Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What Makes A Great Fitness Instructor

After a couple days at various gyms across the city, I believe I have an idea of what makes a trainer stand out. Everyone has their own style and motivational skills, but certain traits and characteristics can be helpful or hurtful.

Things that make them GREAT:
  • When they memorize your name! I understand that a fitness instructor probably see around 50 people during the day and that memorizing names is next to impossible. That's why when they do memorize it, it really makes them stand out! It's also extremely motivating when you start to slack and suddenly, from the gallows, you hear "Cassidy.... I see you. Keep going!" It's a little terrifying when your name comes booming across the classroom, but it works!
  • When they give you time to breathe! I get that you are trying to increase my endurance, but I don't think complete lack of or me dying from lack of air is going to help. I'm not asking for a solid ten minutes to catch my breathe, but rather a small amount of time to compose myself. When instructors do this, it's TRULY a life saver.
  • When they demonstrate the exercise! It's wonderful that you know what a front weighted squats with a tricep extension is, but for us newbies, it's rocket science. Not only is the lingo new, but the form is extremely tricky and very important. Correct form can prevent injuries and also is the only way to yield the results that people want. Demonstrating the moves takes all of four seconds and helps everyone in the class.
  • When they are actually enjoying themselves! Look, I am all about an instructor that pushes me to my limits, but if you don't crack a smile once or like to imitate a stereotypical sergeant in the Marine Corps, you're not the one for me. No one wants to have a hour long workout with someone that seems like they don't want to be there. In order for us to stay motivated, we have to feel like our success matters to you. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Five Things to Know When Entering ToneHouse

If any of you are avid Yelpers like me, you know the obsession that it becomes. I "yelp" every restaurant, workout studio, branch of Wells Fargo, Dunkin' Donuts, pet store.... You get it. I yelp everything. So, when yelping ToneHouse, I came across posts like "hardest workout you will ever do", "vomited during and after the workout", "comparable to a D1 athlete's practice" and much more! After reading all this, I was scared. I went in blind and experienced the torture that is ToneHouse. I wish I was a little more prepared for the beating... In the attempt to help you, I have created a list of things I would recommend you know beforehand.

1) BRING WATER. I cannot stress this enough. This is not one of those studios were you think to yourself that a water might have been a nice addition. It is one of those studios were drinking water is a absolute necessity. I think I went through three huge sixteen ounces bottles throughout the duration of the class.

2) Do not feel bad if you are slow. The environment that ToneHouse creates is one of teamwork and camaraderie. Your "team" will cheer you on regardless of the fact that you might be bringing up the back of the pack. (Yes, that was me...) We are all on our own fitness journey and I truly believe that everyone in the class respected and admired the fact that I was there to better my fitness. Being slow is a sign that you have room for improvement. Never feel bad about that.

3) Be prepared to run. This state of the art fitness studio has approximately 35 feet of space to run sprints. Oh yes, full out sprints. Do I remember the last time I sprinted? Hah, no. This was a bit of a wake up call. The previous classes that I have taken were more stationary and weight based or involved a treadmill. In this class, it was pure running. And a lot of it.

4) Do NOT do anything remotely strenuous before class. You work at 9 to 5 job and you sit in a chair all day? PERFECT. Sit on that chair and revel in the fact that your body doesn't feel like falling apart. I guarantee you that feeling will be so far from gone after you finish this class. I am sitting at home writing this with my legs up against the walls and my fingers/arms shaking. The after burn is really real.

5) Believe in yourself. The toughest thing to do is to tell your mind to shush with the word "can't". Working out is probably 80% a mental battle. Our bodies are capable of way more than we can even begin to think. Throughout the first half of the work out, I was a negative Nancy and was (internally) telling myself that there was no way I could keep going. Then, one of the couches struck a chord in me and said, "I see you telling yourself "no". How about replacing that with "yes"? Was it really that simple? I can honestly tell you that it was. I told myself that I could do it and I did. Yes, it was painful and sweat-inducing, but, gosh, it was beautiful.

I hope these little tools can help you in some way when you muster up enough courage to try ToneHouse! See you at there on the ToneHouse turf!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Stairs on Stairs on Stairs

Studio: As One - Columbus Circle
Location: 1845 Broadway, 3rd Fl.

I knew from the second that I buzzed into the building that this workout was going to be a real doozy. How? Well, in order to gain access to the gym, every patron has to walk up three floors. I know I know, that sounds like nothing, but these stairs were so unbelievably steep and a little rickety. I would estimate that they were inserted circa 1920 and not refurbished since then. So, not only did I have to take ginormous steps to walk up the stairs, but I had to dodge and maneuver around holes in the stairs. I guess you could stay that the workout started before I even entered the studio.... Uh oh.

As soon as you walk in the door, the exercise floor greets you. I sort of thought that the space was a little small and not positioned in the most ideal way. Frankly, it was a bit scattered and, for the size of my class (14), it was a little small. I did notice that there were a couple of machines that I was unfamiliar with and did not recognize at all. That fact certainly piqued my interest!

Mark, the trainer, introduced himself and led us through a brief warm up that I found extremely helpful. It definitely helped loosen up my thighs and hamstrings which were a bit sore from the previous workout. Once we were divided into groups, he explained the stations and we were off.


1 minute on the Stair Climber: Let me tell you something about this machine. It's fairly easy when you're doing a slow and steady walk up the stairs, but for the sake of HIIT training, Mark instructed us to turn the walk into a slight jog (or to put some pep in our step). Killer. By the end of the minute, my legs were shot.

1 minute of the Ski Erg: This machine is a little weird, but it's an intense workout for your upper back and triceps. Two areas that seems to be problematic for women. Nothing too extreme with this one, but it's a sure fire way to harden up the "jello-y" spots on the body.

1 minute of Jacob's Ladder: Honestly, just saying the words "Jacob's Ladder" makes me shudder. This machine is designed to make someone lose their breath in ten seconds. Essentially, it's a ladder that rotates as you climb it. The closer you are to the top, the harder it is. I was dripping sweat all over the machine and felt terrible for the person who had to use it next.

1 minute of Squat Jumps: Pretty self explanatory. This move is a low squat with a hop up at the top. It's a very simple move, but the burn is very real.

1 minute of Burpee's: Much like the squat jumps, this is a pretty standard. yet taxing move. For those of you unsure of what a burpee is, check out Kayla Itsine and all her followers. She's a big fan of the burpees.

In between these sets, Mark threw in crunches, more squats and push-ups. As you can tell, it was pretty non-stop. This difference between this class and the last was the rest period. Brick had longer rest periods whereas As One tended to go more towards longer burst with even less time to catch your breath. Both are super effective when it comes to cardio and fat burn!

Consensus: 7/10. It was a great workout and is the only studio that houses the Jacob's Ladder, but I think that some improvements can be made. I would like to see the studio move to a bigger place where it does feel like everyone is standing on top of each other. Also, I would have liked to have seen more corrections on form. People underestimate how crucial proper form is so that should be paramount when it comes to group fitness classes. For those of you that feel more seasoned and that have that capability to push themselves, I highly recommend this class. For those of you just starting out on the workout regimen, I would suggest perfect form before being thrust into a very cardio heavy and "do it yourself" class.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The First... And Definitely Won't Be The Last

Upon first entering the gym, it was a little intimidating. Unbeknownst to me, this gym happened to be a CrossFit Gym. CrossFit terrifies me a bit as there is such a powerful following and sports some of the most jacked and cut athletes out there. But, I vowed to really go outside the box with this "resolution" so I realized that there would truly be no better place to start. 

The locker rooms were well stocked with towels, a couple showers and hooks to put up your belongings. Sort of wish that there were locks to store your things, but the gym atmosphere made me feel comfortable with leaving my next to empty bag in the locker gym. Honestly, not quite sure why I bring the bag around seeing as how there's probably only a small container of chap-stick and a piece of gum, but I do. 

Anyway, I entered the class and the instructor (Scarlett, I believe) asked if I had any injuries or things that she should be concerned about. I shook my head "no" when I really wanted to say "well, I haven't truly worked out in months and I might collapse on the floor within the first five minutes..." She, then, explained the workout and the class was under way.


1 minute on the PureForm treadmill - For those of you that haven't been acquainted with this machine, it's pure torture. There is no engine or battery so it is completely propelled your movement. This may make it seem like it's easier, but I assure you that it's not. Sprinting for a minute seemed like sprinting for hours.

1 minute on the rower - Another painful machine that is a full body workout. My shoulders will definitely be feeling it. 

1 minute of burpees - Ouch. These were the hit the deck burpees which place more emphasis on your shoulders and are way more cardio based.

1 minute of overhead push press - The exercise that made me feel super weak. I was using 10 pounds dumbbells while the guy across from me was casually pushing 40 pounds dumbbells.

1 minute of kettlebell swings - Manuel corrected my form for a solid 45 seconds so got out of that little bit for a while... Little did I know that we would be going through these exercises four times...

After those four rounds were over and I had left a nice little pools of sweat all over the gym, we did a small ab set that focused on stability of the obliques. 

Consensus: 8/10. The workout itself was very tough and had me sweating/knowing I would be a bit sore the next day. However, the AC wasn't running and breathing in that room was similar to trying to be in a dry sauna. Impossible. I would have also liked to have seen a water fountain closer to the work out room. There were a couple times where I really could have used a sip of water. Scarlett was a great instructor and I would definitely recommend taking her classes. She motivated me when all I wanted to do was lay down the fetal position. Always a plus! Overall, it was a great burn and I would definitely recommend trying out the classes at Brick!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Classy Class Pass

Like many college students across the nation, I have put on the infamous fifteen pounds. Well, actually, I have to be frank and say that I've added on fifteen plus a little extra. It's safe to say that with the large selection of restaurants and bars in NYC, my eyes were a little bigger than my stomach. However, as I enter into my final year, I am vowing to change everything. My diet has been cleaned up and now it's time to incorporate the exercise.

Recently, I have come across a company called ClassPass. ClassPass offers members the luxury of attending the hundreds of fitness studios in the Manhattan area. The catch is that ClassPass members can only attend the individual participating fitness studios three times during their month long billing cycle. So, say there's a studio called Cassidy's World; I would only be able to attend that studio three times. For some people, it's a total no go. For me, it's a steal. 

I'm using this blog to report back on all the different fitness studios that I visit. My posts will entail what I think about the class, the instructor, the space, and really anything else that I see pertinent to the discussion. Hopefully, this blog will help me, but more importantly, I hope that it helps you all enter the fitness world based on my recommendations! Stay tuned!