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Fitness Class Review: Body Ride at Revolve Cycling

It’s so fun to “rediscover” a workout. That has been happening to me recently with spinning. As I’ve mentioned (here), I taught spinning in college and for a couple years after. In fact, before I discovered running, spinning was my go-to cardio of choice. But since I stopped teaching, I’ve lost some of my fire for it. I just preferred teaching to participating, mostly because I got to pick the music 🙂 Also, every time I go to a spin class at a gym, they have no less than 25 fans going in the room. I really hate that because I like to get drenched in sweat when spinning (personal preference… I know not everyone likes that, hence all the fans). I cannot do that with hurricane force winds blowing on me from all directions. But when I tried Soul Cycle in NYC, it totally relit my spinning flame!

When I came back to DC, I really wanted to try out another studio style cycling class. This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending Francina’s Extended Body Ride at Revolve Cycling in Clarendon.

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Revolve offers three different styles of class – Real Ride, Body Ride, and Barre Ride. A single drop in class is $18 with the option to purchase class packages of 5, 10, and 20 classes. For first timers, you can purchase an intro month membership for $59. (More info on pricing and memberships here) In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a complementary first class, but I think that’s just because I connected with them over Twitter about my interest in trying the studio. Clips are required to ride and you can rent them for $2 (which is what I did… I really need to just invest in a pair of clips already).

Towels are provided, which is awesome because my sweaty self cannot spin without at least one towel (I usually use two because I’m just THAT sweaty). I broke out my cycling shorts for this class and OMG what a difference they make. I totally forgot how much the padded seat helps. Anyways, before I knew it I was clipped into my bike and off we went!

Extended Body Ride was a 60 minute class that included two tracks of upper body strength training. The cardio tracks were great! I personally prefer more climbing / resistance work in cycle as opposed to “spin your legs as fast as your possibly can,” and Francina totally delivered. I was sweating and breathing hard by the end of the warm up. Her music selection was great, which earns major points in my book (if the music isn’t good… seriously… what is the point?)

The strength training part is really interesting to me. I had never included that in a spin class before Soul Cycle and I was super intrigued by it. Revolve provides a larger selection of weights, which I definitely liked. I ended up grabbing 8 lbs weights to get a more serious burn. The only thing I didn’t LOVE was they use these weighted bags instead of actual dumbbells. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them but my hands were really sweaty by the time we got to strength (yes it’s gross my hands sweat a lot, let’s move on). I kind of felt like I was going to drop them the whole time because the bags were so smooth. To be fair though, they did have free weights and Francina told people they could grab them before class if they wanted to. In the future, I probably will since they will likely be more comfortable for me.

Final Summation: I had a blast at Revolve. If you’re looking for the studio cycling experience, I definitely recommend checking them out. As a runner, spinning is a great way for me to get a kick-ass cardio workout while giving my joints a break from pounding the pavement. Revolve wasn’t just a workout, it was an experience! Surrounded by other riders in a dark room with pumping music, I was able to completely release the outside world and focus on my workout. I think there is a class pack at Revolve in my future…

Questions for you guys:

  • Runners – what do you use for cross training?
  • Have you ever attended a studio cycling class before? What did you think?

Studio Review: Yoga District

For my local DC area friends, I have started posting reviews of various fitness classes and yoga studios that I have attended around the city. You can read examples of past reviews here and here. I am still searching in vain for a new yoga home since I moved and left my two year relationship with The Studio DC. I think that is the best studio I’ve been to yet, but I’m trying to be open to finding a new home. I’m certainly not in any danger of turning into the amazing DC Fit Crasher, but reviews seem helpful so I keep doing them 🙂

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The Details: I recently tried two yoga classes at Yoga District. They have five studios around the DC area and are by FAR the least expensive studio I have yet to find for a single class. Drop in class rates are $10. I purchased a the New Student Special 2-Class 1-Week pass for $10. They also offer a monthly membership for $77 per month or a 10-class pass for $90. Since I purchased the two-class option, I attended one class at the Dupont Circle studio (Wednesday 6:35 pm Yoga 2 with Michelle) and a second at the I street studio (Monday 6:15 pm Yoga 1.5-3 with Audrey).

The Good: The staff at both studios were really friendly. The gift at Dupont knew it was my first time and made sure to show me where to put my stuff, get water, rent mats or towels if necessary, etc. I’m usually pretty shy about saying I’m new so I like when studios have it in their computer systems and just take the initiative.

Both practice spaces were really great. They had a very organic feel to them. Some might prefer a perfectly symmetrical space with no obstructions and clean deco,r but I think there is something really “yoga” about practicing in an attic with slanted ceilings or an oddly shaped room. It takes the regimented nature of exercise out of the class and makes you feel very free.

The price is totally right here too for me, so that never hurts 😉

As far as the yoga, I liked that both classes offered free time to work on inversions. Unlike other studios, we didn’t go to the wall, so they were really counting on you knowing your limits. I ended up holding forearm balance in free space for longer than I ever have! Of course the second class, I tried to do the same thing and ended up going all the way over into forearm wheel but that’s ok. I had the space and it was a good learning experience. My first class (yoga 2) also worked on eka pada koundinyasana which is one of my favorites. I definitely like the yoga 2 class much better. I liked the philosophy and feel better. To be fair though, my second class (yoga 1.5 – 3) did a variation of Shiva Rea’s fire practice (which is marked by 9 rounds of 12 push ups or 108 push ups in total). Something about that particular practice just doesn’t jive for me. It’s hard sure, but not in the good yoga way. I can do 108 push ups with my trainer, I’m looking for something different in yoga so I didn’t love that.

The Could Be Better: Both spaces are a little cramped as far as waiting to go into class. I haven’t been to a single studio where this isn’t a problem though. The time between classes is always short so people are lined up waiting in tight spaces while people are trying to come out of class. This was more of an issue at the I street studio tho. Even the practice space was kind of a mess at times. The cubbies for your stuff is right near the door to the bathroom so people get hit with the door or get stuck inside the bathroom. It could be laid out better, but I recognize there are space limits.

The class scaling system is my biggest issue. I just think it’s really arbitrary and doesn’t offer a ton of guidance for someone picking a class. I would tell you from my experience that the yoga 2 class was more advanced than the 1.5 – 3 class. I was expecting the 1.5 – 3 class to be offering many more advanced options (hence the 3?) but that wasn’t my experience. As mentioned above, the only thing that was “hard” was the 108 push ups, but that’s just because that is a ton of push ups, not because it involved advanced yoga postures. The schedule is also just really complicated. The different class descriptions, level variations… it’s just not very clear. I think if they cleaned that up a little bit and made class levels / descriptions more streamlined, it would be easier to navigate.

Final Summation: I will definitely be going back to Yoga District. I loved the vibe and at $10 a class, it’s a perfect place to pop in for a class when I have time. I will just be careful what classes I pick in the future so I have the appropriate expectations 🙂

Questions for you guys:

– Do you have a studio “home” or do you bounce around?

– What do you look for in a yoga studio? What’s your biggest pet peeve at a studio?

Fitness Class Review – Boot Camp

As you may recall, I recently tried a new yoga studio and then did a little review on the blog. Well yesterday, I went to my very first group fitness class at my new gym. I wasn’t sure at first if I should write a review, mostly out of my own insecurities. I was like, “well what do I know??” and “who’s going to care what I have to say??” or worse “what if I get a ton of hate comments about a review??” But then I sat up and I said, Hey Christina, you were a group fitness instructor for 6 years, a personal trainer for 4, you have a degree in health science, and if were worried about getting hate comments, why are you writing a blog?? As with EVERY review I do, I only do it in a spirit of constructive feedback. If I absolutely hate a place or class, I just wouldn’t mention it on the blog. I try to write reviews on the blog that I feel like will be legitimately helpful to consumers and to the “management” (of the gym, race, studio… whatever). Ok… here we go!

I am absolutely loving working with my trainer… even though he absolutely annihilated my legs in our first session! However, a great group fitness class is still one of my favorite things. I was a regular group fitness junkie during my college years. I usually taught 5 times a week, so basically group fitness was my life. I don’t do it with the same frequency anymore, but I do love to try new classes! This morning I tried the 6 am Boot Camp class at Fitness First Arlington. On top of Fitness First being ridiculously affordable… group fitness classes are all included! Sweet. They are really popular though (have tried twice to get into a spinning class… no cigar). Luckily, the 6 am start time made it not too crowded 🙂

So I walked into the room and noticed the instructor was busy getting her music set up. I know how that was when I was an instructor (I liked a little time to get set up before answering questions or saying hello) so I didn’t want to bother her. I was also feeling a little shy and nervous so clearly I picked a spot in the back. There weren’t too many others in the room but I noticed the guy next to me had a mat. I didn’t know what I needed so I just went into the back and grabbed one. Well other people started coming in and saw us with mats and starting getting them too. Then the instructor turned around and looked kinda confused and said “Oh, you guys don’t need mats” hahaha and then I died a little inside. Clearly this wasn’t a big deal to anyone but me, but I was super embarrassed that I helped start this erroneous mat trend. I was like, damn I better bring it in this class to make up for this.

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I thought the instructor was great, but I was hoping she would ask if anyone was new. I know I should’ve just gone up and told her I was new, but I was being shy and silly. I ended up being able to manage just fine, but I was confused about what equipment I needed (turns out in this class you do the warm up and THEN get your equipment). I totally understand that it was 6 am and no one was particularly chatty, but standing in the room before class started was a little awkward. Once things got going, the attitude definitely changed though… phew!

Class started with a warm up to get our hearts pumping, which I definitely appreciated! With a 6 am start time, I definitely rolled in at 5:53 am. Not a lot of of time to do my own warm up. The warm up was done to aerobics music which was a fun throw back for me. I was pleased to see I could still keep a 32 count in my head! The class broke down into 30 seconds strength, 1 minute cardio, repeat 2X for each muscle group. I wrote a post awhile back about a bootcamp style class I was going to at my old gym, but this is definitely my favorite way to do strength training. I liked the repetition of exercises because it made me feel much more fatigued. Since each strength move focused on one part of the body, I felt like I could really work that part to exhaustion. (My old class was somewhat all over the place, you never knew what was coming next so it was hard to judge if you should blow it up on a move or leave a little in the tank for later).

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The 45 minute class FLEW by and I really appreciated how the instructor worked her way around the room checking form instead of doing her own workout the whole time. It was helpful (and much safer!). I was dripping sweat and definitely breathing heavy at the end of each circuit… got a really good workout! This morning I was even a little sore in my chest (from doing “negative push ups“… I did one round full push ups and then switched to negatives which were actually REALLY hard) and my calves from all the plyometrics we did. I definitely needed heavier weights for a couple of the moves… that was my fault though. I always get nervous committing to higher weights. I need to just man up and go for it!

Questions for you guys:

– What do you look for in a group fitness instructor?? – I know I want a tough workout but someone who won’t call me out in front of the whole class. That’s my biggest pet peeve! I was super glad this girl didn’t do that. She came around and made a quiet comment to me about my form, which was helpful and I appreciated!

– Have you ever done bootcamp before? What did you think? Do you incorporate this style into your on-you-own workouts?