Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Classes I'm Loving Right Now

As you may know, Run MeriG Run is a big proponent of running lots, but not over-running. Even in my most crazy marathon training nutso weeks I do no more than 3 or 4 runs a week. In between, I'm a big fan of lots of cross-training mixed in with scattered rest days. Just call me Cross-Train MeriG. Cross-Train.

I've gotten into a good grove lately with a mixture of a few different classes that I thought I'd share with you. Of course I don't go to each one every week, but I try to mix it up and it keeps things interesting for me so I don't get bored with any one particular workout. If you'd ever like to give any of these a shot, let me know! I'm always happy to have a workout buddy!

Happy sweating...

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Exhale Core Fusion Yoga

Locations: Exhale has several locations around the city. Fusion Yoga is newish and I've only taken this at Central Park South location (which, along with the UES location are my favorites due to location, locker rooms, and lack of snooty-ness of crowd).

Cost: In the low $30s I believe...but I buy several 10-packs for $215 through Gilt or Rue La La throughout the year so I never pay full price.

Their Description:
Relax your mind and re-energize your body in this soulful and athletic practice that fuses flow yoga with intense core work for the ultimate mind body experience. Sun-salutations and warrior poses are woven with sequences of isolated thigh, arm, and ab work as you build the heat, then reward yourself with a cooling savasana finish. This uplifting class will unleash your inner warrior leaving you strengthened, stretched, and sweaty! Open to all levels.

My Take: I'm not gonna lie, I'm obsessed with this yoga class. (And you know that it takes a lot for me to be obsessed with yoga.) Why do I love it? Well, it is more workout than yoga, for starters. Do you want a lot of chanting and relaxation? Than this will certainly not be your jam. You want chataranga push-ups, planks for days, Warriors that turn into squats and chair poses that last for hours? Or an you want to end with a little core fusion ab workout? Than this is definitely for you.

The class I go to is 5:45pm Fridays at the Central Park locale and taught by Nicole. She is bubbly. She is sweet. She is supportive and non-judgmental. As promised in the description above, I absolutely left very sweaty. (But are you surprised?) Although they say all levels, I definitely would not recommend if you've never tried any yoga before, but you certainly need not be an expert.

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Exhale Core Fusion Extreme
Locations: Extreme seems to only be offered at the Flatiron location. Note that there is currently NO SHOWER (I think they have plans to install...) I had an unfortunate Thursday morning when I did not know this.

Cost: Same as above

Their Description:
Abolish fat, rev your metabolism, and amplify strength as you move through power stations consisting of high intensity work followed by brief moments of active recovery. This hour of power will incorporate gliders, heavy hand weights, a plyo box, suspension training, cardio explosions and intense core work to push you to your fitness maximum. With a balance of restorative stretches at the finish, this functional, time-savvy, expertly tailored class will take you to the extreme. Sneakers required. For safety reasons, guests are not permitted to join class late.

My Take: So I do love this class, but I will warn you: This kicked my butt!! The class consists of a warm-up followed by five stations. Each station has two exercises. Each of these stations and each of these exercises are super-duper hard. Super. Duper. The way it works is that you do Exercise #1 at the station for 1 min followed by Exercised #2. Then you repeat and do #1 again and then #2 again. And then you move to the next station. There is no break in between and no rest. You do this whole circuit and then start over with each station now having reps shorter than a minute for each exercise. In between stations this second time you have 1-2 minutes of "active recovery" (i.e. more of super-duper hard exercises). This was a two-towel workout for me each of the times I've gone. Consider yourself either warned or pumped up, depending on how you like to roll. Extreme is not your typical core fusion class at all, and I loved it.

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Exceed Row Plus
Where:  Exceed UES (They also have a Tribeca location, but have never been)
Cost: $32; Class size less than 8 people (so felt worth it to me!)

Their Description: EXCEED: Row Plus is a rowing intensive workout for the entire body. Workouts range from sort and powerful to long and strong, with every variation in between. Although mostly rowing, this class will include complementary movements off the concept2 that intensifies the workout and further develop various muscle groups. This class assists to improves form, endurance and power that will help rowers of all levels.

My Take: First of all, I chose this rowing picture from the internet because the guy just looks so happy and goofy on the rower! He's like, "yaaaaay." Anyways, I digress. When I read the description prior to attending this class the first time, I was confused because I didn't know that a "concept2" is not a type-o, but rather the type of rower used in class. So you are doing -- as they say -- mostly rowing but with complementary movements like kettleballs, TRX, push-ups and sit-ups in between.

What I loved is that it was a true full-body workout and intense cardio without running. I'm actually considering replacing a running day for my next marathon (teaser alert...) with rowing! The other thing I loved is that the instructor -- Shelly - is really great at improving your form and giving personal attention to everyone. Turns out I had been rowing incredibly wrong until I went to this class. I'd leave row workouts feeling my next, arms and back. If you're doing it right, it's truly an arms, back, abs, and leg workout that is comparable to a long-distance run. Classes UES are 6 am Tuesdays and 7 am Fridays right now and I can be found at either depending on the day and how crazy I feel. Locker rooms are decent with great products, so an excellent pre-work choice if you need to get ready.

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NYSC Body Pump
Where: Multiple NYSC locations around the city
Cost: Free with NYSC membership (of which I have)

Their Description:  BODYPUMP®, the original LES MILLS™ barbell class, quickly sculpts, tones and strengthens your entire body! Great bodies aren't born, they are transformed. BODYPUMP® uses the THE REP EFFECT™, a breakthrough resistance-training formula that leverages low-weight loads and high-repetition movements. The result is that you burn fat, gain strength and quickly build lean body muscle. By challenging all of your major muscle groups while you squat, press, lift and curl, BODYPUMP® is one of the world's fastest ways to get in shape. This class is great for all fitness levels because you choose a workout weight that's comfortable for you. To keep things fresh, the class is updated every three months with new choreography and chart-topping tunes. Get the results you've been looking for. Experience the highly trained instructors and THE GROUP EFFECT that is BODYPUMP®.
Photo credit: Preppy Runner's review
My Take: Ok, so before I went to this I was scared. Now I've been probably 15 times and it's not scary at all. The weird/interesting/cool thing about Pump is that there is one soundtrack and one "routine" that all instructors are using for a few months at a time until the next release comes out. Instructors generally do this with you in the front (rather than wandering around the rooms) so you always have someone to watch and guide you through. Each song is a muscle group (squats, biceps, shoulders, back, abs, etc). Most classes are 55 minutes, but you'll notice a few are 45 minutes and cut out two or so tracks. You're using a barball for most of the class, and you'll start with light weights on each side. As you keep building up with repeat visits -- or if you a muscle-y man or lady -- you can go heavier. In between tracks they'll tell you if you should increase or decrease weights for the next track so that you might, as an example, use a heavier weight for squats than for shoulders. I love that it is full-body. I love that it is muscle-building. I love that it is a break from heavy cardio for me. With the pre-programmed workouts it's hard to have a "bad" instructor (although admittedly some are better than others) so that is helpful with my NYSC Passport. I do get a bit tired of the soundtracks by the end of the few months, but it also gives me an opportunity to challenge myself and add on a bit more weight as the workouts become familiar. Overall an amazing complement to my more high-intensity classes.

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And, of course, I always have my Tuesday am Total Body Conditioning at the 76th St NYSC. I think I've been going to this for over three years. Crazy times!

What classes are you loving right now? How do you cross-train?