Podcast, Episode 6 – Low Back Pain and the SI Joint with Katharine Hauge, DPT

Brenna Backe sits down with Katharine Hauge, DPT to discuss low back pain, and specifically, the role the SI joint can play. They cover why the SI joint is so important, how an imbalance can lead to pain or injury, and how to differentiate between hip pain, knee pain, and pain caused by the SI joint. If you have ever had low back and/or hip pain, you will want to listen to this episode.

Class Review – May 2018

This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world.  I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio.  I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.

So I have committed to trying something new each month and to write a review about it.  By no means do I pretend that these are objective reviews.  Think of this as more my opinion as a fitness expert (it does say opinionated fitness guru in the title).  Also, there may be things I don’t like that you do.  I am not here to debate, just stating my thoughts because my name is in the url.

Revo Physiotherapy – Yoga for Athletes

I have been watching the guys over at Revo since they first opened on the 29th street mall, before they moved into a shared space with Black Lab Sports.  I was intrigued by their use of a movement tracking software and they seem to be as obsessed as I am with good form.  I regularly saw videos of professional cyclists squatting and deadlifting with electrodes attached to their joints while perusing my Facebook feed.  Needless to say, I was excited to try their yoga offering for this month’s class review.

And this is where it went all wrong.  Maybe I had too high expectations, maybe I assumed too much, maybe I just came in with the wrong idea, but, man, I was disappointed.

I arrived 10 minutes early because I knew Revo’s facility was located in a warehouse set up and I thought I might have a hard time finding it.  It took a google business page to finally find which suite they were in (it was not listed on the website), but I didn’t find any markings on the building.  I did find a door with the Revo logo on it, but it was locked.  I waited in my car, assuming the instructor was just running a little behind.  7 minutes later, I saw another car come flying into the parking lot and go around to the back side of the building.  I decided to follow, hoping I still had time to join class.

I followed man with a mat under his arm to a door around the backside of the building and ended up in some office space.  Glancing down a hallway, I saw the Revo space in all it’s glory – there is a beautiful turf section that is huge, a nice, soft rubber floor section with weights, and just a ton of space.  I was green with envy.  “This is more like it.” I thought.  This is the space I have seen on social media.

I entered the grand space and saw no mats.  Ok.  Turned to the guy sitting behind a desk and asked where the yoga class was.  He pointed and I started moving in the direction, around a corner, and ended up in an artist’s shared space.  I followed voices into one of the artist studios to finally find the yoga class.  It was a concrete floor, with paint splattered everywhere, full fluorescent lighting above, and it smelled like paint.  I have to say, the art was very nice.  I just didn’t want to do yoga there.  And at this point I was late…and annoyed.

Now, take into account I was already in a bad mood at this point.  I decided to try to let it go and settle into the class, but it just wasn’t possible.  “Yoga for Athletes” should be renamed “Stretching for Really, Really Tight People”.  The class was disjointed and rigid.  We did not flow one move to the next, but held a “yoga-inspired” stretch for a bit, came out of it, and then listened to instructions for the next stretch.  And remember, the whole time you are doing all of this on a solid concrete floor.

During the whole class, I was just in disbelief at how this “yoga” class existed in Boulder.  Boulder has over 30 yoga studios within the city limits, not to mention classes and workshops that are happening at dance studios, city parks, and even libraries. The yoga talent that calls Boulder home includes Jeanie Manchester, Richard Freeman, Amy Ippoliti, Gina Caputo, and others.  We have the Hanuman Festival for Pete’s sake.

Normally, I write a pro and con section at this point in my reviews, but I think I have already said enough.  Yoga is suppose to be a mobility practice, a strength practice, and a body awareness practice (and so much more).  When you have a class of people (there were only 4 of us, but still) who have bodies that are tightened down by repetitive use and then have them move into compromising positions and are guided by a person who  doesn’t have a well-rounded approach to movement, you are going to hurt someone.

Ok, now I have said enough…

 

Class Review – April 2018

This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world.  I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio.  I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.

So I have committed to trying something new each month and to write a review about it.  By no means do I pretend that these are objective reviews.  Think of this as more my opinion as a fitness expert (it does say opinionated fitness guru in the title).  Also, there may be things I don’t like that you do.  I am not here to debate, just stating my thoughts because my name is in the url.

Boulder Movement Collective – Fundamentals

I was first introduce to Boulder Movement Collective and the movement philosophy of Ido Portal 2-3 years ago when a friend from NJ came to Boulder with the sole purpose of spending a week at the Collective to learn.  At first glance, it just looks like a bunch of people trying to handstand and moving around in similar movements to that of monkeys, but I am here to tell you, it is so much more.

I have been obsessing over the idea of movement vs. exercise for a few years now (There will be a whole other blog post on this) and I am always looking to learn and observe more movement, more teachings, and more ideas.  It seems we (meaning us as a society) have lost the core of movement, the heart of it, and I want to get closer and closer to it for me and my clients.  Ido Portal and the people over at the Collective have come up with a way to teach movement patterns in an intuitive and fun way.

From the moment I stepped through the door, I was welcomed.  Our instructor, Zack, was super friendly and inviting.  The other students also did not hesitate to approach me, engage me in conversation, and help me understand the movements we were working on.  The space is light, bright, and just generally happy.

I LOVE this kind of workout.  Crawling around on the floor, trying to move in creative and different ways, hanging, pushing, pulling, and lizarding.  You heard right, the lizard, its a thing.  We spent most of the time on floor work, moving in different ways, with a lot of time spent in a low squat, using our hands and feet and staying low to make our way across the floor.  It is one of those workouts where you hardly notice you are exercising because it is so fun and mentally engaging.  Our class was 90 minutes, and at no point was I looking at the clock and wishing it would end.  It was seamless, fun, and the sense of community was comforting.

Along with the floor work, we also incorporated some mobility work and strength work.  The strength consisted of pull-ups or chin-ups and pushups or tricep dips.  The focus was always on shoulder position and stability.  The instructor was constantly wandering providing feedback to each person.  However, since you are always working in pairs, you always have a 2nd set of eyes on your movements and you get to provide that for your partner as well.  It is nice to practice the movement and also watch it being performed.  It makes learning the movements easier.

Class ended with the lizard.  A low crawl across the floor (see video below).  I have seen this done many times and have tried to mimic it, but it is almost impossible till you have someone show it to you.  It was fun to do this as a class, you could really see the different levels of beginner to advanced student and it helps you progress your movements and make them more fluid.

Cons: They only have 6 parking spots and my class had over 20 attendees.  So you have to park down the street.  Unfortunately, they are also doing construction in the area so it made this scenario even a little more inconvenient.  However, I did get a little extra jog in going back and forth to my car.

I would also warn that those with injuries and limitations should talk to the instructor before class.  We spent a lot of time on our wrists and in deep knee bends.  Zack assured me there were modifications, but you should definitely be proactive and give him the heads up.  If this type of movement hurts you, this may not be your thing right now.

Pros: Fun!  This class is so engaging on many levels, which to me, equals fun.  It makes you think, move in different ways, test your boundaries of movement, and sets you up for success.  More than once during class I thought “There is NO WAY I can do that!” and overtime, Zack broke down the move to where I could do more than I thought.

Here is a little glimpse into some of the movements:

 

Stop Stressing

STRESS.  Everyone has had it, felt it, been overwhelmed by it, failed at overcoming it, and have had it rule moments in their lives.  High stress can lead to an array of health problems including obesity, heart disease, and depression.  And just to add to the irony, when we worry about what our stressful lives are doing to our health, it makes us more stressed (my blood pressure is rising just writing these words).  How do we stop this cycle?

The stress we feel in our daily lives springs from multiple factors.  Stress can rise due to poor eating habits, environmental toxins, anxiety or worry, high pressure situations, our relationships with other people, our financial security and many other things.  Due to this multi-front attack on our stress levels, we need to have a defense that is just as layered.

We need to be able to prevent, combat, and recover from stress to help us lead healthy and more manageable day-to-day lives.  Below are suggestions of some easy things you can add in to help reduce your stress levels and avoid stressful situations in the future.

Prevent Stress

  • Daily Calm – Spend at least 5 minutes each day in a calm and quiet state.  This doesn’t have to be a full meditation session, just a few minutes for you to focus on your breathing, let you thoughts float in and out without reaction, and allow your heart rate and nervous system to settle down.  This is just as important as brushing your teeth or getting a workout in.
  • Eat Well – Poor food choices are going to lead to a crash and burn feeling in your mind and body.  Nobody can stay calm in stressful situations if they are already fighting their bad mood.  Keep blood sugars level, eat right, eat at consistent times, and keep yourself hydrated to avoid moodiness, headaches, and exhaustion.
  • Set Yourself up for Success – If you look at the calendar for your week and you know it is going to be stressful, don’t drink a glass of wine, sit on the couch, and begin to worry and get apprehensive.  Get your toosh up and set yourself up for success.  Think about going into a stressful week the same way you would think about facing a strong opponent in a match.  Prepare.  Get whatever you can get done ahead of time, rest up and eat right (put the wine down) so your body and mind are strong.  Go over the most challenging parts of your week and think about ways to de-stress those situations.  The days and weeks are coming whether you are ready or not.  Get prepared so you can be your best.

Combat Stress

  • Breathe – During a moment of high stress and anxiety, a couple breathes can go a long way.  When you start to feel overwhelmed, stop, and take control of your nervous system by controlling your breathing.  After a few moments, you will have more clarity and be able to approach the situation calmly.
  • “Not Right Now” – Have a hard time saying “No”?  This can lead you to feel out of control of your life.  Even though we know we can’t do something or we don’t have time or don’t want to do something, we still feel the pressure to agree to do it.  It is a mistake made over-and-over.  If you have a hard time saying “No”, try the more friendly and polite version of “Not Right Now”.  It will get you out of the things you know you shouldn’t be doing anyway in a subtle, cool, dare I say, charming way.

Recover from Stress

  • Learn from your Reactions – If you are feeling bad about the way you handled the last stressful situation you were exposed to, take some time to review what happened and learn from it.  What triggered you?  Where was your head space?  Was it the person, time of day, the fact you went out the night before?  Try to find what caused you to move into a high-stress situation and take note of those triggers in the future.
  • Active Relaxation – It sounds counter intuitive.  Active and Relaxation?  What I mean by this is be PROactive in your recovery from stress.  Make sure there are gaps (big ones) in your busy schedule where you can give yourself some space to recover from stressful days, weeks, or events.  Plan vacations, a nice dinner, or some time at the spa.  Or just make sure you take whole days, or at least mornings, off from your stressful schedule. “Downtime” will not just appear, you need to make it happen.
  • Be Grateful – Sometimes when we are caught up in the stress of life, we forget to look around and see how blessed we are to have so much abundance in our lives.  Make sure to take the time to enjoy everything you get to do each day.

Women’s Retreat – San Juan Islands Bike Trip

I just spent the last few days in the upper, west corner of Washington State biking through old-growth forests, past rugged shorelines, through open fields of flowers, and across different islands to get prepared for this year’s San Juan Island Bike Retreat.  This year will be my 3rd trip out to the San Juan Islands for the women’s retreat I do with Women’s Quest every July.  I am so excited to share the place where I spent a lot of my childhood vacations with a rad group of women.

This trip started when I met Colleen Cannon a few years back and suggested that the San Juan Islands might make a great addition to the Women’s Quest calendar of retreats.  The islands provide a perfect blend of scenery, serenity, and shopping that most women are looking for on a vacation.  I can’t describe how fun a day is when you get to pedal with a bunch of friends, stare at gorgeous views, and eat all the ice cream you want.  It’s a little slice of heaven.

Just to give you an idea of what the week looks like, here are a few of my favorite memories from the past two trips:

  • Wine Tasting at Sunset – My cousins allows us to spread out all over his backyard to take in the sunset while we drink wine and eat their food.  It’s fabulous.  They have one of the best views and it is great to sit around and chat after a day in the saddle.
  • Whale Whiplash – We see so many whales on our boat trip we get “Whale Whiplash”.  They will be on the right side, then the left, then under the boat, and you are trying to catch every glimpse of these amazing creatures.
  • Mountains – When you are at sea-level, a 14,000 foot mountain takes up a good amount of the skyline.  THEY ARE GORGEOUS!  Blue and white and beautiful.  I love seeing Mt. Baker everyday as we pedal back to the hotel from the ferry.
  • Laid-Back Lopez Island – This island has very few cars and super friendly people.  The terrain is mellow and very rural.  Open meadows run right into the shoreline.  This day is always a favorite with the group.
  • Bon Voyage Breakfast – We get to eat our last meal on Guemes Island on a grass lawn that overlooks the water.  Then we get to do a short little pedal on this very unpopulated island.  In the last two years, the locals have handed me fresh peaches and flowers as I have ridden by on my bike.
  • Art – the Pacific Northwest has some of the coolest artists.  From art festivals to the stands on the side of the road, you find the most unique art pieces and jewelry.
  • Ferrys and Fairies – Our ferry rides always end up being the time we all gather to talk about the day.  These conversations are filled with laughter, tears, support, and fun.  Women’s Quest retreats have a magical atmosphere that makes you believe in fairies and allows you to make friends for a lifetime.
  • Play – After few days of riding bikes and taking in the fresh air, the ladies of the retreat start getting a little silly.  It is my favorite!  It’s like watching them as they were when they were children.  Adventurous, curious, and just playing.

If you want to join us in 2018, registration is open.  Click here for more info and to register.

Class Review – March 2018

This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world.  I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio.  I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.

So I have committed to trying something new each month and to write a review about it.  By no means do I pretend that these are objective reviews.  Think of this as more my opinion as a fitness expert (it does say opinionated fitness guru in the title).  Also, there may be things I don’t like that you do.  I am not here to debate, just stating my thoughts because my name is in the url.

Mecha – Resistance

Ok, that was seriously hard.  I consider myself to be in good shape and I rarely have a hard time in group classes, but I got my a$$ handed to me at Mecha.

Mecha’s Resistance class follows the Lagree Fitness method which is kind of a pumped spin-off of Pilates.  The class utilizes a machine called a Megareformer, which looks exactly how it sounds.  Think of the delicate, traditional Pilates reformer, and make it a “Mega” version.  It is bigger, wider, has more padding, handholds, and little nooks and straps to hold your feet, heels, elbows or anything else that needs stabilizing.  I personally think it is a pretty cool machine.

The class is 45 minutes long and the idea is to focus on one body part or move until it is completely fatigued and then make a quick transition to the next set of exercises.  The moves are done at a slow 4-count pace so that you can really focus on your form and really burn out your muscles.  A Resistance Fundamentals class is also offered to beginners to help introduce you to the machine and the class.

Our class started and ended with a series of planks and core exercises.  Within the first 5 minutes, my core was on fire and I was dripping in sweat.  Smooshed between the plank-athon was 14 minutes of lunges (7 minutes spent on each leg).  We lunged moving both legs, moving one leg, holding a lunge position, using handles to help us lunge, bending over, reaching to the sky – you name it, we lunged it.  We also did a few upper body moves for our chest and shoulders.

Classes are limited to 10 to allow the instructor to watch your form.  Our instructor walked around the room the whole time, making adjustments to our positions throughout the class.  While there was a good amount of bad form going on (as there always is in all group classes), the instructor was doing his best, without embarrassing the participants in public, to get people into the right position.  He kept a pretty close eye on me since I was the new girl and definitely helped me adjust into the right position more than once.  The class went by fast and was challenging and interesting.

Summary

Cons:  I arrived 10 minutes before class started so that I could get comfortable with the space and the machines.  However, I stood around for 8 of those 10 minutes waiting for someone to return to the front desk or at least say “hi” to the new person.  After 8 minutes, I finally sought out the front desk woman (who had been chatting with a regular for the last 8 minutes) to let her know that I had never been here before.  By the time she took me to meet the instructor, he was obviously annoyed that he had about 30 seconds to show me the equipment and get me situated for class.  It was not a great first impression, especially after last month’s great experience with Orange Theory.

Pros: The slow movement of class was great.  I loved how the instructor kept reminding us to go slow.  It gave me a chance to really do each exercise correctly and get the most out of it.  I also really enjoyed the moves.  They were familiar but had unique twists.  I was sore for about 4 days after I took class.  And to be honest, I am a little upset that I couldn’t do everything in that class.  I will be going back until I have mastered it!

8 Daily Habits to Maintain Your Health

At 26 years old, I weighed 186lbs.  I currently weigh 135lbs.  Over the course of 5 years from age 26 to 31, I lost over 50lbs and I have kept it off for the last 7 years.  Over the years, a lot of my clients have asked me for my “secret” or praised my discipline and focus, but the truth is, I am just a regular person, trying to make healthy choices, one at a time.

Setting big goals is great and necessary to progress.  However, I find, it is the small, daily choices and actions that help us move towards being the healthy person we all want to be.  Small changes over time, lead to the big changes we are ultimately after.

My success is due to my consistency in making those healthy choices.  I take every day and every choice one at a time.  I try to make the best choice each time, sometimes I fail, but I only allow myself to think of the choice in front of me, not what I did earlier or what I might do in the future.  This is the “secret” to successfully becoming the best version of yourself.

Over the years, there are healthy habits I have tried to make part of my daily routine.  It makes them feel more regular, something not special or hard to do each day or that I have to remember to do.  I just set an expectation and choose a place or specific time to plug it into my day.  I attach the new habits I am trying to form to  already established routines, like brushing my teeth or letting the dog out, so that it becomes easy to move from one thing to the other.

If you are trying to “get healthy” try adding one new habit from the list below.  Take your time, moving one day at a time.  It does not matter how long it takes you to get towards your goal, just as long as your are moving in the right direction, getting better with each day.

Here are 8 things I do everyday to maintain my health:

  1. Drink 16oz of water as soon as I wake up.  Drinking water first thing in the morning, after your body has been “fasting” for the past 8-10 hours is one of the best things you can do for your organs.  It can also make you “crave” water throughout the day which acts as a little reminder to keep yourself hydrated.
  2. Move.  I move every single day.  It does not mean I workout everyday, but I move.  This could be as small as a 15 minute stretch session or a 4 hour bike ride or anything in between.  The important thing to me is to use my body each day.  To move it in ways it was designed to move.  Walk, jog, jump, lift, play – do whatever feels good to you.
  3. Give myself time.  I HATE to rush and I don’t like being late.  In order to avoid this, I wake up earlier than I need to which means I go to bed earlier than I need.  I want enough time in the morning to talk with my husband, pet my dog, make my breakfast and prepare my lunch, and even take in some news or answer emails.  I want to enter my day prepared and organized, not scattered and overwhelmed.  If waking up an extra 20-30 minutes earlier is what I need to do, that is fine by me.
  4. Eat my vegetables.  I try to eat some sort of vegetable at every meal and snack.  I put spinach in my eggs in the morning, usually have some sort of salad at lunch, and prep roasted vegetables for dinner.  If you are trying to eat healthier, stop thinking about what you need to take out of your diet and start adding vegetables in.  It will automatically make you eat less junk, crave better food, and smooth out your blood sugar spikes.
  5. Reflect.  I don’t always have time to meditate or even sit still, but there is always time to reflect.  Sometimes I only have time on my drive into work.  I turn the radio off, think about my day and what challenges I may encounter, and start to think of solutions to any problems that may occur.  Again, I like to enter the day calm and prepared.  10 minutes of “prep” can go a long way in helping me make clearer decisions and prioritizing my responsibilities.
  6. Read.  I like to read, so this is easy for me, but I didn’t always like to read.  If you are not a reader, it is an acquired taste, like coffee.  It may be something you don’t enjoy at first, but after a while, you look forward to it.  Reading helps us get out of our “bubble” and exposes us to alternate places, schools of thought, and people.  It is an easy and convenient way to expand your mind.
  7. Take a probiotic.  I take a few supplements like Vitamin D and C and others, but the most important for a healthy gut is going to be a good probiotic.  A healthy gut leads to a healthy immune system, higher energy levels, better food processing, and more.  It is a very easy thing to add in to your daily routine.  Consult with your doctor, nutritionist, or dietician to find one that works best for you.
  8. Sleep.  No shocker here.  I have talked about it on my podcast, I have written about it, I take slack for the fact that I have been known to go to bed at 830pm.  I need sleep to function and perform at my best.  I work with clients on a one-on-one basis who deserve my full attention and my full brain power and there is no way I can give it to them if I am sleep-deprived.  On top of that, getting an adequate amount of sleep helps lower stress, blood pressure, and improves your focus.  Get the sleep you need, so you can be your best the next day.

When making changes to your regular routine, add a little at a time.  It is too much to demand of yourself changes in multiple areas.  Pick one habit you want to add in to your daily routine and give your self 1-3 months to get it established before moving on to the next habit.  Remember, it does not matter how fast you move towards your goal, only that your are moving in the right direction.

 

Suspension Training Workouts

Most of you have probably heard of or seen a suspension training system.  It looks  a little like something you might use to move furniture or ratchet down a kayak on the top of your car.  These straps may look a little silly, but this system is one of the most versatile pieces of workout equipment out there.

  • You can use it anywhere, and I mean anywhere!  I have looped it over tree branches, shut the anchor in hotel room doors, and I currently have one dangling from a machine at my studio.
  • It is portable and packable.  The straps weigh nothing and take up a small amount of space when you are packing them for a trip or putting them away when guests come over to your house.
  • You can do a high intensity interval workout (HIIT) using the suspension system.  Check out these routine ideas.
  • You can get a full-body workout done in 20 minutes.  There are so many ways to use this piece of equipment to exercise every part of the body.  Because it is bodyweight focused, your core is challenged during every move.

Try out the moves below to get a full-body routine done fast.  Do each move (or each side  if the exercise works one side at a time) for 45 seconds.  Rest for 15 seconds before moving to the next exercise (or side).  Finish all the exercises in the set, rest for 2 minutes, then repeat 2-5 times.

Also, please note the very adorable gym dog, Lily, sleeping away in the background.

Class Review – February 2018

This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world.  I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio.  I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.

So I have committed to trying something new each month and to write a review about it.  By no means do I pretend that these are objective reviews.  Think of this as more my opinion as a fitness expert (it does say opinionated fitness guru in the title).  Also, there may be things I don’t like that you do.  I am not here to debate, just stating my thoughts because my name is in the url.

Orangetheory Fitness®

I must admit, OTF (that’s what the regulars call it) was on the top of my list of classes to try.  I love High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), especially in a group setting where you all get to suffer together.  I am also a fan of the simplicity of something like OTF and appreciate how much this place has their business dialed.

From the moment I booked the appointment online, I was amazed at the efficiency of OTF’s system.  Booking a free class online was super easy.  Immediately after I booked, I received a confirmation email with all the regular rules and regulations the go along with appointments, but it also had detailed information about what to expect.  It let me know location, where to park, what time to arrive, what would happen when I arrived, how the class was laid out, etc.  Very helpful for a first-timer.

The day of the class, I arrived the 25 minutes early they suggested.  I was greeted at the door with a cute, welcome sign with my name and the 4 names of the other first-timers on it.  One of the ladies at the desk took me on a tour, showed me where I could store my stuff, gave me a heart-rate monitor, help set up my station, and watched my rowing form.  By the time class started, I felt pretty comfortable.

Class is set up in 3 blocks – rowing, treadmill or spin bike, and weights.  You spend about 20 minutes at each station and run through 2 sets of intervals.  I started on the rower and the coach incorporated distance sprints with reps of a squat and press for our first interval and then timed sprints for the 2nd interval set.  The treadmill station used incline and speed against time for the intervals, and the weight section went through 2 different weight routines.

The cool thing about class, is that you are at the same number station as you move about.  I was station 1, which meant station 2 was always to my left.  This was great because, as it turns out, station number 2 lady was super nice, an OTF regular, and super helpful if I got a little lost with what was going on in the class.  It was kind of nice to travel from station-to-station with a new friend next to you.

The whole story behind the “Orange” in Orange Theory is that they want you to get at least 12 or more minutes in the “Orange” or “Red” heart-rate zones.  These zones represent a heart-rate 85% or higher of your max heart-rate.  They calculate max heart-rate by subtracting your current age from 220.

Throughout the class, the coach came over 4 or 5 times to make sure I was getting along ok.  Throughout class, your heart-rate, zone, and time spent in the “Orange” and “Red” zones are all displayed on a screen under your name.  It is sort of fun because you can have a friendly competition with the others in the class.  Class was energetic and went by pretty quickly.  After class, the coach took the time to go over my heart-rate and explain what each of the numbers meant.

After I left the studio, I was sent an email with my stats from class (see right) and more information about membership.  Again, the process was so dialed-in and efficient.

Summary  

Cons:  Using a calculation of 220 minus your age to establish your max heart-rate is the easiest and fastest way, but definitely not the most precise.  I understand why they do it this way as it takes no equipment and could be calculated by a 3rd grader, but it could mislead people into thinking they are working harder or easier than they really are.  I spent 35 minutes in the “Orange” and “Red” zones and class was a workout, but definitely not a “killer”.  T

The weights section of the class was creative, but not super challenging.  It was hard to get my heart-rate high during this part and I didn’t feel like I got a whole lot out of it.  However, keep in mind, I do lift on my own 3-4 times a week.

Pros: As I stated above, they have their system dialed.  It is so smooth, so beginner-friendly, and so professional.  Even the workout was organized and methodical (and if you know me, this is a HUGE plus in my world).  I also like that they use common exercises like running/walking and rowing to do most of the intervals.  The simplicity allows for people to find good form and adjust as needed.

The staff was friendly, helpful, and always checking in on me.  Before class, during, and after I was never standing around feeling lost.  Someone always had their eye on me to make sure I knew where to go or what to do.  The studio was well-designed and organized, they kept it cool and had good air movement, and the music was pumping.