Posts Tagged ‘Dupont’
Crash Course: Studio f3 offers kettlebell classes from a small space tucked away in the basement of a Dupont Circle apartment building. This is a no frills spot with one mission: to deliver effective workouts in a fun, supportive environment. How effective? According to the American Council on Exercise, you’ll burn nearly twice the number of calories as during a normal weight lifting session. For those who have never done kettlebells, allow me to channel my inner DC wonk and put it this way. It is the Leviathan of workouts: nasty, brutish, and short. I was sweating within seconds, spent within minutes, and the entire thing was over before I could figure out why in the world I was swinging a cannonball between my legs. For more information about class times, check out the Studio f3 website.
where: 1727 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite C-10
bring: gloves or tape for hands, water bottle
perks: small group
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: anything comfortable
cost: drop in rate is $18*
I have swung a kettlebell before. I can’t exactly peg where or when, but I have vague memories of working with these somewhere at some point during my life. That said, I had never taken a formal class, so an offer to test out Studo f3 was enough to get this crasher to leave work early, drive through downtown rush hour traffic, and park in a questionably legal spot behind a backhoe (true story).
This is the building to look for if you’re headed to class. It’s on an extremely busy portion of Massachusetts Avenue, just south of Dupont Circle. I recommend metroing, walking, or bike-sharing if possible. If not, street parking opens up at 6:30 p.m., just in time to make you (and me) a few minutes late for class. Don’t worry, you won’t get the door shut in your face – things are very casual and f3 is apparently used to folks trickling in a few minutes late.
To access the building, look for the card of instructions on the intercom machine. You’ll need to walk through the lobby to a set of art-deco elevators on the right. Press “B” for basement – the studio will be just to the right when you hit the ground floor.
When I said the spot was no frills, I meant it. You’re not here to primp or be seen – you’re here to work out. The lobby is extremely sparse and there is no changing room. If you need to change when you get there, head to the studio’s one bathroom all the way in the back. It’s tight in there, even by fit crasher standards, but it’s doable.
The workout space is very small, with an area to hold the kettle bells, a few white boards, and your standard Ikea expedite bookcase for storing bags and belongings. The class size is small, too. At the session I went to, we had a total of seven students. There’s no possible way you will get lost in the shuffle and the class is a very personalized experience from start to finish.
I attended a level 1.5 session, which means everyone in the room had a baseline understanding of kettlebell movements like the swing, press, and snatch. Glenn took the time to go through the workout at the beginning of class, demonstrating each move and answering questions. He carefully watched each of us throughout the entire workout, giving corrective advice to make sure we didn’t hurt ourselves. I appreciated that – considering how potentially dangerous pretending to be a human wrecking ball could be.
The “warm-up” left me out of breath, sweating, doubled over, and with a heart rate going through the roof. It didn’t seem like much, and to be honest, it probably didn’t look like much. But something about putting a weight on a handle makes is crazy hard to work with. The entire kettlebell section of the workout was maybe a total of 20 minutes. It really was over before I knew it, but I was okay with that. When we finished, I could hardly bring myself to lift the thing over to the storage rack – we’ll just say it was enough time to develop an intense love-hate relationship. We ended with stretching and a few yoga moves.
Who attends kettlebell class? To be honest, a huge variety of folks. Considering the workout consists of swinging, grunting, and heaving boulders with handles, I expected this class to attract a certain…how shall I say…type of male clientele. But boy, was I wrong. The background of the students was really all over the board, and that’s what made it so great. These classes are accessible, fun, and an all-around butt kicking for anyone at any level.
A piece of advice: you’ll want to bring lifting gloves or athletic tape. My hands were burning with callouses after the first few swings. OUCH.
Things I liked:
- small group feel with personalized attention
- quick, effective, full-body workout that scorches calories
- more fun than standard weight lifting
Things I didn’t like:
- i developed a bit of kettlebell add. despite the various moves you can do, I found it to be a bit monotonous; kettlebells would be great if thrown in with other exercises
- the studio had no windows, the room got hot (and extra sweaty), and there was no dedicated changing room
Would you rather lift weights or swing kettlebells?
* Studio f3 generously waived my drop-in fee. This post is not an endorsement and all opinions are my own.
Crash Course: Put on your yoga pants and get ready to move like the karate kid, young grasshopper. Red Sun Yoga blends the moves of vinyasa yoga, martial arts, tai chi, budokon, and capoeira into a fun, challenging class. It pushes you to find strength in flexibility and grace in speed. How very yin and yang. Click here to see when the next class is offered at Epic Yoga.
where: 1323 Connecticut Avenue, red line/Dupont Circle
perks: showers, lockers, wifi, free mat rental and towels
sweat score: 5 out of 10
wear: something comfy
cost: drop in rate is $18, first week is $20*
instructor: Emma Saal
Naming your studio “Epic Yoga” in a city full of Type A fitness fans is a bold move, to say the least. I remember reading all sorts of exciting things about the studio before it opened, and if Yelp is any indication, the studio is living up to its name during its first year. So I was extremely excited when owner and instructor Emma Saal invited me to come crash at her studio. According to its website, Epic Yoga is:
a passionate group of individuals, who truly love life and embrace the adventures that lay ahead…Back in the summer of 2011, we laid the groundwork and path to create a workout experience unlike any other. Our name, Epic, embraces our vision. We hope you’ll follow us down this path, join us on our journey, and reach your goals…an Epic adventure that is our Yoga Studio.
The studio is located on the top two floors of a fully renovated historic Dupont Circle building. It’s up there on my list of most beautiful studio spaces. Think wall after wall of exposed brick, rich hardwood floors, skylights, and large windows. Hello gawgus. Epic Yoga is so “epic,” in fact, that it has three separate spaces for their classes: a hot yoga room, a yoga room, and a barre studio. Here’s the barre studio:
This is the yoga studio, located just behind the barre area. You won’t be breathing down your neighbor’s neck in either of these enormous rooms, which are actually connected in the middle by a sliding door. Like the cavernous Stroga ballroom, this space just begs for rollerskates, cartwheels, and dance parties in socks.
Up one small flight of stairs is the hot yoga studio. It wasn’t suffocatingly hot and offered a cozy, comforting, and beautiful space to practice in. The addition of the tea lights along the floor boards for the evening class (not shown here) was an awesome touch…what a lovely detail to greet you when you walk in.
In addition to the ample seating room in the front lobby, Epic Yoga also has a recovery room where students can hang out before and after class. You’ll also find a mat storage rack, clean mats in the corner, and two bright restrooms. The ladies restroom had hair elastics and other amenities in case you forgot – win!
And here’s a look at the women’s locker room. It has plenty of clean showers, stacks of dry towels, and two rows of lockers. It’s pretty basic, but having the option to shower and change after class is an enormous perk in DC. All in all, with free showers, towels, lockers, and mats for a drop-in rate of $18…this is by far the best bang for your buck in DC that I’ve found so far.
One thing to note: I’m sure it’s just the weather and the fact that Epic Yoga is in an old building, but this locker room was an ice box when I visited. They have space heaters going on full tilt, but you may want to bring socks to wear on the cold floor.
After admitting my new love affair with budokon and having a longstanding obsession with hot yoga, I was psyched to try Emma’s 8 p.m. Red Sun Yoga class because it sounded like it would be a good mix of the two. It definitely echoed of budokon and the class spent a lot of time practicing the rolling wave vinyasa that’s so characteristic of the budokon style. I like it because it forces you to rethink and rewire your entire yoga practice – like starting over again fresh.
The sequences were simple enough to follow along with for a first timer like me. Oddly enough, they were also challenging enough to keep me on my toes the entire time. I’ve never done tai chi before, and really enjoyed the influence of that practice into the movements. The martial arts flare came into full force later in the class, when we practiced “floating” into and out of fighting position.
Emma made it look effortless. Me? Not so much. But I imagined I was floating like a feather and put on my best game face. Just don’t mind the crashing sound in the back of the classroom as I land on my mat. Note to self: I’d make the worst ninja in the history of ninjaness. Best to stick to Red Sun Yoga.
Between the heated room and the difficult moves, we were all sweating by the end of class. You try squating in this position for a few minutes and you’ll break a sweat, too. Ouchers.
We closed the 60 minutes with a savasana pose typical to yoga classes. With the tea lights twinkling off of the exposed brick, the soft music purring, and Emma walking around giving mini shoulder massages with eucaliptis oil…I zoned out into total yogic bliss and may have even fallen asleep for a hot second. With a good sweat behind me (and possibly a micro nap), I left feeling totally restored.
Things I would change:
- Tiny nit pick: the pace of the class could stand to be a bit faster. I realize it must be hard to balance teaching the new moves and then practicing them, but a faster class would help make it a more vigorous workout. Just my two cents!
Emma is the owner of Epic Yoga and teaches many of the classes offered throughout the week. (Note: I’ve heard through the grapevine that her barre yoga class is a rocking good workout.) She’s a classically trained ballet dancer and has studied extensively under various yoga, pilates, barre, and budokon teachers.
I found her to be extremely personable, approachable, and passionate about what she does. Her verbal cues during class were excellent, her voice was loud enough to hear over the music, and that end-of-class massage is hard to beat.
What other classes should I crash at Epic Yoga?
*Epic Yoga waived my walk-in fee, but opinions are entirely my own.
Crash Course: Bikram yoga is a 90 minute class that combines two breathing exercises and a series of 26 different poses. The studio temperature is set somewhere around 105 degrees, and the humidity can reach up to 40%. Never been? Imagine doing some of the most intense twisting and stretching you can imagine. Now imagine doing that in the heat and humidity of a tropical greenhouse. Intrigued? I was. The classes at this Dupont Circle studio are challenging, intense, and sure to shake up your yoga practice. Be prepared to sweat…a lot. Click here to see the class schedule.
where? 1635 Connecticut Ave., 4th floor, red line/Dupont Circle
bring? yoga mat, towel, water bottle
perks? showers, lockers, lounge, free filtered water, mat/towel rental
sweat score? 11 out of 10
wear? as little as possible
how much? intro week is $20
Full disclosure: I was intimidated about trying bikram yoga. Mostly because of the ridiculous heat and humidity involved and my irrational fear that I would pass out/throw up/cry an hour into it. But also because my eight years of yoga practice have largely revolved around studios that offer Baptiste power yoga. Why? Because I know what I’m getting into. Habit is such a funny thing.
I knew that trying bikram would be a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and jump into something new. But I’m not going to lie, the uncertainty of what was about to go down in that sauna-turned-studio gave me a few jitters.
According to the studio’s website:
No matter what your level of fitness, you will find Bikram Yoga very challenging. Each posture combines flexibility, strength and balance to work your whole body from your bones to your skin!
Key words I would like to highlight: very. challenging.
The Bikram Yoga Dupont studio is split between two separate floors. The front desk, lounge, and locker rooms are located on the fourth floor. The yoga studio itself takes up the entire second floor. There is no elevator in the building, so be prepared to climb some stairs when you arrive. Look on the bright side and considered this your warm up.
Check in at the front desk, and be sure to let them know if you’re visiting for the first time. The studio offers a new student special: unlimited bikram for one week for $20.
The lounge area is big and has large windows that let in lots of natural light. What struck me immediately was that the air in this room is scented with eucalyptus – a refreshing smack in the face after huffing and puffing stale cubicle air all day long. It was a great mental cue to breathe deep, calm down, and prepare for class.
The women’s locker room is awesome. I have never been to a yoga studio that offered such a comprehensive facility.
The lockers have built-in locks, which is a much better and more secure option than the cubby-hole storage space offered in most studios. The space also has three showers, hair dryers, a drying rack for wet yoga mats, and large mirrors. I’m not going to lie, this locker room is a huge win in my book.
The studio itself is absolutely enormous. It occupies the entire second floor of the building and has big windows on each end. I love that the owners kept the original exposed brick, how cool is that? You can also see in this picture the extensive network of ceiling valves used to spray hot mist into the room during class.
One thing I wasn’t too “hot” on (get it?) was the wall of mirrors. I understand the idea that mirrors allow students to see their poses in action and help them self-correct when needed. But for me, the mirrors were distracting. I’d rather focus on my breath during class instead of the girl by the window in a perfect pretzel. It had the weird effect of making me self conscious about the fact that I was red in the face, sweating all over the place, and doing the wrong pose half of the time.
Also, if you want to wear your shoes while walking from the fourth floor to the second floor studio, be sure to store them in the cubbies by the door.
Intense. That’s the first word that comes to mind after taking this class (other than “hot”).
We began with two rounds of an exercise called pranayama breathing. There was no explanation about what this was or how to do it, but follow along with the person next to you and you’ll be just fine. It involves placing interlocked hands under your chin, breathing in while raising your elbows above your head, and leaning your head way back to exhale. You kind of need to see it to understand, so click here for the video.
After the breathing exercise we moved right into 40 minutes of standing poses. At this point, the misting valves were on full force and it was getting really humid.
In bikram, each of the 26 poses is completed twice. So if you didn’t get it the first time…don’t worry. There’s still time for you to get that leg up there on the second round. This is both a blessing and a curse, so be prepared to encounter moments of deep frustration and pleasant surprise as you move through the poses. If at any time you feel woosey and need to rest, just move into child’s pose and chill out for a bit.
I was continually surprised throughout the class at how hard my heart was beating. Sure, I was trying really hard to keep up and do all the poses, but I never expected to feel like I had just sprinted 800 meters.
After 40 minutes of standing exercises, we moved on to 40 minutes of floor poses. Many of these were followed by periods of rest, so this second part of the class feels a bit less intense than the first.
The class ended with one more breathing exercise that involves short, quick breaths using the abs to pump air in and out. For those with a strong giggle reflex, brace yourself…this looks pretty funny. The instructor will clap to keep the time, so just follow along to the beat. Here’s a video so you know what you’re getting into.
There is no official “end” to the class. After the final breathing exercise, the class moves into savasana and the instructor leaves. At this point, you are free to go. Some folks leave right away, while others choose to hang around for a few minutes. Do whatever feels right for you (but know the longer you take, the longer the line for the shower!).
Carolan is the owner of Bikram Yoga Dupont and teaches multiple classes throughout the week. She has a calming, soothing voice and gives students lots of positive feedback. When she moved from California to DC in 2001, she quickly realized there were no spots to practice her favorite kind of yoga. So, she decided to open her own. Bikram Yoga Dupont has been a go-to spot for DC yogis ever since. From the studio’s website:
The students and the teachers who have lovingly created this community at the studio are my source of inspiration. I feel blessed and grateful to be surrounded by such extraordinary human beings everyday.
Have you tried bikram yoga?
Crash Course: The Fuse Pilates class is a 55-minute mat pilates course. No toys, no chairs, no reformers. Just the bodyweight basics set to music. But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the burn. Each class starts with students picking three body areas to focus on. Depending on the request du jour, the instructors make sure you get what you and your glutes, arms, and obliques asked for. Ouch. This isn’t a cardio-based class and you won’t get sweaty, so it’s a great option for those who want to workout during business hours or before heading out on the town. Click here to check the schedule.
where? 2008 Hillyer Place, red line/Dupont Circle
perks? changing room, lounge
sweat score? 3 out of 10
wear? loose or tight clothes, just make sure you can move
how much? drop-in rate is $18
The Fuse Pilates studio is located in a renovated Dupont Circle town house. It offers five stories of beautiful studio space for students to sweat and tone to their hearts content. Not sure mat pilates is for you? There are ten other workout options to choose from and truly something for everyone.
From the studio’s website:
Each class concentrates on developing functional and balanced strength and flexibility, shaping beautifully toned physiques in the process.
The Dupont Circle “pilates playground” is beautiful. The building maintains its old-world elegance, with big bay windows and sweeping staircases. But the place has obviously been whipped into tip-top shape by the Fuse folks, and every room is bright, clean, and looks brand new.
The Fuse Pilates class was held on the third floor. The space took a fun twist on the typical fitness studio “wall of mirrors,” and the funky mish-mash of frame locations made it easy to find a blind spot to work in. I liked this because my focus was on keeping up with the instructor instead of watching the pained look on my face. Win!
There are large and bright bathrooms on every floor (no shower) and a changing room in the basement.
The first floor is where you’ll sign in for class at the front desk. It opens into a great lounge area, the perfect spot for hanging out before or after class. Also, how cool is that flower burst light fixture?
After hurling boulders at a strongman gym and doing buddy-carries in the dark at a SEAL-style bootcamp, I had my doubts that pilates would ring my bell. I’m all about the promises of toning and leaning, but could 55 minutes of micro movements really do the trick? At least the barre class I went to had us pumping iron and tucking abs till I could tuck no more.
I felt more at ease when I walked into the lounge and saw this:
Work their asses off? Sounds like my kind of workout. I’m in! I ditched my bag in a cubby, grabbed a plush mat, and headed into the studio. The instructor leads from the middle of the room, so pick a side and make sure your mat faces him/her.
Little did I know, a derriere demolishing workout was literally on the schedule for tonight’s class. When the instructor asked for requests, the ladies around me came up with three target areas: arms, obliques, and glutes. We started with a few simple up-and-down leg motions to engage the rump. My fears returned…could this really be all we do for 55 minutes? 5 reps, 6 reps, 7 reps…
And then the burn started.
The instructor asked us to go to our “happy places” and I knew I was in for a ride. I never thought doing firehydrants or mini mule kicks could cause such a sensation. Holy smokes. If I had any doubts pilates was a “real workout,” they quickly ran screaming out of the window. While I didn’t sweat like I would in a power yoga class, the burn was enough to do me in.
The music was not as loud as I would have hoped. When the website states that the class will be choreographed to music, I have visions of bumping bass and jazz hands. This was not the case, and I could have done with a little bit more volume…if only to drown out the voice in my head asking me politely to cease and desist.
Overall, the class environment was fun and upbeat. There was no pressure to do more than you were able to, and the instructor was good about giving variations. As a pilates newbie, I felt very comfortable with the pace of the class and style of instruction. I took many of the “easier” variations but still felt challenged and left feeling recharged.
Jocelyn’s class was legit. We asked to target three body areas, and she delivered…with a smile. One of the things I appreciated most is that Jocelyn was very up front about her own limitations and challenges. When you’re shaking like a leaf in plank pose, counting down the seconds until it’s over, it’s refreshing to hear that the instructor is having a hard time too.
She was great about offering alternatives if you felt the moves were beyond your reach, and moved the class along at a smooth pace. I never once looked at the clock during a transition
According to her profile on the Fuse website, Jocelyn has a background in yoga and fell in love with pilates because of the “constantly changing, fully body workout.” Here’s her photo from the website:
Also, can we take a moment to please talk about how cute her socks are? They had no-slip silicone dots on the bottom and snapped around the ankle like mary jane shoes. For those who are interested, she mentioned they were by made Lucy. I may have to snag a pair of these for upcoming winter classes before my toes freeze.
What do you think? Pilates: burn or bust?