ROW 1: CITY ROW; RUNNING; DANCEBODY; ROW 2: DOGPOUND; PURE YOGA; SWTICH PLAYGROUND; ROW 3: EXHALE CFX; RUMBLE; DEUCE GYM
Happy New Year everyone and welcome to The 31 Days of Fitness! Every January your editor embarks on a crazy adventure, and does a different workout or takes a different fitness class everyday all month long. My objective? To show our readers how many different exercise options are out there and that there are no excuses not to get in shape this 2017! The holidays have been fun but it’s time to get our butts back in gear as this new year begins. There is a workout for everyone out there — running, spinning, boxing, rowing, Crossfit, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), pole dancing, yoga, pilates, and more — and I’m going to sample them all this month! I’m determined to find the workout for you — not just one you’ll do, but one you will actually enjoy!
January 31: BODY BY BOB. That’s it folks… the 31 Days of Fitness are officially a wrap! Back in NYC, we went out with a bang on Day 31, with a grand finale featuring none other than super trainer Bob Harper! Yes, “Biggest Loser” fans, THE Bob Harper, and let me tell you something… believe the hype! This guy gets star billing for a reason. He is a super motivator. Sampling some of the flavors of workouts I’ve done so far, with a few I hadn’t tasted yet, Bob whipped up an all-out, full-blast circuit of high intensity moves that kicked my butt after one round. Then he kept me going for 3 more rounds, coaching and inspiring me to drop my time too! Borrowing from Gymnastics, CrossFit, and HIIT workouts, the stations went from the Woodway Curve (cool to run on that self propelled treadmill again after Speedplay on Day 29); to Parallette Shoot Thrus (parallel bars on floor with leg swings to front and back); to the Schwinn Airdyne bike (told you it was back); to Thrusters (barbell squats with overhead press); to Sprawlers (burpees without the push-up); to Kettlebell swings.
So you’re thinking… lucky you, you got a one-on-one with Bob Harper, BUT you can feel like The Biggest Loser too! Bob teaches his signature class Body By Bob twice a week at Brick New York, a CrossFit Gym with hybrid classes too, that I visited on Day 13. Also online is Daily Burn Black Fire, a 60-day, at home workout program.
So what’s the takeaway after 31 straight days of different classes? There are endless fitness options available and a community of people enjoying all these different workouts. Almost everywhere I went the classes were full with folks who had found their thing and found their tribe. It’s a word I hear a lot in fitness, but if you find a workout you enjoy, with people you enjoy working out with, chances are you’re going to keep going. I’m often asked which workouts I like the best, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s about what YOU like best. I hope at least one of these 31 plus workouts I demoed this month is the one for you!
I will also sign off with one piece of advice, when you try a class for the first time, don’t go all out. Go slow and get a feel for the moves and routines. That’s what kept me in one piece. Then kick ass the next time you go back!
January 30: LAGREE FITNESS. Lagree is known as the manufacturer of the Megaformer machines seen at boutique Pilates studios like SLT (Day 16). The Supraformer is their latest iteration of the machine, a patent-pending piece of equipment that takes the popular souped-up Pilates workouts to the next level. Like a flight simulator that rises and tilts, so does the Supra, for a workout so intense classes are only 25 minutes long. Currently the Supra can only be used at Lagree Fitness in West Hollywood in a large storefront studio filled with these machines. With darkened windows and theatrically lit, the space is not like the bright and airy studios I’ve visited thus far in LA, but it does match the Darth Vadar-like aesthetic of the machine.
The problem with the 25-minute workout in LA, and I’ve been to three under 30 minutes, is its going to take you twice as long to get there. No doubt the Supra workout was hard. In fact, it was almost too hard, as the instructor controlled the tilt on the machine to the point where I could barely move its sliding parts. I was told it takes a while to get used to it, but in a 25-minute workout, who has time for that? Instructors don’t seem to demo any more, and instead call out moves, and this would have been helpful, again to maximize the minimal time.
All that being said, the workout is a work in progress, and I was told Lagree is refining the class. It’s sort of a demo program right now, and I think once they work out the kinks, it will be a super-fast, super-charged workout. Now what to do about LA traffic! www.lagreefitnessstudio.com
Janauary 29: SPEEDPLAY. Located on the rooftop of an office building on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills is Speedplay, a high intensity interval training workout. The class is not that dissimilar from other HIIT workouts I’ve done this month, with alternating run, row, and floorwork intervals, except this one let’s you do it outdoors – pretty awesome on a sunny Day 29 morning! Outside astroturf wraps around a patio like studio, and inside faces out to a 360 degree view of the city.
Also unique to Speedplay is the use of the Woodway Curve treadmill, which I had never seen before. Non-motorized with a slight downward arc, this treadmill is self-powered and much more difficult than a regular treadmill, even for this runner. As such so was the workout! In spite of the familiar HIIT routine, Speedplay worked me in a whole new way this morning and the location can’t be beat! www.speedplayla.com
January 28: modelFIT. Recently opened in LA is modelFIT, which has been very popular with NYC’s beautiful people since supermodel Karlie Kloss started crediting her physique to the workout on Instagram. She is long and lean as models must be, and this workout is designed to create that aesthetic. Aerobic or dance intervals, are alternated with toning exercises. The movements are tight and controlled, so as not to build bulk, moving slowly through multiple planes of motion and targeting the small, stabilizing muscle groups all over the body.
I’ve worked out at the model filled modelFIT in New York at their gorgeous studio on Bowery (yes, Karlie Kloss was there). Sunlight streams into the bright tin ceilinged loft space, that is offset with rich dark wood floors. The LA studio has a similar look and feel. modelFIT hasn’t quite caught on here yet, and I found myself in a relatively empty Saturday 8am Cardio Sculpt class, similar in format but less energized than yesterday’s packed Body by Simone class. The timing is unfortunate because it’s hard not to make comparisons. It’s a crowded fitness landscape in LA and though it was a solid toning workout, it wasn’t distinctive enough for me. A supermodel spotting would have helped. Karlie… where are you when we need you? www.modelfit.com
DEUCE GYM, LEFT, AND BODY BY SIMONE
January 27: DEUCE GYM. Located in a former garage on Lincoln Blvd. in Venice is Deuce Gym. With equipment both indoors and out, this dirty, grungy, no frills gym, is as cool as it gets. I first met owner and head coach, Logan Gelbrich, on an XPT Experience, the 3-day sports performance clinic hosted by Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton. Having done “strongman” training with him there, where we learned to lift and run with very heavy, odd shaped objects like Atlas Stones and sandbags, I was very curious to check out his gym.
Strongman training is functional training which is the basis of Crossfit. The Deuce Gym “General Physical Preparedness” program is Deuce’s CrossFit and is designed to build the most broad and inclusive fitness possible. I took the GPP class this morning, which after about a 15-minute warm-up consisted simply of a continual 25-minute circuit of 10 Muscle Ups, 20 Handstand Push Ups, 30 Pull Ups, 40 Kettle Bell swings, 50 Burpees. No, I can’t do Muscle Ups (too complicated to explain) or Handstand Push Ups, but the program is created to be scalable for all fitness levels. For each move I couldn’t do, there was an easier variation I could do, and a foundation upon which to build.
The Deuce workout is the functional basis of sports performance for which power, speed, and flexibility are required and a fit body is a result. So are dirty hands, but that’s what happens when you train like a badass outside in the back lot of a garage. www.deucegym.com
BODY BY SIMONE. From a garage gym in Venice to a sunlight filled studio in West Hollywood I went next for the Full Body class at Body By Simone. What everyone now calls Dance Cardio is what we used to call Aerobics in the 90’s, which I’m happy to say is alive and well, and as popular at ever Body By Simone. Intervals of kicks, jumps, turns, shuffles – led by head instructor Erica, to a jam of current pop favorites – kept the energy and heart rate high during alternating intervals of total body toning exercises. Though my glutes burned, as I did those donkey kicks, ankle weights strapped on, I was filled with happy memories of Body by Gilda and Molly Fox. All those moves I remember are still just as effective as ever and in that cheerful sunny class, just as fun too. Body By Simone has 2 locations in LA and 1 in NYC too. www.bodybysimone.com
January 26: RISE NATION. I must admit I was dreading this class. I was having flashbacks to the 90’s and the Versaclimber facing the wall in the corner of the gym. There were only a few of them. They stood there empty, daring you to climb on, knowing you wouldn’t. The Versaclimber was all work and no play and it was HARD!
Look what’s back and a now has a whole class designed around it! Rise Nation is a new LA boutique fitness studio that features a Versaclimber workout. Set in your trendy nightclub like studio is a room full of these upright machines arranged in a friendly semi-circular formation. While the equipment remains the same, the song does not, and this class climbs to the music with different speed and stride intervals. Make no mistake though. This is still just as tough of a workout! At least now it’s more fun.
VersaClimbing is such a challenging and effective workout because it combines both lower and upper body movement into one upright climbing motion. It targets every part of the body for both a cardio and strength workout. As such, it get’s the job done fast. The best part of this class is it’s only 30 minutes long! www.rise-nation.com
January 25: LIT METHOD. Kicked off my LA workouts this morning with a bang at LIT! On Day 25, it is so nice finding something different to keep me going in the homestretch! LIT is a rowing based workout, but offers so much more and lots of toys to keep you entertained! In a beautifully designed, white high ceiling studio, are glowing water rowers (they’re spot lit red), with custom designed resistance band stations. Hanging from the ceiling are TRX and elastics — all of which get utilized in this super-charged 50-minute workout. Class moves from exercise to exercise, alternating between rowing and strength, and specifically targeting every part of the body at a fast pace that guarantees a big cardio burn too. Foam rollers are used both as workout and recovery tools.
LIT Method is only based in LA right now, but has just launched the LIT KIT that features variations of the equipment featured at the studio. No rower included, but this all-inclusive contains all the gear and instructional programming you need for a high intensity, low impact home workout. Something tells me we’ll be seeing LIT in NYC soon too… I hope so anyway! http://www.litmethod.com/
THE DAILEY METHOD. With only a week in LA and so many workouts to try, I doubled up today with another “Method”, The Dailey Method, for Dailey Fusion, a cardio + barre combo class. The Dailey Method was the original ballet barre fitness class in California and now has more than 60 studios across the country. I scooted over to the Venice location, just off the very hip Abbot Kenney Blvd, to a white washed, sunlit, warehouse like space. Barre is not fun. It’s work, hard work, but in this cheerful airy studio, I’d be happy doing anything.
The focus of The Dailey Method barre is postural alignment attained through a combination of exercises that sample from dance, yoga, kinesiology, and Pilates. Movements are small and focused, sometimes just inches, relentlessly focusing on that sweet spot of muscle tension for a non-stop burn and total body workout. Results are the ultimate motivator, and in this 4:30 class, filled with toned and dedicated regulars, it appears that is just what they’re getting. www.daileymethod.com
January 24: TEMESCAL CANYON HIKE. It’s Day 24 and I’ve brought 31 Days of Fitness to LA for the week! I’ll be hitting all the fitness hotspots with not just one, but two-a-day workouts, to check out as many classes as I can at places like Rise Nation, Lit Method, Deuce Gym, Body By Simone, The Dailey Method, and Speedplay, just to name a few!
LA is known not just for its indoor fitness, but outdoor too, most notably the easy access hiking trails of the Santa Monica Mountains. In fact, you can now hike 67 miles uninterrupted on the Backbone Trail which stretches from Point Mugu State Park to Will Rogers State Historic Park. I hoofed it over to Temescal Canyon, fresh off the plane this afternoon, thinking a hike would be the perfect LA workout after a long flight. Temescal Gateway Park encompass 141 acres of oak and sycamore canyons, ridge top views, and access to miles of trails in Topanga State Park, Will Rogers State Historic Park, and the 20,000-acre “Big Wild.” The popular loop trail starts adjacent to the Temescal Creek and travels along the canyon ridge, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. While I was expecting a scenic stroll up the mountain, this was a far more intense than I expected, and had me high stepping my way up the steep and narrow Temescal Ridge Trail, glutes a-firing! So much for easing my way in…
January 23: RIPPED FITNESS. HIITing it again on Day 23 and this time at the new kid on the block, Ripped Fitness. With one location in Rye Brook, NY, the Upper East Side location in Manhattan opened just a few months ago. Judging by how many HIIT workouts and studios there are, these classes have become so popular because they give you maximum results in minimal time. The Ripped workout itself is not dramatically different from a Barry’s Bootcamp (Day 20) or Orange Theory (Day 4), with your alternating high intensity treadmill and floorwork segments, but Ripped has managed to get some VIP instructors on the schedule and in a more intimate setting. If you were a fan of Bravo’s reality show, “Workout New York”, two of the featured trainers, Courtney Paul and Lena Marti, teach at Ripped! I’ve taken class with both who are great, and worked out with Lena again this morning. Part Italian, part Puerto Rican, Queens born and bred, Lena puts together a fun mix of tough moves, delivered with a straight forward, no BS, New Yorker attitude that makes you want to work hard. What’s nice about Ripped is it’s not a scene, like many of the hot boutique fitness studios, and simply offers a kick-ass workout – 50 minutes, in, out, you’re done! www.rippedfit.com
January 20: ZUMBA. Zumba, like Jazzercise, is one of those workouts that has been around forever — well, early 90’s. Billed as a dance fitness party, Zumba takes what was once known as low impact aerobics, and adds a latin vibe to the mix. I’ve never tried it and figured with its continued popularity, it had to be pretty good and a fun class for Day 22. Unfortunately, it was neither. While the Macarena is indeed Latin, “if that’s the second song and this class is an hour”, I thought to myself, “I’m not going to last long.” it was 15 minutes to be exact.
There has been a lot of great Latin music and exercise trends since the 90’s, but this workout was stuck in time when “grapevines” were the big move. And though I’m sure it’s not PC to say this, but exercise instructors can’t be overweight. To be fair, NYC is not a big Zumba market with all the hip new classes on the fitness scene. This one was empty and that’s never fun, but I will say the few that were there seemed to be enjoying it… almost like they didn’t know there were any other options out there.
January 21: UFC GYM. Unlike the designer boxing gyms I’ve been to thus far, like Shadowbox and Rumble, where the intent is not to actually get in the ring and fight, the UFC Gym workout has a different focus. It is no frills and hardcore, and though your goal may just be fitness, you’re gonna learn how to throw a punch and a kick that’s meant to really hurt someone.
UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship and this is how notorious Mixed Martial Arts athletes like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor — two of the biggest names in what has become a hot sport — train for strength, speed and stamina. I took the Fight Fit class this morning, a 60-minute workout that before class began the instructor told us would be broken down into 3 sections: 20-minute warm-up; 20-minute bag work; 20-minute circuit workout. He pointed out where the bathroom and warned us not to puke on the floor. “Uh-oh”, I thought. He also told us to pace ourselves, advice I took on Day 21 with 10 more days to go.
The warm-up was divided into 30-second non-stop intervals that included functional training moves like push-ups, burpees, lunges, squats, planks, and mountain climbers. The bag work section was fairly straight forward, with your jab, cross, hook combos, but with some elbows and kicks thrown in, and thrown hard. The circuit moved from heavy bag to heavy bag with punch and kick combos, and a few slam ball stations as well. Most unique, however, were the two horizontal bags on the floor, which we pinned and straddled and proceded to elbow and hammer punch in the face. Funny how enjoyable that is when you imagine someone you don’t like.
UFC Gym has locations all over the country and a variety of different fight based classes. If you’ve got some aggression to get out, the UFC Gym is for you! www.ufcgym.com
January 20: BARRY’S BOOTCAMP. Day 20 has me at the original HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout, the tried and true, Barry’s Bootcamp! Since 1998 and now with locations all over the country, Barry’s Bootcamp has been one of the most popular boutique fitness studios and workouts, and boasts 1000 calories burned per class. In a dark nightclub like studio, which is the thing these days, I felt that burn in their signature hour-long workout, that alternated between 2 segments of intense treadmill intervals (Woodway… the best!) and 2 segments of intense strength training.
Each day at Barry’s is dedicated to different parts of the body, like Arms & Abs or Butt & Legs, on a set schedule, although you’ll always get a full body workout based on the core focus of the moves. Today’s workout happened to be Full Body, which it is every Friday, and what was indeed worked from top to bottom with running speedwork, squats, lunges, dumbell rows, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, chest presses, done at a pace that had my heart rate high and calories burning throughout the workout…. and after. One of the advantages of HIIT training, fitness experts cite, is a faster metabolism that leads to calorie and fat burn that continues for 24 hours following the workout. Let’s hope it did, because there is an awesome smoothie bar. Think I earned that Peanut Butter protein shake! www.barrysbootcamp.com
January 19: CHRISTINE DE ALMEIDA AT THE LOEWS REGENCY NEW YORK. When Julien Farel, the namesake of the Julien Farel Salon & Spa at the Regency Hotel here in NYC, offers, or “challenges” you to work out with the head trainer at the hotel gym he oversees, how can you say no? So there I was this morning with the hotel guests and a few NYC regulars, for a one-on-one session with Master Trainer, Christine De Almeida. Feeling a bit beat up on Day 19, the timing was perfect and a personal training session was exactly what the fitness doctor ordered.
Christine has a roster of clients, both in and out-of-towners, for whom she creates customized workouts depending on their needs and requests. Mine was no jumping please! She had read the previous 18 Days of workouts, and proposed an active recovery session – the focus on “active” – concentrating on balance and flexibility. That sounded perfect! Utilizing resistance bands, the Bosu ball, glider discs, and a weighted vest, all at once and individually, Christine put me through the paces with a series of balance, stretching, core stability and power moves that were super tough and unlike anything I’ve done so far this month.
Now lucky me that I get to work out with a personal trainer at a hotel gym in NYC, but what about you? Above are 3 moves we did that you can try too, at home or at the gym. And if you are in town, and looking for a personal trainer, contact Christine at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. BOSU BALL SWITCHES WITH BATTLE ROPE: Start with right leg on Bosu ball, jump switch over to left, and thrust both ropes down with force. Repeat 10 times.
2. BOSU BALL 1 LEG BALANCE: With right leg in center of flat side of Bosu balance for 30 seconds with left knee up. Switch and repeat 2 more times. If that’s too difficult, try with rounded side first.
3. BOSU BALL PULL DOWNS: With both feet on flat side of Bosu, at Cybex or similar machine, start with arms out in front and pull cables towards you. Try 3 sets of 15. Can be done with bicep curls too. To make more difficult try balancing on 1 leg.
January 18: RUMBLE. The newest addition to the NYC boxing fitness scene, and arguably the hottest workout in town — judging by the looks of the crowd and trainers — is at Rumble. It’s boxing meets Barry’s Bootcamp, not surprising as Rumble was co-founded by Noah Neiman (above), a former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and also former cast member of BRAVO’s “Work Out New York”. I took a packed class with him this morning, impressive as the studio just opened last week, and some of the most attractive and fit young people I’ve ever seen in one class. Noah isn’t too hard on the eyes either, but he is there to make you work, which he does with vigor for 50 minutes straight in this all out, strength and conditioning workout.
At the center of the Rumble class is a water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bag, but this boxing workout integrates HIIT training into the routine. Like Barry’s Bootcamp, Orange Theory, Ripped and other popular HIIT workouts, the class alternates between cardio intervals and high intensity floor work, with weights, plyometrics and other full body moves centered around a step. At Rumble, however, instead of treadmills and rowers, are boxing intervals or “rounds”, consisting of different jab, cross, hook, uppercut punch combinations. The bags are rubber, so instead of absorbing your punches, there is a nice kick back.
Like Shadowbox, which I checked out Day 12, your grungy boxing gym has been replaced by a new modern aesthetic and Rumble is urban chic meets street style: from the unique bags themselves that hang in the nightclub lit studio; all white boxing gloves and Keith Haring inspired graphics on wraps; the Basquiat in the lobby; and black and white photographs of boxing and Hollywood legends that plaster the walls like wallpaper. You are only as good as your workout however, and Rumble knocked me out with this sweaty, fun and high powered class. www.rumble-boxing.com
January 17: EXHALE SPA. Invited by a friend, I showed up at Exhale Spa this morning ready to check out Core Fusion Extreme. Expecting an amped up Barre class, which I was already dreading as I suck at even amped down Barre, I would soon find out this class was in fact known as “CFX”, a super charged circuit training workout. With nothing but the Stan Smith’s I walked in (not advised for HIIT training!), I jumped into this whirlwind of a class. Led by a lithe little powerhouse named Bergen Wheeler (right, up top), a former dancer who created the program and is the national director of core fusion talent development at Exhale, the class moved through 5 power stations — two rounds, with two exercises at each — that included TRX, weights, gliders, plyo-boxes, and core balls. The pace was non-stop with active recovery breaks added in between that kept my heart rate pumping the whole class.
Exhale Spa has locations all over the country, as well as Bermuda and Turks & Caicos, and offers a wide variety of barre, yoga, and cardio classes, in addition to full roster of spa treatments. I could use one of the latter right now! Just be sure you know which is which before you sign up. Proper footwear is recommended! www.exhalespa.com
January 16: SLT. Back on the Pilates Reformer, or “Megaformer”, as it is called at SLT, for Day 16. SLT stands for Strenthen, Lenghten, and Tone and that’s exactly what this class did for 50 non-stop minutes. SLT is a full body Pilates workout, done with the assistance and resistance of the weighted springs of the apparatus. It requires constant engagement of the core — aided by the popularity of the plank in this class! As I’ve discussed before with Pilates classes, these seemingly calm workouts are extremely challenging because your muscles are kept in contraction, often isometric (uh… burning!), for the entire class. The moves are performed slowly at SLT in order activate the deep, slow-twitch muscle fibers for elongated and toned results you instantly feel. It left my body quivering, as Pilates does every time, and hit those obliques and inner thighs in ways I find no other workout does.
SLT classes are small, with 12 Megaformer spots per class, so the workout feels very intimate. I would have loved a bit more instruction, as I feel so out of my element in Pilates, but maybe I’m starting to look like I know what I’m doing. SLT has multiple locations in the Tri-state area, including the cheerful sunlit room of the Upper East Side studio where I took class today. www.sltnyc.com
January 15: IRONSTRENGTH. Day 15 took me down to Hub Seventeen for one of Dr. Jordan Metzl’s notorious Ironstrength workouts. Dr. Jordan Metzl is a renowned sports medicine physician and best selling author, a 31 time marathon runner and 12 time Ironman triathlete, who created the Ironstrength workout as functional strength training for injury prevention and performance enhancement. We’ve featured Ironstrength previously, and what began with just a few people joining Dr. Metzl on free bi-monthly group workouts has exploded into massive flash mob style workouts held all over NYC in such locations as the bandshell in Central Park, the plaza at Lincoln Center, and the flight deck of The Intrepid!
Now anyone can do these Ironstrength workouts at home with the release of his newest workout DVD, The New Ironstrength Workout. It has three 20-minute and two 30-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, and we demoed one of each this morning. One would have been plenty! Both packed a whole lot of workout into a short amount of time — the 20 minute workout in particular — with multiple sets of jumping jacks, jump squats, burpees, mountain climbers, push ups, planks and a few other total body moves, like his infamous “Ring of Fire”, a multi-directional squat/lunge combo. Luckily with so much packed in and the non-stop pace, it was over before I knew what HIIT me!
January 14: Y7 HIP HOP YOGA. For those who want a little less “ohm” and little more funk in their yoga class, Y7 is the place for you! As their website says, at Y7 they do things differently. It’s yoga with a non-stop flow, done in a hot and dark, candlelit room, with a hip hop soundtrack. I took the “WeFlowHard” class, and that we did! Divided into 3 sections of 3 different flows or routines, each was done slow to get the flow, then on a 1 breath 1 move flow, and finally go at your own flow. It was an intense 60 minutes of heat and sweat, that felt a bit more like a strength and toning class, and didn’t take itself so seriously as most yoga classes do. While some may want a bit more of a traditional practice, Hip Hop Yoga was the jam for me! I took Nick Neglia’s class on the Upper East Side which was full at 11:30 on a Saturday morning, so I guess others must agree. Y7 has multiple locations in NYC and 1 in West Hollywood, CA. www.y7-studio.com
January 13: BRICK B|FIT. Brick has locations in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, as well as 2 in NYC, and is well-known for their CrossFit programs. CrossFit is defined as “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity”. It is a hardcore no-frills workout that incorporates functional training, body weight moves, and Olympic weightlifting. While immensely popular, it can be intimidating for a lot of people — nor is it the type of workout you can just jump into on a 31 Day fitness challenge. The B|Fit class at Brick, however, takes many of the moves you might perform in CrossFit, plus more, and integrates them into a fast-paced circuit training class.
Like in CrossFit, the workout is written out on a dry board in advance. The class I took this Day 13 morning was broken down into 3 sections — warm-up, strength, and conditioning – with an average of 4 exercises in each, performed on timed intervals. Pull-ups (real ones with band assistance available), mountain climbers, Schwinn Airdyne (it’s back!) cycling intervals, ring rows, kettlebell swings, burpees (of course), and Olympic deadlifts, were just a few of the exercises included in this jam-packed workout. It had that badass CrossFit feel in a more friendly and familiar format.
If you’ve been curious about CrossFit, B|Fit at Brick is a great way to get a little sampling. With a mix of strength and conditioning, lots of equipment to play with, and different workouts everyday, you might even catch that CrossFit bug too. www.brickspt.com
January 12: SHADOWBOX. Day 12 has me hittin’ the heavy bag at Shadowbox, one of the boutique boxing studios that has become a part of the fitness landscape in NYC. We reviewed them all in Best Of The Box. A beautifully designed space, Shadowbox is the opposite of your grungy boxing gym. A light flooded, street level studio welcomes you, staged with a vintage white washed ring where private workouts take place. The vibe changes as you enter a cool, dimly blue lit room, hung with about 40 heavy bags, on and around which class takes place.
The workout consists of intense shadowboxing and heavy bag work. After a warm-up and some basic instruction on different punches, the 45-minute class is broken down into intervals of roughly 3 minute rounds, hitting the heavy bag with a series of jab, cross, hook and upper cut combinations. There is no sitting in the corner in between rounds, however, nor any rest at all, with total body moves like push-ups, planks, jumping jacks and burpees thrown in the sweaty mix. This is a non-stop cardio and strength workout, that hits every body part, in particular the middle I noticed — obliques and abs, with all the twists from punching. It feels good to hit things, and I did throw a few punches with extra oomph at imaginary faces on the bag. Knocked ‘em out too! www.shadowboxnyc.com
January 11: YAMUNA BODY ROLLING. With 10 tough days behind me, and 20 more ahead, I was feeling the need for a mellow workout today. As I mentioned on Day 5, I’m a member of Pure Yoga and thought I’d see what restorative classes they had on the schedule. Yamuna Body Rolling (YBR) is not something I would ever normally do, especially for 75 minutes (oy!), but with the description, “the instructor takes you systematically through the entire body, elongating muscles, releasing your spine, improving alignment, deepening your breathing, and increasing your relaxation response”, this seemed like the perfect active recovery for Day 11!
Yamuna uses a set of 5 different sized soft rubber balls to roll out different muscles, targeting the fascia, tendons, ligaments, bones, and internal organs for a self-massaging treatment. Class was focused on the hip and pelvis area, as well as the spine, shoulders, and abdomen – in other words, we pretty much hit it all (there is a separate class just for the feet). I’ve used tennis and lacrosse balls to roll out sore muscles and trigger points, which can be pretty painful. This was a far gentler approach, that did indeed increase my relaxation response — so much so I really could have fallen asleep. That would not have been a workout, however. My body felt quite loose after class and ready to keep going the 31 Day distance! Yamuna classes are available at studios all over the country. Click here to find one near you. www.yamunausa.com.
January 10: SWITCH PLAYGROUND. Disco? Gym? Party? It’s all of the above on Day 10 at Switch Playground, a brand new workout on the NYC fitness scene. Imagine walking into a nightclub — music pumping, lights flashing, DJ spinning — but instead of dance floor there is a training floor with treadmills, kettlebells, plyo boxes, TRX, rowers, battle ropes, and lots more, set up in a circuit training workout. This is Switch Playground, a South Africa import that is completely different from anything else out there.
Enter the hazy blue lit studio and class starts with about 5 minutes of yoga, the perfect warmup for body and mind. There are 20 cardio and strength stations. 2 minutes are spent at each, divided into 30 second intervals of one or two exercises, with hunky trainers (known to get shirtless) to guide you through the moves. The class moves along like a speed train and you won’t know what hit you, but guaranteed you’ll be smiling! This is fitness as entertainment and it’s a blast, but don’t be deceived, you’re gonna get worked! www.switchplayground.com
January 9: FLEX STUDIOS. FLEX offers Pilates, Barre and TRX classes, all of which we experienced in one class in our WOW: Working Out With The Men of Wilhelmina feature last May. For Day 9, I just went for the twofer Flex 30/30 Barre/Pilates class, an action-packed 1 hour combo, divided into two 30 minute sections.
FLEX classes are distinctive for their fast pace, so the slow movements one associates with Barre and Pilates classes are amped up. This Barre class felt more athletic to me, with bigger moves and range of motion, as opposed to the smaller isolated moves of Pure Barre. Though more in my comfort zone, it was still totally tough! Perhaps the most difficult was a series of plank moves done with your feet on a towel, pulling the legs in and out and side to side. Happily after 30 minutes, it was on to Pilates.
Like in Barre class, which I discussed on Day 7, there is no place hide in Pilates, whose apparatus by design, keeps your muscles in constant contraction even when you’re not moving. It gets me every time! Despite my strength, there I was quivering and shaking on that Reformer, forced to use those smaller glute, obliques and abductor muscles, whose weakness was revealed. What I love about Pilates is how you feel like you’re stretching while you’re working out. The tension of the springs and pulleys naturally elongate the muscles. Like the Barre segment, the Pilates pace was fast, and despite the non-stop burn, this 30 minutes flew by too. I really do suck at Pilates, and must give a shout out to the instructor, Mary. She patiently corrected my form and kept me going, despite honestly wanting to stop and rest. No rest for the weary! www.flexstudios.com
January 8: DANCEBODY. Week 1 is done! Day 8 had me gettin’ my groove on at DanceBody, a dance cardio workout created by dancers that does not require you be one. DanceBody doesn’t have its own facility yet (coming soon), but classes take place at various dance studios throughout NYC, giving it a real deal, authentic feel. I took “Follow Along”, billed as an intro class for all levels, and perfect for newbies like me fearful of getting lost in fancy footwork. With hot jams pumping from artists like Bruno Mars, Rhianna, and Drake, we followed along with the instructor as she covered the studio in series of dance based, high-energy, front and back, up and down, and side to side moves. It was a 40-minute non-stop cardio workout, that if you don’t want to run, spin, or row, is a really fun alternative and engages the entire body. Cardio was followed by about 15 minutes of sculpting moves with a similar funky feel.
There is not a lot of choreography in “Follow Along”, as compared with other Dancebody classes that feature real dance routines, broken down and taught step by step, targeting different levels of dancers. The intro class gave me a little flavor of that and I think I’m ready to take to the next level. Look out Beyonce… SOS is comin’ for ya! www.dancebody.com
January 7: PURE BARRE. It never ceases to amaze me how friggin’ hard barre class is! I can muscle my way through most workouts, but there is no place to hide at the barre. Those tiny moves are so deceptive, because they are done in a position of constant contraction, isolating the little muscles that the big ones usually compensate for. Day 7 found me at Pure Barre, working them all from head to toe, with exercises at the barre and on the mat, designed to lengthen and tone, with balls, bands and hand weights. It was a non-stop 50 minute leg, butt, abs and arm workout I couldn’t wait to end – not because I didn’t like it, but because I was dying! Definitely a fish out of water, feeling like a football player in ballet class, I couldn’t believe the ease with which the others in class seemed to be getting through the workout.
Pure Barre has many locations all over the country, multiple in Manhattan, and I’d like to give a shout out to the instructor Jacqueline Shea at the Upper East Side location, who didn’t know Style of Sport was in the house. The class was packed at noon on a snowy day in NYC – a good indication of its popularity! – yet she attentively corrected my form. Though I wouldn’t call the workout fun, it most definitely got the job done, and judging by how good most everyone’s ass looked in that room, Pure Barre must be working! www.purebarre.com
January 6: THE DOGPOUND. Day 6 has me “smashing it”, literally and figuratively, at The Dogpound, which has quickly become NYC’s hottest gym. A favorite of many a fashion model, Victoria’s Secret Angels in particular, it was originally conceived by actor Hugh Jackman as a workout group of NYC’s VIPs, who shared a particularly intense fitness mindset. They called themselves “The Dogpound”, an homage to Jackman’s bulldog who was ever-present at their workouts. We featured the crew a couple of years ago in WOW: Working Out With Nigel Barker. Now with their own space in Tribeca, and you don’t have to receive a special invite to join.
With a garage-meets-nightclub feel, The Dogpound offers both personal training and group fitness classes, all focused on their signature “Smash It” philosophy. This means literally hitting things, like tires with sledge hammers, and just generally crushing a workout. There is also a boxing ring in the middle of the space. I had an absolute blast getting my butt kicked for a jam packed hour, playing with all the toys. Besides the sledge hammer, there are Battle Ropes, Bosu Balls, Ultraslide boards, medicine balls, plyometric boxes, and more – to go along with your tried and true lunges, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, etc. Oh am I gonna be sore tomorrow! www.thedogpound.com
January 5: VINYASA YOGA. My plan today was to take a Hot Slow Flow yoga class. Done in a room of about 100 degrees, with flowing poses held longer than in a Power Yoga or Ashtanga class, I thought it would be the perfect workout on a very cold Day 5. I wanted to loosen up from the previous 4 days and get ready for the days ahead. I really don’t like yoga, as I wrote about in “The Six Things I Hate About Yoga“, but feel it’s important to do something stretchy to balance out all the running and spinning I do.
I’m a member of Pure Yoga, where they have every kind of yoga class on the schedule. I saw there was a Hot Slow Flow “Community Class” at 2:30, meaning it was being taught by a teacher in training. Yoga is a completely instructor driven workout (or should I say “practice”) and it’s always risky to go with the unknown, but I figured how bad could it be? Well… it was unbearable. It was slow — really really slow — and there was no flow. As we lay there, yes just laid there, as instructed for the first 15 minutes, breathing in and breathing out, while being told to relax in an accent as heavy as Kristin Wig’s Alexanya Atoz in Zoolander, I found the opposite was happening. A tension came over my body that continued to build until I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to leave.
Back I was at 4pm for a Vinyasa class. While there was nothing revolutionary or surprising here, my goal of stretching for an hour was achieved. Vinyasa is characterized by a series of flowing poses. Though I would have liked the added heat factor of a Hot Yoga to really loosen up, it was a solid class that covered all your basic Warriors, Chaturangas, Up and Down Dogs. As instructor preference is really such a personal thing, I don’t want to judge. It wasn’t the best class, it wasn’t the worst. There are other instructors at Pure Yoga I love like Halle Becker and Tanya Boulton, and I’d rather give them shout outs. Wish that one of them had been teaching today! www.pureyoga.com
January 4: ORANGE THEORY. There are Orange Theory studios located all over the country, and Day 4 brought me down to West 23rd st. in Manhattan for a 60-minute workout that’s like a whole bunch of classes rolled into one. Running, rowing, TRX, Bosu, plyometrics, floorwork, weights and more, Orange Theory is heart rate based interval training designed to get us into what they call the fat burning Orange Zone. Everyone wears a heart rate monitor that’s synced up with bright and graphic monitors visible throughout the studio, the goal of which is hitting and maintaining that sweet spot target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. Backed by the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC), Orange Theory calls it the “afterburn”, that keeps burning calories for up to 36 hours after the workout is done.
Similar to a Barry’s Bootcamp kind of workout, that alternates between treadmill intervals and high intensity floorwork, Orange Theory also throws rowing intervals into the mix to keep the heart rate up and calories burning throughout class. Exercises are displayed on monitors, with variations for different fitness levels, making it very easy to follow along. The class is different everyday, rotating between power, strength and endurance themed classes, all of which are fast paced and tough. Top-of-the-line equipment, popular radio jams, and smart instructors who focus on the training, not motivational speaking (thank you!), make Orange Theory one of my favorite all around total body workouts. www.orangetheoryfitness.com
January 3: SOULCYCLE. Here on home turf for Day 3! SoulCycle is a major part of my weekly fitness regimen, and feeling a bit sore from the last 2 days, I decided to go with the workout I know and some straight up cardio sweat with my favorite instructor, Stacey Griffith. Still wanting to bump it up for the 31 Days of Craziness, I went for the “double” – a phenomenon for which we regulars are known — taking not just one, but two classes in a row. Check out our WOW: Working Out With Kelly Ripa for more on that.
Now don’t get me wrong, one SoulCycle class is plenty, and this 45-minute cycling workout gets the job done with sweat and smiles to boot! Music pumping, class is ridden to the rhythm of the song, so you’re movin’ and groovin’ and dancing on that bike. As much time is spent out of the saddle as in, with some very basic choreography moves like “tap backs”, “quick fires”, and “deep single ups” that work the core muscles too. To complete the total body package, one song is dedicated to upper body, with hand weights and a variety of fast paced toning exercises.
So if you’re looking for a workout that’s fun, and let’s face it, those are the ones that keep you coming back for more, SoulCycle is the one for you! With almost 70 locations across the country, and more to come, chances are there is a studio in a major city near you. www.soul-cycle.com
January 2: CITYROW. Day 2 has us stroking it out at CityRow. I must admit my hamstrings are a little sore from yesterday’s running speed work, which really goes to show that incorporating just a few new moves into your regular routine will hit different muscles and intensify your workout. We’re definitely hitting a whole bunch of new muscles today at this NYC based rowing workout. Class takes place on the popular WaterRower, known for its smooth and natural resistance that actually utilizes water in its patented flywheel. Contrary to what many people think, the class is not just rowing. The rowers are used in interval training that also features floorwork and weights in a non-stop, high-intensity, total body workout. Instructor Annie Mulgrew had our hearts pumping for 50 minutes as we alternated between speed and power rowing intervals, combined with planks, squats, lunges and upper body work.
Cityrow has two NYC locations, one in the Flatiron district and the other on the Upper East Side. A gorgeous sunlight filled studio, the Flatiron location is definitely more inspiring, as opposed to the basement location of the Upper East Side studio, but you’ll get a kickass workout in either place. www.cityrow.com
Also here in NYC is Row House. Other favorite rowing workouts across the country are Iron & Oar in Chicago; GoRow in Hoboken, NJ; Rō Fitness in Austin, TX; and Lit Method in LA, CA.
January 1: RUNNING. Really it’s the most basic workout you can do. Throw on a pair of running shoes and go. Here are five of our favorite new trainers: 2 Runners, 5 Shoes. I’m out here in Bellport, NY and just kicked off this new year with a 4 mile run followed by some speedwork: 4 x 150 yards, running each one under 30 seconds. Sprint down and walk back: this is great way to add variety to your workout, increase your speed, and add some intensity to your run. Says Todd Weisse, head coach of the Williamsburg Track Club, “Running well is as much a craft as it is about rigor, training intensity and consistency. It’s about refining the way we move to get the most out of what we do, daily.” Here are a few other simple speed intervals to try: 3 x 200m at 40 seconds each, or 5 x 100m at 20 seconds each. Be sure to warm up for at least 4 minutes with an easy jog and cool down with a 1 minute jog after.
If you’re new to running, outside or on the treadmill, just begin with a mile. It’s the perfect distance to get started. Take it easy, 10-12 minutes. Try running twice this week, and adding a little more each week. Here Keep it up and you’ll be running 5k, 10k, even half marathons in no time. Who knows, maybe there is even a marathon in your future!