed out for the next hour and a half.
Sometimes it pays to go out on a limb and try something new and unscheduled. What a welcome, unexpected gift.
3. Pure Barre Giveaway Winner
And finally – the Pure Barre giveaway!
After crashing Pure Barre in Dupont Circle last week, I can say (for now!) that I’ve visited every barre studio in DC. Hooray! To celebrate my crash, the lovely ladies at Pure Barre were kind enough to offer one of my readers two free weeks of unlimited classes. Thank you to everyone who participated – we had over 200 entries! Woot! And now for the fun part: the winner is…
* drumroll please*
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congrats Cait! I’ve sent you an email with the details. Enjoy fit crashing at Pure Barre and thanks for reading!