Monday, July 25, 2016

My Latest ClassPass Experiences and Why I Decided to Quit

Before I get to a few reviews of recent ClassPass experiences, let me first say despite cancelling my membership, I am not knocking the service entirely. I think it’s a great option if you’re looking for variety and affordability. However, I feel as though the brand has grown at rapid speed and I have become frustrated at how difficult it is to get a spot in my favorite classes, the fact that I cannot take more than 3 classes per month at favorite studios, and lastly the issue with dramatic increases in their monthly unlimited memberships.
When I initially signed up for ClassPass in 2015, it cost $89 per month for an unlimited membership. Less than 6 months later I received an email stating the price of my membership increased to $120 per month without additional services ($165 per month for new members!). While I was slightly annoyed to receive an email providing no real detail as to why my rate went up, I stuck around because I honestly felt the new price point was still worth it! Since then, I’ve become frustrated that once I fall in love with a studio, I cannot take more than THREE classes per month despite having an “unlimited membership.” I also do not appreciate that most studios don’t open up all of their classes to ClassPass. Working a full time job and having a life to live makes scheduling my workouts at convenient times of utmost importance. The final straw came last week – when I uncovered that my membership was about to skyrocket from $120 to $175 per month ($200 for new members) with again, NO NEW additional services. I've since decided to sign up directly with a CrossFit gym and a barre studio (with the hopes of becomming an instructor there later this year). 

Like I mentioned, if you’re new to town (or new to the fitness world) and need variety and affordability, I say give ClassPass a shot. But if you’ve found a studio (or studios!) you love, call them directly and speak with the owner to figure out an affordable membership option. And treat yo self to a manicure with the $$ you save! 

Now, on to those ClassPass reviews I promised above…

1)      UFC Gym I came on a Saturday morning for their boxing class, described on their site as: Boxing Conditioning teaches basic boxing skills and techniques, designed to increase muscular strength and cardio endurance -- the perfect class to get shredded! Boxing Conditioning will include cardio calisthenics, shadow boxing, bag work (150lb. bag) and core strengthening exercises. You will sweat like crazy, build a rock solid core and burn hundreds of calories
My ratings:
Instructor: 4 out of 5. Brandon was definitely knowledgeable as a Boxer by trade, however his quick combos without any set up left me with awful flashbacks to my one and only experience at Zumba. Everyone went left, and I went right. Everyone stepped forward, I was walking backwards.
Ability to break a sweat: 4 out of 5. I definitely worked up a sweat throwing around all of those jabs, hooks and crosses. I didn’t, however, love how the smell of sweat permeated everything from the bags, to the mats, to the gloves I had wrapped around my hands.
Chances I’ll return: Unlikely
2)      Trim Fitness Studio It was the day after CrossFit and my body was begging for a day off from lifting weights, so I headed into this studio for a Lagree method pilates-style class. If you’ve never heard of Lagree, the class is described on their site as follows: Lagree Method is a vigorous fitness program that fuses the principles of Pilates with strength training, cardio, resistance & counter-resistance for full body conditioning. Each student enjoys an intense and safe workout while burning between 500-700 calories in a single 45 minute class! The highly motivating, certified instructors combined with the new M3™ Megaformer machine will give you the optimal results you’ve been searching for! This core targeted, high-octane, shirt-drenching workout will strengthen your body, tighten, lengthen & tone your muscles, burn fat, improve endurance plus jump-start your metabolism!
My ratings:
Instructor: 2 out of 5. Kimberly was the only staff member when I arrived at the studio and was very friendly. She explained the megaformer machine to me quickly and before I knew it, shoes were off and class began. For something like pilates on a reformer, I would’ve appreciated a bit more hands on (especially being my first time there) or at least a bit of teacher demonstration. Kimberly shouted out orders so fast, I felt as though I was at Sotheby’s buying a piece of art. Personally, this style of teaching is not effective for me.
Ability to break a sweat: 2 out of 5. I may have sweat a tiny bit here and there, but I spent most of my time looking around trying to discern what I was supposed to be doing. It felt like a game of Twister gone wrong. Right foot here, left hand WHERE?!?
Chances I’ll return: Very unlikely
3)      Full Pshycle I checked out an early morning spin class here with a girlfriend and loved it! I may have initially been intimated when upon check-in was asked if I wanted a pair of ear plugs, but the studio was adorable, the staff friendly and equipment brand new!
My ratings:
Instructor: 4.5 out of 5. UGH I so wish I could give Shelby 5 out of 5, but her constant repetition of the words “OH YEAH!” sort of drove me nutty. Aside from that, she brought an awesome level of energy to the class and even when it was hard to understand her, I loved the class. She even came by to explain the bike to me (the bikes are a bit different than standard studios). She seems to love what she does, which is always what you want to see out of an instructor!
Ability to break a sweat: 5 out of 5. I was basically swimming in my own sweat at the conclusion of our class.
Chances I’ll return: Highly Likely
4)      Xtend Barre It’s been so long since I’ve taken a barre class! I loved teaching classes last year, and was so sad when I chose to walk away from teaching because of how hard it was balancing a full time career and training for my first fitness competition. It was simply too much. Since then, I honestly haven’t taken more than a handful of classes. I’ve recently thought about going back to teaching (for fun) and stumbled upon this studio in my ClassPass app. After reading great reviews, I decided to take a class this past weekend with a girlfriend. For those unfamiliar, here is a description of an Xtend barre class: Xtend Barre is Pilates and Dance Amplified! Xtend Barre is a 55 min multi-level class geared to challenge bodies of any age, gender, or fitness background. You'll get it all in one class! Full body toning, cardio, core and stretches! Sound too good to be true? It's not! All exercises can be modified for beginners, pre and postnatal clients or clients with injuries, but that can also be amplified for advanced clients that are looking for an extreme challenge.
My ratings:
Instructor: 5 out of 5. If I could give Jordan a higher rating, I would. She was amazing – such positive energy and with such grace! She smiled the entire class and I felt her attitude was 100% genuine.
Ability to break a sweat: 5 out of 5. Honestly, I was surprised with how much I sweat during this class. It was intense!! We used props (mainly a small ball and light hand weights – I used 3lbers) and I was sore the next day (particularly in my side-butt region). I loved how hard segments of this workout were. Earlier in the week I crushed a long, intense CrossFit workout – and to come get my butt handed to me in this barre class was a reminder to always vary my types of workouts to ensure I work all my muscles in different ways!
Chances I’ll return: Already signed up for membership :)

What about you? Have you heard of (or tried) ClassPass? What do you think of the model?


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Healthy and Fit on the Road: It's Possible!

I feel like one of those shitty friends who calls after letting days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months with zero contact. Thankfully I haven’t been MIA because something bad happened, I’ve just been busy adulting over here. Work demands have monopolized quite a bit of my time these days – but I’ve also been busy spending time with friends and the boyfriend, too! Things have been so hectic, in fact, that I’m writing this to you from 35,000 feet. Which brings me to my next thought…

I know I’m not alone in saying it’s hard to balance a hectic life with a healthy life. You feel me?! 

Maybe you’re like me and fly more days in a month than some fly in a year – or maybe you haven’t stepped foot in an airport since  you could picked loved ones up at the gate (ah, the good ol days). Maybe you’re busy juggling work, family demands, squeezing in your workouts all while trying to keep up with all your other obligations. Either way – it’s trickery I tell ya, trickery!

So how do I make time for working out while ensuring I’m eating nutritious food on the road? With over 11 years of business travel under my belt, I’ve developed a few tips and tricks I’d love to share:

1)      Don’t let yourself get hangry. How many times have you rushed out of the house and thought, “I’ll just grab something when I get to airport”? Your intentions may be good. Perhaps you’ll scour the terminal for a grilled chicken salad or search for a freshly prepared acai bowl – but chances are, you won’t. I’m not being Negative Nelly over here, I’m simply being realistic. Far too many times we run out of the house without eating, fully intending upon “grabbing something” once we get past security and settle in at the terminal before take-off. Chances are by this point, we’re hangry and reach for the first thing we see. And let’s be honest, healthy choices at the airport are not aplenty. This morning I witnessed it firsthand – folks grabbing McDonalds and candy before boarding our 10:30am flight. While I could’ve easily done the same (or bought my ultimate favorite airport indulgence – I mean really, how good are Twizzlers?!?!) – I didn’t. Instead I bought a tall Cold Brew at Starbucks and drank it alongside a baggie of celery and grapes I packed from home. Knowing I’d need a protein boost, I also tossed an RX Bar in my bag (if you haven’t heard of them – go check em out!! They are made with minimal ingredients and are essentially a protein-packed version of a LaraBar). The lesson here is just as the old adage goes – “Fail to plan and plan to fail.” Maybe it’s the night before, or maybe if you’re like me it’s the 5 minutes before your Uber driver arrives - but go ahead and pack those healthy snacks so whether you’re stuck at the gate or trying to get through a long flight, you’ll have healthy, notoriously dense sustenance to keep you going!
2)      Schedule your workouts in advance. I may not be as avid of a CrossFitter as I once was but one of the things I’ve always loved about CrossFit was the community. Whether you’re walking into your neighborhood box or one on the road, you’ll generally always be welcomed with friendly, smiling faces. In fact, “dropping in” on a local CF box has been a longtime favorite of mine – whether I’m traveling for business or pleasure. When I know I have an upcoming trip, I’ll look at boxes close to my meetings or to my hotel – and I’ll reserve a spot for myself. Paying in advance ensures I stay accountable and follow through with my commitment. This way if my coworkers try to convince me to join for happy hour or drinks after dinner, it makes it easier to pass knowing come 6am the next day, I must be ready to lift my little heart out. Which brings me to my next point…
3)      Limit the booze. Gosh, when I think back to my rookie business travel days at 21, I had NO clue how to do it the healthy way. I’d be on my feet in the production studio working 12+ hours days, followed by indulging in a heavy steakhouse meal with my team (I mean, it was FREE!), coupled with copious amounts of wine, followed by “just one drink” at the hotel bar… just to go upstairs, catch a whopping 5 hours of sleep and do it all over again. Not surprisingly, I quickly burnt out and began to dread business travel. Nowadays, my trips look a whole lot different. I never drink alcohol on flights anymore and if I do join colleagues for happy hour or dinner, I limit myself to 1-2 drinks no matter what. Getting in the gym by 5-6 am, followed by brainstorming in a boardroom for 10 hours (or more) leaves me exhausted come the end of the workday. These days the idea of drinking at a bar has zero (maybe less than zero) appeal. I’d rather go back to my room, unwind, talk to my loved ones and hit the hay. And if I’m going to expend the calories on drinks, I’d rather wait until I get home and share a bottle of wine with the boyf anyway J
4)      Bring the comforts of home. In my bag right now (aside from work attire) are my resistance bands, workout clothes, running sneakers, dry shampoo, BCCAs, vitamins, and protein. Sure it’s a pain in the ass to pack it all – but it ensures that even when I’m staying in an unfamiliar place, I still have just some of the comforts of home. And while this isn’t fitness related, I even bring all of my favorite skincare products. Did you know Sephora gives out free samples of any product they sell?? And have you ever asked your facialist or dermatologist for samples of the products they use? This way even if you’re bringing a small carry-on like me, you can still have all your guilty pleasures right at your fingertips!

I could go on and on but the flight attendant just informed me we’re on our final approach and I must shut down the laptop. I hope some (if not all!) of these tips helped you – whether you’re running yourself around the country for business or simply running around your hometown juggling the endless demands of life!