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10 Circuits Of Fun (Studio10, West Hollywood, CA)

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The last day of Girls Weekend in West Hollywood meant one last chance to try out a new studio. Stuido10 was less than a mile from the hotel and literally right up the street and around the corner. Seemed like a great option!

Studio10 is an unassuming space across the street from the Pacific Design Center. You would never know based on the entry way that there is an incredible gym tucked away on the first floor of the building. But when you walk through the doors, the space is open, bright and well kept. Studio 10 is a great example of a gym that proves you do not need a lot of space to have a killer workout.

The woman who checked us in was very friendly and excited to welcome in some out of towners to the gym. The gym is one open room with high ceilings, lots of windows and ceiling to floor mirrors on two fo the four walls. One of my favorite features about the space is the bookshelf where you can store your belongings also doubles as a charging station with chargers provided by the studio for your phones. 

The instructor, Trevon, came over and introduced himself. He was friendly and welcomed us to the workout. The class had about 15 students but even with the small space, it never felt tight.

The workout is set up with 10 stations. The format would be one minute per station, followed by a 90 second break after completing all 10 stations. We would do this for 3 rounds. One of my favorite things about the set up was the station number and description on the walls and mirrors. Super helpful for people like me can never remember what I am supposed to be doing at each station.

The class was a true full body workout with the following 10 stations:

Station 1: Stationary Bike or Hula Hoop

Station 2: Inclined Hip Lifts with a Weight

Station 3: Tricep dDps

Station 4: Ball Slams 

Station 5: TRX Pushups

Station 6: Rowing Machine

Station 7: Squat Pulses with Kettlebells

Station 8: Bosu Pushups

Station 9: Weighted Punches

Station 10: Ropes

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE the ropes, TRX and anything that includes the Bosu. It was one of my favorites full body workouts in a long time. My arms were TOAST by the end of the workout. The instructor spent most of his time watching the clock (and thank god he counted because one minute felt like an eternity for this Tabata loving fitness phanatic) but if you are looking for more guidance and encouragement throughout the workout, you may need to set this expectation up front. I was lucky enough to be working through the stations with Emily so I had plenty of energy and encouragement. And I’m Lucky enough to have had enough classes with Tricia to know when to push myself and what type of modifications make things harder or easier on your joints but none of this guidance was provided in advance or throughout the workout.

If you need tips on form for anything (rowing machine, TRX usage, etc.) I’d highly recommend getting to the studio in advance to spend some time asking questions and requesting extra support from the instructor. 

All in all, I LOVED this workout but it's definitely catered towards the more experienced fitness lover. If you're a beginner, it may not be the best match unless you are able to get there early and ask for a lot of tips and support in advance of the workout.

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 4/5

 

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Rise to the Challenge (Rise Nation; West Hollywood, CA)

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There are so many reasons why I love Girls Weekends. It gives me a chance to decompress, relax a bit and most importantly, spend lots of quality time with good friends - no distractions, no kids, no work. I also love Girls Weekend because it means I have the opportunity to try out new workout classes in a new city.

This past weekend, My Fave Fitness Hero, a good friend and I headed to West Hollywood for a weekend of fun. Fortunately, we all have Class Pass so on Saturday morning, we checked out what classes were available. One of the classes that caught our eye was a class entirely based on the VersaClimber at a place called Rise Nation. It was described as a full body, zero impact, 30 minutes workout. We couldn't resist so we signed up and headed over to the studio.

Rise Nation is an open two story studio with a check in desk and retail located on the first floor. The staff was super friendly and excited to have a few out of towners join the class. After we checked in, we climbed up the stairs to the second floor which houses a small seating area/lobby with two restrooms. This area then leads into the large studio with about 30 VersaClimbers and a stage. I was new to the VersaClimber so I wasn't sure what to expect. Fortunately, there were three staff members along with the instructor to help individuals get settled in and walk them through the user of the machine. The team member who helped me got me strapped into the machine and then walked me through how to use the machine. The machine has a computer on it with different stats. However, the team member did not walk me through the computer and it turns out, we would not use it in class at all.

Hands down, the best part of the studio was when class starts. There are motorized black out curtains that come down and the entire studio goes pitch black. Until the ceiling lights turn on. It's one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The ceiling has a cool hexagon like pattern to it and there are lights that flash on and off in different colors. It is AMAZING! Then the music kicks in and class officially starts.

The first thing I noticed about the instructor set up was that it was difficult for her and for us as rookies. The VersaClimber is set up on stage so that it is facing the mirror and the instructor's back is to the class. This means the instructor can only really connect with the class by looking into the mirror and the class had a limited view in terms of observing form. 

The class ultimately cycled through the following forms:

  • Moving legs and arms at a warm up pace (moving the length of the machine at an average speed)
  • Moving legs and arms as high as possible (working more core and working the length of the machine without hitting the ground)
  • Small but fast movements working a smaller range of length
  • Working different grips and taking the hands off the moving bars while moving on the machine
  • Holding onto the handle bar and working in a squat (with the focus being on the lower half of the body)

The class itself was full of blood pumping music and lots of energy. Although it was only 30 minutes, it felt a bit longer to me because I could not get comfortable on the machine itself. If you do visit the studio and are new to the machines, I would recommend asking specific questions up front about form. For example, it was unclear to me how much should be legs versus core in getting my body to move. And when focusing only on the lower body, it was unclear to me if it should be more of a squat position or something else. 

I would recommend the workout for anyone who likes to try different types of classes and is looking for a good sweat. I'd highly recommend getting some pro tips up front. I think that would have helped me have a better workout and probably would have allowed me to stop worrying so much about whether I was going to hurt myself!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 3/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 1/5

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ULA and Oola (ULA and Us Boot Camp @ Oola Distillery)

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Round 2 with ULA and Us was last Saturday at Oola Distillary in Capital HIll. What better way to kickoff the weekend then some quality time with Ula and Oola!? I had never been to the Oola Distillary before so was impressed by the space. It was GORGEOUS. When you first walk in, you walk into a smaller space that serves as the tasting room. The space is set up beautifully with a bunch of shelves that display all of their liquors. From Vodka to Scotch to Whisky, they offer a great variety. When you walk through a large door to the left of the front room, you walk into a huge open space that houses all the barrels. It was the perfect ambiance for a fun Boot Camp class with Christy and Ives. 

Christy and Ives had set up to the far back of the room and had us lay out our mats in 4 rows facing them. There were about 15 people there and it was the perfect number. We fit into the space nicely - not so tight that we felt like we couldn't move around during the cardio portions but enough to feed off one each other's energy. 

Christy and Ives kicked off the event, as they always do, with a quick intro of themselves and their mission for ULA and Us. Proceeds from his event would go to Global Giving to help the various hurricane victims across the country. 

We started off with a 5 minute warm up and then went right into it - a 7 minute (YES 7!!) ab series. They had us run through 7 different exercises for one minute each. It was actually a great way to get started and warm up our bodies. 

We then moved to a partner series for legs. This was the hardest series for me mostly because one minute feels like an eternity when you are used to 20 second tabata sets!! In this partner series, one partner took a band over her/his knees and in a low squat, took the same leg out to the side, back to the center, out behind them, back to the center and went through this series for a full minute. Meanwhile, the partner would do Around the World jump squats. In the next series, the partner with the band would switch legs and go through the same exercise while the other partner would hold a low squat and pulse. Then the partners switched and went through the same two exercises. 

The next series was one of my favorites. We alternated between push ups and the Sphinx (as Darsenio calls it). This move has you start in a plank and then move to a forearm plank and then back to a full plank. Ideal both arms move at the same time. A modification is to move one hand. It's TOUGH and one of my favorite core moves. 

We wrapped up with a few tabata series that kept the energy up and fun. There was a 4 round series with just burpees, which you know I LOVED. But I was glad we only did 4 rounds. I don't think I could have gone 8 full rounds!!

We finished up with a fun plank series with the option to hold the plank during the 10 second break. You know I loved that!!

Similar to the last Boot Camp, the music was awesome, always the right beat for the exercise and they did a great job with the sound system considering it was a space that is not normally used for a workout class.  I'm always impressed at how Christy and IVes are able to keep the energy up and the people motivated in a new space. They don't miss a beat and always have an unbelievable amount of energy. One of them is always going through the exercise so you can see the correct form and the other one is always running through the crowd pumping everyone up. 

This was the first time I was able to stay after the workout and mingle a little bit. What was truly evident was the incredible community they have created. They truly believe in creating an opportunity to connect and it was obvious in the way the group mingled and the way they both interacted with each and every one of us. They went out of their way to get to know everyone (or find out more about people they already know) and find a connection.

In a time when so many of us are lost in our own worlds and glued to our devices/phones, I am grateful for these two ladies. They have created an incredible forum to allow us to connect with other human beings and remind us what life is really about. 

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 3/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 1/5

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TRX Madness (Rival Fitness)

Anytime I go on a Girls Trip, there's one thing I always bring with me (aside from too many shoes) - my TRX. My closest girlfriends think I'm crazy. It's an ongoing joke that I always pack my torture mechanism. But I love it. I love that you can set it up anywhere and run through a strength workout, a cardio workout or both. When I found out that my favorite Coach, Darsenio Hunter, teaches a TRX class at Rival Fitness in Capitol Hill, I had to go.

You know I never go without a friend so I grabbed Lindsay and we headed out to Rival. When you walk in, the lobby and front desk area is fairly spacious and open. The facility itself is broken into three areas - there is a room to the back right of the front desk that houses rowing machines, another room to the right of the front desk that houses a bunch of free weights and weight machines then a huge open area to the left of the front desk that holds TRXs and more weights. I love that the main area is laid out with turf. It gives it a nice open, fresh feel. Lindsay and I grabbed our TRXs and got ready for what was guaranteed to be a good workout with the Coach. There are about 12 TRXs set up so it allows for a small, intimate training feel with the class. I love a smaller setting because it allows the teacher to provide more individualized coaching. 

Darsenio is consistent in his warm up. He has a specific stretch he uses across gyms so given it is the same one he uses at Community Fitness, Lindsay and I were comfortable leading into the set. Darsenio then walked us through three exercises. We would do each exercises for a minute before we had a one minute break. We would do this for three rounds.  He then had us do a Tabata round. It was the perfect combo for me. The TRX exercises were great for strength, they were a solid combo of upper body, core and leg. Darsenio also did a good job of mixing up exercises that we were comfortable with (think single leg lunges and pull ups mixed in with T-Rex arm lifts). And of course my lack of coordination was highlighted when Darsenio had us do push ups with our feet in the TRX. I think it took me the entire 3 rounds to figure out how to get my feet in correctly!!

The TRX class is perfect for all levels - beginners to experienced. One of the greatest things about an experienced instructor like Darsenio is that regardless of the gym or the class, you're guaranteed to get a great workout. He always provides modifications for those that are looking for a less intense or MORE intense workout so he covers the full scope.

I love the space at Rival and will be looking for any excuse to go back!!! Highly recommend this gym and the class for anyone (all levels).

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 3/5

Legs: 4/5

Arms: 3/5

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Burn and Brew

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I've been following @ula.and.us on Instagram for about a month now. My friend, Angela, happened to be at Gas Works Park one night when she saw a group of people working out and then settling down with a few drinks. She texted me right away and said, "WE HAVE TO FIND OUT WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT!!!" She found out that these two ladies, Christy and Ives, pull together monthly get togethers focused on working out, giving back and of course, DRINKING!! 

I was SUPER excited when they posted their August event and it happened to work with my schedule. Unfortunately Angela was working so she couldn't make it but our friend, Lindsay, was available and ready! The August event was hosted at Peddler Brewery in Ballard with 25% of the proceeds going to Fist Aid Arts, an organization that works with trauma care providers to equip them with art tools and supplies for patients. Such a great cause. 

Lindsay and I were one of the first ones to arrive. Peddler has a huge outdoor area in the back that is a mix of cement and sand flooring with about 8 picnic tables laid out. Christy and Ives did a great job of utilizing the space and setting up 5 different stations. You could tell they were definitely pros when it came to utilizing outdoor space with minimal to no gym equipment. 

We were immediately greeted and waved down by three guys sitting at a picnic table. They had us sign in and then helped us get settled in. Christy and Ives came over as soon as they saw us and quickly introduced themselves. Both of them have this incredible energy and excitement. The second you meet them, you will think you can conquer anything.... literally. Over the next 10 minutes, the space quickly filled up with about 25-30 people. And then we were off.

Christy and Ives started the event with brief intros including their background and why they started these gatherings. Both are from the Midwest and have a love for community, fitness and drinking! They've pulled these events together in hopes of building a strong community while giving back to the community. This intention was evident throughout the entire event.

Then we were off to the races. They spent a few minutes walking through the stations. Each station had two exercises and you would run through each for 45 seconds before switching to the next station. This is how they broke it down

  • Station 1 - Sprints and Squat Jumps
  • Station 2 - (Using the seats of the picnic table) - Backward lunge to one legged jump and one legged squats while swinging the other leg back and worth behind you
  • Station 3 - (Using yoga mats and weights) - Bicycle crunches and plank punches uses weights
  • Station 4 - (Using bands) - Moving squat jumps with the band around your ankles and lat pulldowns behind the back with the band tied around your writs
  • Station 5 - (Using the seats of the picnic table) - Tricep dips and Spiderman push ups

Needless to say, it was going to be a full body workout!! Lindsay and I were SO EXCITED. The plan was to go through all 5 stations 3 times. It sounded so good going in....

The next 25 minutes were so fun. Right out of the gates, Christy and Ives had us working hard. They have a great dynamic so through the entire workout, one of them was on the mic MCing while the other was running around encouraging everyone, handing out high fives and motivating everyone. The playlist was right up my alley (upbeat music that keeps you going) and the weather was perfect (not too hot, not rainy and cold). But I'm not going to lie, it was HARD. By the third round, I was wondering if I was going to make it through the last round or wondering if I was going to have to take a break. Thankfully, between Lindsay, the music and the energy, I was able to push through. The energy throughout the workout is what

The final round was a bit of a fun twist. We partnered up to do burpees and plank jacks. What's even better, they handed out prizes which of course brought out the competitive side of ALL of us. It was intense, hard and Crazy but SO FUN!!

At the end, most everyone stayed to hang out and grab a few beers. Unfortunately, Mom duty called so I had to head out but I wanted so badly to stay and hang out. These girls have created such a great community of people who love to workout and just want to have fun! I consider myself a fan and will be hoping to make their next event on 9/23. Follow them on Instagram for details.

If anything, Christy and Ives will teach you that you can literally workout anywhere with minimal equipment. I'll definitely be stealing some of these exercises for my next vacation!!

Thank you, Ladies, for inspiring all of us and building such a strong community... all while giving back!!!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 2/5

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Burpees for Days

Anyone who works out with me knows I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Burpees. I think they are the single, best full body workout you can do. You don't need any equipment and you can literally do them anywhere. 

On Friday, Coach Darsenio surprised me with the best gift EVER. A full tabata set of burpees. OK, there were flowers and a Lululemon gift card leading up to it so that helped too but I was REALLY excited about the burpees!

The link above shows a video of all 8 exercises. But here's the break down:

Round 1 - Standard Burpee

Get down to plank position and explode up to a vertical jump. The key here is keeping your chest up and butt low when squatting down into the plank and also when pulling yourself up to jump.

Round 2 - Side Mountain Climbers with a Jump

Get down to a plank, move the right knee to the left elbow, followed by the left knee to the right elbow. Then explode to a vertical jump.

Round 3 - Knee Tucks with a Jump

Get down to a plank, jump your knees towards your chest before exploding to a vertical jump

Round 4 - Should Taps with a Jump

Get down to a plank, tap your right shoulder with your left hand, tap your left shoulder with your right hand, then explode to a vertical jump

Round 5 - Push up to Stand Up

One push up before standing up. No Jumps this round

Round 6 - Burpee with a Push Up

One push up before exploding to a vertical jump. With this one, I'm always extra careful when getting down (chest up, bottoms down) to putting too much pressure on my shoulders and wrists when going down for a push up.

Round 7 - Push Up with Straight Leg Jump

Same as Round 6 except, in this round, jump up with straight legs rather than a bend in your knee.

Round 8 - Push Up with Knee Tuck

Same as Round 6 except replace the vertical jump with a knee tuck. For the record, these are my FAVORITE burpees!! And the BEST way to end a burpee tabata set!!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 4/5

Core: 4/5

Legs: 4/5

Arms: 3/5

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Meet Me at the Bar (CycleBar South Lake Union)

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I have been waiting for WEEKS, LITERALLY, for the new CycleBar in South Lake Union to open. After a few hiccups, they opened their doors a little over a week ago. Luckily, one of my favorite  instructors, Darsenio, was teaching the 5:30 AM class on Monday so I decided to check it out. What's even better, my friend Emily was in town, and being the trooper she is, decided to get up at 4:30 AM to go with me!

CycleBar SLU is in one of the brand new condo buildings down the street from PlayDate SEA (if you're a parent, this is a well known landmark!) and We Work. Parking at 5:15 AM is super easy but I will say, I also took a 6:45 AM class and parking was nearly impossible at that hour (already!). 

The new space is gorgeous, definitely new and has a modern feel to it. When you first walk in, there are iPads set up to allow you to check in next to the front desk. The staff was super friendly and what I appreciated was, even at that hour, they had plenty of staff ready and available. There was someone ready to check you in and walk you through the facility, there was someone at the front desk and there were two team members in the studio (one to help you get settled on your bike and one to help the instructor with any technical issues). I definitely appreciated this, especially given the early hour. It meant everyone had a team member they could flag down if they had any questions or issues.

From the Front Desk area, you walk down a short hallway that contains a restroom and shower. When you turn the corner you enter a small open space that houses two benches and a bunch of lockers. It's the perfect size space for you to change into your cycling shoes and refill your water. They've also done a good job of setting up a small drinks and snack table that contains a water filtration system and fruit. They also bring in coffee in the morning (HUGE Plus after a 5:30 AM ride!).

The studio itself is gorgeous and set up with 4 rows of bikes, stadium style. There are about 50 bikes in the studio and I'd say there isn't a bad bike in the room. They have it set up in such a way where you can easily see the instructor from each bike and they are not so close together that you worry about sweating on your neighbor. 

What I appreciate anytime I visit a studio is the little things they do to make you feel comfortable and welcomed. As soon as I walked up to my bike, a CycleBar Team Member came over to ask if I needed any help. Fortunately, the bikes were the same ones they use at my Home Base (Community Fitness) so I was all set. Emily, however, was new to the cycling game so the Team Member helped her get fitted on her bike and even got down on the ground to make sure her shoes were perfectly clipped in. Now that's what I call service with a smile!

Darsenio starts every class the same way. Whether you're at Community Fitness or CycleBar, whether you're taking Boot Camp or Cycling, he starts with a motivation quote of the day. It's one of my favorite parts of the workout. It gives me a chance to shut out all the noise, reset my mind, set my intentions for the day and get ready to focus. That day, the quote was about getting ready to take on the Monday - mentally, physically, emotionally. It was exactly what I needed at 5:30 AM to get ready for my first ride with Darsenio.

Then, Darsenio did a quick overview of the stats on the computer screen. Like many other cycling studios, when you sign up for the class, you can choose to have your stats appear on the board or opt out of this. If you choose to have your stats on the board, they'll show up whenever the instructor chooses to show them. Darsenio was pretty good about not having this be the focus. Meaning he showed them periodically (I'd say 4 times total throughout the whole class). But I know each instructor is different.

Then, we were off! The class starts with two warm up songs and mid way through the second one, I was ready. I was already breaking out in a sweat, I was loving the music (Darsenio never disappoints in this category) and I had (somewhat) figured out the gears on the bike. NOTE: If you're a Community Fitness Rider, you'll quickly realize that the Power (on bikes at CityCyle, Fly Wheel and CycleBar) are not the equivalent of a gear on the bikes at Community Fitness. I was warming up with a Power of 6 - 8 which is normally a hill for me on the Community Fitness bikes.

From there, the class moved through various types of workouts. Everything from hills, to sprints to races. One of the coolest features at CycleBar is the ability to build teams through the computer system. So at any given time, Darsenio could select the race option and the computer system would randomly select bikes for each team. The screen then shows you which bike numbers fall under each team. As the race kicks off, the screen will show you how each team is doing based on Power and RPM. For someone who loves data (and is slightly competitive) it was SO FUN to watch my team try and keep up or pass all the other teams. It was definitely one of my favorite features. He also did this with rows (so we had 4 teams, each row being in its own team).  Darsenio also included push ups and tap backs along the way. Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT coordinated so I generally do not like this part of the class. Fortunately, Darsenio;s choice of music will make it fun!

The last third of class includes an arm series that lasts one song. It's generally a mix of biceps, triceps and shoulders. You can choose from 4 lb weights,6 lb weights or combine them to make 10 lb weights. There are different theories on whether this type of a workout is effective or even good for your body given you don't have the best form while sitting and pedaling on a bike. I don't necessarily think of it as a upper body workout but find it's a good way to take a break from riding and keep me engaged. We all know I have a short attention span so I like to do different things in a workout, rather than going through the same motions over and over again.

After the arm series is the connect song. This is my favorite, favorite part of the workout. I know it sounds crazy but it's what I need and wish I could incorporate into every workout. The connect song is generally a slower song on a higher power/gear. It gives me a moment to close my eyes, quiet my mind and clear my head. There's something about the forced stillness that allows me to mentally and emotionally let things go for a second - whether it's the exhaustion from the workout,  anxiety about something with the kids, stress about an upcoming meeting at work, it all disappears for those 3-4 minutes and I let myself get lost in the music. When it's over, I come out of it feeling mentally and emotionally stronger. I love, LOVE this part of the workout.

After that, we had 3 more songs before class ended. Darsenio had us stretch for a few minutes before he closed out class. As we headed out of class to the locker area, there was a CycleBar team member with cold, lavender scented towels. YES!! Such a nice touch!! 

One small note, if you plan to shower after class, give yourself extra time, or head out of class early to grab the shower first. I was the last to leave the studio and there was a line of people waiting for the shower (fortunately it was short, only 2 people long).

I highly recommend you check out CycleBar SLU. They're giving free rides through Sunday, 8/13 so get them while you can!!

https://southlakeunion.cyclebar.com

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 4/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 1/5

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Gliding Disc Workout

This week, I'm on vacation with the family and a group of good friends at Lake Chelan. We've been looking forward to this vacation all summer but it also means I won't have my usual gym routine. I packed a few goodies to prep for the trip including a TRX, gliding discs and a bender ball.

This morning was all about the gliding discs! I love gliding discs (or towels if you don't have a set of discs) because it can take any exercise and turn it into a solid core exercise. It forces you to engage your core and work on your form. 

Here are the exercises I did this morning. I did 8 rounds of each with a Tabata Timer (I use the Simply Tabata timer which you can download for free through the App store).

Exercise 1: Sit Ups

Place the gliding discs under your feet and do a traditional sit up. The difference with this is your heels should dig into the ground as you come up. Tricia often uses the cue 'think of your feet dragging through the mud'. That's exactly how it should feel.

Exercise 2: Knee Tuck and Pikes with a Push Up

Place the discs under your toes and rotate between a knee tuck and pike with a push up in between. I Love these because it works your abs, your quads and your upper body. I was slowing down by Round 4 and exhausted by Round 6. LOVE THEM!!

Exercise 3: Side Crunch Mermaids

These are a new move for me and a bit of a challenge. I incorporated this move from my recent visit to Studio 45. We normally do these off the back of the reformer and they are HARD for me. I tried these by lying on my right side, bending my knees at a 45 degree angle and placing one disc under my right hand. Push out as far as you can and then pull yourself back up. They are great for your obliques and your arms.

Exercise 4: Sit Ups with a Tricep Pull

Lie down on your back. Place the gliding discs under your hands. Come up to a sitting position by pulling your hands up until they are behind your back. These will work your triceps and abs!

Exercise 5: Elevator Planks with an Army Crawl

I also stole this move from my recent workout at Studio 45. I LOVE THESE!! Start in a full arm plank position and place the gliders under your feet. Move down to a forearm plank without moving your palms. Then crawl forward with your arms while dragging your feet. Then come back up to a full arm plank and repeat the exercise while moving backward and forward. SO good!! This is definitely a full body workout!!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 1/5

Core: 4/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 4/5

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A Chip and a Chair

If you play poker, you may know the saying 'All you need is a chip and a chair'. It essentially means you don't need a lot to stay in the game, all you need is a chip and a chair (termed after Jack Straus's comeback in the 1982 World Series of Poker). I often think of this saying as I visit different gyms. They all have the same type of equipment and a group of instructors - you don't need a lot to 'stay in the game'. But what makes a gym stand out? What makes you want to keep going? For me, it's about the energy and the passion behind the gym.

Katie W at CityCyle recommended I try out a new gym called FINA Seattle. You know, I can't say no to a recommendation so, after a month of trying to make it there, I finally time to hit up an early Monday morning class. I signed up for a 6:30 AM Total Body Conditioning. It sounded perfect.

I got there around 6:15 AM and I will say, parking is tough. Leave some time to find a spot. FINA is located on Dexter so parking right on the street was tough. There is a pay lot about a block and a half north of the gym but I was able to find a spot on a side street about a block away. 

When you get close to the space, you can feel the energy and the music before you see the gym itself. The doors were open so I walked right in. The gym is one open space with all the equipment in the front and a kitchen against the back wall. The restroom and cubbies are located in the back of the room behind the kitchen. The first thing I noticed was the simplicity of the gym. There are no mirrors, no cardio equipment, no fancy audio system. Just you, the equipment and a passionate instructor.

Tristan, one of the owners, taught the class. When you meet him, you instantly know that he is an athlete. He is built like an athlete and his eyes have an intensity behind them that only comes with being an athlete. Tristan is from Mexico City and started training to be a boxer when he was 12. He has such a passion for fitness and conditioning. Spend 10 minutes with him and you'll realize that FINA is built on sweat, dedication and a passion for working hard.

Tristan mentioned in his intro that he believed in the personal connection and really getting to know his clients. I have a true appreciation for this given I am the same way. And I was lucky enough to experience this as there was just one other person in the class with me. He happened to be a long time Tristan client who followed Tristan from another gym. We all know that speaks volumes about Tristan as a person and as a fitness instructor. 

The class was set up with 7 stations. We would spend 30 seconds at each station, do a 45 second round of cardio and then take a break. We would do this four times. Sounded pretty straight forward... or so I thought. The stations were the perfect mix of cardio and strength. We rotated through lat raises, chest presses, TRX pull ups, ropes, ski jumps and side squat jumps over a box with a kettlebell. He then had us do 45 seconds of burpees. The first two rounds were doable. Rounds 3 and 4 were BRUTAL. And I mean BRUTAL. To a point where, for the first time ever, I wondered if I would be able to complete the workout. Fortunately, Tristan has a gift. He would sense when I was starting to fade. Whether it be in my energy level or my form and in that moment, he would come over and say in his calm, encouraging voice, "Move those ropes faster." or "Move your shoulders away from your ears." Small changes, small notes that made such an impact. 

When the class was over, I was grateful that Katie W recommended the gym. So grateful. FINA Seattle represents so much about what I love about working out. The space is so simple, but so effective and really represents that it's not about the bells and whistles, it's not about fancy gimmicks, you literally only need 'a chip and a chair' to play. Or as Tristan so eloquently put it, "All I need is for you to bring the right attitude. I can train from there."

If you try ONE gym this year, try FINA Seattle. In fact, go to their Launch event this Saturday!!!

Launch event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fina-seattle-gran-opening-tickets-35922595450

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 4/5

Core: 3/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 4/5

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Working It with the Kids

For most of us, summer schedules can be a bit hectic. It means family vacations, juggling kids' camp schedules and often having the kids at home more than I would like!! Although I am lucky enough to be a morning person and can still get most of my workouts in through my 6 AM classes, there are days when it just doesn't work out. Especially those days when the kids are at home or we're away on vacation.

Fortunately, I've had a lot of great, creative instructors who helped me realize how easy it can be to put together your own workout. So whether you're at home, on vacation or just out and about, here's one I pulled together that made it easy to include the kids. All we needed was a basketball, a TRX and a Tabata timer (there are many free options available through the App Store). If you don't have a TRX, the same exercises can be done without one or with a towel on a non-carpeted floor.
 

We only got through 6 rounds (rather than the normal 8 rounds of Tabata) but that was MORE than enough to tire them out and tire me out!


Exercise 1: Side Shuffle with Ball Passes (for all 8 rounds of the Tabata set)

Have your child line up across from you but about 6-8 feet away to the right. When the timer starts, side shuffle towards each other and pass the ball when you are facing each other. My oldest and I did this with a basketball so he could practice his dribbling skills and I could attempt to be coordinated while shuffling. It was HARD but fun!

Exercise 2: Squat Jumps alternating with Jumping Jacks

The boys don't love Squat Jumps as much as I do so they went for all Jumping Jacks which is always a great option for kids. I chose to alternate Squat Jump and Jumping Jacks so I could get some glut work in.

Exercise 3: Wide Splits alternating with Mountain Climbers (Using TRX or Towels on a non-carpeted floor)

These are some of my favorites. As you know, I LOVE a good core workout. I hooked up my TRX to a beam on our back deck but you can always do the same exercises with a towel on a hardwood floor or tile floor in the bathroom. With the Wide Splits, I getting into plank position with my feet in the TRX band and essentially separate my legs as far as I can while keeping my core stable. These are HARD for me. If you're using a TRX, just staying in plank for the 20 seconds is a great option as well. I alternated this with mountain climbers while having my feet in the TRX. The best way to get a core workout with TRX Mountain Climbers is to go slower. Trust me, you'll feel it!

Exercise 4: One Legged Push Ups 

The boys had a blast with these. Start in push up position and left one leg. Do as many push upas as you can in the 20 seconds and then switch legs for the next round. You will definitely feel these. 

Exercise 5: Tag Team Sprints

Depending on how many family members you have with you, you can make this a family relay. In my case, I had both the boys with me so they tag teamed while I sprinted the entire 8 rounds. Set up a starting line and a turning point. We were on our back deck so we ran the length of the deck. The boys lined up as a team next to me, when the timer started, I sprinted and one of the boys sprinted with me. When he got back to the starting point, he would high five his brother and then his brother would sprint with me. They loved it since they essentially beat me every round!!

Exercise 6: Side Planks

I love a good side plank. I decided to add a bit of a challenge by having my top leg in the TRX and my bottom leg on the ground for stability. Then I would hold it for the full 20 second round. My goal is to be able to do this while raising my hips up and down and inch. I'm not there yet but hoping to be able to do it by the end of the summer!! The boys did side planks along side me but on the ground. 

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 3/5

Legs: 2/5

Arms: 1/5

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The Great Outdoors

Given I live in one of the most beautiful states in the country, it only seems appropriate to write about an outdoor workouts exploring one of the many scenic wonders in Washington. I have to be honest though, it was the first hike I have gone on since I moved to Seattle and I've lived here for 9 years :( I'm NOT an outdoor adventure seeker but luckily, one of my good friends, Kolena, was born and raised in WA and knows every nook and cranny of this state.

I had mentioned that I wanted to try and get the boys out and about on a hike but wasn't sure how long they (or I!) would last. That's when Kolena suggested we start with Franklin Falls. It's a two mile hike and about an hour drive outside of Seattle. It sounded PERFECT for us.

So on Saturday morning, we jumped in the car, picked up some coffee and bagels and were well on our way by 8:00 AM. I was happy we were able to get on the road on the earlier side. There was a bit of construction on I-90 so there was a little bit of traffic as we got close to the Franklin Falls area. But still, it only took us about an hour and 15 minutes to get there. Not bad at all! The best part is, the parking lot for the Franklin Falls hike also hosts the Denny Creek hiking trail. This is a bit longer (6 miles) but allows you to pick one of you get there and feel that you might want something a bit longer than 2 miles.

Because the kids and I had never hiked before, I wasn't sure what to expect or how long the kids would last. Fortunately, the unbelievable scenery took care of everything. The kids (and I) were overcome with house beautiful the trail was, right from the beginning. From the start, the trail runs along the river and the kids had a blast trying to take pictures of the water and finding good spots to throw rocks. As the trail got higher in elevation, we were no longer able to walk along side the river so the kids started playing 'That tree looks like...' where they called out everything from vultures to dinosaurs to legendary Pokemon. The best part was the trail is very kid friendly. The path waves are pretty clear and there are even stairs along the way to help with the climb. Because we were on the earlier side, the trail was not too crowded. We were even to play around a bit and do things like side squats up and down the stairs, hop on one foot across the mini bridges and jumping jacks when we wanted. It was definitely a fun hike/workout.

The best part is the waterfall. It is breathtaking how beautiful it is and how close you can get to it. The hiking trail leads into a rocky, open area at the bottom of the waterfall where there is plenty of room to run around and take pictures. If the weather were nicer, we probably could have hung out there for another hour just enjoying the sights and having a picnic lunch. But after a few pictures and rock tosses, we headed back. 

Getting back to the car was far easier than I anticipated. It took us about 15-20 minutes but I did notice that the trail was filling up. If you do go, try and go earlier. It's a popular trail for dogs and families so I can see how the trail would get crowded fast and a bit tight.

While I definitely would not classify this hike as an intensive workout, it was worth every minute to get out, spend time with the boys and see a bit of our beautiful state. 

 

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 2/5

Core: 1/5

Legs: 2/5

Arms: 1/5

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Techno Kickboxing (Tribe Fitness)

Coordination is not my thing. Asking me to do a coordinated move to the beat of the music and at warp speed is not my idea of fun. But when a workout buddy says, "Let's Go to Cardio Kickboxing!" you know I can't say No.

Angela and I made plans to try a Cardio Kickboxing class at Tribe Fitness. It was a 7:30 PM class which made me a little nervous. As someone who likes to be in bed by 9:30, the thought of working out a few hours before bed is never exciting. Unfortunately, the hardest part was getting there. Going from NE Seattle to Capitol Hill apparently takes 50 minutes on a weeknight :( And we all know how hard it can be to find parking in Capitol Hill!! So I arrived at the studio at 7:29 PM (but only because there is a pay to park lot right next to Tribe). Fortunately, the place is small enough and the staff was prepared for me since Angela had given them a heads up. When you walk into the studio, the front room is a long room that hosts the front desk, a retail wall and about 8-10 reformers. Of course my gut reaction was to jump onto a reformer and skip out on Kickboxing but I knew my body needed a new/different workout.

Once you walk past the main room, there is a small area with water fountains, restrooms and cubbies to store your things. This leads to the back studio. The studio is small, probably one of the smaller studios I've been in but they make good use of the space. The studio is set up for silks, TRXs and any type of cardio activity. Three of the walls are covered in mirrors while the back wall stores all the equipment. The only note is it was HOT in there. Fortunately they had the back door open and a fan on. Angela was smart and had us in the spots directly in front of the fan. When class started, I was a bit thrown off. The instructor didn't introduce herself or give an overview of the class. We went right into it and it was unclear whether it was a warm up or whether we were diving right into it. I think it was a bit of both - we did squats, jumping jacks, etc. but then it flowed right into kickboxing. The class itself wasn't as intense as I would have liked. There were typical upper cut, kick, jab, jump roping moves. But after taking a few of Tricia's half Tabata/half Kickboxing classes, this one felt a bit slower. Ironically, the music was all techno beat with the intent of motivating us to move faster and harder. 

The class also included a hand weight series. The instructor had recommended that we use 3 lb weights but I think we could have gone higher. It was about a 5-7 minutes series of jabs, punches, bicep curls and tricep raises with the weights. I didn't fee last hough we spent enough time on each muscle group to wear them out so should I go back, I'll be grabbing the 5 lb set next time.

All in all, it was a nice studio. Tribe Fitness makes great use of the space but if you are looking for an intense class, I would not recommend this one. It is a great class for wanting to get a fun workout in after work and in a great location to grab a drink with your workout buddies afterwards!

 

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 1/5

Legs: 1/5

Arms: 2/5

 

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It was Time for some TIEM

I'm going to break code again (see ToeSox review) and write a non-Studio/workout review. (Sorry!) But these shoes are THAT good. It had to be done.

People often ask me if they should buy cycling shoes. You all know I am NOT a pro or a fitness instructor so I generally give the very standard answer. "I don't think you should feel obligated to buy them unless you know for a fact that you are committed to cycling and you have knee issues from wearing sneakers all the time." The fact of the matter is, a lot of cycling studios provide them (See CityCyle's Shoe Wall!!). My Home Base (Community Fitness), being a gym with different types of classes, does not provide cycling shoes. I purchased my first pair of cycling shoes about 6 months after I started cycling. I had accepted that I actually liked cycling and was going to class about 3-4 times a week. Once I started going often enough, I noticed my knees would start to hurt midway through class and often for awhile after class. My Fitness Hero, Tricia, mentioned that she noticed her knees bothered her if she cycled too often without cycling shoes. The muscles you use and the way your joints move are different when you are clipped in versus in the cage. That's when I realized, why not give it a try?

I went on Amazon and bought what seemed to be the most reasonable pair of cycling shoes. I'm going to be honest, I did not do a lot of research and did not think too much about it. I just knew I didn't want to spend a lot of money and I just wanted them to be indoor cycling shoes.  After about 6-7 months of wearing these shoes, my lack of research became pretty evident.

My feet started to feel uncomfortable over time and I noticed that my muscles both in my feet and legs were tighter. No amount of foam rolling, stretching, massaging or epsom salt baths could make it better. That's when I realized a few things, I had started cycling more frequently (anywhere from 4-5 times a week) and each time I got on the bike, my feet felt constrained. That's when I started doing some research. I have issues, generally, given I have super high arches. That combined with the fact that I wanted cycling shoes that felt more like sneakers led me to TIEM Athletic's Cycling Shoes. 

TIEM Athletic's Slipstream cycling shoes are designed to be like a sneaker in terms of the comfort, the breathable mesh and the rubber soles. The shoes have one wide strap so it takes a bit of work to get your feet into a fresh pair of shoes but they will stretch overtime to make it easier to slip on. When you first put them on, they have the cushiony feel you get from a good pair of sneakers. 

I've been wearing the TIEM Slipstreams for about two months, 3-4 times a week and they keep on getting better. What I love most is when I'm on the bike and get up, out of the saddle, my feet feel much more supported and stable. I literally feel like I am running on pillows. The breathable mesh also makes it much more comfortable for the hot, indoor rides. With the weather getting muggier and hotter, this was a huge plus for me. The biggest concern for me was whether the shoes would support my high arches and if I would feel any pain over time. Luckily, I have not had any issues with that. What's even better, the shoes are built with great support so although I had to put inserts in my old cycling shoes, I have not needed them for the Slipstreams.

What's even better, the other day, I had to jump off my bike to grab extra towels and I literally felt like I could run to grab them thanks to the rubber soles. Unlike more traditional cycling shoes, this Clutzy Girl does not need to worry about slipping and wiping out in front of the entire class.

I HIGHLY recommend these cycling shoes. They are the perfect marriage of form, function, feel and pure beauty. Who doesn't love a sleek, light grey shoe?!?! (NOTE: They also come in white, black and navy). 

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The Coach (Community Fitness)

This is a first ever second review for me. I wrote about Darsenio Hunter (aka The Coach) when I first took his class a few months ago at my Home Base (Community Fitness). Since then, I have been taking his classes regularly once a week and recently starting taking his class twice a week. He continues to be an amazing instructor and coach. What I love most is that he is so creative that you never know what to expect and his exercises are so unique you will most likely not do them in any other class.

Last Friday's Boot Camp was so much fun I had to write about it. For the past few weeks, The Coach's Boot Camp starts with 9-12 different exercises that you cycle through in anywhere from 20-25 minutes. He starts the class by showing you all the moves and you move through them at you own pace for the 20-25 minutes. The exercises are complete, full body workout so there is some level of cardio and a lot of core and strength. What's great is he can take a typical workout like a push up and make it so challenging by making you do 10 power push ups rather than a regular push up. He will take a simple lunge exercise and add an extra push to open up your hips or test your balance. It's the little changes he adds in that makes a HUGE difference and the reason I love his classes so much. After these 20-25 minutes sets, he generally ends with two Tabata sets that are full on cardio and he does NOT mess around. Think eight rounds of jump squats or burpees with a twist. (Check out my insta: styledbysweatsea to see a video of the eight burpee exercises he had us do a few weeks ago).

But this past Friday took the cake. I'm not sure this class will ever be topped. We started with the usual 20 minute set of exercises that covered everything from power push ups, shoulder presses, core exercises and cardio. What was great about this week's class was there were several new moves for me (think plank to forward lunge while pushing out your hip), so it gave me a chance to slow down and focus on my form. And let me tell you, I DEFINITELY felt it. But the reason I had to write this review was of the way Darsenio ended the class.

Once we were done with the 20 minute set, Darsenio split the class in half and had the two teams stand on opposite sides of the room. We were going to end class with team relays. Each team member would run the full length of the room and back. There would be four rounds with the following exercises:

  1. Sprints
  2. Side Shuffles
  3. Backward Sprints
  4. Frog Jumps

My initial thought was this is going to be fun but not much of a workout to end class since we would be standing in line for the majority of time. I should know better. While we were in line, waiting for our turn, we had to squat. This ended up being about 3-4 minutes of squatting in between turns!

What I didn't expect and the reason I had to write this review, is the energy, the response, the true 'TEAM' unity it brought out of each and every person in the room. It was inspiring. As each person on the team had his/her turn, every other person on the team, while 'squatting' on the sidelines, was screaming, cheering and clapping. One of the many great moments was watching The Coach jump in anytime he saw someone start to struggle and run with them while encouraging them. I had a moment, when I was 'squatting' in line, where I realized this is the reason why I started my blog. I hope that everyone, regardless of their goals, their fitness level and where they are in life, finds a 'home base'  like mine. Where it's not about how fast you run, how much you lift and how good you look but it's about supporting 'your team', cheering each other on and knowing that someone like Darsenio will push you to your limits. 

THANK YOU, Darsenio, for always sharing your passion, your love and your commitment to helping us be better. We always find our inner athlete in your presence. 

If you haven't already, you MUST try one of his classes! You can find him at Community Fitness or Rival.

 

 

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Small Group Training (NW Fitness Project)

I've been following NW Fitness Project on Instagram and have been dying to try out the space. As luck would have it, my friend Angela lives in Fremont and had also been wanting to try it out. So we made a date to try out one of the Small Group Training classes on Thursday morning. 

Even before I walked into the space, I was impressed. NW Fitness Project is in Fremont, down the street from one of my favorite Seattle restaurants (Revel). It's in a great location and they have taken advantage of this with huge ceiling to floor windows that open up. We happen to be there on a warm day when they had one of the windows open. As we walked towards the front door we had a good sense of the space and what to expect. The front of the space hosts a check in area with lockers and one of my favorite features, standing tables to encourage members to hang out a bit before and after their workout. The first half the space is open and hosts all of the group training classes. The second half of the space hosts all kinds of weight and cardio machines and is generally used for personal training sessions. What I did not know about NW Fitness Project is that they allow independent trainers to use the facility for personal training sessions. This supports the heart of their mission which is to build a strong sense of community and support everyone in meeting their fitness goals. I mean seriously, can we just have a moment for Kyle and Matt?! It's hard not to appreciate and respect these guys and the passion they feel for their mission.

When we walked in, Kyle immediately greeted us and gave us a quick tour of the facility. Angela and I were about 15 minutes early so we were the first ones there for the class. Because they want to stress the importance of community and supporting each individual, the Small Group Training classes are kept to an 8 person max. Our class would have 7. What I did not expect and what I was immediately impressed with, was that every member knew each other and recognized that Angela and I were new. Every one of them came over to introduce themselves and welcome us to the gym. As a fitness blogger who started this blog with the intent to remove any fears and insecurities about group fitness and help others find their community, I was sold. I literally wanted to move in and call NW Fitness Project home. 

Once we were all settled, Kyle had us run through about 8-10 minutes of warm ups and stretches. I liked it because the stretches were a bit different from the usual running in place and jumping jacks. There was a bit of stretching out your gluts and hips mixed in with some lunges and pushups. Then we were ready to go. The class format is set up to run through 5-6 sets of exercises as many times as you can in 12 minutes. We would do that twice before moving on to stretching. The exercises appear simple in format but it was a density class and it was no joke. The first 12 minute set would use a kettlebell and include arms, legs, core and cardio. In theory the counts were low (5 sets on each arm, 5 sets on each leg, 10 pull through push ups, etc.). But let me tell you, when Kyle hands you a 26 lb kettle bell, you don't say No. And by the 5th exercise, I was feeling it. I love a good strength workout with some fun and this was hard but a lot of fun. The second set of exercises incorporated a medicine ball and included arms, legs, core and balance challenges. It was exactly what I needed that day.

Kyle's approach to coaching was right up my alley. He had a lot of great energy and had fun while coaching but he took it seriously. He corrected me on my form when I needed it and encouraged me when I didn't think I could get through it. It was exactly what I needed.

Kyle ended the class with a 10 minute Foam Rolling session. I LOVED this about the class. I definitely do not stretch enough and my body needed it. It was also very helpful to have an expert teach me the right techniques for stretching out various muscles (for example, it's not all about rolling up and down your legs at a fast pace. Who knew?!).

I'm not going to lie, I did not want to leave at the end of class. I LOVED working out with Kyle and the other members. If it weren't first thing in the morning, I would have grabbed drinks with all of them. The great thing is, I wasn't the only one that felt this way. The other members stayed after class, hanging around the lobby, chatting and catching up. 

Kyle and Matt have done an incredible job building an outstanding facility. But what sets NW Fitness Project apart from the rest, is the sense of community and team unity. If it wasn't a half hour drive for me, I would have joined on the spot.

I HIGHLY recommend that you check out NW Fitness Project! If you can, take a class with Kyle. You will LOVE it. If indoor cycling is more your gig, you can experience his awesome energy at Fly Wheel SLU.

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 3/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 4/5

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Beach Tabata

Memorial Day weekend means the start of Summer which is always great motivation for ramping up the workout routine. This Memorial Day weekend, we were lucky enough to head down to Southern California to visit my family and spend time with my adorable 2 year old nephew. The only problem with traveling is it breaks up my gym routine which means it requires a bit of planning to make sure I can find time to workout. As luck would have it, one of my favorite workout buddies, Emily, was also planning to head down to SoCal to spend time with her family! When fate puts you in the same place at the same time, you have to get together and workout!!!! 

Emily and I made plans to meet on the beach one morning so the boys could chase the waves and build sand castles while Emily and I got in a workout. Because it was just the two of us, we decided to do all partner workouts. I have a Tabata timer on my phone (there are several you can choose from in the App store) so we decided to do Tabata sets. Here are a few notes on the 4 sets we chose:

  • Jump Squats
    • This is one of Tricia's favorite partner workouts and she often incorporates it into our Tabata classes.
    • You stand, palms up against each other and do jump squats. The goal is to get as low as you can in the squat and push off to jump as high as possible all while reaching breathless. 
    • Finding a partner that is about the same height is important for this one
  • Push Ups with a High Five
    • This is one of my favorite strength exercises to do with a partner. You essentially do a push  up and when you come up, you high five your partner. 
    • One small side note, this was not the best exercise for the beach. Emily and I ended up throwing sand in each other's face when we came up to high five.
  • Hop Over Planks
    • This was by far my favorite workout of the set! One partner lies down in plank while the other hops over them.
    • I would recommend that the partner in plank go on their forearms to decrease the height a bit.
  • Burpees with a High Five
    • This seemed like a brilliant idea in my head. Unfortunately, it didn't play out that way!
    • The idea is to do a burpee and then jump up and high five each other.
    • Unfortunately, when we went to high five each other, we found we were too far away so we moved closer together. But then on the way down to do the burpee, we nearly bumped heads! Between that and the sand everywhere, we had to scratch this from the set!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 2/5

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6 Week Challenge

Anyone who knows me, knows I like a good challenge. Tricia and another talented instructor, Deb, started a 6 Week Weight Loss program about 6 years ago. Although it is called a weight loss program, the intent is the help all of us work to improve our fitness, nutrition and general lifestyle habits for 6 weeks with the hopes that these changes stick after the 6 weeks. I figured, why not give it a try?! While I am lucky enough to love to workout, the concept of balanced meals and healthy eating is lost on me.

So going into this 6 week challenge, I had 3 goals:

1. Build Strength - specifically upper body and core

2. Pull back on the wine consumption ( apparently 3-4 glasses of rose a night is NOT good for you!)

3. Cut back on the sugar (I truly believe that having dessert after every meal, even breakfast, is a necessity!)

The good news was, my coach, Jessie, is a certified trainer and super meal prep guru!! I knew she would give me some great tips on how to eat healthy and avoid the sweets!

I have to be honest, walking into this, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. This was a classic example of Susan trusting the people she respects without asking a lot of question!! Tricia said it would be amazing, I took her word for it, and signed up!! So walking into the kickoff meeting at Denali was a bit of an eye opener. First off, the ice breaker was a WORKOUT, I mean true workout. Jessie and Brittany (our coaches), came up with a great game. Each person would introduce themselves and then introduce a favorite move. We would all say their name and repeat the move 4 times. Of course it's fun for the first 2 or 3 rounds but by the 5th round of squat jumps, I was wondering why I even bothered to go to 6 AM cycle!! I ended up sweating almost as much as I do in Tabata!

After the ice breaker, Tricia, Deb, Jessie and Brittany gave us a run down of the next 6 weeks. What I loved about it was their approach. They were entirely realistic and understanding that we were all coming from different places, different goals, different challenges. The program introduces one nutrition and one fitness challenge per week. Of course Kristin (my cycle instructor and fellow wine lover who also signed up for the challenge) pretty much said it all " PLEASE do not take my wine away until the last week!!!!!" Well, guess what the challenges for the first week are? Only 2 (YES, TWO) glasses of wine per week and workout 5-6 times a week. Now let's be real, a glass of wine is 8 oz. which in my house is 1/3 of a glass of wine :( Which means, I would be having LESS than a glass of wine per week. Things were NOT looking so good!!

Fortunately, the next day was my check in with my amazing coach, Jessie. The check in included a few things:

1. Discussion around my goals

2. Measurements - Jessie weighed me and then measured my biceps, waist, hips and thigh

3. Strength and Fitness Baseline - this required me to do as many pushups as I could (literally, no limits no requirements, just go for as long as you can!!!) and then a timed one mile ride on the bike

What I appreciated more than anything was Jessie's realistic approach. I talked to her about the fact that I feel lucky enough to love working out but the reality is I struggle with snacking and wine. She and I chatted briefly about it and how I can reset my expectations to meet my goals. Little things like not going cold turkey but making small adjustments each week until I get where I want.

I'm looking forward to this journey and am grateful to have such amazing coaches, mentors and fellow team members to try this with me!!! I know this isn't a true Studio review but given this will be a big part  of my life for the next 6 weeks, I'll be blogging about it!!! 

 

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Spinning Party (City Cycle)

If you follow them on Instagram or follow the indoor cycling scene in Seattle, you've probably been eagerly awaiting the opening of City Cycle like I have. The only problem was they opened up their website the week I was in Mexico. And well, it's fair to say, thanks to the bottomless mojitos and sunshine, I didn't exactly make it onto the site that week. When I finally did, the only time that worked with my schedule was the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. A bit of a wait but not a bad way to kickoff the big weekend if you ask me! And even better, Sara (of Fit Foods) was free then too! So we both reserved our bikes and counted down the days.

City Cycle is located in a brand new building with a small parking garage (12-15 spaces). When you walk in, the check in area definitely has a new, modern feel to it. The two ladies working the desk were super friendly and ready to help us. Once you turn the corner past the check in desk, there is an open space with lockers, doors leading to the restrooms and a shoe wall. I LOVE the shoe wall. When you reserve a bike online, you can request shoes and enter your shoe size. Your shoes will be waiting for you and hanging under the number that correlates to your bike number. Genius and super easy!

Sara and I changed into our shoes and headed into the studio. The studio is smaller than the ones I am used to but you don't even notice it when you get on your bike. There are about three rows, stadium seating style, and enough space between bikes where you don't feel as though you will sweat on your neighbor (or vice versa). 

Our instructor, Katie, greeted us when we walked into the studio and asked us to grab a set of dumbbells. You could choose from 2, 3, 4 and 5 lb weights. My gut was to grab the 5 lb weights but Katie recommended 3 lb weights given the arm series would be about 5 minutes long. I would find out later that she was right!!

As always, Sara and I had bikes in the front row. Anyone who cycles with me knows I have weird quirks when it comes to indoor cycling. One of them is that I like to see my peddle strokes in the mirror so I like to sit in the front row. Luckily the bikes were the same Schwinn bikes we have at Community Fitness with one difference - NO MONITOR. Sara will tell you that not having a monitor, for me, is like not having rose at a summer barbecue. What's the point of going?!?! Luckily, Sara reminded me that this was a good opportunity to get through a class based on feel rather than numbers. Sometimes it's good to relinquish control and just go with it!

When class started, I knew it was going to be FUN. The lighting in the studio is perfect for a fun cycling experience. It accommodates everything from a dark, focused ride to a motivating, pumped up ride. I LOVED it. If you workout with me, you know that music, energy, lighting, ALL of that helps push me. Katie got us kicked off right away and showed us the three different  positions we would incorporate into the workout. I'm not going to lie, the first few minutes of the ride were hard for me. I could not focus. All I could think was 'what gear does this feel like?', 'would this be a 4 or is this really a 2?', 'how many RPMs am I REALLY peddling? It feels like 95-100 but what if it's 75-80?!??!'. Fortunately, Katie is a force to be reckoned with and she brought me back to the present with her energy. She is literally the  perfect balance of a peppy cheerleader, your favorite late night dancing buddy and powerhouse motivational speaker. She went from pushing us up hills to dancing around the studio to giving the best motivational speech to one of my favorite songs (Bon Iver's Skinny Love).

Most of the songs were straight riding but there were two songs that were the dreaded choreography rides. If you know me, You know that I am not the most coordinated person. Coordination while biking and keeping up with the beat is just a recipe for disaster. My biggest fear is that I will fall off the bike. Katie had us doing a few basic push up type moves on the bike for the first song and then move into a few hip movements for the second song. I think it's safe to say I didn't do all the movements, I didn't keep up with the beat and I was more than thrilled when each song ended!

After about 30 minutes Katie had us grab our weights and led us through a 5 minute arm series that included biceps, triceps and shoulders. It was a series that felt too easy at first but by the end felt good but not too challenging. I always struggle with weight series on a bike since it is difficult to switch out your weights. A bit of a bummer since I like to use different weights for my biceps vs. my triceps vs. my shoulders. (Tabata has spoiled me!) But aside from that small note, it was a good arm series and nice to get in something difference in the middle of the ride. After that, we went through 3 more songs to wrap up the class.

I will say, by the time class ended, I felt as though I had been there for 15 minutes. It literally flew by. Riding without a monitor was also a good reminder for me to consider different types of rides and not be so numbers driven. I found I didn't push myself as hard during the class at City Cycle because I didn't have the numbers to motivate me. But since then, I have actually made a conscious decision to cover up my monitor for at least two to three songs per class at Community Fitness so that I can learn how to push myself based on feel. So if you're heading to City Cycle and are used to the monitors like me, I'd recommend preparing yourself mentally or doing a few rides with the monitor covered up.

All in all, Sara and I had a blast. Katie was AMAZING and I look forward to going back to City Cycle when it works with my schdule. 

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 3/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 1/5

 

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Kettlebility

As many of you know, strength training is hard for me. I know I need to do it and I want to do it, but I just don't get the same rush I do with my other workouts. So when I walked by Kettlebility on 65th, I thought, "Why Not?" We use kettle bells here and there in some of my Boot Camp classes so I thought it might be good to go to a class that focused fully on exercises that incorporated them. I also thought this might be a more exciting way for me to engage in strength training exercises.

When I walked into the studio, it was different from most of the other studios. There's no true check in area or front desk. There's a couch with a coffee table full of books and then a large space to the left and a large space to the right. There were two separate personal training sessions going on when I arrived so I waited until they were completed. Once one of the sessions ended, the trainer came over to help. I let him know I was there for the class and surprisingly, I was the only one there! I never say 'no' to a personal one on one session!

What's interesting, and I didn't expect, was that the studio focuses on form and safety first. So the 'Grove your Swing' class would not be about getting a workout  but more about coaching me through the proper form to do various exercises. The focus would truly be on perfecting my form. From there, he started with the basics of how to correctly lift and move the kettle bells. The focus being on protecting your spine and your back. Definitely helpful information and good for me to remember.

From there, we went into deadlifts. I was happy about this since I have been trying to get this right during Body Pump classes and can never determine if I am doing it right. Because I am used to doing squats, I tend to bend my knees earlier than I should when doing a deadlift. The good thing about having the one on one session with the instructor was he could watch me and correct every little thing. It was VERY helpful. 

We did a few sets of deadlifts and then moved on to kettle bell swings. I do these a lot in Tabata class so I was comfortable with the movement and the motion. What was different at Kettlebility was the instructor introduced the right breathing method which is entirely different in sound and form than anything I have ever done (cardio or yoga). The inhales are quick and short and the exhale requires you to blow out through your teeth more than anything. This is important as it allows your body to exhale the air in a form that protects your lower back. 

All in all, it was a good class for learning technique and form. They actually require that you take at least three of the intro classes before you test to move onto the next level of classes which allows you to take more of the traditional workout classes (think Boot Camp with kettle bells). So if you do go for the first time, do not walk in expecting to get a workout. Use it as an opportunity to learn about form and the right way to work with kettle balls.

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 0/5

Core: 0/5

Legs: 0/5

Arms: 0/5

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HOT Yoga (Core Power Yoga - Capitol Hill, Seattle)

You know I was obsessed, OBSESSED with Core Power Yoga after visiting the Ballard studio a few weeks ago. So when my good friend, Kolena recommend we go to Yoga on Monday night, the Fitness Hero recommended we go to the Capital Hill studio. Why not? Can't go wrong!

Kolena and I headed to the 7:30 PM C2 Core Power Yoga class. This class is  described as one that "strengthens, balances and detoxifies your entire body and mind as you move through more challenging postures and connected breath." It sounded TOUGH. Not only that, the room is set to 95-98 degrees with added humidity. Yes, they ADD HUMIDITY! I knew I was in for a true challenge. 

The studio itself is at a great location in Capitol Hill - on the corner of Broadway and Republican. When you walk in, the studio has a lofty feel as it covers two floors. The retail area is smaller than the Ballard studio but still had a lot of great stuff and a bunch of great sale items. The woman that checked me in, was also the instructor. She was very friendly and helpful. 

The one feature I did not like about the Capitol Hill location is the locker rooms with restrooms and showers are upstairs while the studio is downstairs. So I headed upstairs to lock my stuff away and use the restroom. Then wore my flip flops downstairs and stored them in a cubby on the first floor. Just a minor inconvenience but a small note about the layout.

The studio itself is nice and spacious. As soon as I walked in, I was hot. I hadn't even done anything yet and I was hot. NOT a good sign! Kolena and I set up in the back of the room. The class filled up very quickly and by the time we were ready to start, the room was filled up with just enough room in between all of our mats.

The instructor (Juliana) started off by giving us a moment to close our eyes, clear our heads and connect with our bodies. It was a good reminder as we got into class that we were here for various reasons and needed to set our intentions and focus on them. From there, we moved into sets of traditional yoga poses. All of them were standing yoga poses that ultimately ended with your Chaturanga. What I loved about Juliana was her energy and her constant encouragement. She also provided several options throughout the flow to push yourself, test yourself and often, help you feel more comfortable. She never actually sat in the front of the room (she didn't even have a mat set up) so this allowed her to walk around the room and help as needed. I would note that if this is the first yoga class you take or are not as familiar with yoga poses, be prepared to rely on a neighbor to show you what each of the poses are. I had to rely on people around me as several of the poses faced different directions of the room.

The one thing I will note about this class is that the added humidity made it HOT. Uncomfortably hot. And you are talking to someone who runs cold. About 40 minutes into the class I was sweating so much I had to stop every 2-3 minutes to wipe sweat off my face and body. It was that bad. I rarely drip in sweat and I think this was the first time I remember being so uncomfortable that I could not get through my poses. Outside of this, the class was great. It ended with your typical Savanna which was definitely much needed for me!

All in all it was a good class to stretch out my body but not sure if I will go back simply because of the humidity factor. Both Juliana and the studio itself were great!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 0/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 1/5

Arms: 1/5

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