For those that don’t know, I’m from the UAE. So I was thrilled when I heard that my beloved Physique 57 would be opening their first international location in Dubai. Granted, I am from Abu Dhabi, but Dubai’s only an hour by car, and so on my recent trip back home I made sure to block out some time to check it out. Sure, I wanted my barre-burn but I was also curious to check out how the experience here differed from back in New York. Until relatively recently fitness was not a huge part of the culture in the UAE, the way it is in New York. But things are definitely changing, and especially so in Dubai. Yoga studios are popping up. CrossFit boxes are opening their doors and now there’s even a Flywheel Sports in the house!

The Studio: Physique 57 Dubai is located in Jumeirah, probably my favorite Dubai neighborhood. It’s one flight up on a quiet street. As I got out of my car it felt surreal to see the familiar logo emblazoned so many hundred of miles away!

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The staircase leading to the studio was lined by Physique 57 mentions in local and international media..

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Familiar white cabinets selling the signature grip socks and apparel…

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There are two studios and each is a replica of what you would see in NYC. Wall-to-wall blue carpeting. The hanging light fixtures. For a second I felt like I was at the 72nd street studio.

p57dubai4

 

The Class: I scoured the schedule for Nora Hickman‘s class. Nora was one of my go-to Physique 57 instructors back in NYC and she, along with another popular NYC instructor, Neva Cockrell, moved to Dubai to set up the studio. I got to the studio way in advance and as I a waited for class to start I watched the other clients arrive. The class was designated “ladies-only”-in line with the culture where many women prefer working out minus the men. Magazine editors. Hermes-toting stay-at-home moms. A lady clad in SOUL CYCLE crops. In other words, exactly what you’d expect to see at the NYC studios. Despite being a 10AM class on Monday (middle of the week for Dubai), the class was full. As was the class before and the class right after. The routine was a typical P57 fare with a warm-up, arm series, three sets of thighs, glute work and ending with abs. It was a mixed level class but Nora kept it fast-paced and challenging.

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Nora-NYC misses you! Also, note the SOUL crops in the background!

I also met up and chatted with Melissa Matich, the studio manager and Maryam Fattahi Salaam, the owner. Melissa used to teach at the main 57th street studio back when the studio first opened and I reminded her that I had taken her (killer) class back in the day! Maryam was first hit with the p57 bug when she lived in NYC and she has really done a phenomenal job of replicating the same experience for the Dubai ladies (and occasional gents) to enjoy.

with Melissa and Maryam

with Melissa and Maryam

Overall: You all know how I feel about Physique 57. It changed my body, inspired my love for fitness and was the inspiration for this blog. I am pumped that it’s now also available near my home-town so I can get my barre fix on trips back home. If you are in Dubai or Abu Dhabi definitely check it out. The  Dubai studio is beautiful and has kept itself to the same high standards that the NYC studio has. Also, first class is free. I will definitely be back when I’m home next! Bonus: as you exit the studio you can see the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) on your way out…

Bonus: as you exit the studio you can see the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) on your way out...

Burj Khalifa in the background

 

The indoor rowing scene is literally exploding in New York. Thanks in part to the cross fit obsession, rowing has slowly become everyone’s favorite cardio. Or mine, at the very least! Enter Row House NYC, a cool new boutique fitness studio, dedicated wholly to indoor rowing. Row House is owned by the husband-wife team of Eric Von Frohlich and his wife Debra Frohlich, and is part of EVF Performance’s second crossfit box location on the far west side of the city. The studio  was demoing free classes this weekend so I found myself signed up for the first demo class. Typically opening day is not one when studios shine. Audio equipment malfunctions, water runs out and instructors are still figuring out their flow. So I didn’t go in with high expectations. They were giving free classes and so I was game. Although must give them major props for the free trial classes. You don’t see new studios do that anymore so already I gave them one star for that.

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The Studio: RowHouse is not marked. I walked into the fancy condo it’s attached to and was (politely) directed by the doorman that there’s a separate entrance. The reception/waiting was airy and light-filled. No real locker rooms, but there were cubbies outside the rowing studio. When I walked in the instructors were still setting up the class. But I peeked in and the rowing studio looked beautiful. It was dimly lit, with an almost clubby lighting. Mirrors in the front so you one can see your form while rowing as well as the instructor. One wall had “ROW HOUSE” plastered on it in giant letters while the other wall had a really cool city view posted on it. There were 15 ergs, and are all of the Concept2 rower variety, different from the Indorowers I tried at Cityrow recently. Each erg had a sandbag and an ab mat in front of it, as well as a free bottle of water and a towel. Free water’s a;ways another nice touch. My class was with Debra and before class she introduced herself to all of us and showed us a quick demo of proper rowing technique on an Ipad. The rowing motion is sort of like a squat and she said that over the class we will be doing approximately 900 squats. Certainly an interesting way of looking at it but daunting none the less!

The Class: The class lasted 50 minutes and was divided between time spent on the erg and then on the floor. The erg sections in this class were graded and it periodically some new things were added-which really kept it interesting. We started off just warming up on the erg and  then began the class in graded format. First was just the arms and then we would do half rows then followed by full rows. Debra provided guidance on what sort of speed we should be aiming for. There were sections of endurance as well as sprints. We also did rows with alternating oblique twists. And I loved it when we used the erg Megaformer-style doing plank to pikes, with our hands on the floor and our feet on the seat of the erg! Killer-I only wish we could have done this longer! I really enjoyed the sections on the rower. I didn’t tune out even once. The sections on the floor were equally fun. Burpees with the sandbags. Backward lunges with a twist. Push-ups. Side planks. Abmat crunches. All in all good stuff. Music choice was okay, top 40s,  but I liked how Debra would raise the volume whenever we would be sprinting.

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Debra leading the class

The Instructor: Debra was great. She gave clear instructions and I really liked that she was doing the exercises with us, so we could follow her form and have an idea of what sort of speed we should be aiming for. It’s a rowing class and it could have gotten boring but she kept it interesting and I appreciated that. I would’ve loved more personal interaction thought. Loved that she introduced herself before class and thanked us for coming, but then she didn’t use our names during class. I also got no corrections from her. Although there were 3 other instructors, including Eric, Debra’s husband. who did come by and adjust my rowing technique. So maybe beforehand the 4 of them had decided to divide the class when it came to corrections?

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Me-happiness on the erg

Overall: Man, was I bowled over by this class. I love the erg but I left the class loving it even more. I already mentioned that not once did I get bored during the rowing sections. The hour completely flew by and I found myself not being able to wait to come back. Given that this was their opening day and I was at the first class, they did a stellar job! A little more personal client interaction and they’ll be solid! Row House NYC is a fantastic addition not just to the indoor rowing scene but also to NYC’s fitness scene in general. I highly recommend checking out this studio-they are still demoing free classes till Tuesday. Plus they have a fantastic class package option that is 50% off, which I am very tempted to buy despite the cross-town commute. Which is saying a lot for me!

Being a fitness nut means I live in workout clothes. So anytime I’m offered the chance to review active-wear I’m always game. A few years ago if I looked around in my Physique 57 class everyone was outfitted in the ubiquitous Lululemon uniform. While this did serve to create a semi-sense of belonging, chances were high that someone else would be dressed almost identical. Not fun. Luckily there are now very many options to choose from.  Gwenyth is one such brand. It’s described as being inspired by ballet, pilates and barre. The company’s founder, Michele Cheowtirakul Braxton found my blog while researching barre classes and contacted me to provide feedback when they were beta-testing their first product, the Modern classic top + tunic.

source: Gwenyth

source: Gwenyth

Barre-inspired active-wear? Sign me up! One week later the top arrived, in delightful packaging complete with instructions in the three ways this garment can be worn.

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What I liked: I loved the versatility of the top. It can be worn as a top for during exercise, rolled down to a tunic for going out post-workout and rolled down even further to wear as a short dress, for those on the more daring end of the spectrum. The top definitely draws its inspiration from ballet with the ballerina neckline. I also found the ruching to be very flattering. Support is often times an issue with many tops of similar ilk with inbuilt bras that can be compressive but I didn’t find that to be the case here – the inbuilt bra was supportive while not being constrictive. I wore the top to a few Physique 57 and SLT classes and can attest to its functionality. The fit was comfortable and everything stayed in place for the duration of class. I thought the side ties at the bottom (which when tightened hold the top in place to the length you want them to be at) also looked really pretty and added to the whimsical character of the top. What I loved most was how I could pull it down to add some coverage post-workout.

So where did the name gwenyth come from?

“The name gwenyth is Welsh in origin.  gwenyth’s founder had always thought the sound of the name evoked a nostalgic feeling of classic, but not over-flowery romanticism and simple strength.  It was chosen to capture gwenyth’s romantic, yet clean and modern, feeling and approach to life.”

The site also has also just launched a fun blog where they have paired the Modern classic as a part of different outfits.

Soon after I previewed this top I was honored to be chosen as a Gwenyth muse! Check it out here

If you are interested in checking out the Modern classic for yourself here’s a 40% off discount code to use during the month of February. Enjoy!

Code:  MuseSamValentine!_Feb2014

Disclaimer: I was provided a free sample of the Modern classic top to preview and was not financially compensated for or obligated to write a review. As a Gwenyth muse I will receive samples of new products to preview and do not receive any financial compensation from Gwenyth. Further I am not receiving any compensation from the discount code provided above. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

Back in the day when I used to belong to a big box gym I used to avoid the rowing machine like the plague. Just never found it appealing and (erroneously) believed it was purely an upper body exercise. Flash forward four years later and I am a rowing machine believer. It’s regularly featured as part of the workout at one of my favorite HIIT studios. Contrary to what I used to think, the rower is a full body workout. The arms are actually an afterthought. You push off with your legs, then recline your body back and finally pull your arms. Legs Arm Core.Also the mantra of Shaun Jenkins, Cityrow‘s charismatic instructor.

Cityrow is the first rowing studio to open in Manhattan.  Williamsburgh’s Brooklyn Crew has been around for a while (also dying to try it). With my newfound love for the rower, I eagerly anticipated Cityrow’s opening. Work schedules and half marathon training has taken away from any free time I have. But I finally got around to it. I have to credit Laura from werkitinnyc (check out her blog-informative and highly entertaining reviews of fitness studios) for taking the initiative and getting us to commit to checking out the studio together.

The studio:  Has a super convenient location- right off Union square. Downside is that it is on the 15th floor of a highrise with a very slow elevator. So get there early, as is mentioned on their website. The girls who checked me in were friendly and gave me a run-down of what to expect. I could hear Shaun as I was waiting outside. The man had a booming roar and I was a tad intimidated..

Source: Cityrow

Source: Cityrow

The Class: The class is set up with 17 Indorowers with mats placed right next to each rower. The Indorower is a water-based rower, different from the typical erg seen at the gym or my HIIT class (see in photo below). There is a tub of water at the front and as you row faster you can see the water rush with greater force. We were asked to pick up a set of medium weights. Unsure of what that I meant I picked up a set of 5lbs and a set of 8lbs. I ended up using the 8lbs for the majority of the class. The class is divided into sections that alternated between 6 minutes on the rower and 5-6 minutes on the mat. The rowing sections consisted of smooth rowing and then periods where we would have to pick up speed and then a 30 second sprint. There were also moves where we locked our arms straight while holding onto the rower handles and pushed back and forth solely using our legs, as well as short sections where we held the handles with an underhand grip.

Source: Cityrow

Source: Cityrow

Mat section was heavy on the core. Lots of plank/pushup variations. Plank-ups (push-up to plank), pushup to side plank, plank to squat.  There were also squat-dumbell overhead presses, touch-reaches (touch the floor and reach up onto your tippie-toes), crunches, plank rows, plain old fashioned push-ups and probably some more that I am not remembering.

Overall I thought it was a great workout. The sections on the rower definitely got me winded and tired out my shoulders, which made holding a plank right after the rowing section much more challenging. My only issue was that 6 minutes of rowing seemed a bit long. There were moments where I drifted off and I found myself looking at the timer wondering how much longer we had left. Shaun was definitely keeping things interesting by trying to change up the rower moves but I am wondering if the rowing sections should be shorter. Spinning, to me, is an analogous experience to rowing due to the cardio factor, and for me, spinning works because of the music. I have been told that it’s hard to choreograph the rowing motions to a beat as you cannot change the resistance on the rower. But I do think that music could perhaps play a more important role in the class. I would have loved the volume to blast during the sprint sections, for example. The exercises in the mat section were hard-doable, but hard, and I definitely appreciated that.

The Instructor: Shaun is bouncing with energy. His voice boomed throughout the class. “Legs-Core-Arms….Arms-Core-Legs”- to remind everyone of the sequence of movements during a row. In fact, his mantra is still reverberating in my head! He is charismatic, introduced himself to everyone before class, demoed the rower to those that had never done it before and high-fived everyone after. He completely gave the class his all. He clearly loves what he’s doing and it shows.

Overall: I enjoyed the class. I just feel that with a greater emphasis on music the class could be amazing. The Indorower is a smoother rowing experience than the erg and rowing in and of itself is a great low-impact alternative to spinning or running. Rowing is clearly on the rise in the city and props to Cityrow for being the first dedicated studio in Manhattan.

I have tried (and enjoyed) Flybarre (see my review here). Flybarre Sport was still a bit of an enigma to me. There’s no real description on the website. The only review I could find was this one on Rate Your Burn. It’s not on the schedule a lot and when it is it’s at 1030AM on a Monday, not the most ideal time for most. And yet, when I did finally make it there at that precise time, the class was packed. What I like about Flybarre is that unlike at other barre studios where you have to clamour to make it to your favorite barre spot, over here you choose your mat at sign-up so none of that mad rush that very often precedes barre classes.

I took class with the lovely Kara Liotta, Flybarre’s Director of Training. Beforehand I told her this was my first Sport class and she proceeded to give me a quick run-down of how this class was going to be different from a standard Flybarre class. “It’s faster paced and there are lots of cardio intervals. Very ab and upper body focused!” Sounds good to me!

The Class:

The class started out with a cardio series where we did a succession of jump squats, push-ups, plank variations and triceps dips. The routine was done 3 times without any breaks. I was breathless at the end. Want to spike up your heart rate fast? This is the warm-up for you! Next up was an arm sequence where the recommendation was to use between 5 to 8lbs for biceps/shoulder work. Lots of biceps curls and hammer curls with variations in tempo and distance. Before class we were asked to pick up 3 sets of weights: either 5, 3 an 2 or 5, 2 and 1lb pound weights. So for the first arm set we had the option to double up, which I did. This was similar to an arm sequence at other barre studios. That’s until we started the second arm series where we dropped down to one set of light weights and proceeded to sculpt our arms while moving our arms in all different planes. Some boxing moves were also incorporated. Abs were attacked while lying down with our feet up against the barre and doing crunch variations. The thigh sequence was interesting. We had our back against the barre and faced each other in class. We squatted down to a chair pose and pulse and pushed out one leg with the other lef firmly planted into the ground. We had the option to rest our elbows on the barre for support but the exercise was designed to be done without such support so that your thighs were focused on any kind oif support. This was killer. I am always up for an advanced variation and I started out without the elbows but a minute into it I succombed. The seat section was also interesting. Just two exercises (one legged hip lifts and an on-all-fours  leg lift) but Kara had us do multiple repetitions and would change up the speed so you would either be doing things very fast and then slow it down and then it would be switched up again. I love this approach because it really honed in the particular area while at the same time avoided bringing in the boredom factor. I should add that between each set we were doing the cardio bursts (jump squats, mountain climbers, push-ups).

The Instructor:

I really liked Kara. I remember taking a class from here when she first started and she seemed kind of shy and we didnt interact much. Not the case now. She was totally working the room. She’s incredibly warm, has superb command of the room and was ever watchful to make sure you were doing the exercises correctly. Also, the music rocked. So basically she was awesome and I will definitely be back for her regular Flybarre class.

Overall:

Having done barre for over 7 years there are times when I feel like my body has adapted to the method and I need something extra. This class is great for those moments. It should be described as “Barre Meets Bootcamp” because that’s exactly what it is. I felt like my heart rate was spiked throughout class and at some points, for example the thigh and seat section, I was actually in pain! While there are plenty of the small, repetitive movements specific to classic barre, there are also plyometrics and plenty of strength training, giving it a more modern edge. Overall, I really enjoyed this class and Kara is a total rockstar!

Ever since Madonna (or was it Gwyneth?) thrust Tracy Anderson into the spotlight some five odd years ago I have been intrigued. Her claims about changing the genetics of any woman’s body type, her (dubious?) theory about lifting anything over 3 lbs causing women to bulk up and the need to exercise 6 times a week for 2 hours a day have created quite a furor in the fitness industry. Her haters hate her but her believers swear by the method. And there are many many believers. When she opened up her NYC studio a few years back with BFF Gwyneth, women flocked despite the supposed $1500 initiation fee and $900 monthly fee. Classes could not be taken a la carte so when Gilt City opened the studio up I decided this was my chance to see what the hype was all about and promptly bought a 5-pack. Let me break it down my experience for you:

The Studio: Tracy’s studio is located in Tribeca, on a rather quiet street with no signs indicating  that there is indeed a fancy studio around. Although if you look up you will see the frenzy of cardio-dancing women through the 3rd floor windows. Nevertheless, I walked past it twice before figuring out that this was the studio. For the hefty price tag I was expecting a glamorous studio. It is not. Stark is the word that comes to mind when describing it. It’s also very white. There’s no real waiting area. Most women wait in the locker area which is quite steamy because of the adjacent showers. There are 2 studios, one for the general classes and the other for semi-privates. The semi-private studio contained the elevated cube that you may have seen Kelly Ripa workout in, along with reformers and other playthings. The main studio is lined by mats, ankle weights, and hand weights and the ceiling has colored  resistance bands installed with varying resistance. The first thing that struck me as I entered was the blast of hot air. The studios are purposely kept hot, at 86 degrees and 65% humidity. I’m not a fan of hot yoga at all so I was already uncomfortable before class began.

The People: The front desk people were really nice. They knew I was a Gilt client and did not treat me any differently. And note, I did not take class with Ms Anderson but I did try a selection of her instructors, including Reni Mimura, Chelsea Gentry and Jennifer Jones. All were pretty, tiny and pleasant. Again, I was expecting an “oh you’re here for Restaurant week” attitude but it wasn’t there. All the classes I took were packed. And I was taking classes mid-week at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm. Not really peak time. So the studio definitely has its loyal following. Several privates were taking place at the same time in the same studio.

The Classes: I tried MultiTAsk band, CaTAlyst Cardio, DeTAil Band and ATAin Definition.

CaTAlyst cardio: The class consisted of 60 minutes of dance aerobics. Lots of high-impact moves, lots of jumping, lots of quick turns. The steps were not intuitive and I found it hard to follow. I’m sure the more you take it the easier it gets. But there is little-to-no direction. Cues are entirely visual and no one will be correcting your form so you are on your own. This class is a beginner’s class (I use this term relatively as opposed to the CaTApult Cardio class that is for more advanced clients) so after 30 minutes of non-stop dancing we had a 30-minute segment where the instructor taught a new choreographed dance. There’s a lot of tapping your heel against the ground and the quick turns which were hard on my knee. 45 minutes into class I felt a sharp pang on the outside of my right knee and decided that this was it for me and Tracy’s dance cardio. Did I mention it was high-impact? I can see this being a fun class if you know the steps and can follow along but it didn’t work for me.

DeTAil band: This class was different and definitely more enjoyable. There are a set of red, blue and green bands attached to the ceiling and using a pole we pulled down a set of bands that we are going to hold onto for the workout. I followed the instructor and grabbed the red and green sets while some ladies chose the (lighter) blue bands. The first part of the class was focused on the arm and upper body where we pulled the bands while doing choreographed arm movements. The next part of the class was on the floor where we held onto the band but did various leg lifts wearing ankle weights, while on all fours. This part was tedious. We repeated the same move continuously (maybe 25 or 30 times although felt like 1oo) before moving onto the next move which we repeated. It got boring really fast but I did feel it in my lower body. The last section consisted of ab work with moves that I haven’t really seen anywhere else. Think lying on your back and crossing your legs back and forth. Or inverting your legs so that your knees are touching while raising the legs up and down. Barring the boredom I felt in the middle, this class was more up my alley.

ATAin Definition: Here the focus is entirely on muscular structure. We started out with these arm movements which were more like choreographed flailing after which we grabbed a set of 3 pound weights and did some more arm work, if you can call it that. Not a fan of this part. It felt like a waste of time. The next section was the redeemer and was certainly not a waste of time. This section was done on all fours wearing ankle weights and was geared towards the lower body. Like the DeTAil band class there were lots of repetitive variations on leg lifts. Being a barre gal I am familiar with leg lifts and believe in their power to create results. You are essentially using the weight of your own leg to work the muscles in your behind. But these moves were unlike anything I had done before. At one point we had to kick our leg back at 45 degree upward incline to our body followed by kicking it out to the side after which we twisted our leg back so that we were in a modified back bend and then we would repeat. Many many times. It was challenging but after the umpteenth rep I found myself staring at my watch. But my lower body was fried. The last 10 minutes was ab work where we did varations on crunches. Similar to the DeTAil Band class, I felt and enjoyed this class more than the dance cardio but the high number of reps did keep me from being as engaged.

MultiTAsk band: This class was a hybrid. 30 minutes of dance cardio and 30 minutes of muscular structure work with the resistance bands. Probably the best class to take for those looking to get a “best of” the Tracy Anderson method.

The Verdict: Overall, this workout wasn’t for me. The repetitive nature bored me quickly and the potential for injury looms (at least for me) with the dance cardio portion.  I’m not sold. I think Tracy’s whole thing is that she has gotten people to move and that’s commendable. Although, many of her success stories workout up to 2 hours a day and subsist on a low-calorie diet. With that kind of discipline you will see results regardless of whether you’re doing Tracy’s method or pilates or HIT or (insert workout of choice). Anyhow, Tracy’s method is unique and creative and whether you you believe in it or not, it has made a mark, and there is something to be said for that. I, for one, am glad I got to try it but don’t think I’m quite ready to switch over just yet.

Contrary to my blog moniker, I am not purely a barre gal. Although barre is still my workout of choice I like to mix things up with a little Megaformer, a little spinning, some running and a nice dose of high intensity interval training (HIIT). So I was super excited to hear that the Fhitting Room, a new HIIT studio would be opening in my neighborhood earlier this year. Being pregnant at the time I chose to (wisely) wait till after the baby to check out this new method. The reviews started coming in and they were stellar and I was itching to try this class. Today, six and a half weeks post my c-section (when I had my beautiful new baby boy), I took my first class at this studio and loved it!

Source

Source: Fhitting room facebook page

The studio’s concept is all about utilizing functional body movements, like squatting, jumping, pulling and in order to do this the classes utilize lots of “toys” to play with. Kettlebells, plyo boxes, rowing machines, TRX-like suspension bands, weighted medicine balls, as well as free weights line one wall of the studio.

I chose to take my first class with Eric Salvador, the head instructor, and Amanda Butler, who was assisting him. Before class Eric gave a mini-tutorial on the proper form for a kettlebell swing. That set the stage for this class. Form, above anything else, is key. The class started with a warm up of jumping jacks and mountain climbers and then headed into a circuit consisting of a pushup/dumbell row/burpee/overhead press combo followed by reverse planks using the suspension bands, and ending with using the kettlebell to do a side press. Each exercise was performed for 45 seconds before moving onto the next one. Another circuit involved dividing the class up into teams of three with one person using the rowing machine, while another person performed jumps on the plyo box and the third person did Russian twists using the weighted medicine ball. I hate plyo boxes. They always end up irritating my knee so I did walk-ups when it was my turn. I noticed that most of the class was doing walk-ups so I didn’t feel too bad.

Source: The Fhitting Room

Source: The Fhitting Room

 

Can I say that I loved the rowing machine?! Back in the day when I used to go to a regular gym I avoided the rowing machine like the plague. It just looked so boring. But here, as part of this circuit, I was feeling my heart racing and absolutely loving it!  The final circuit consisted of a 6 minute period where we had to do a series of 10 kettlebell swings, 10 reps of plank to push-up and 10 sit ups as many times as we could. The class felt like a lead-up to this final sprint and at the end of it I felt amazing.

So here’s what I liked about the class:

1. Small size: The class is capped at 12 participants and so there’s no elbow-rubbing with the person next to you.

2. High instructor to participant ratio: Each class has 2 instructors so someone is always checking up on you to make sure you are doing it right.

3. Focus on form: This carries over from my second point. I have used kettlebells inappropriately in the past and that resulted in lower back pain. None of that happening here where not only did we get a tutorial on kettlebells prior to class but had our form checked upon meticulously throughout the class.

4. The instructors: Eric and Amanda were great. Warm, motivating, and energetic. They knew the regulars but the made the newbies feel just as welcome.

5. Freebies: Free water and towels (and hair-ties for the ladies).

What I didn’t like:

1. Lack of showers: In NYC where space is a premium this isn’t a deal-breaker. But it does make it hard to take class right before going to work. There is a bathroom but no showers or a place to change into your workout gear so come dressed to workout!

2. Transition between exercises: This was my only criticism with the class and this may have just been specific to my class as there were newbies in my class but I felt that there was a tad too much transition time between exercises. For me that translates to more “rest time”, and those that know me know that I don’t like rest in my workout. I’m masochistic like that! The transitions between the exercises were when the instructors explained the exercises or moved equipment around to prepare for the next circuit. One suggestion is to have the class do some form of light cardio while the instructors are moving around equipment or explaining the next circuit in order to keep heart rates high. Just my two cents.

Overall, the Fhitting Room is an awesome new addition to the neighborhood. I had such a blast that I’m going back tomorrow!

This review has been a long time coming. I took this fantastic class a few months ago but then life happened (more on that front on another post) and so I am finally getting around to writing this. First thing’s first, I LOVED  Body Conceptions by Mahri! I first heard of Mahri Relin when Flybarre, Flywheel Sports‘ signature class was launched (check out my review of Flybarre here). I never got to try her class because she left soon to develop her new technique, Body Conceptions, which takes elements from her fitness background as an ex- Tracy Anderson trainer as well as a former creative director of Flybarre to create a unique fitness experience. The class is a fun fusion of dance cardio principles melded with moves you may be familiar with from a barre class. Let me explain.

mahri

Mahri Relin. SourceThe class takes place in a bright and airy dance studio located downtown at Dance New Amsterdam.

The class takes place in a bright and airy dance studio located downtown at Dance New Amsterdam. Mahri, whom I met prior to class, is lovely. Incredibly nice and incredible stunning. She asked about any injuries and about my fitness background and showed me modifications for my (at the time) IT band injury. She brought some props along with her, which consisted of 2 lb weights and mats. Mahri pumped up her music and the class began. The class starts off with the cardio portion. There are jumping jacks, and side-to-side movements with twists. The class then proceeds with the addition of the light hand weights. Personally, I am not a fan of light weights and sighed when I saw that we were using 2 pounders. But my disappointment was premature because I soon realized that the weight was just adequate for what we would be doing next. We did something similar to the “dynamic arm” section that some of you barre aficionados may have experience at Flybarre, a fast-paced arm section with lots of punching and boxing motions complete with uppercuts and overcuts. I could feel  my deltoids sculpting right there and then! We then added on lunges and squats while simultaneously doing triceps extensions.  I love it when we are doing full-body work and compounding exercises are my favorite. My arms felt like they would drop off and I humbly accept that I would not have been able to use anything over 2 lbs!

The next section of the class was done on the floor where we did some targeted ab work as well as glute/thigh work.  A lot of the moves were intricate and choreographed but Mahri explained everything clearly and was simultaneously demonstrating so the section was easy to follow. A picture speaks more than words so I’ll show you an example of what we did…

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Source: Body Conceptions facebook page

Looks like we were just moving the right leg up and down? Wrong. We were also moving the leg forward in backward in one plane, bringing it to our elbow as well as doing a type of curtsey and kick move. For a long time! “You probably hate me right now”, Mahri cheerfully said. Yup, that was about right. My backside was burning but it was a great burn. I have been doing barre classes for years and there were definitely some new moves I learned in this class.

The class ended with some free style dance moves, capping off a really fun hour of working out. I really recommend checking out this class. It’s fast-paced, high energy with great music and what is key to a great class, a fun and inspiring instructor!

 

I must tell you about one of the most fun new workouts I experienced recently. Dance Motivation Fitness is a dance-based workout created by Lindi Duesenberg, a professional dancer. I have known Lindi for a while – she is on my roster of favorite Physique 57 instructors and is just generally one of the sweetest people I know. When I was invited to check out her new class I knew that I would have a great time despite not knowing too much of what the class was about.

“So I get the “Dance” part of the class but what’s the “Motivation” aspect?”, I asked her. “Are we dancing while chanting inspirational quotes, like Intensati?”

“The Motivation is all me!” Lindi replied. “I am going to be motivating and pushing you guys through!” I was intrigued.

Source: DMF website

When I got to the studio some twenty or so women were already there ready to dance their hearts out. Dance Motivation Fitness debuted just a week ago but Lindi has her followers and a lot of them flocked here to pack the class.

Music is what drives me to work out and this class was all about the music. Each sequence was choreographed to a particular song. We salsa-ed to Shakira,  hip hop danced to MC Hammer, and attempted our best Micheal Jackson moves to the beat of “Wanna Be Starting Something.” There was also some jazz, a little jive, and the cha cha cha all perfectly choreographed to Nat King Cole, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and many others. We even did a little Gangnam Style! It was an absolute blast! I was learning different dance styles and having so much fun while doing it. Lindi would start each routine slowly so we could follow along and then the routine would get faster. But this was no ordinary dance class. Lindi radiates so much positive energy and worked the room, constantly reminding us to laugh and have fun. If we did a move well she noticed and pointed it out. Positive reinforcement works. If we looked disheartened she would also notice and provide lots of encouragement. It was not a big deal if you were on the wrong foot. It was not a big deal if you were shuffling in the opposite direction of the rest of the class. Just give it your all, keep moving and most importantly have fun. There was the Motivation. It worked. I cannot explain it but I felt a bonded to the group of women in the class in a sort of camaraderie. You weren’t competing with the person next to you. You were all in the together. It was like a big party. The class would frequently break out into laughter and after almost every song would clap and holler. It was a total blast. I should also mention that it was definitely a workout. At the end of class I was drenched in sweat. You are moving non-stop and that brings the cardio element to this class.

With Melisse from Well + Good NYC, Erica, and Lindi

In order for exercise to be effective it needs to be consistent. The only way it will become consistent is if it’s fun. In that respect Dance Motivation Fitness has got you covered. I know I will be back!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary class from Dance Motivation Fitness but was not obligated to provide a review. I was not compensated for this post. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

As I write this I am sitting at my desk with my right leg fully extended. Not by choice. My (rather stylish) cane leans against the wall next to me, as I wait for my MRI result. It has been three days since I was injured while running my first marathon but I am proud to say that I completed it! But let’s start from the beginning.

I was incredibly disappointed when the NYC marathon was cancelled. I knew it was the right decision but I couldn’t help feeling the way I did. As soon news of the cancellation started to trend on social media my wonderful husband, knowing how important this had been to me, started calling up charities to the already-full Philadelphia marathon. He called me up and said,” We got you a charity spot for Philly. Don’t worry. You WILL run a marathon and I am going to help you do this.” I felt hopeful and motivated again.

I got into Philadelphia late Saturday evening, and found this waiting for me in my room….

The marathoner’s goodie bag, courtesy of the Four Seasons Philadelphia!

I quickly placed an order for my pre-race dinner…

Crab Gnocchi, which was lip-smackingly good!

I then lay out my race outfit so that I could quickly get to it in the morning…

I woke up at 415am on race morning, downed half a bowl of oatmeal and a banana, met up with my friends Mary and Robyn in the hotel lobby and we made our way to the race start.

I won’t give you a mile-by-mile breakdown. Instead I will give you some highlights of  this race.

The Course:

The first half of the course was lovely. It snaked through the city, through residential neighborhoods. The crowd was great!  There was lots of cheering. Some hilarious signs. One of my favorites was at mile 4, “Run Faster. A Kenyan has already finished!”  After the 13.1 mile point, the crowd thinned as the half-marathoners left us. This next section of the course, in my opinion was interminable. From miles 13-20 we were running along the river, and in the lane right next to us we could see the speedier runners racing the exact same path from miles 20-26. The realization that I would have to run this entire path back was demotivating. Also, there was no new terrain to look forward to. Anyhow I persisted on.

The Fuel/Water situation:

This was very well organized. Water was at one end of the station and Gatorade was served at the other end. Plenty of areas where Cliff gel shots were being handed out. I never once felt dehydrated or un-fueled throughout the race. Special shout-out to all the wonderful volunteers that were manning these stations.

The Porta-Potty Situation:

This left much to be desired. I waited 40 minutes in line for one before the race, and 20 minutes in line at one during the race. Throughout the course I would see long lines at each rest stop. I saw plenty of runners dive behind bushes to relieve themselves.

My Race:

Now for my race experience. I felt very strong during most of the race. My training had been strong and I was going for a sub 5:00 race. I kept my pace slow at the beginning and enjoyed the sights and the sounds. I took advantage of every water station and alternated water with Gatorade. I took a Cliff gel shot every 5 miles.  I was feeling great. Unfortunately at mile 5 I felt a slight pang on the outside of my right knee. The last time this happened was during the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k last May, which was ultimately diagnosed as Ilitibial band syndrome and required weeks of physical therapy. I started to get nervous, but hoped it was nothing, and continued running. The pain started to get worse as I kept running. This was not happening, I kept saying to myself. I slowed down my pace considerably and kept going. I got to mile 20 and the pain was excruciating. Every heel strike felt like someone was jabbing a knife into the side of my knee. I moved to the side of the race course and started to massage my IT band and stretch. It did not do much good. I decided to jog/walk which I did till Mile 22, after which running was no longer an option because of the pain. At this point I knew I had to make a decision. I could, a) Drop out- which would have been incredibly devastating; b) Keep running and risk turning this injury into something irreversible; or c) Walk. I chose option “c.”

I walked from Miles 22-26. I could not believe this was happening to me. After all the training I had put into this season, my IT band was acting up? Unreal. I fought back tears with every step.

Once I reached the Mile 26 sign, I decided that I was just going to have the buck up all my strength and run the final stretch. My finisher’s picture had to show me running! So I ran and crossed the finish line, tears streaming down my face as I collapsed into my husband’s arms.

My total race time was 5 hours 47 minutes. Not bad, considering the injury-related pace slow-down as well as the 4 mile walk. I was disappointed with how things turned out but I was also really proud that I had had it in me to finish the race!

I limped back to my hotel room and then to the train station to get back to NYC. Walking was becoming a major issue.

I decided to see a physiatrist on Monday who looked at my swollen knee and told me that this is likely more than just an IT band injury.

Great.

She prescribed a cane, lots of painkillers and an MRI.

So while I am still waiting on a diagnosis and a course of treatment, running is out of the question for some time.

Was it all worth it? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am finally a marathoner. And crazy as it may sound, I cannot wait to start training again for another marathon.