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!
Crash Course: Pure Barre is a national franchise of studios dedicated to a full-body, no-impact, ballet-inspired workout. Each 55-minute class will target arms, abs, thighs, butt, and hips with moves that are sure to make you shake. Literally. Muscle fatigue to the point of shaking is all part of the magic, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t keep your legs from quaking in the first class. Expect fun music, upbeat instructors, and sore muscles the next day. This isn’t a cardio heavy class and you probably won’t sweat buckets – perfect for sneaking in a few plies during your lunch break. Visit the Pure Barre DC website for a full schedule of classes.
where: 2130 P Street NW/Dupont Circle
bring: grip socks, water bottle
perks: metro friendly
sweat score: 6 out of 10
wear: must wear barre socks
instructor: Annie Thompson
cost: $25 drop in
Pure Barre opened its doors in Dupont Circle last April, making it the seventh barre studio in DC. Their signature 55-minute class has been such a rocking success that another location is popping up on Barracks Row next month. After completing my “DC barre crawl” in December 2012, I knew it was only a matter of time before another barre brand came into my life. DC loves the ballet-inspired workout and current studios are packed solid. So when the ladies at Pure Barre reached out to me about coming to crash their studio, I dusted off my grippy socks (they’re required, you know!) and gracefully sashayed as fast as I could to their front door.
The strip of stores along P Street where Pure Barre is located is really nothing to write home about aesthetically. It’s gray, monotonous, and all of the stores sit hidden from view just below ground level. As soon as you walk in the door, however, everything changes. The reception area is bright and cheerful, with gleaming wood floors and bright red accents popping along steel-grey walls.
There are two changing rooms and a well-appointed bathroom just past the front reception area. The studio also has a boutique stocked to the brim with colorful Pure Barre apparel and other workout gear. The entire space is fun and cheery, which helps when you show up for a 6:15 a.m. class in the dead of winter.
As a new student, I was warmly welcomed and given an overview of the techniques used during class. This was especially helpful to do before things got started in the studio and I appreciated the opportunity to ask questions and dust-off my tucking skills. Before I knew it, the music started cranking and it was time to get moving. I took of my shoes, donned the required sticky-bottomed barre socks, and hopped into the plushly-carpeted studio.
Our instructor Annie was the perfect combination of upbeat and authoritative. She had very clear cues, worked the room like a pro to help with adjustments, and her playlist was pretty darn solid. I’m not typically a fan of Britney Spears before noon, but somehow, when your right quad is burning and you’ve got eight more reps, it works.
We moved seamlessly from the floor to the barre, working on all those tiny muscles that somehow get forgotten in other workouts. I was shaking within minutes. It started in my abs and then radiated out into my arms and legs as we transitioned through each segment. While I know this is all part of the plan, it still makes me laugh when I look in the mirror and see my entire body spastically quaking from a few tiny squats.
And then, there is the ball. It looks like a tiny little dodgeball from your childhood playground. And there were moments I wished I was being hit with them instead of squeezing them between my thighs, because let me tell you folks, the struggle is real. Something about having to constantly put pressure on the ball made my entire body work – as if the moves weren’t challenging enough on their own. I mean, I loved that it kicked things up a notch. But I was unprepared for how sore it would make me the next day.
Mercifully, we also had resistance bands to use for stretching after each segment. I think I let out an audible sigh of relief at one point. Annie turned down the music, lowered her voice, and we all took a minute to refocus and stretch out our screaming muscles.
The class ended with a series of ab exercises that included tiny little movements. No sweeping sit ups here. Like the rest of class, everything was extremely targeted for a surgical strike to those hard-to-reach areas. In my opinion, the hardest one involved pressing on the ball with one hand while doing micro oblique crunches. Yep, definitely going to feel that one in a few hours.
Then Annie turned the lights off and pumped up the music. Wait – what’s going on here? Just as I thought we were finished, things heated back up with a round of bridge pulses. Let’s just say, I was so very thankful the lights were off and we could all get to work without worrying about what we looked like. I’ve done this move in other studios and, while effective, it’s just not the most flattering. So thank you, Pure Barre, for letting us work it with the lights off.
After a final round of stretching, the lights came back on and the class was over. We cleaned and put away our equipment, and I was out the door by 7:20. While I wasn’t a sweaty mess like I am after most workouts, I knew my body had been through the wringer and would be sore in weird places the next day. As a runner, barre always targets those areas in my glutes and thighs that somehow get forgotten on the road. This is great for injury prevention and strengthening problem areas, but not the best news for my soreness level. Pass the foam roller, please! That said, I don’t always get that feeling after every barre class so I have to give points to Pure Barre for bringing the burn.
Like what you’ve read and want to give Pure Barre a try? You’re in luck!
I’m partnering with Pure Barre to give away two weeks of unlimited tucking and pulsing to one lucky reader.
Classes can be used at either the Dupont Circle or Capitol Hill locations. Use the widget below to enter to win. Contest ends Friday at 12 a.m.
GOOD LUCK and see you at the barre!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: While Pure Barre invited me to try a free class, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience. Thanks for reading!
Ever wanted to search fit crashes by location?
After seeing the map of NYC boutique fitness studios Classpass published recently on Pinterest, I was hooked. It was beautifully brilliant. All of the best places to sweat in the Big Apple, all on one map. Naturally, I immediately wanted one for DC. So – ta da! – I made one. Now for the details…
What it is: a visual list of every fit crash I’ve ever blogged about. Browse through the neighborhoods and cities, see where I’ve been, and click through to read my review.
What it is not: a comprehensive list of every boutique studio in DC. If it’s not on here, it’s because I haven’t been yet!
I’ll update the map in real time, so be sure to follow the Fit Crasher Map board on Pinterest and check back regularly to see where my sweaty adventures have taken me.
Hope you enjoy this fun new feature – and thanks for reading!
I am so excited to finally be able to share the details about my new running shoes.
A few weeks ago, the folks at New Balance surprised me with a pair of their latest and greatest: the Fresh Foam 980. The timing couldn’t have been better. I was just starting to train for April’s Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and my mileage was going up for the first time since the Rock ‘N Roll half marathon last year. With an on-again-off-again bum left knee, any long distance training makes me nervous about aggravating the injury, so I’m always looking for the right pair of shoes to help lessen the impact on my joints.
So I tied those puppies on and took them for a short test run. Sure, they’re pretty and have snazzy colors, but if they don’t perform on the pavement – end of story.
First impression: they felt like slippers on my feet. I hadn’t even left the apartment yet and was already oohing and ahhhing over how soft they felt. I took my sweet time getting out the door just to savor the squish. Heck, if they were terrible running shoes, I’d at least keep them around as a pretty solid pair of house shoes.
But it gets better, because my run was pretty fantastic. The shoes were as light as clouds and felt like cotton balls under my feet. Cotton. Freaking. Balls. I’m not sure it gets any better by running shoe standards, people. Then again, I don’t work in a running store. I’m not a professional running shoe tester. I don’t know the ins and outs of what makes a pair of sneaks great. Heck, I had a hard time understanding the Fresh Foam press release New Balance sent because I honestly have zero clue what a “4 mm natural drop last” is. Not a clue.
But I have covered my fair share of miles in the past decade or so of being a runner. I’ve loved shoes and hated shoes. I’ve gotten superstitious and clung to the same make and model for years at a time. I’ve purchased shoes based on color, brand, what the girl who beat me was wearing, and price. Who am I kidding, mostly price.
These pups run $110, which is on par with what I typically spend on a new pair at the running store. Mine were generously gifted by New Balance, but this review is based entirely on my honest to goodness experience with them. I will buy them again when these begin to get raggedy.
Because nothing is perfect, I also want to share with you the few little things I didn’t love about the new Fresh Foams:
- The shoe laces are really slick and I’ve had issues with them staying tied during runs. I double knot, but perhaps there’s another secret method I need to learn.
- Like any shoe, I had to fiddle around with the lacing a bit when I first tested them out. This isn’t really a nit pick, just know that you may need to experiment with them to find a fit that works best for you. I needed to adjust for more room in the bridge area and more support up toward the ankle.
- The shoes are very well ventilated. This will be great in the summer, but isn’t my favorite thing in the winter when it’s negative six and snowing. Fix: wear wool socks.
And that’s my review! I’m enjoying them so much I’ve taken to using them as trainers at the gym. I know, I know, total fitness faux pas and I need to go out and buy a new pair of proper trainers. But in the meantime, I truly can’t resist the siren call of these floaty, foamy, fantastically soft running shoes. So I’m breaking the rules. #sorrynotsorry
If you try a pair, let me know what you think! I’m all ears and would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks again to New Balance for setting me up with Fresh Foams to try. I was not otherwise compensated for this review – they were just that awesome and I wanted to let you all know about the latest loves of my running life.
What factors do you consider when purchasing new running shoes?