**Written April 11th, 2018**
I’ve been an athlete my entire life. Growing up, I played just about every sport (except basketball for some odd reason??), so my love for movement was instilled in me at a young age. Looking back, I realize how easy it was for me to slip into my orthorexic tendencies. Between my eating disorder and exercise addiction, my recovery called for prolonged exercise restriction in order to restore the lost weight. For me, this period lasted about six months. I was frustrated and anxious, but the wait was well worth it. It provoked a sense of gratitude for my body’s abilities and strength that I had never had before. Since then, I’ve focus a great amount of energy on exercise and its role in my life. Living in NYC, I have a wellness hub at my fingertips. This school year, I’ve made a point to explore all types of movement, striving for balance in my workouts. Up until this past August, I had never taken a group fitness class. Now, I take about two or three a week. I love them! There’s just something about being in a room with like-minded individuals who are just ready to w o r k. I find I can push myself to greater lengths when I’m being coached by an instructor and am fueled by the vibrant, positive energy of my teammates.
One of the most important things in life is variety. In the realm of fitness, it’s critical to vary the ways you move your body. Doing the same workout on repeat will become muscle memory. Your body won’t be excited or worked in new ways, and you’ll inevitably plateau in your wellness journey. Keep your body guessing and you’ll see results. That’s why I love switching up the studios I go to; each one challenges me and moves my body in new ways. Here’s a list of all the NYC studios I’ve been able to try this school year!
The first time I went to Barry’s I opted for a double floor workout. You have the option of either staying on the floor the entire time or splitting your workout so you’re on the floor for half and doing treadmill work for the other half. The class is focused on different exercises using weights, resistance bands, and other equipment. Depending on the class you choose, you’ll work upper, lower, or full body. I was intimidated by the treadmill element the first class, but after leaving I regretted not doing it. Double floor was pretty repetitious (you do a circuit while the runners are running, and then they come join you for the same circuit again). The second time I went I bit the bullet and tried the treadmill, and I’m so glad I did. It was so much fun pushing myself to try a new way of moving and how it called for me to use different muscles I don’t normally use. Love how the studio is dimly lit with red lighting (because dark lighting is my best lighting, you feel?)
I love the structure of these workouts. You begin with a warm-up, then move through circuits. This studio really emphasizes group work and partnering, which is so much fun because you feed off of each other’s energy and hype and it’s just great. I’ve met so many awesome athletes here that pushed me to get in just one more rep. You can take class with about 20 other people or opt for the Pit option, which is a more intimate class of about 12 people. I love the Pit classes, and prefer it to the general class, but they fill up quick. I don’t find the workouts here too challenging overall, but I have had some instructors who really killed it. Depends on who you get. However, I don’t go into every single workout looking to be pushed to exhaustion. I love Fhitting Room because it always creatively moves my body, and I’ve honestly learned a lot from the instructors here!
Okay. Not to play favorites, but Tone House is my favorite. Huge shout-out to my friend Seth (@kaleforniakitchen) for recommending this death sentence to me. Tone House is a killer workout. It’s like personal training on steroids. If you can survive the warm-up, you can do anything. I’ve never been challenged so much in my life. The instructors are kick ass. The workout is the athlete’s dream. There’s speed work, agility, strength, tears…you know the deal. I’ve only ever taken the 101 intro class and have 0 plans to graduate from it. The regular class is actually for superhumans and marathoners alike, so trust me on this and embrace the 101 class. Every time I’ve hit the turf here my classes have been no larger than 8 people, and I loved it. We were constantly moving onto the next challenge, always rooting for each other, and striving to work as a unit. I’m always sore for at least five days after I leave the House. I. Love. It. My favorite workout by far. Because it’s so intense, however, I make sure to space out my visits to give me enough recovery time (once a week, but usually I go once every two weeks). Totally recommend.
Physique 57 is a pilates-based studio. I’ve always been drawn to more HIIT, CrossFit training styles. My mom is a big fan of this workout (they have at-home tapes that she raves about) so I figured I’d try it out and test new waters. Honestly, it was incredibly challenging for me to just slow down. However, I liked the heightened focus on really feeling each movement and being mindful of how my body was working. I took an intro class, but I did find it to be a tad easy and not exciting enough for me personally. It was nice to take a break from my usual intensity, but I wasn’t captivated with this experience. Not for everyone, and that’s okay! Totally not discrediting how hard this workout, or pilates in general, is. It takes a great deal of strength and does help shape, tone, and sculpt your body. The instructor was wonderful, and the class was about 20 people. I didn’t have a bad experience here, I just wasn’t hooked. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking for something new though!
First semester, I was at SLT on a weekly basis. This class is pilates revamped. You do the entire workout on a megaformer. The workout calls for a lot of resistance and strength work. The first time I walked into the studio I was intimidated; I had never encountered anything like the megaformer. However, it was an Intro class, and the instructor made sure to take the time to walk me through how the machine worked and how the class would be run. I instantly felt comfortable. I really enjoy SLT because it’s a workout I could never replicate on my own, so I definitely get my money’s worth. I haven’t been in awhile, but I’d love to get back there soon! My favorite way to switch things up by far.
Ahhh, how did this one not come up sooner? I only began riding at Soul after a friend of mine at school asked me to take a class with her. Since then, I’ve been riding weekly. Before this year, I had only cycled here and there at my home gym. Cardio isn’t my favorite, but in my effort to expand my horizons, I opened up to Soul. Yes, it’s pricey, but I think it’s well worth it. I’ve taken some classes that felt like a waste of my money. My advice is to find an instructor you love. They change everything. I take the same class on Tuesday nights after work and it’s the highlight of my day. The instructor encourages lots of resistance as opposed to choreography, which I appreciate so much. This 45-minute ride once a week has definitely improved my stamina, made me stronger, and most importantly helps me focus on de-stressing and recentering myself after a long day spent between school and the office. Even if you can’t make it a consistent thing, I encourage you to try it at least once. The overall experience is kick ass.
I found Brick on ClassPass. It’s a similar workout to Fhitting Room in that its HIIT workout focused that is broken up into circuits. You work with partners and groups for most of it, so I liked that element. However, even after a few classes here, I’m not hooked. The workouts are not overly challenging, and sometimes too simplistic. Some of the instructors I’ve had spend a lot of time talking and then the workouts are cut short. I’m sure I just had a few off-classes, but I don’t feel like I get my money’s worth. Many of the circuits I’ve paid to do here I could have easily done in the small living room of my apartment. Not my favorite!
Favorite Class: B l X
It’s impossible to truly appreciate life in isolation. When I’m laughing with my friends, sharing my story with them, being supported by their kind words and gestures, making memories together…it’s in THESE moments that I realize how precious life is. How surreal is it that of all of the living creatures roaming the planet, humans are blessed enough to establish such empowering relationships? It’s not until you’re lying on the beach surrounded by your old friends; the very same people who worried for you when you were sick and supported you in your rise to health, that you realize how blessed you are. As your friends push you into the pool and can aggressively play around with you without worrying about breaking you, as you come up for air and hit them back, and then you both double over in laughter…THIS is when you realize that life is not worth living in the absence of connection.
There’s no replacement for support. I would never have reached this strong, stable place that I am in today had I not gathered the support and love of so many wonderful, loving people in my life. My progress, heavily based on my own thoughts and actions, was fueled by the love and care of my family, and later the addition of thousands of strangers coming together to lift me up over the INTERNET. Now that I’ve strengthened and recharged so many old relationships, I see this principle surfacing once more. When I’m with my friends, we’re constantly raising each other up. Even when we’re teasing each other and messing around, it’s all out of genuine love.
Everything in life is a team effort. Relationships are a two-way street. At first, I felt that the burden was all on me. That I was the only one reaching out, trying so hard, putting in so much effort. But then I came to my senses. For the four excessively long years I was sick, my friends tried and tried to reach out and include me. Again and again I shut them down. Ignored their calls. Rejected their invitations. Eventually, they stopped. Who could blame them? How could our relationship thrive when I wasn’t even in it? In the past three months that I’ve dedicated to rekindling relationships, I can’t help but realize how important it is to be present. To make the effort, to go the extra step. To run off to your best friend’s house at the last minute because her mom found a random box of old firecrackers and you just “have to come test them out”. To pause your Netflix marathon to pick up your friend from work whose car is in the shop. To agree to dinner with friends at a restaurant with no online menu to scope out beforehand. People never forget the sacrifices you make for them. The kindness you show them. The effort you make. If I want the love and support I cherish from these people, how in the world can I expect them to provide me with it without paying my fair share?