Cherry Blossom Weekend Fitness Bonanza

cherryblossom-yoga-wheel

Hello everyone!

This weekend was quite the fit crashing fiesta. I’m still buzzing from the endorphin high coaxed from a perfect combination of sunshine, sweat, and spandex. Between Cherry Blossom yoga on the National Mall, the DC Fit expo, the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and commuting by bike share all over town, I’m not sure I could love the past two days any more. So in the interest of helping me wean myself off of all the awesomeness and ease into Monday, let’s recap everything for the folks at home.

Cherry Blossom Yoga

cherryblossom-yoga-boat

Lululemon hosted this year’s Cherry Blossom yoga event, which brought 3,000 yogis together to stretch and flow under the watchful gaze of the Washington Monument. Local yogic rock star Mimi Rieger led the hour-long class and assistants from across the DC yoga community waded through the crowd to help with adjustments.

cherryblossom-yoga-tree

The day was brilliant and breezy. Just the kind of early spring weather to coax people outside to begin the season of outdoor activities and playing around in the grass. I set up my mat in the back of the pack and next to my friend Jenny, who has been my workout buddy since college. We were both running the 10 miler on Sunday and thought a good old-fashioned stretch would be just the thing to get us race-day ready. And it was!

cherryblossom-yoga-me-jenny

Despite a few technical glitches – including the audio dropping out a number of times during key points of the class (last audible instruction was plank pose…do I have to hold this till they fix the mic?) – the class was extremely well done and accessible for any and all levels. It was so darn cool to look around and see a sea of humanity breathing, yoga-ing, and coming together to enjoy a little quality time in the sunshine. There were crazy advanced yogis, beginner yogis, and everything in between. I even saw a few tourists stop, watch, and then decide to join in. How cool is that?

cherryblossom-yoga-twisted-triangle

After laying on my mat for a few minutes of sunny savasana, traditional Japanese drummers took the stage for a surprise performance. What at first seemed ridiculously out of place soon turned into an intoxicating, energizing performance that perfectly capped off the class. People clapped, cheered, danced, played with yoga poses, and just generally enjoyed themselves. It was a sight to see!

I rolled up my yoga mat and made my way over to the event tent, where I ran into my friend V from Goûter and Krista the crazy-taleneted yoga teacher I obsessively stalk on Instagram for bendy inspiration. Seriously, folks, if you’re looking for an out-of-this world yoga account, Krista’s got it. V generously shared two of her latest tonics – a green detox blend and a root veggie and goji berry concoction – and I had to hold back from drinking both then and there. Yum!

cherryblossom-yoga-gouter

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Expo

I popped the tonics into my backpack, said goodbye to V, Krista, and Jenny, and set out on foot with yoga mat in tow to the National Building Museum to for Cherry Blossom 10 miler packet pick up. The entire process was so quick and easy – I was in and out of that place in under 15 minutes. Hats off to the event team for a top notch operation!

cucb-2014-packet-pickup

In The Capital’s “DC Fit” Expo

inthecapital-dcfit

After a quick whirl on bike share up 9th Street, I dropped in on the DC Fit expo hosted by In The Capital. It was a day-long event filled with free fitness class demonstrations, expert panel discussions, delicious food, and vendors. I’m sorry I had to miss out on most of the activities, but I came in time to catch the Dance Trance demo, a panel on half-marathon training, and to say hello to friends from Sweetgreen, Drop In, Nike, Reebok Fit Hub, Disrupt Fitness, and Pole Pressure.

Great event, In The Capital, thanks for bringing together such an awesome group of folks for a day of fitness fun!

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

cucb-2014-me

The main event this weekend was Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10 miler. I had been kinda-sorta training for three months for this race, my first in just over a year. I felt capable, but not entirely ready. The honest truth is that I hadn’t put much thought into the race at all. The first time I looked at the race map or start time was Saturday night. I picked out my clothes the morning of. I showed up to the start line 10 minutes before the horn. And you know what? I think the casual approach worked, because I had an amazing time on the course and finished way stronger than I could have ever anticipated.

cucb-2014-watch

I had fun. And I didn’t worry about training or splits or gel packets or the dead zone at Hains Point or anything else. I just ran the race for me. And it was freaking fantastic. So new race policy: get your head out of the game, fit crash like crazy, get in a few long runs, and let your body do the rest.  It seemed to work!


What was your favorite fit crash from this weekend?


Five Takeaways From My First Barry’s Bootcamp Class

barry's bootcamp boston

Hello and happy Friday everyone! I’m fresh off the plane after a quick hop over to Boston this week. While I didn’t have a ton of free time during my stay, I made sure to get in at least one fit crash while I was there. To be honest with you, the idea of having to whittle down all of Boston’s fabulous fitness classes and pick just one was daunting. Intimidating. Perplexing, even. Thankfully, a few fellow bloggers and the kind folks at ClassPass came to my rescue, offering some suggestions: Btone (megaformers), Recycle (spin), Boston Body (barre), Flywheel (spin), Back Bay Yoga, and Exhale (core fusion).

If I had my way, I would have picked all of them. I could have used another day in Boston dedicated entirely to the fine art of fit crashing. Sadly, the world seems to follow its own schedule and I had time for only one. Specifically, I had time for one at 5:30ish p.m. So I did a little digging and found that the class with the most convenient time and location was none other than Barry’s Bootcamp. Something that has been on my “fit crash fantasy” list since I started the blog. Sold! After a few clicks here, a reservation made there, I was in.

barry's bootcamp boston

This place is a SCENE. I walked in the door and felt immediately dwarfed by the sheer enormity of the brand. I have been hearing blogs and fitness outlets rave about Barry’s for years, and now by some sort of scheduling serendipity, here I was. I could go on and on about the atmospherics of the place before class, but I’ll cut to the chase.

The workout was fantastic. Basic. No nonsense. Full throttle. I entered the room and immediately got a high-five from the instructor. My internal dialogue was racing. What had I gotten myself into? Was I scared? I think so. Intimidated? You bet. Absolutely lost and praying to the fitness gods that I could somehow make sense of the chaos around me? You betcha.

barry's bootcamp boston

Here’s the breakdown: you run intervals for 12 minutes, you do weights for 12 minutes, two times through. The instructor is a master in multitasking, yelling easy-to-follow commands into the chaos of a room filled with whirling treadmills and pulsating free weights. Oh, and did I mention the club-quality surround sound, mirrored walls, and weird red lighting (see above)? Yeah – it’s a scene folks. But it’s a sweaty mix of intense cardio and weights that I honestly wouldn’t have the chutzpa to do on my own. Worth it.

Now that I’ve had a day to stretch my aching muscles and reflect on the experience, here are my five key take aways from my first encounter with Barry’s Bootcamp. 

1. Shredders = runners. Apparently if you are on the treadmill, you are a shredder. If the instructor yells out a command to the shredders, he or she is talking to you. Confusing for a first timer who may be a little slow on the uptake? Yep. But luckily I have excellent peripheral vision and was able to copy what the lady next to me was doing until I eventually figured it out.

2. There are two cardio segments. Not one. Not sure why I thought after only 12 minutes of running intervals I would be finished with the treadmill for the rest of class. Silly me. You get smoked during the first segment, then move on to 12 minutes of weights, and then move your sweating, panting, tired self back to the treadmill to do it all over again. Steel your resolve folks, this is not an easy transition mentally or physically.

3. Treadmills incline to level 15. I did not know this. I do now. Enough said.

barry's bootcamp boston

4. The locker room products are fab. Use them. Trust me. I washed my face before class with a silky clean grapefruit face wash just to do it. Then I washed my hands with some fantastic herbal smelling soap. Oh, hello rich and luxurious body cream just asking to be slathered. Don’t mind if I do! Dry shampoo? Yes please! I was having a grand old time testing everything out. You should too. Hey, YOB(arry)O, right?

5. Put in your smoothie order before class. Barry’s has a first class smoothie bar conveniently situated mere steps from the locker room. Yummy flavors, lots of fresh ingredients, extra kale…the works. How do you say no? After ordering a PB&J smoothie (blueberries, strawberries, peanut butter, almond milk), I realized I was the only person lame enough not to have a smoothie order with my name on it ready to go after class. That’s when I realized the secret: put your order in before class, it’ll be ready as soon as you stumble out. Lesson learned.

barry's bootcamp boston

After class, I took my wobbly legs and sinfully good smoothie out into the windy streets of Boston for one last little bit of sight seeing. Boston Common is a few blocks from Barry’s, so I made my way over there to check things out. Very pretty! But with crazy wind gusts and temperatures dipping below freezing, I decided to get my wet hair and tired body out of the elements and into the nearest cab.

boston common

Thanks Boston and Barry’s for the fun fit crashing adventure – hope to be back soon!

Jaime Andrews Fitness Women & Weights Class

jaime andrews fitness women and weights


Crash Course: Jaime Andrews is most well known for her popular bootcamp classes, but her business also offers a full roster of workout opportunities including personal training, yoga, and fitness getaways. Her latest class is called “Women & Weights”, a 45 minute total body workout using dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, medicine balls, and other tools of the trade to focus on strength and muscular endurance. It’s designed for women of all ages and fitness levels. This class is scheduled for Thursday mornings at 6 a.m. and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. Visit the Jaime Andrews Fitness website for more information. 



where: 1440 N Street NW // Logan Circle

bring: yourself, water bottle

perks: small class, towels, all ladies

sweat score: 7 out of 10

wear: anything you like

instructor: Jaime Andrews

cost: $35 drop-in

 

jaime andrews fitness women and weights

I had so much fun crashing Jaime’s outdoor bootcamp class last year and had been looking for an opportunity to come back. Logan Circle isn’t the most convenient neighborhood for me to get to, so unfortunately I put it off time and again. When she reached out to me about the newest addition to her class roster, I eagerly signed up for another chance to be part of her small, upbeat, no-fuss workout crew. If I’m willing to get out of bed at 5 a.m. for it, you know it has to be good!

jaime andrews fitness women and weights

I was up before the sunrise and slowly made my way through the city on a bikeshare bike, enjoying the quiet darkness and taking the downhill ride as a much-needed opportunity to wake up my sleepy body. I arrived to a bright and chipper studio occupied by five other ladies and Jaime.

We circled up, went through a few introductions, and started a dynamic warmup full of squats, swings, and stretches. Jaime then went over the breakdown of the mornings workout, demonstrating each move and explaining the mechanical breakdown of proper technique.

jaime andrews fitness women and weights

We did an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) circuit of three exercises at three stations with tabata intervals between each. Each station included a good mix of weights and cardio, ensuring we worked up a good sweat as we moved around the room. My partner and I started at a station that included 8 push ups, 8 dips, and 8 goblet squats.

jaime andrews fitness women and weights

The second station included 8 shoulder presses, 8 deadlifts, and holding a plank while pushing a dumbbell back and forth between your hands 8 times to throw off your balance. That move was so much tougher than it looked! By this point in the workout I was sweaty and starting to feel the fact that I hadn’t lifted weights in a few weeks. Clearly, this workout was just what I needed!

jaime andrews fitness women and weights

Our second tabata sequence involved weighted split squats. I wish I could tell you what the first tabata was, but it was obviously too early for my brain to remember. I remember it being challenging. I remember wondering how many gosh darn rounds of the 4 minute sequence we had left. But I can’t for the life of me tell you what the movement was. Oh well. Some things are best left to imagination.

jaime andrews fitness women and weights

The final station included 8 TRX rows, 8 kettlebell swings, and 8 resistance band arm curls. I was struggling at this point, but not in a “I’m going to collapse and pass out” kind of way. In the muscle-burn, this is going to feel good tomorrow kind of way. And let me tell you, I definitely felt it the next day. I obviously need to get back to some form of weight training, because my body let me know that it didn’t appreciate the sneak attack.

jaime andrews fitness women and weights

The class environment was casual, friendly, and very supportive. Jaime played good music and we talked throughout the entire thing, covering a wide list of topics ranging from marathon training to kids to the weather. It felt like a personal training session with Jaime and five friends. The time flew by and 6:45 came in the blink of an eye. We didn’t stretch as a group at the end of class, but I bet if you wanted to stick around for few minutes to cool down it wouldn’t be a problem. Most of the ladies had to leave right away to start their mornings and get ready for work.

All in all, I loved the experience and really recommend it to anyone looking to incorporate a little more weight training into their workout schedule. There were no “big lifts” involved, but that didn’t make it any less effective. I really enjoyed it. Jaime, can you open a studio closer to Cleveland Park please?

Bonus: read my review of Jaime’s outdoor bootcamp class here.


How do you incorporate weight training into your workout schedule?


 

 

Note: While Jaime invited me to try a free class, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience. Thanks for reading!

 

Meet Bethesda’s Megaformer Hot Spot: Sculpt Studio

sculpt megaformer pilates bethesda


Crash Course: Sculpt Studio in Bethesda offers classes on the mega-popular megaformer machine, a souped-up pilates reformer on a serious power trip. This thing makes your entire body shake within minutes, and you’ll leave feeling toned, tired, a little buzzed, and fantastically sore. It’s a no-impact workout that caters to all fitness levels. But a note to even the fittest among us: check your ego at the door with this one, because you’re in for an incredibly challenging ride. Click here for a full schedule of classes at Sculpt Studio.   



wear: recommend spandex bottoms

instructor: Mary Farber

cost: $20 first class/$35 drop-in

 

sculpt megaformer studio bethesda

For all the times I said a $35-per-class fitness trend would never really catch on here in DC, let me be the first one to eat my words. With the rapid success and expansion of Solidcore and the popularity of Bethesda’s Sculpt Studio, I think it’s safe to say that the DMV is twitterpated with the ultra-lux megaformer workout.

sculpt megaformer studio bethesda

Sculpt Studio is located on the lower level of the building and encompasses the main workout floor, a bathroom, and an adjoining studio/merchandise space. Despite being occupied by so many hulking machines, the gleaming floors, bright overhead lights, and high white ceilings give the space a wide-open, almost sterile feeling. A wall of mirrors sits at the front of the room, and a row of cubbies and hangers offer storage space toward the back.

sculpt megaformer studio bethesda

The 10 a.m. Saturday morning class was nearly full, and everyone seemed fairly relaxed as they prepared for the workout. I, on the other hand, was a ball of nerves on my carriage, anxiously swishing through Twitter to distract myself from what was about to go down. The woman next to me introduced herself. I smiled back and asked if this was her first class. She said yes. I silently debated whether to warn her about the pain train that was about to happen in this bright, peppy room. Don’t be fooled by these sleek machines, I wanted to tell her, you’ll be sore for days. DAYS!

I opted instead for the interpretive: “Good luck!”

Before we got started, Mary went over the ins-and-outs of the megaformer machine. This is an introduction I honestly hadn’t received before, and I liked getting a little tour of all the different do-dads and options available. I also relished in this being the only part of class when I wasn’t shaking like a leaf and praying for the fitness police to come and save me from myself.

sculpt megaformer studio

Then Mary put her headset on, turned up the music, and started taking us through the first few moves. We began with a series of excruciatingly slow ab exercises and planks. She would count each rep to the beat, going down “one, two, three, four” and up “one, two, three four.” Five minutes in and my arms and abs were already praying for a break. Do you think she would be able to tell if I put one knee down in this plank? Is it really cheating if the rest of my body is still engaged? There’s a lot of negotiating with yourself that goes on during a megaformer class – come ready to stand your ground and fight fair. 

We then moved into a leg series using hand weights, which was a new combination I hadn’t tried before. For example, as we lunged we also worked our arms into an overhead press. I still don’t know if I loved this added extra because it served as a distraction from the burning in my legs, or hated it because it also caused a burning in my arms. Either way, it definitely upped the ante in the “full body workout” category and demanded serious concentration.

sculpt megaformer studio bethesda

Other funky moves I’ve never tried before included spider and donkey kicks, both of which included straddling the machine and using one leg to push the carriage away. Awkward? Absolutely. Effective? Yes, that too.

The overall tone of the class was not as intense or competitive as others I’ve been in. For example, between the bumping loud music and the constant stream of commentary from coaches at Solidcore, I am 110% engaged at all times. This also means I feel a great deal of pressure to perform and keep up with the pack (or suffer being called out) which isn’t always the best thing for my body depending on the day. At Sculpt, the atmosphere was much more relaxed and open. Sure there was necessary and appreciated encouragement, but I felt like I could disappear and do things at my own pace if I really wanted to. I felt no pressure to keep up or compete with my neighbor. If you prefer a less in-your-face style of coaching, this approach may be the best fit for you.

sculpt megaformer studio bethesda

Mary was enthusiastically demonstrative throughout class, which is especially helpful when doing strange new moves on strange new machines.  You can say “wheelbarrow” all you want, but I’m not entirely sure what that has to do with me being on this machine. One minute she was lunging on a megoformer next to you, the next she was on the floor behind you going over the most effective crunch angles. She also was noticeably vigilant, always ready to adjust or offer assistance to those who needed a little nudge in the right direction.

We ended class with a few deep stretches on the machine. This, my friends, was heaven. Not only did it signal a definite end to class, but it also gave us all a brief opportunity to attend to our tired bodies. I wasn’t a sweaty mess after this particular class, but I undoubtedly felt like I had just survived yet another encounter with the legendary megaformer. I grabbed a fresh clementine, my things, snapped a few photos, said my “thank yous” to Mary and her team and was on my way back into the city. Pass the foam roller please!


Do you think the megaformer workout is worth the sticker-shock price?


Note: While Sculpt Studio invited me to try a free class, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience. Thanks for reading!

Three Things I Miss About Big Box Gyms


big box gyms

I have a confession to make: there are things I miss about belonging to a big box gym. To be clear, there are many more things I do not miss, but this week I realized I was accumulating a tiny list in the back of my mind of things that would make my fitness life so much easier…and then realized that those things were all perks associated with having a gym membership. I stopped cold in my tracks. Could it be? Could I actually be pining after monthly membership fees, decks of TVs turned to channels I don’t want to watch, and that adductor machine everyone hates? Not exactly. But let me explain.

1. Workout On My Own Schedule

You know those weeks when your schedule hurls itself out the window and nothing you had planned works out? Yeah, this was one of those weeks. Which meant that every fit crash I had on my agenda had to be cancelled at the last minute. As in, sometimes calling from the car stuck in traffic last minute. Sorry barre method. Sorry boot camp. Sorry run with friend after work. It just didn’t happen. And half-way through the week, I thought, wouldn’t it be lovely to workout on MY schedule. Even if it’s erratic and temperamental right now. Even if that means I don’t get around to it till 9:25 p.m. The truth is that there are one too many factors that can derail plans to get to the studio in time for a class. Life happens. The metro is delayed (shocker). Traffic accidents. Last minute 5 p.m. meetings with the boss as you’re walking out the door. No parking after circling the block 10 times. Needing to do laundry and get groceries instead. Bottom line: working out on somebody else’s schedule isn’t always easy.

2. Showers

Thanks to Drop In, I had an opportunity to workout for free at BodySmith in Logan Circle a few weekends ago. It was the first time I had been at a “big box gym” in ages. Because of ice and snow, my plan was to do a long run on the treadmill, scoot around to check out the weight options, and then meet friends for dinner after. Which I could do without being a sweaty mess because BodySmith has showers. Ah-ha! What a convenience! I am so used to running out of studios in my workout duds, hair all sweaty, clothes icky and damp. Cleaning up after class with fresh towel service and a fully stocked shower felt down right luxurious. I could seamlessly go about my day without the time-suck of going home, showering, and then heading back out to wherever I was going. I know there are a few boutique studios in DC with showers, but the majority do not have them. I understand why: they take up space, require cleaning, and are an added expense. But showers are a little time-saving perk that I sometimes really miss.

3. Options

DC’s boutique fitness scene is about as varied as they come. You want options? We’ve got options. But there are days when I just want to do my own thing and need the right equipment. Thirty minutes of running followed by weighted squats and pull ups. Or a HIIT workout with medicine balls and kettle bells. Or intervals on the stationary bike, treadmill, and rower with a few dumbbell reps thrown in for good measure. While I have a few pieces of key equipment in my apartment, it’s not a gym by any means. There’s also the issue of not being able to jump around without my downstairs neighbor wanting to kill me. So okay, I admit it, sometimes I do miss having access to a gym with all the fun toys.

I don’t have plans to join a gym any time soon. Nine times out of ten, I love bouncing around town to explore the smaller nooks and crannies of DC’s fitness scene. But there are those days – like this week – when boutique fitness just isn’t convenient. And as the blogger who has often put her hands up and backed away from the idea of big box fitness, I felt the need to come clean. So there you have it folks, the post I never thought I’d write.

Have a great weekend!


Which option do you think has the most perks: big gyms or boutique studios?


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