Tag Archives: Workout

Spin City

No, this blog post isn’t going to be about the Michael J. Fox TV show from the late 90’s, but rather (a few) studio spin classes in New York City. Sorry to disappoint!

I’ve mentioned a few times over the last year or so that since living in Jersey City and working in NYC that I’ve been exposed to more fitness studios and workout classes than I could ever imagine. You name the type of workout, it’s available. It’s actually one of my favorite parts about NYC and something I longed for when I was living in suburbia. While I’m not on a quest (yet) to try as many different workout classes as possible, I’ve found myself recently trying a lot of different spin studios.

When I was injured this past summer, spinning was my saving grace. I was able to get in a serious sweat and keep my cardio up, without further aggravating my sinus tarsi. I was going to Flywheel two to three times a week, and reaping the benefits. I started running again in the fall, and was thrilled to see that I hadn’t lost nearly as much fitness as I had feared. While there’s still plenty of work I need to put in, I was in a much better place this go around than any other time I’ve come off an injury.

But I digress… I realized that a few weeks ago I went to FOUR different spin studios. Four! In one week! And I didn’t even crack the surface of spin studio offerings in the city. I thought it would be fun to recap and breakdown the differences between the four I visited, since I’m always looking for workout class recaps and feedback from others. With the four studios I visited, two were studios I’ve been going to since I started spinning last year, and two were new-to-me as of last week. I’m going to break down each studio so you can easily compare them!

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Flywheel Sports
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know Flywheel is where I spent the majority of my summer getting in cardio. There are a TON of locations, so it was easy for me to get to; whether I was near work, meeting a friend, visiting my parents in New Jersey or traveling to Chicago, there was a studio nearby.

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Cost: $28-$34, depending on your location. Includes shoes, water, fruit.

Studio: The studios are all pretty small. As most of you know, space is hard to come by in NYC, and it’s no exception for Flywheel. Some studios are more spacious than others (like the Millburn, NJ location – SO MUCH SPACE!), but generally speaking you often feel like you’re in someone’s way no matter where you are or what you’re doing. But it comes with the territory. They all have a little retail area, and depending on the location, either a men’s & women’s locker room, or individual shower and toilet rooms. Again, the size and set-up varies at each location, but they follow the same general concept.

Bikes: Easy to set up and comfortable. Each bike has a ‘tech pack’ that displays your RPM, resistance, current power output, and total power. Everyone’s total power is tracked throughout the class, and if you opt in, you can have yours displayed on the Torq board during class. This set-up favors the competitive types, but can be intimidating for those that aren’t. The good news is that you can opt-out of having your name and stats display on the Torq board. The number of bikes depend on the size of the studio, but the set-up is ‘stadium’ style, so even if you’re in the back you have a good view of the instructor. It’s dark and the music is loud, so you really have the opportunity to get in the zone and leave everything behind for 45 (or 60 or even 90!) minutes.

Class itself: Think combination of heavy hills, leg flying flat roads, and tons of sprints, ranging anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. The playlists are always great, and I’m yet to take an instructor I don’t like. An arms sequence is done towards the end of class (you don’t have to do it) using a 2 and/or 4 pound bar. Different locations have different vibes (like the Flatiron and Upper East Side locations have regulars that know one another and the instructors well, while Tribeca is more of a business get in/get out), but they all deliver the same high energy classes. And, if you’re into barre workouts, there are a few locations that offer barre too!

Peloton
I stumbled upon Peloton early last year when I found a deal on Gilt City for a 5-class pack. At the time, I didn’t realize that their primary business was selling bikes for at-home riders, and their studio is where they actually shoot and live stream the classes for the at-home riders.

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Cost: $30, includes shoes, water, fruit

Studio size: Impressive! This studio is on the larger side and offers more than just a retail section and locker rooms. They have a fun little lounge area that encourages riders to come early or stay later after rides to just hang out and relax. They also have a smoothie & coffee bar, where you can order drinks before your ride to have them ready for afterwards! The locker rooms have an impressive number of showers and toilet stalls, and a decent amount of lockers. I also love that they have face wash! It sounds silly, but most studios that offer bath products only have body wash, shampoo, and conditioner, so I appreciate the face wash. It can still get pretty crowded (especially in the locker room), but it feels much less cramped than a lot of other studios in the city.

Bikes: Best I’ve ever ridden! Seriously. They are SO incredibly smooth and comfortable. Considering their main focus (at least at the start of the business) was the sale of these bikes, it makes sense. Each bike has a little tablet that displays your stats, and you can see others in the class — both studio and at-home riders — stats and where you rank. It’s nice to have it right there in front of you, rather than on a giant board for all to see.

Class itself: Similar to Flywheel, the classes offer sprints, hills, intervals, riding to the beat, and an optional arms section towards the end of class. Also stadium style seating, this has an added bonus of cameras for the at-home riders! The cameras are facing the instructor, so you don’t have to worry about being seen, but that changes the dynamic a bit since the instructors are there not only for you in the studio, but also for everyone riding along at home either live, or as a replay.

SWERVE Fitness

SWERVE is a new-to-me studio with the theme, “together we ride.” When their PR team sent out an e-mail blast about their soon to open Midtown studio offering the chance to come in for a ride, I jumped at the offer. I’m all for trying new workouts and I was interested to try a team themed workout.

Cost: $34, includes shoes (water available for purchase)

Studio size: Impressive. They have a similar set-up to Peloton in that there is a lot of space; the studio is actually downstairs, leaving plenty of room for lockers and a lounge area including a smoothie bar! It encourages riders to come early/stay after classes to relax and socialize, which is a nice change of pace from the head down, always in someone’s way feeling at a lot of studios in the city. They have separate locker rooms for women and men, but only two bathrooms. So the line for a quick pre-class pee can get pretty long… something to keep in mind!

Bikes: Okay. Admittedly I had a little bit of a rough start due to my own mix up of dates for class, so I was on someone else’s bike then had to quickly switch to a different open one right as class was starting, so I didn’t really settle in until class was already a few songs deep. That being said, the bikes were fine, but nothing to write home about. Since the class does focus on some numbers here and there, there is a tech pack of sorts that provides you basic information like your RPMs, your current resistance, and your overall output.

Class itself: Really different! The concept at Swerve is teamwork; the studio is split into three groups that are color coded (blue, red, and green) and your goal throughout class is to work together during different segments. There are a few TV screens throughout the studio, but they don’t display everyone’s output, but rather the team output. Like most spin classes there are sprints, hills, and portions where you ride to the beat. The TVs display a countdown of the different sections the teacher calls out to be a competition, and as a color team, you work together to hit whatever goal (maybe 75 beats per minute for 38 seconds… or sprinting as fast as you can at a certain resistance number to get you to a specific output number). This approach is a nice medium between the competitiveness of say the Torq Board at Flywheel, and the complete lack of it at a place like Soul Cycle or Cyc Fitness. You also get an e-mail right after class letting you know all your stats (your personal output, estimated number of calories, etc.).

Cyc Fitness
I’ve known about Cyc for awhile since I know a bunch of runners who enjoy frequenting their classes. Up until a few weeks ago, though, I hadn’t made my way over to take a class.

Cost: $28, includes shoes (water available for purchase)

Studio size: I visited their location at Astor Place, which is inside a David Barton’s Gym. Therefore, I guess you could say the location is huge. The locker rooms are shared with the gym, so there is plenty of space for you to get ready and store things (but you need to bring your own lock!). I think their newer Hell’s Kitchen location is stand alone, so that may be smaller. That being said, there was plenty of room near the actual Cyc section of the gym to wait for class to begin, and I liked that they had little cubby shelves for people that maybe don’t have enough stuff to warrant bringing a lock and going into the locker room, but need to put their street shoes somewhere.

Bikes: Meh. The bikes themselves weren’t really that great; I couldn’t seem to get the handle bars to not jostle despite tightening it as much as I could, it wasn’t a very smooth ride, and turning the knob seemed to make it either dangerously easy or impossibly hard; there wasn’t much middle ground. There also isn’t any type of “tech pack” so you’re really not sure about your resistance or RPMs. I know that could be a deal breaker for some, but I think it’s nice to not focus on the numbers sometimes.

Class itself: Party on a bike! Seriously. There was so much movement and while intimidating at first, it was so much fun. While I’ve never taken a Soul Cycle class, based on what people have told me, it seemed similar in terms of the constant moving on the bike. This was also the first class I’ve taken where arms were done two separate times, once towards the beginning of class and once closer to the end. All other studios do their arms sequence towards the end of class. The moves were also geared towards other sports moves (think mimicking shooting a basket, spiking a volleyball, etc.) which was interesting.

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Overall, I’ve realized quite a few things about myself and what I look for in a spinning studio after visiting four different studios in one week. I’m extremely competitive, and thrive off of that in a workout environment. My competitiveness is often hidden because I’m an introvert, but not only am I constantly competing with myself, I’m often sizing up and competing with other people in a class. Call it a strength or a weakness (I suppose it depends on the day), but it’s my reality. That being said, despite hating math, when it comes to workouts, I’m a numbers girl. BUT with all that said, every so often I need a break from that constant competition, so having the option to spin somewhere that isn’t so numbers focused is great. Workouts don’t always have to be something where you’re teetering on the edge of exhaustion and aren’t sure if you’re loving it or hating it — they should be fun!

I’m thankful to have so many options for cross-training available to me. I wouldn’t have been able to get through my last two bouts of running injuries without them, I’m sure of it. It is hard sometimes to pick and choose what I want to do, just because I want to try everything and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in cross-training workouts, running, and a little thing called work (not even including a social life!).

I’d love to know if you have any favorite spin studios I haven’t checked out yet! OR another favorite cross training workout? Tell me!

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My Newest Obsession: Refine Method

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or even let me talk to you about working out in person, you’ve likely noticed that in the last two months I’ve mentioned Refine Method… a lot. My first instinct was to apologize, but then I realized it’s a good thing – I have a (non-running) workout I’m in love with and I want to tell everyone about it!

I’ve known about Refine for a while. Ever since hearing about it through Dori, Ashley, Abby, and others, I was confident it was a workout I’d enjoy. Unfortunately I didn’t really have the opportunity to try it until I moved to Jersey City; I couldn’t justify an hour long NJ Transit trip (and then a subway ride) just for a workout! Even when I first moved it was on the back-burner since I was marathon training, but we all know how that ended. So when I found myself injured in late October, the series of unfortunate events came together to create a perfect time for me to not only explore new workouts, but to finally give this class that everyone raves about a try.

RefineSign

I took my first class at the end of October with unofficial Refine ambassadors Dori and Ellen. We travelled to their Upper West Side location where I was immediately introduced to the instructor, Laura. She explained their pulley system, asked me what kind of workouts I did regularly, and asked if I had any injuries. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that at the very least Laura (and my friends!) would make sure everything went smoothly. We started with a brief dynamic warm-up and quickly went to work. Three strength exercises followed by a power-set of heart pumping cardio, three times through. I like to consider myself to be a generally fit person and was able to do the “intermediate” weight suggestions (everything is scalable and modifications are made for injuries) for most of the exercises, but boy was it hard! The great thing about the workout, though, is that you’re constantly moving and not doing any one exercise for more than a minute. So right as I felt like I couldn’t do one more bottoms-up push-up or jump-back, the prescribed exercise would change. It went on like this for an hour. An hour! If you told me I would have been doing a non-running workout for that long and at that intensity level I would have told you I couldn’t… despite being relatively in shape. Thankfully I proved myself wrong. I had constant encouragement and form corrections from Laura, and everyone in the class was so fierce and strong which inspired me to keep pushing. By the time my first class was over I knew I’d be insanely sore the next day. And I was.

The day after my first Refine class, I felt like I had run a marathon and did push-ups along the way. It was rough, but I loved it – I loved feeling sore from working hard! Being a glutton for punishment I couldn’t wait to sign up for my next class… which was encouraged by the awesome new student deal they offer – buy one get one class free! After attending my second class a week later and loving it just as much as the first time, I knew what the next logical step was – their new client 1-month of unlimited classes option. Conveniently after buying the package, they opened a third location in the West Village which meant a short (2-stop) PATH ride and no need for the subway. Talk about extra incentive to get to a workout!

West Village studio - so gorgeous!

West Village studio – so gorgeous!

The new studio is gorgeous and the convenient location meant I had no reason not to go as much as possible during the month… which wound up being three (sometimes four) times a week! So with my unlimited month having ended last week, I feel like I’m at a good place to evaluate this new obsession of mine. While I’m hardly a fitness class expert, there are a lot of things that Refine does right, which is why they have such a loyal and enthusiastic following. So what are those things they do right, you ask? Because this post isn’t long enough already, I thought I’d let you know what I think makes Refine one of the very best workouts in NYC – bullet point style.

  • Every class is different in terms of the exercises that are done, but they follow the same format. So after going to only two classes I knew what to expect and when. Even though I was by no means a “regular” I didn’t feel lost. Every exercise is demonstrated, and the set-up of the room allows you to watch other students in case you do feel lost.
  • The workout props are in great condition and add a little fun to your workout. They have a proprietary pulley system at all three locations and an MIT engineer updated version at the West Village location, along with kettle bells of all different weights, medicine balls, TRX straps, slide boards, boxes, and mini-bands. So in addition to body weight exercises you have a bunch of fun props to keep your muscles guessing!
  • The locations provide changing and shower facilities. They’re small, but that’s expected in NYC. They have a rain shower in the new West Village location with awesome smelling Aesop products, and it makes that post-workout shower all the more enjoyable!
  • The workout itself is amazing. They call it “NYC’s Smartest Workout” for a reason! Living in the Northeast and especially the New York City metro area, we’re used to (and have come to expect) a fast paced way of life. Everyone is almost always rushing to or from somewhere. So to be able to get a full-body strength and cardio workout (that’s fun!) in 50 minutes is amazing. I’ve tried hour and a half long yoga classes and I just can’t stay interested – I always count down to the end of class! But not in Refine. Even when I feel like I’m about to keel over and drown in my own pool of sweat (I have dramatic thoughts when I workout), I don’t want the class to end.
  • And maybe the most important reason is that the hand-picked instructors are top notch. Everyone I’ve met has been so warm and inviting, and they somehow remembered my name after meeting me once! There’s something about being welcomed by name and encouraged by name throughout class. That’s another thing that makes the instructors great – they pay attention to everyone’s form throughout class and aren’t shy about correcting you. I look forward to getting corrections – I want to make sure I’m doing things right and getting the most out of my workout. In fact, there was a class when I first started where we did kettle bell swings (which I thought seemed easy enough) and the instructor, Lonnie, had me stop, reposition myself, and try again during the first set. Then he watched me and gave more corrections during the second, so by the third I felt like I was owning the swings. And now every time I do them I think of what Lonnie told me that day to make sure I’m doing them correctly.

I don’t think I would have stayed sane during this ITBS injury if I hadn’t started Refine. Aside from keeping me active, I know that it’s given me strength I didn’t have before, along with helping to correct some weaknesses and imbalances I have. I’m confident that I can get back to running and — with continued Refine Method classes — stay injury-free and continue to get stronger.

Reppin' Refine in Disney... with a fountain side plank

Reppin’ Refine in Disney… with a fountain side plank

So if you’re in the NYC metro area (living or even just visiting!) do yourself a favor and take a class. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Friday Favorites: What’s In My Gym Bag

It’s been quite some time since I did a Friday Favorites post! I thought now that I’m attending a lot of fitness classes, it would a great opportunity for me to share with you the favorite things I keep in my gym bag. So far since being injured I’ve taken a bunch of different yoga classes (including aerial!), spin classes, and my current beloved, Refine Method. It’s almost a guarantee that I’ll be a sweaty mess after every class, so I make sure to pack my bag accordingly – doesn’t matter whether I have errands to do after class or I’m just going home… no one wants to smell or be sweaty on the train or while walking home in the cold!

Gym Bag Essentials | FoodosaurusRex.com

My collage making skills are less than stellar, so this one goes counter-clockwise… which kind of drives me insane, but I don’t have the patience or time to re-make the collage.

Forever21 Gym Bag

The most important piece here is my gym bag, obviously. I never had the need for one before, but since I started taking classes that require me to hop on the train, I knew it was time to upgrade from my old Long Champ Le Pliage tote. I really loved the look of quite a few bags, but didn’t want to plunk down the cash for something that was just going to hold my sweaty clothes and sneakers. Eventually I found one from Forever21 that was only $23 and had great reviews. I figured that for $23, I couldn’t go wrong! I’ve been using it multiple times a week for a few weeks now and couldn’t be happier with it. It has plenty of compartments both inside and out, and is large enough to hold everything I could possibly need without being a huge bag. Unfortunately they don’t have the same bag online anymore, but they do have a few others that look awesome!

Pacifica Coconut Water Facial Wipes

I got these facial wipes as a sample pack in the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet goodie bag, immediately fell in love with them, and went to Target to buy some. They smell amazing (think coconut butter on a tropical island) and do a good job of wiping off all the dirt and sweat without being harsh. My skin is really sensitive (and dry and acne prone, yay!) so I have to be careful about what products I use. I love them so much that I also bought some of their body butter which is equally amazing.

Nathan Power Shower Body Wipes

These bad-boys are a life saver. I’ve had plans after almost every Refine Method class (usually errands or brunch and not something that required a full shower) and I sweat a lot, so these have come in handy. One wipe is all you need to refresh yourself and feel like you can go about your business without being the smelly kid in class. They aren’t a shower replacement by any means, but they definitely keep me from feeling gross. I bought a bunch on Amazon and they’ve been perfect after races where I want to hang out and cheer or go grab food after!

Nuun/Picky Bars Water Bottle

This might seem silly, but I’m kind of picky about my water bottles when it comes to working out. I want something that I can easily grab and don’t have to struggle with to get a drink from. The bottles that I’ve gotten from Nuun and Picky Bars do the trick! The body of the bottle has enough give so I can squeeze it if I’m in dire need of water, and the  top doesn’t require anything fancy from me in order to actually get water out. Plus, it fits perfectly on a FlyWheel bike, next to my yoga mat, or in between stations at Refine Method!

Infinity Scarves! 

With winter (officially) only a few days away, I’ve found an infinity scarf is the perfect thing to have with me for pre and post class. It keeps me warm on the walk there, but it also helps to keep my sweaty hair off my neck for the walk home! My favorites are the Oiselle Runfinity scarf (I have the regular stripe in fresh green, the lux runfinity in fast red, and the fleece infinity scarf) as well as the Lululemon Vinyasa scarf. I pack one even if it’s a “warmer” day because by the time I’m heading home and back out in the cooler air after sweating, I need a little something extra. Once the cooler weather months hit, you can almost always find me wearing some type of scarf, so it seemed only natural to wear it to and from my workouts, too!

Tell me…
Do you have any gym bag essentials? 
What’s your favorite group fitness class?

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All About the Legs

I’ve always been someone that thinks a strong body is beautiful. As a swimmer in high school and college, I made sure to get myself to the gym in addition to spending time in the pool in order to work on my upper body strength. For whatever reason, I always neglected my legs. They were pretty strong on their own, but I always felt the burn while chugging along during kick sets at the back of the lane. Since I’ve started running, though, I’ve realized more and more just how weak my legs are.

My kind of body!

[Source]

Knowing full well that in order to be a well rounded athlete and to excel at any form of exercise you need to incorporate more than just your typical routine into the mix, I decided to do just that. So, since I’m primarily a runner these days, this means body weight exercises, yoga, and anything else I can think of. I know that doing this can help me in addition to logging countless miles, and it can help keep me from boredom. And maybe most importantly, I’ll be working different muscles and making sure I stay injury free!

So, I’ve been doing the same leg workout for a week or so and I can definitely feel my legs getting stronger. This is a perfect workout not only for runners, but also to get ready for shorts season!

I’ve been trying to figure out the “perfect” upper body workout for me, and am working through a few different variations. Once I have that down pat, I’ll share it as well! And don’t worry, I’m still devouring deliciousness and will be sharing it with you, but I wanted to start branching out to my second love – fitness. So, you’ll likely be seeing a few more running/fitness related posts from me here and there in addition to all the foodie related goodies.

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Filed under Running