The Hardest Class I Took at the YMCA

Thanks to the YMCA of Greater New York for sponsoring this post.

Over the past two months, I have taken multiple classes at the YMCA including, but not limited to boot camp, yoga, spin, TRX, water aerobics and even a trampoline class. While each YMCA location had it’s own individual community vibe, I loved that every class format provided a safe environment for all abilities with teachers providing modifications throughout class.  The instructors took time before and after class to engage with students and it was clear that in most classes, I was the only new person. The YMCA members are loyal to their classes and instructors, and this was especially clear in my final class – Insanity.

After reading about the Insanity workouts on other health and wellness blogs, I was excited to discover that YMCA branches offer this workout to its members for no extra charge. Typically, the Insanity workout is only available when purchased through a Beachbody coach or their official website for 3 installments of $39.95.  This intense workout uses only your body weight and is a maximum interval style workout. This means that you push yourself, as hard as possible for 30 second to 1.5 minute increments and then have a very brief recovery between moves.

Chinatown YMCA

Offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Chinatown YMCA, there was a line waiting outside the studio when I arrived, ten minutes before class. I asked a few of the students if they were regulars and took the class often. Their responses quickly told me that this class was going to be intense and I should fill my water bottle up and grab a towel because I’d be a sweaty mess by the end.

This class is awesome. 

The workout is efficient and killer!

Wait, this is your first time? Good luck! Make sure to tell Marc. 

Spoiler alert – this 45-minute class was beyond hard. In fact, it was not only the hardest class I took at the YMCA but one of the hardest classes I’ve taken – ever!

Insanity after

This class, while open and available to all members, is not for all abilities. Even though the friendly and high energy instructor, Marc, asked students about injuries and provided some adjustments, it as non-stop plyometric work. Almost all the moves were high impact including lots of jumping, side to side movements, sprints, and bursts of power. I can’t remember all the moves but the ones that stuck out in my head were the tuck jumps, ski jumps, cross jacks, ski abs, and clap push-ups. It wasn’t necessarily any individual move that made this class tougher than most of the classes I take at Barry’s Bootcamp, Fhitting Room, or Brick but instead the constant intensity. There weren’t alternate exercises to use as a “rest” such as weights or erg pieces. Instead, you were constantly moving between these high impact movements.

Insanity 2Insanity 1

Now that I have experienced Insanity, I can understand the appeal. For people who want to take their fitness and health to the next level, this is a great option especially if you workout at home. If you do the routine the 6 days a week that founder Shawn T recommends, you will get into fighting shape. However you will also put your body at a very high risk of injury if you don’t already know the right form and have a strong fitness base. Instead of trying this at home initially, I would recommend seeing if your local gym or even ClassPass studio offers the class so you can try it in-person with an instructor. If that isn’t an option, try to partner with a friend who has done it before or is experienced in high intensity workouts so they can help you with your form.

If you’re a member of YMCA of NYC and looking for a challenge, Marc’s twice a week Insanity classes will leave you sweating and out of breath. His friendly smile and awesome playlist will make you forget that you have 44 minutes left of class after you’re already out of breath in the first minute of tuck jumps.

Your turn: Have you tried Insanity yet? If so, what were your thoughts? 

Live in NYC and want to see what your local branch offers? Check out the YMCA website.

Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored partnership with the YMCA of Greater New York.

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CLASSPASS Month In Review: December and January

ClassPass reviews

As you may remember, four months ago Bo and I decided to give ClassPass a try after hearing wonderful things about it, realizing the two of us could leverage it together and a positive month long trial back in July.  It’s crazy how much can change in such a short period of time. Back in July I tried it for the first time and now, just a few months later, I’m an official ClassPass ambassador!  I’ve taken 78 classes through ClassPass and am one of their largest advocates! Don’t believe me? Try for yourself! Use this link to get $25 off your first month!

cp pic

As promised, each month I will provide a brief recap of our experience including the number of classes taken, average cost per class and a brief recap of the studios where we sweat that month. In addition, if you’re on CLASSPASS feel free to follow my fitness schedule here. I love meeting readers so if you see me in a class, please say hello! If you want to check out my previous monthly recaps, click herehere and here.

Month 4: December 20 – January 20th

Number of classes taken: 18

Number of studios visited: 10

Number of classes missed or late cancelled: 0

Number of cities: 1 (NYC)

Average cost per workout based on NYC rate of $125 per month: $6.94

Wow, even with the week that we spent in Savannah over Christmas, I was still able to squeeze 18 classes into this month. I think that the cold, winter weather motivated me to workout inside versus run outside, hence the continued increase in classes. Bo and I have kept up our trend of working out together as much as possible, often at least one weekend class and two early morning classes per week. I was able to achieve my goal of taking four yoga classes during the month as well as keeping up with my half marathon training and high intensity training to ensure I keep getting stronger.

Last Month’s Classes

High 45 at Mile High Run Club (1)

I’ve professed my love of Mile High multiple times (full review here). Their High 45 class is a great class for runners of all abilities. As you can guess from the class name, the workout includes 45-minutes of running. The running includes a five minute warm-up and five minute cooldown. In between that you’ll sweat through 35 minutes of tempo work. A typical class includes half hills and half speed with most intervals ranging from three to six minutes! My favorite teachers are Jes Woods and Deborah Woods!

Row House Full Body 45 at Row House Chelsea (3)

Rowing is a wonderful, low-impact workout which can supplement any workout plan. While I’ve taken classes at CityRow, Row House is the first rowing workout in NYC that truly reminded me of the rowing practices Bo and I sweat through in high school. The Full Body 45 class is a 45-minute class which includes a 5 minutes of rowing drills to warm-up, 15 minutes of rowing intervals and sprints, 5-10 minutes of strength work, another 15 minutes of rowing intervals and sprints, followed by a short cooldown. The class is perfect for people of all abilities as each person controls the speed or intensity at which they row. Scott and Caley are our favorite instructors, constantly motivating students while correcting form and ensuring that everyone is pushing themselves. For those who need to sweat and then dash to work, the Row House Chelsea location includes a small, but nice locker room featuring two showers, blow dryers and toiletries where you can get ready for work or date night.

 

 

Signature Fhix at Fhitting Room (3)

Bo and I love the 50-minute high intensity classes which pair two instructors with a class of 20-25 students for a sweat inducing good time. The music is always perfectly on point, motivating and pushing us while the instructors lead the group through functional movements such as lunges, burpees and squats followed by strength training with kettle bells and finally high intensity exercises including rowing machines, ski-ergs and box jumps. The atmosphere is one of the most supportive I’ve felt and it is a great starting place for people who want to learn more about functional training and using items like boxes and kettlebells as the instructors adjust students during class. The dual instructor model means that there is always someone watching you! The studio offers showers, lockers, towels and water. But, consider yourself warned, if you want to shower, I highly recommend you skip the stretch cool-down and snag a shower instead. There are only three showers and in the mornings the line can get pretty long. If you’re a NYC reader who finds it impossible to snag a spot in Fhitting Room, my biggest tip is to look 24 and 12-hours in advance of class. We were able to get in each of these classes around the 18-hour mark.  Our favorite instuctors are Eric, Ben, Dara, Emily and Carlos.

 

HIIT 45 at HIIT Box

You know those studios and classes you just WANT to love? For us, this is one of those. I wish we loved it but unfortunately, this studio was a once and done for us even though it’s just a five minute walk from our apartment. The owner Maryam was also the teacher and while she was very supportive, Bo nor I loved her vibe. The space is small, allowing only 5 to 7 students which is good for adjustments and form but can be negative for motivation. There were only four students in our class, including us, so it was hard to feel inspired and motivated by those around us. The workout itself was a typical HIIT workout which included stations ranging from rower, box, kettlebless and body weight work which we rotated through four times for one minute each. I think repeating the moves four times also made the class a bit boring and repetitive.

Power Flow 60 at Tangerine Hot Power Yoga

There is a reason this studios classes quickly sell out, especially evening and weekends when Brooklyn locals and Manattanites flock to Tangerine Yoga. The 60-minute class isn’t for the weak as it is a heated strong, power yoga class. But, don’t fear, instructors provide lots of adjustments and guidance to ensure everyone has the best session possible. The studio provides complimentary yoga mats and towels as well as selling juices and coconut water in the small boutique and lounge area. I’ve now taken five classes at this studio and grow more in love with it each class. They develop a great sense of community and each instructor is more supportive than the next. So far, my favorite instructors are Emily and Tamara.

Sunrise Flow and Bend+Bloom Yoga

This Park Slope yoga studio has two large, bright, beautiful studios and offers more than 65 classes per week.  The Sunrise Flow which is offered on Friday mornings, is taught by the lovely Christine, a fellow blogger and runner. Her class is 60 minutes of flow which often includes lots of twists, stretches and restorative poses along with a fewer higher energy poses to wake the body. I love starting my Friday with this class as it puts me in the best mood and is a great way to release tension and stress from the body as well as shake out my hips and legs before my weekend long run.  While there aren’t showers, the studio’s private bathroom is spacious and would allow for a quick wet wipe bath and dry shampoo spritz before work.

Flow Yoga Open at Exhale Central Park South 

It’s rare that I head uptown for classes since moving to Brooklyn but when two friends rave about the same teacher for weeks upon end, you finally head up for an early morning yoga session. I forgot how incredibly gorgeous the Exhale Central Park South location is until I walked through the door and felt as if I’d immediately been transported to a spa. Since the space is part spa and part fitness studio you get all the benefits of the zen like atmosphere, large locker rooms, tea, snacks and plenty of relaxation space along with the yoga class. Taught by Isaac Pena, this class was a perfect mix of Vinyasa flow with fluid movements as well as lots of adjustments to help students move deeper into the poses. When I finished the class, feeling completely relaxed and zen yet in a puddle of sweat, I understood the hype around Isaac’s classes.

B/X Brick Brooklyn

Brick New York features multiple types of workouts in their space ranging from CrossFit to yoga. In between is their hybrid workout, B/X.  A high intensity, functional training class it is very similar to Fhitting Room. After a short warm-up we spent the next 45 minutes moving through circuits which included rowers, treadmills, wall balls, med balls, kettlebells and box jumps.  There are no breaks so you will be dripping sweat in no time but the energy of those around you will keep you moving and motivated. I love that the instructor constantly walks the class, helping ensure everyone has the proper form. In addition, if they notice that a move comes to easy, they are quick to provide a recommended adjustment to make it harder. There are locations at Grand Central, Chelsea and Brooklyn so this workout is convenient for just about anyone. There are plenty of lockers and showers so you can get ready here before work if you need without rushing out of class early.

Overthrow Underground Boxing

This 45-minute workout is gritty, tough and empowering! The class begins with ten minutes of calesthenic warmups which will make you sweat. Think lots of burpees, jumping jacks, squats and pushups. After the “warmup” you’ll start focusing on the boxing technique through shadowboxing and then finally bag work. The classes fly by and the music and instructors are motivating and high energy. The studio has a very small, single shower bathroom so I wouldn’t recommend getting ready for work here but it’s the perfect way to burn off steam after a long day. They provide gloves but wraps must be brought or bought at the studio.

Your turn: If you’re a NYC local, what are your favorite studios? Where should I sweat next? 

This post is not compensated nor requested of me via CLASSPASS. While it does contain affiliate links, as a CLASSPASS affiliate, I only receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase a CLASSPASS membership.

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CLASSPASS Month in Review: November & December

Classpass review

As you may remember, four months ago Bo and I decided to give ClassPass a try after hearing wonderful things about it, realizing the two of us could leverage it together and a positive month long trial back in July. I cant believe that through today I’ve taken FIFTY classes with ClassPass!

Each month I will provide a brief recap of our experience including the number of classes taken, average cost per class and a brief recap of the studios where we sweat that month. In addition, if you’re on CLASSPASS feel free to follow my fitness schedule here. I love meeting readers so if you see me in a class, please say hello! If you want to check out my previous monthly recaps, click here and here.

Month 3: November 20 – December 19th

Number of classes taken: 17

Number of studios visited: 13

Number of classes missed or late cancelled: 0

Number of cities: 2 (Toronto and NYC)

Average cost per workout based on NYC rate of $125 per month: $7.35

Wow, no wonder I felt like a lean, mean, fighting machine going into the holiday break. I can’t believe that I took this many classes last month! Bo and I are now in the habit of sitting down Sunday evening and planning our week of workouts. We do our best to take at least three to four classes together during the week. There is currently only one studio which we love, Fhitting Room, which due to popularity, requires us to book immediately at 12pm the week before class.  Most weeks, if we’re both on the ClassPass app at 11:58, we are able to get in the 6AM class we want.

As you can see from the below, I still have an opportunity to include more barre, yoga or Pilates classes in the mix but luckily I’ve made that a focus for January and have already taken four yoga classes this month!

Last Month’s Classes

The Distance at Mile High Run Club (1)

I’ve professed my love of Mile High multiple times (full review here) but only recently did I begin taking their distance classes. The distance class is 60 minutes of running, and is therefore designed specifically for the advanced runner or athlete who is looking for a challenge. The 60 minute class isn’t for the feign of heart as it includes 50 minutes of non-stop running including hills and speed work. During the three classes I covered an average of 5.5 miles per class, which included race simulations, sprints and hill work. I highly recommend class with Luke or Michael who each teach a handful of distance classes per week. If you are new to Mile High or running, the Dash 28 class with Andia Wilson is also a great option!

Dash 28 at Mile High Run Club (1)

If you’re newer to Mile High or running, this class is a great option for you! The 45-minute class includes 28 minutes of treadmill running followed by 10 minutes of strength training using body weight and kettle bells. The running portion includes a mix of hills and speed work, similar to the distance class, but due to the short duration, flies by quickly. I highly recommend Andia Wilson and Corinne!

 

Row House Full Body 45 at Row House Chelsea (3)

Rowing is a wonderful, low-impact workout which can supplement any workout plan. While I’ve taken classes at CityRow, Row House is the first rowing workout in NYC that truly reminded me of the rowing practices Bo and I sweat through in high school. The Full Body 45 class is a 45-minute class which includes a 5 minutes of rowing drills to warm-up, 15 minutes of rowing intervals and sprints, 5-10 minutes of strength work, another 15 minutes of rowing intervals and sprints, followed by a short cooldown. The class is perfect for people of all abilities as each person controls the speed or intensity at which they row. Scott is our favorite instructor, constantly motivating students while correcting form and ensuring that everyone is pushing themselves. For those who need to sweat and then dash to work, the Row House Chelsea location includes a small, but nice locker room featuring two showers, blow dryers and toiletries where you can get ready for work or date night.

Fly 45 at Flywheel (2)

Historically, I’ve had a love hate relationship with Flywheel. I love that the studio provides water, spin shoes, towels and healthy snacks with the cost of every class. But, I have had one too many sub-par teachers who don’t inspire or push me during class. Luckily, last month, Bo discovered two teachers (Josh Arden, Holly Rilinger and Johnny De Triquet) who merged challenging classes with awesome, upbeat playlists. Now that we’ve discovered these teachers, we’ll more than likely use our 3 classes per month allowance since they have 5:30 or  6 AM classes daily.

Prana Power Yoga in Brooklyn 

While I really like hot yoga and any studio that is walking distance from our apartment gets extra points, I just don’t love Prana Power Yoga. I’ve taken five classes here and have yet to have a teacher that I adore. In fact, two of the teachers never provided adjustments or walk around the class.  For me, Prana is the studio that I go to when I decide last minute that I want to squeeze in a yoga class. I took this class on a whim, the day after Thanksgiving.  The studio is clean, and doesn’t have that “hot, steamy, sweaty smell” that you get at some hot or Bikram yoga studios. There aren’t showers but they have two bathrooms which are large enough to do a quick wet wipe bath and change. They offer five to six classes per day so regardless the hour, there is probably a class that meets your schedule.

 

Signature Fhix at Fhitting Room (2)

I think I screamed with glee the day I received the ClassPass email stating that Fhitting Room was now an affiliated studio. Bo and I love the 50-minute high intensity classes which pair two instructors with a class of 20-25 students for a sweat inducing good time. The music is always perfectly on point, motivating and pushing us while the instructors lead the group through functional movements such as lunges, burpees and squats followed by strength training with kettle bells and finally high intensity exercises including rowing machines, ski-ergs and box jumps. The atmosphere is one of the most supportive I’ve felt and it is a great starting place for people who want to learn more about functional training and using items like boxes and kettlebells as the instructors adjust students during class. The dual instructor model means that there is always someone watching you! The studio offers showers, lockers, towels and water.

Chest, Back & Abs at Barry’s Bootcamp Chelsea

I first tried Barry’s Bootcamp in 2012 during a Well+Good event. It was a love at first sweat experience. Since then they have expanded throughout NYC and cities across the world but the workout hasn’t changed. Walk into the dim lit room ready to work your butt off, sweat a lot, have awesome music pumping through the speakers and instructors motivating you through a mix of yelling, inspiring and supporting. While the workout isn’t for everyone, I definitely suggest snagging a spot on ClassPass and trying it out for yourself. The classes book quickly but I was able to squeeze into a 6pm class by booking the same day. The chest, back and abs class is actually my favorite of their offerings as it feels the most like a full body workout. When you’re not sprinting or tackling hills on the treadmill, you’re on the floor moving through pushups, planks and other forms of minute long torture.

Circuit 60 at Track Fitness

During a quick trip to Toronto, I took advantage of ClassPass anywhere and booked a class at Track Fitness, a local boutique studio which was recommended to me by four different Twitter followers. This class was very similar to Barry’s Bootcamp though just a tad bit more challenging due to two differences: the treadmill length and the number of people in class. While most of their classes book quickly, this one was at 3pm and only had 7 people. Therefore, the entire class our instructor was correcting form and pushing us to our limits. Our first treadmill portion lasted 10 minutes and was entirely on an incline. Talk about a way to get the heart pumping quickly. The first two rounds of floor work were entirely body weight while the third round included dumb bells. Unlike Barry’s, I loved that they had a countdown clock at the front of the class so we always knew how many minutes or seconds we had left in a set. If I lived in Toronto I could see myself frequenting this spot and enjoying a post-workout smoothie date at Greenhouse Juice Co which is located in the same building.

Freestyle at HIIT BK

If you take class with Marc, there is no way you won’t collapse in a puddle of sweat after the first 15 minutes. This class is probably the hardest HIIT class we’ve taken. It is more cardio focused than strength focused since it’s primarily body weight work, but regardless, you will be sore the next day. The class is a small group HIIT workout which means you’ll be with 10-15 other people as you sweat through the moves which when we went included everything from wall sits, high knees, burpees, squats, planks, boxing and football drills. I would not recommend this class if it’s your first time trying HIIT but if you’re looking for motivation, a challenge and a huge calorie burn then this is your place. The space isn’t fancy so don’t expect them to provide anything other than the great coaching and workout. Bring your own water and towel and know that they don’t have a shower.

Springboard Athletics at Brooklyn Strength

This is one of those classes that I want to take again in hopes that it redeems itself. The first pass seemed like it needed another sip of coffee. It was early, the teacher didn’t seem very experienced, the playlist was off, and nothing seemed to flow properly. But, the workout itself and the theory was great. Christine and I both liked that the conveniently located Cobble Hill studio combined Pilates, kettlebells, springboard and body strength moves while focusing on form and function. I just signed up for the class again next week but this time I’m taking it with the owner, Cadence Dubois.

 

Uplift Strength

Since Uplift opened in 2012 I’ve been a huge fan of this womens-only boutique studio which offers group fitness classes and personal training. Located conveniently in Flatiron near multiple subways, their Strength class is still my favorite class in their lineup. Each muscle group is worked until fatigue, typically the duration of one to two songs on the playlist, before moving to another muscle. The teachers use weights, body weight, resistance bands, and sliding discs to challenge your muscles and make you sweat. I highly recommend taking class with Liz Barnett, but book right at 12pm because her classes fill quickly. In case you need to head to work or happy hour after class, they offer two showers and all the things you’ll need including blow dryers, straighteners, shampoo, razors, etc.

45 Minute Metrics at Peloton

After a solid first experience, Bo and I decided to give Peloton a second try due to the fact that they have lots of classes on their daily schedule, feature one of the nicest locker rooms for post workout showers and we’d heard a great deal about their bikes. This 6 AM class did not disappoint and we loved the instructor, Hannah M Corbin, who motivated me with her six pack abs and infectious smile. The Peloton classes are all streamed live so Peloton bike owners can follow along at home. This creates a different dynamic as the instructor is at times motivating and coaching the class while other times she’s giving props to the riders at home. Regardless, we both agreed that we’d return to this studio because the bikes were the best we’ve ridden on – smooth, easy to read computers and easily adjusted. The gorgeous studio greets clients with complimentary spin shoes, water and towels which make things easy in addition to a spacious locker room which features all the essentials!

Mind Body Bootcamp at Circuit of Change

This class combines a little bit of everything into a solid, very different 60-minute workout. Jason and Alyssa, the husband and wife team behind Circuit of Change, combine martial arts, cardio, yoga, plyometrics and even meditation in an effort to help students leave each class feeling more energized and balanced. Come to the class ready to laugh at yourself as you do some of the moves for the first time, but know that you will leave sweaty. This is definitely a workout I’d suggest booking with a friend so you can laugh and smile at each other as you chant, jump and try new things. The staff is very kind and attentive, wanting every student to feel at home in the space.

Your turn: If you’re a NYC local, what are your favorite studios? Where should I sweat next? 

This post is not compensated nor requested of me via CLASSPASS. While it does contain affiliate links, as a CLASSPASS affiliate, I only receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase a CLASSPASS membership. 

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