Class Review Wrap-Up

This year, one of the things I wanted to do was 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 worked my way around local and online classes that I had always wanted to try.  It was a fun year exploring the different class options that are around Boulder.  Even if the class did not sit well with me, I always learned something, saw things from a different perspective, and, usually, I had fun.

Below is a quick summary of the experiences I had over the last year.  What I loved and what I wouldn’t try again.

My Favorites:

Outlaw Yoga  – The best yoga class I have ever taken.  I had the added benefit of doing it outside, on a beautiful, Colorado morning, with friends, but Mark still rocks no matter what setting you put him in.  This class was fun, challenging, and Mark’s organization and cueing were spot on.

Boulder Movement Collective – My exposure to BMC and the movement training of Ido Portal has made a lasting influence on my own training.  Fluidity and rhythm are now as much a part of my training as alignment, balance, and strength.  It has been a fun and challenging year adding these new elements into my training and I continue to get into the BMC studio whenever I can.

Not My Favorite:

Yoga for Athletes – If you have read my reviews, this should not be such a surprise.  I was deeply disappointed in this class.  I thought I was walking into something that would focus on alignment and posture specifically for an athlete, instead I got an unorganized, very informal class on a cement floor.

Additional Reviews:

 

 

 

Class Review – November 2018

This year, one of the things I want 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.

Gaia.com – Yearly Subscription

I know I know, it is December and I am just writing my November review.  Well, I have a really good excuse…November is my birthday month, so I am off the hook.

This review is also a little different as I am reviewing something I have been working on over the course of the year, not just in the last month.  In January of this year, I decided I wanted to incorporate yoga into my regular exercise routine.  I enjoyed not only the movement, but also the focus on connecting the mind and body.  I am no Yogi and there is no way I could come up with a any kind of flow on my own, so I needed some guidance.  The limiting factor for me was finding classes that worked with my schedule.  It was hard to find so I signed up for a year with Gaia.com.

Gaia.com offers online yoga classes that you can stream from your computer anytime.  You can choose the duration, the body part you want to focus on, the instructor, the type of yoga you want to do, and more.  They have classes that are 2 hours long and classes that last only 25 minutes.  This flexibility in the length of classes enabled me to squeeze in 30 minutes of yoga a couple mornings a week instead of committing to the 1.5+ hours it takes to go to a live class.  This allowed me to take class more consistently and to easily fit into my routine.

I also enjoyed being able to chose the body part I wanted to focus on.  After a bike ride, I would choose one of the yin classes that focused on hip openers.  In the morning, I would choose a vinyasa that focused on opening the chest and shoulders.  In the evening, I could choose something that focused on the spine.  This allowed me to personalize my yoga practice and tailor it to what I needed.

I have done more yoga (both live and online) this year than in any year previous.  The ability for me to have the option to practice on my own was a game changer.  Being more regular in my yoga practice not only helped improve the overall strength and flexibility in my body, but also gave me more confidence and a better understanding when going to live classes at a studio.  I also “got in the groove” by practicing regularly.  Meaning that if I didn’t do it for a while, I noticed, my body noticed, and I would fire up a class ASAP.

Gaia.com is less than $100 for the whole year and great intro to a consistent yoga practice if you have no idea where to start.  They have 1,000s of classes to choose from and also provide articles, special series, and even films and documentaries.  There are free yoga websites out there to try, I just happened to choose this one.  Below, I have listed a few of my favorites on Gaia.com if you are looking to increase your yoga practice.

Instructors: Bernie Clark and Clara Roberts

Episodes: Happy Yin Happy Hips, Surya Morning Flow, Deep Release Yin Yoga

Summary:

Pros:  Affordable, flexible, and easy.  Also, you can do yoga in your jammies if you really want because you are the only one in class.

Cons: Nothing beats a live instructor and the accountability a class provides.

Class Review – October 2018

This year, one of the things I want 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.

F45 Training – Wingman: Paired Resistance

My first class review of 2018 was of a Pure Barre class.  It was on my way to this barre class that I stumbled upon F45 Training right next door to the barre studio.  It wasn’t open yet, but it was scheduled to open its doors a few days later.  Well, it took me 10 months to get my butt back there and into a class, and I am happy I did.

I signed up for a 6:30am class, at a studio I had never been to before, at about 8:15pm the night before.  So, it may not surprise you that I had no idea what I was walking into or what kind of workout I was about to perform when I showed up in the morning.  The good news, the instructor was uber friendly, super welcoming, and I felt comfortable within minutes.

Now, on a side note, another trainer and a friend (and owner of the amazing Lillabee Snacks) happened to show up for class that morning too.  I adore this lady and rarely get to see her with our busy work and life schedules so I was stoked about this happy coincidence.  Of course, this made the workout AWESOME, but I will try to write a little more about the workout below and not about her new brownie thins that we talked (and dreamt) about while we moved from station to station.

Before class, the instructor went over the general model of the workouts.  All classes focus on functional training and are 45 minutes (F45).  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays focus on cardio, while Tuesdays and Thursdays were for lifting.  Saturdays and Sundays you could find hybrid classes, and also the exception to the rule…a 60 minute class.  The workouts are not designed by the instructor, but are pre-loaded by the F45 franchise.  There are 31 different workouts that can be done and all have different rest and work cycles.  There are big screens at the front of the room where demonstrations of the exercises are shown as well as a timer, set counter, and other, helpful information.

The workout for my morning class was a partner workout.  Meaning you worked side-by-side with a partner, performing different, but complimentary exercises.  You would perform your exercise for about 35 seconds and then switch with your partner.  Back and forth 3x and then you move to the next station.  The exercises were functional in the Cross Fit kind of way, but reps were done at your speed with a  focus on form.  The instructor’s main job is to make sure we are doing things correctly, from the exercise order to our form.

Mainly, I enjoyed the workout because it was nice to have someone else design my workout besides me.  Especially that early in the morning, it is really nice to just follow along.  The moves were simple but challenging.  An added bonus, the instructor wasn’t yelling in our faces or trying to pump us up the whole time.  He just roamed around, offering a few corrections and some encouragement.

At 45 minutes, class went by really quickly.  It wasn’t the hardest workout ever, but it was well-rounded and I was sore in a few places the day after.  We ended with a quick cool-down and headed out on our way.

Summary:

Pros: Quick, whole-body workout.  Facility was clean and the instructor was nice.  It was easy to follow along with the videos.  Doing a workout with a partner is an added bonus and always make moving more fun.

Cons: If you are a person who has limitations, the class moves a bit too fast to really get into proper form and modifications.  The major con for me is that I personally just find video workouts silly.  I mean, if I want to follow a video, I will just do it at my house.  I’ll buy the videos once instead of pay for a monthly membership.

Class Review – September 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.

Outlaw Yoga

Last month I reviewed the Avita yoga class offered by Yoga Loft.  Now to the opposite end of the yoga spectrum, we find Outlaw Yoga.  This class is bold, fun, and moves quickly.  It is challenging and engaging, but really the hidden secret lies within Mark Stefanowski, Chief Outlaw.

Mark’s style is  a little “in-your-face”, mixed with a little “let’s play”, and a splash of “there is good in all of us” (and a heavy dose of profanity).  His yoga playlist contains everything from Johnny Cash to AC DC, and at one point in his class I think I could have twerked to some hip hop.  This mix of fun and challenge keeps you engaged and connects you to both the practice and your body.

Mark with the Bride and friends

I had taken Mark’s class a few years ago at one of the brewery classes he does to raise money and support the Give Back Yoga Foundation.  So I was excited when a friend of mine invited me to join her for a class with Mark on the morning of her wedding.  The atmosphere could not be beat as we met on a sunny, Colorado morning on a patio facing southwest with a view of the flatirons.

Mark started us off slowly, with an emphasis on our breath.  This lasted about 2 minutes before he turned up the volume, pumped up the music, and had us moving.  We warmed up quickly as he took us through a series of core movements from bicycles to planks.  All while listening to some sweet rock n’ roll.

The neat thing about Mark is, he is fun and exciting and gets you laughing, but he is also very good at teaching yoga.  I have never taken a yoga class before where I was moving so well with my breath.  I know every teacher talks about this, but because you are going to the beat of the music, it is easier to find a rhythm with your movement and your breath.  It is genius.

Outlaw Yoga is based on four principles :

1. Power – Work hard and be strong both on and off the mat.
2. Presence – Cultivate mindfulness in your practice and in life.
3. Boldness –  Be bold in everything you do.
4. Fun – Truly connect to yourself and the world around you to find joy.

The Bride learning to do a handstand with assistance from Mark.

Our class definitely hit all 4.  There were periods in the class where I was laughing hysterically, parts where I was very focused on my body and my position, and parts where I was pushed outside of my comfort zone (handstands are not my strong suite).   When class was over, I felt happy, inspired, and my body felt good.  It was a fantastic way to start the day.

Summary:
Pros:  Fun, challenging, and unexpected.  Gets you outside of your head and your comfort zone.
Cons: For some, this class could be too much.  It moves quickly and there are some very challenging poses.

Class Review – August 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.

Yoga Loft, Gunbarrel – Avita Yoga

I have known for a while now that the folks over at Yoga Loft are almost as obsessed with alignment and good form as we are at my studio, Koa Fit.  A lot of my private clients also attend classes at Yoga Loft, so I have been hearing about this studio and its staple class, Avita (formerly Kaiut) for a couple of years.  In full disclosure, I did take the Kaiut class at the Yoga Loft in Boulder about a year ago, but since that time, they have change a things up a bit, opened a 2nd location, and renamed the class Avita.

Since their 2nd location and newest studio is a only about a mile from where I live, I figured it was the perfect place for me to start taking some yoga classes.  I dabble with a yoga practice.  I have an online membership with Gaia and like to start some of my mornings with their shorter classes, but I have never regularly practiced.  I like the idea of “live” classes.  It is nice to be in a space built for the purpose of yoga instead of pushing furniture aside to make room for your mat.

The new location is, of course, new and beautiful.  It is bright and full of light when you enter.  Our check-in process was a little bumpy.  It seems our instructor wasn’t totally familiar with the software and it took a while to get everything processed through.  Even though this was a bit unorganized, everyone who helped did so with a good attitude and a smile.

The actual yoga studio has a great, soft floor.  For the Avita class, you do not bring your own mat, they provide the mat and additional props.  Everything is set up prior to you walking in, you just have to choose your spot.  The atmosphere is quiet and calming, really nice after a full day of work.   I immediately laid down on my back, propped my head up with a bolster, and fully relaxed.

Our instructor started the class on our stomachs, with our heads turned to one side.  We spent a few minutes at each side, allowing our necks to relax into the rotation.  We then flipped onto our back and proceeded to add some shoulder opening to the neck rotation.  We moved our way from head-to-toe, coming into a standing balance pose as our last “work” pose.  Each pose built upon the last one and was precise and well-cued.

The class moves very slow (I affectionately call the class “Laying Around Yoga”).  It moves slower than any other yoga I have ever done – yes, slower than a Yin class.  I enjoy the slowness both for what it does for my mental state and because it allows me to soften into the position we are holding.  However, I know there are people out there where this would not work.  In my class, I could tell there were a few people who came ready to move and were a little stunned at the pace of the class.

I am a defender of the slow.  Even in my training I am always slowing people down.  When you are looking to break down compensation patterns and retrain your movements, slow is where it is at.  It allows you to make micro movements and adjust your regular compensation as you move through so you can train your body how to move correctly.  Also, sometimes your body doesn’t want to “let go” when you move fast, making it hard for you to perform a movement correctly.

Summary:

Pros: A great class to unwind the body and the mind.  Allows you to “feel” your body and slowly move into certain spaces.

Cons: The new studio’s schedule is a bit limited with the availability of classes and the instructor/front desk people seem to need a little more training on the software.  My guess is both things will improve as the studio matures.

Class Review – July 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.

This month, Physical Therapist, Pamela Robichaud did the testing for me.  Pamela graduated with her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2006 from MGH Institute of Health Professions, an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital.  After completing an internship at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, she moved to Boulder where she has worked in both an acute care and outpatient setting.  Pamela’s strengths include but are not limited to the following: Low Back, Ankle Sprains, Foot Pain, Knee Injuries, Chronic Pain, Balance & Vestibular Disorders, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Brain Injury & Concussion.  She currently has her practice at Koa Fit Studio.

Mecha – Hybrid: HIIT + Core

by guest blogger, Pamela Robichaud

About a month ago, Brenna invited me to join her at Mecha for a resistance class.  Resistance is basically a group pilates reformer class.  You can read more about her experience on her blog and I definitely agree with her interpretation.

The owner of Mecha, Kate, was kind enough to offer me a few complimentary classes as a follow-up to my first experience.  As a Physical Therapist I am constantly keeping an eye on what our community offers when it comes to fitness options. I gladly accepted the offer as I have a goal this summer of trying something new each week.  I’m a long time fan of Pure Barre and it continues to be my steady go-to for strengthening. As a Physical Therapist, I have a good understanding of my body and safety which makes the loud music + fast pace of Pure Barre fun, safe, and beneficial for me. However, like I said, I’ve been trying something new each week this summer.  Boulder has so much to offer from swimming to group fitness to individual training and it’s fun to mix up my usual long slow miles on the bike and the run with an activity that awakens something new in my body.

Mecha offers many classes that address strength and cardio. I decided to try their Hybrid: HIIT + Core class  which is a combo of a HIIT work out and resistance training. I’d be lying if I said I incorporated high heart rate training into my exercise routine. Sure, my heart rate gets high when I ride my bike up a hill or do a little pick up when I’m running, but I rarely get to that very uncomfortable place. That place where fitness happens.  So, let’s see what Mecha’s Hybrid class has to offer.

I’m familiar with the check-in process and the facility set-up (for more see Brenna’s blog ). However, I had never been to the cardio room; therefore, when I arrived I checked in with the front desk person for guidance. She told me that we would be spending 25 minutes in the cardio room and then walk across to the resistance room, a place I know from the reformer class. She encouraged me to introduce myself to the instructor, which I did. The instructor told me how the cardio climbing machine works (aka VersaClimber ) and the proper posture for effective outcomes.  Other than that, there was no instruction or questions about injuries, fitness, experience or comments on safety. Again, I feel confident in my body awareness but the lack of instruction or communication makes me think that this class is not for everyone. Also, the class is done in dim light conditions, which is included in the online description. I felt secure in that setting but people with vision difficulties or extremely poor balance or sensation may be challenged.

We did our 6 minute warm-up on the VersaClimber. Each person is welcome to do their own pace, but the cueing was far from a warm-up. It was a “go for it” kind of cheerleading in order to reach a certain number of steps before moving on.  My heart rate was very high very quickly, but that’s fine. After all, that’s the point and the definition of HIIT. The instruction about the next circuit came while we were warming up and the directions were clear and easy to follow.

We broke out into pairs with one person on the stationary bike and one person doing planks.  We rotated at 13 calorie burns for 6 min. When the cyclist reached 13 calories on the bike (based on the bike not on heart rate or biometrics so fairly arbitrary), then traded places with the person doing forearm planks. We did this for 6 minutes.  We then switched to a combo of VersaClimber and bicep/tricep band exercises. This part was frustrating because there was no instruction about how to use the bands and perform a proper bicep or tricep exercise. If you don’t have a good understanding of how to perform basic exercises, this lack of instruction could be problematic and lead to injury.  Just as I was told, we moved over to the reformer room after 25 min of HIIT.

The combo was a killer workout. I felt very accomplished and very worked by the end of it.  That VersaClimber made for a severe case of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in my upper body, which I happen to love but it’s not for everyone.  Pulling up pants and lifting up my bag was noticeably difficult the next day. I was also more hungry for a solid day after the class which indicates that my metabolism benefited from the HIIT work out, which was the goal.

I’m not sure I’d go to this class 3x a week or anything but I’m curious to continue to throw a true HIIT workout in to my regime.  I want to see what some of Mecha’s other cardio classes are about. Next up will be either their straight HIIT class or HIIT circuit. It’s going to be a huge challenge.

Summary

Pros: A true HIIT workout and all the benefits that come with it (read more about that here) followed by core strength

Cons: These cardio classes are not for everyone given pace and lack of instruction regarding modifications for injury, expectations, etc.  If your fitness level is lower and you’ve never done group fitness, this is not the place to start. It could be a great goal, however, if you have good enough body awareness to keep yourself safe.

Nutshell: If you know yourself and listen to your body, go for it. If you’re apprehensive or have an injury you don’t understand well, then perhaps group fitness is not for you and you should considering consulting with a physical therapist and/or personal trainer for a personalized program or to address concerns or injuries.

 

 

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:

 

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!

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.