Posts Tagged ‘EPIC yoga’

“living in america” inauguration dance party

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In true fit crasher style, I celebrated inauguration weekend at a workout party. While others were getting gussied up in heels and ball gowns, I was putting on my best spandex duds to sweat at the Sports Club LA with the local crew from Lululemon and YaLa Fitness. According to the event information, the inaugural “Living in America” party was hosted in honor of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, which promotes healthy living and fitness for kids and families. I was excited to be a part of celebrating such a great cause. Special thanks to Lululemon for the invitation!

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Recording artist Mya – of Ghetto Superstar and Lady Marmalade fame – made a special guest appearance to promote her nonprofit, the Mya Arts and Tech Foundation. I still can’t quite figure out the connection between her nonprofit and the fitness and health theme of the evening, but hey, a celebrity guest appearance is a celebrity guest appearance. No complaints here. My friend Lizzie and I happily stood in line for a photo op before going into the gym for the main event.

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Lululemon kicked things off with a live display of some of their newest gear. Local brand ambassadors demonstrated yoga poses, dance moves, and worked out on spin bikes to show how versatile the clothes can be in any sweaty situation. It was a fresh approach to a fashion show – more of a live art installment, really – and definitely got the crowd’s attention. Here is Emma from Epic Yoga and Derek Waddy from Down Dog Yoga rocking out on the mat. Sorry for the grainy photos – my phone wasn’t digging the mood lighting.

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After the fashion show, it was time for the main event: a YaLa Fitness dance party with Laurent Amzallag. The Groupon website seemed to hit the nail on the head with this description: “There’s a reason so many are drawn to this spellbinding fitness guru: the YaLa inventor and all-around lady-killer cloaks gym-ready exercises in fun dance moves to create his own fun brand of exercise.” I kid you not. With multiple costume changes, scantily clad back up dancers, and an explosive amount of energy, I felt a bit like I was in a twilight zone version of a Richard Simmons workout video. But did I follow his every instruction and dance myself into a sweaty frenzy? You bet.

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Laurent worked the crowd like a pro, encouraging and dancing along with a few folks in the front row. Here he is challenging my friend Lizzie to get her knees up (go Lizzie, go!). While I thought some of his theatrical gimmicks were over the top (there was a cowboy hat, a sequin Michael Jackson glove, and an Uncle Sam costume involved), the workout itself was no joke. We were all sweating like crazy after the 30 minute session and, to be honest, it was a whole lot of fun.

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To help us refuel after the workout, the Energy Kitchen provided healthy snacks and Bacardi passed around samples of mojito and pina colada mocktails. The drinks were way too sweet for my taste, so I switched to a bottle of water to help washing everything down.

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I tried a little of the edemame-corn salad and the broccoli coleslaw. Delicious!

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Thanks to Sports Club LA, Lululemon, YaLa Fitness, and the other sponsors for hosting a fitness-themed inauguration party worthy of fit crashing! And a shout-out to Lizzie for coming along with me as my date. Next up? Heading to the Southwest Waterfront for a full workout with Laurent at YaLa Fitness.

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How did you celebrate Inauguration weekend?


yoga with a side of ballet @ epic yoga


Crash Course: The ballet barre class at Epic Yoga is not your average barre class. It’s heavy on the yoga with a sprinkle of classical ballet moves thrown into the mix. Be prepared to test your balance, flexibility, and focus. Click here to check out the schedule.


where: 1323 Connecticut Avenue, red line/Dupont Circle

bring: yourself

perks: showers, lockers, wifi, free mat rental and towels

sweat score: 5.5 out of 10

wear: yoga clothes

cost: drop in rate is $18, first week is $20*

instructor: Emma Saal

 

 

I crashed Epic Yoga’s martial-arts inspired Red Sun Yoga class last week and liked it so much I went back to try their popular barre yoga. My previous post features a full photo tour of the gorgeous Epic Yoga studio space and has more information about the instructor, Emma – so be sure to check it out!

According to Epic Yoga’s website, the barre yoga class is a “yoga-based class that incorporates ballet barre work, cardio and Pilates.” The reality is that it’s a yoga class first and foremost. The real difference happens when the class turns up the heat by adding in classical ballet moves like relevés, tendus, and thigh burning pliés. Have you ever tried doing chair pose while on your toes? Or spring from a lizzard lunge into a one legged relevé? Exactly. The ballet just amplifies and adds to what is already a challenging and fun practice.

Don’t be intimidated by the fancy French terms. Yogis with no dance experience will feel right at home, as Emma has seamlessly integrated all of the ballet moves into basic yoga sequences. If you can flow your way through a guided sun salutation, you’ll be just fine. But don’t think that means you’ll feel comfortable. Even without any barre work or the familiar yell of “tuck! tuck! tuck!” you’ll hear in other traditional barre classes, this class is sure to break a sweat. I was shaking within the first 15 minutes as we started in on side planks, lunges, and leg extensions. I thought it was a really fun way to switch things up, and made me acutely aware of how far I have to go on increasing my flexibility and grace.

Two things I really liked about this second visit to Epic Yoga:

  1. They are now offering lavender and peppermint infused cold towels after class – similar to my obsession at Biker Barre. I wish this blog had smell-o-vision so you could get a good whiff. These are oh so wonderfully refreshing after a sweaty class. Hooray!
  2. The women’s locker room was much warmer than the first time I crashed. The space heaters were blazing and it was nice and toasty. My toes thank you, Epic Yoga!

My friend Amy stopped by after work to join me for this crash (thanks Amy!). We try to meet up every week or so for a workout date, and the 8 p.m. yoga barre class was a great fit for our schedules this time around. By the end of class, however, we were both starved for dinner and needed to refuel. Luckily there’s a Sweetgreen just a few blocks away from the studio – one of our favorite spots for a quick and healthy bite. Yum!

I have an unfettered obsession with their Santorini salad, so despite the excellent choices and the delicious sounding seasonal salad on the menu, I caved and went with my stand by. But I’m not totally boring! This time I branched out by adding in some warm grains and avocado. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.


Would you try the barre yoga class or stick to the traditional barre method?


*Epic Yoga waived my walk-in fee, but opinions are entirely my own.

Red Sun Yoga @ Epic Yoga


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

bring: yourself

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.

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.

Class

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!

Instructor: 

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.

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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.