Thank you! You made my night. :)
Thank you! You made my night. :)
(flywheelsports.com. Studios across the country.)
A while back I went to a generic spin class at my gym. Here’s the rundown of that class:
-Go to gym.
-Get on bike. Slide shoes into little cages at the top of pedals.
-Wonder if bike seat is supposed to hurt so bad. Begin to pedal.
-Stare at instructor’s unavoidable cleavage as she leans over the handles.
-Turn little knob to increase resistance. Did I turn it enough? Maybe. Who knows.
-Seriously, this instructor needs a more effective bra.
-Pretty sure my butt is horribly bruised now. Sexy fail.
Basically, spin class at my gym was boring and painful. Not painful in that “feel the burn” way either— just flat out painful. My butt was, in fact, horribly bruised, and remained that way for a week.
So when a Flywheel opened up in Atlanta, I wasn’t especially interested at first— I figured that spin class just wasn’t my thing. But…they offer the first class free. And the website made it sound interesting— the room has stadium-style bikes, and they turn off all the lights, and they play loud music…
Who am I to turn down a rave masquerading as a fitness class?
So I went. They give you fancy bike shoes there— the sort that clip onto the bike itself. They’ve also got towels, and a place to refill your water— though if you forgot to bring a water bottle they’ll charge you $1. You’re assigned a specific bike (you can select which one you want when you register for your class), and there are assistants on hand to help you adjust the height/seat/handlebars/misc. PLUS…they have padded seat cushions in a basket up front.
My butt is very grateful for the padded seat cushions.
Class starts and they turn the lights down super low, save for a single spotlight on the instructor up front. In my case, the instructor up front was pregnant, and unafraid to yell “YOU AREN’T GOING TO LET A PREGNANT WOMAN GO FASTER THAN YOU, ARE YOU?”
(The answer was “Yes, I am” because that pregnant woman was RIPPED.)
The instructor calls out various speeds and torques (resistance) and cranks up the music. The bikes have digital displays, so you know if you’re actually at the right torque/speed, which I loved. Every so often they’ll have a race, where the instructor turns on a display that shows where everyone in the class is in terms of speed/power. The display uses your Flywheel username/nickname, not your bike number, so no one knows who you really are. Maybe it’s just me, but I workout a thousand times harder when there’s a level of competition involved. I’ve never pedaled as fast as I did when I saw I was in last place.
Toward the end of class you pull out some weighted bars that are attached to the bike and do some light arm exercises with them. It’s pretty basic— nothing fancy— but it’s both a nice break for your leg muscles.
Classes last 45 minutes, and my heart rate monitor reports I burn an average of 500-600 calories per class. After class, you can log onto the Flywheel website and see how fast you went, how many miles you rode, etc. That’s assuming you have the energy to get on a computer, of course. After Flywheel I usually only have the energy to flop into my car and think of creative pregnancy-themed insults.
What’s good about Flywheel?
-I love that bikes are assigned. You can choose one far away from the instructor/speakers. You can choose one close to the instructor and her steely pregnant gaze.
-I really, really love the digital displays on the bikes. I felt like I was in some sort of weird steampunk fitness movie at the other gym, turning knobs to increase resistance.
-The music is fun (and choreographed to each workout).
- It’s only 45 minutes. 500-600 is a lot of calories for 45 minutes.
-I love being able to log on afterward and look at my progress.
What’s bad about Flywheel?
-It’s the most expensive class I go to— which means when times are lean, it’s the first one to go.
-It irritates the hell out of me that they don’t give you free bottled water. Classes are so expensive already…I wish Flywheel would loosen their purse strings a little.
-The Atlanta studio is a little odd. It seems SUPER nice, but the shower/bathroom setup is weird. There are no mirrors in the shower rooms, so you have to take a shower, put your hair in a towel, then dash across the hall to a bathroom. It feels a little like middle school gym class, which, let’s face it, no one wants to re-live.
All in all, I really love Flywheel and highly recommend it if your pockets are deep enough (mine aren’t always). If you decide to go to the Atlanta studio, please USE THIS LINK— they have a referral system and I would definitely appreciate a free class or two!
There was a time I did not like to cook. I felt like I didn’t have the ingredients. Or I didn’t have the time. It wasn’t that I felt like I couldn’t follow a recipe, it’s just…why spend thirty minutes in the kitchen when I can either make a PB&J or go to one of the many delightful restaurants within walking distance?
But then I started Weight Watchers last spring. Eating out became a pain in the ass. I had to figure out points and add things and do math, and seriously, who wants to do math while eating dinner? I ended up cooking more, using lots of veggies and fruit because those are 0 points in Weight Watchers land.
And then I started cooking more because…well, I had the ingredients. I’d acquired the spices and oils and had a freezer full of frozen meats. Why not try a new recipe?
And THEN I started paying attention to cooking magazines. Little things here and there, what herbs blend well together, what flavors to try. I wouldn’t say I studied anything— it was just little stuff I picked up here and there, tips I honed in on while Food Network was on in the background and the like.
And now? I can totally cook. I can cook well. And I really, really enjoy it.
See, not only do I find it fun, but cooking for myself is empowering. I get to decide what to make, how to make it, when to make it, what quality ingredients to use. I get to try new things and experiment with my own tastes and preferences. I get to discover that no, I do not like eggplant, no matter what way it’s cooked (and I’ve tried seven ways), and to discover that I can make a badass steak and even more badass pizza dough. I feel in charge, instead of stuck putting on pants* and running to a restaurant every time I’m hungry.
SO, do you think you hate cooking? Think you can’t do it? Are you sure? Because I advise you give it another try. Here are my helpful hints:
-Start with something basic. Spaghetti. Maybe spaghetti with meatballs. Maybe spaghetti with meatballs and a homemade sauce.
-If you screw it up, it’s fine. Eat the PB&J. It is not the end of the world. No one dies if you burn the frittata. And if you’re new to cooking, I’m going to guess you didn’t buy the most expensive cut of fish at the store, so it’s not like you’re out boatloads of money. RELAX, man.
-Yes, there are some up front costs to cooking at home if you don’t have ingredients or the correct equipment. But you can get pretty nice quality pots/pans for DIRT CHEAP at places like Home Goods. And a lot of those ingredients will be a one time expense— I’ve been working off the same bottle of vanilla extract for ages.
-Don’t start off with something that’s crazy out of your comfort zone. Start with things you enjoy, then build up. I say this as someone who once tried a complicated Jamaican meal three days after purchasing a frying pan. Things did not go well.
-Even if you think you hate it, TRY IT. SERIOUSLY. NO REALLY. Would I lead you astray? Never.
-Need recipes? Stay off the giant recipe aggregate sites like Recipes.com. They have SO many recipes it’s impossible to find anything. I recommend The Pioneer Woman (lots of pictures to make life easier!), Smitten Kitchen (a little advanced), Vittles and Bits, andSkinny Taste (a Weight Watchers geared site that has great recipes for everyone).
*One of my big goals in life is to wear pants as seldom as possible.
(zumba.com. Classes available worldwide.)
Oh, Zumba. Zumba Zumba Zumba. You are a THING. And sometimes, that’s pretty much all I can say about you.
Actually, that’s a lie. I can pretty much always say more on any given topic.
So Zumba, for those of you living under a rock and haven’t seen the signs, video games, CDs, or clothing line, Zumba is basically a Latin-based dance aerobics class. Class times, locations, and intensities vary widely since getting qualified to teach Zumba seems only slightly more difficult than getting a fruity cocktail in New Orleans.
I’ve been to a few GREAT Zumba classes. Where the dance steps are difficult, but not impossible. Where the instructor actually KNOWS how to salsa, merengue, samba, and didn’t just get a crash course in the styles at a weekend clinic. Where I left sweating and exhausted and delighted.
Sadly, I’ve more often taken Zumba classes run by fitness instructors just jumping on the latest trend. Classes where the steps weren’t even on beat, where the teacher couldn’t remember her combinations, and where I had to add hops and skips and jumps to everything to get anything resembling a workout. I also went to one terrible, terrible class where they packed the room to the fire code limit, and there wasn’t enough space to walk, much less dance.
I daresay that the Zumba trend has jumped the shark. I don’t think they policed who they were giving “licenses” to well enough, and as a result the whole thing has become pretty mediocre, at least in my neck of the woods.
What’s good about Zumba:
-Classes are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Zumba is the herpes of fitness.
-Classes are relatively cheap. Usually in the $5-$10 range, and often offered for free at your gym.
-Moves are usually easy to modify to make them more or less difficult.
-Even if you can’t dance, you’ll manage. Steps are basic, rhythmic, and easy to follow.
-That Cascada song the Zumba movement has co-opted. EVACUATE THE DANCE FLOOR! WHOA-OH, WHOA-OH, INFECTED* BY THE SOUND.
What’s bad about Zumba:
-Classes vary WILDLY studio to studio. I’ve been to significantly more bad ones than good ones.
-The neons. MY GOD, THE NEONS.
-Things can get a little repetitive after a while, especially if you have any dance experience whatsoever.
Give it a shot, especially if you’re new to fitness. But if you’ve been at this whole feel-the-burn-game for a while, I’d move on, unless you’ve found a particularly challenging class.
Atlantans, here are a few of the Zumba classes I’ve been to:
Gotta Dance Atlanta- The most difficult Zumba class I’ve been to, and therefore my favorite. Taught by a legit Latin dancer, the moves are tough and intense. That said, she tends to repeat the same routine week after week, which is why I eventually stopped going.
Atlanta Zumba Dance- I bought classes via a Groupon. This place was a nightmare— it’s the one where they pack it to the fire code limit. You also have to get there AN HOUR EARLY to get a spot in the class. Two hours of my time, for a bleh class? No thanks.
Kennesaw YMCA- I went to an evening class and a morning class; the evening class was full and, while not an awesome workout, decent. The morning class was almost empty and I left halfway through to use a machine instead.
Mandala Yoga Studio- I enjoyed this one— it wasn’t an OMG workout, but I sweated and had fun. Be warned that the studio is a million degrees!
DWT Studio- This was a good workout, though the studio is too far for me to justify driving to regularly. The instructor was also thirty minute late, so…meh.
Peachtree Presbyterian Gym- Decent workout, but not worth returning for me.
*Infected. I told you. The herpes of fitness.
(Blast900.com. Studios in Atlanta and Charleston, more opening soon.)
Blast 900 is a fitness studio that got its start in Atlanta, Georgia, but is gaining a lot of steam— they recently opened a studio in Charleston, and rumor has it that Birmingham, Charlotte, and Nashville studios are coming. Which means you can ALL be murdered!
I mean, not REALLY murdered. But sort of. At least, that’s what it feels like when you’re taking a Blast class. I’m not making the best argument for this place, am I? Stick with me, I’ve got a point.
Blast is an interval training class— you alternate from running on the treadmill to using free weights, bands, balance balls, yoga mats, medicine balls, and a zillion other apparati on the floor. There’s no break, no down time, no pausing— there’s even an assistant that walks around, refilling your water bottle and refreshing your towel, so you’ve got no excuse to stop running or lifting or jumping or whatnot.
While on the treadmill, the instructor will call out three different speeds/inclines, for walkers, joggers, and runners. Runners obviously have the fastest speeds and highest hills, while walkers have the easiest go of it. “Easy,” however, is a pretty relative term— when you’re walking up a 30 degree incline, nothing is easy. Right now, I fall pretty solidly into the jogger category, though I sometimes have to drop back to a fast walker speed when the hills get too intense. Most people at Blast seem to be around my skill level, though there are, of course, a few badasses here and there that do the whole class at runner speeds. I salute you, badasses.
What’s good about Blast 900:
-I’ve seen more results from this class than anything else I’ve taken, especially in terms of muscle tone. I can also run faster and longer since I started taking classes at Blast.
-You’re definitely not going to leave feeling like you wasted your money. No matter who you are or what your fitness level is, this class is going to make you sweat and burn and generally want to keel over in that FUN way.*
-This seems a little silly, but I REALLY like that they give you a water bottle and towel at each class. Other places charge you extra for water, which irritates me. I’m paying for class, and you can’t spring for a bottle of water?
-Class styles (and, to lesser degree, intensity) can vary a lot depending on your instructor. Give a few different instructors a try— I’ve found three or four whose classes I enjoy, and one or two whose classes I’m not a fan of. I’ve never gone unchallenged at a Blast class, but some instructors are more hardcore, some are more supportive, that sort of thing. I like the variety, personally.
What’s bad about Blast900:
-Classes aren’t cheap, running at around $28 for a single class. That said, the first class is FREE, and they offer really good volume discounts that can knock the price down to as low as $20. Personally? I still think it’s worth it— it’s the one class I’ll always stretch my budget to afford if at all possible.
-Atlantans: Classes are in Buckhead. Prepare to see lots of $100 workout tops and silicone and hard bodies from years of personal chefs and trainers. It can be a little intimidating at first, but I promise that everyone’s ass, regardless of their fitness level, will be getting kicked.
-I paid quite a bit (quite quite quite a bit) to participate in the nutrition program here. I’ll say this much— the nutritionist is really, really sweet. She’s supportive, she’s clever, she’s fun to talk to. But…the nutrition program was not worth the price I paid. A lot of the information I already knew, and the actual program is just Venice Nutrition, which you can sign up for online for a fraction of Blast’s price.
Go. Seriously. Go. I adore this place, even when I’m running on a treadmill at a ridiculous incline and shouting curses at whatever sick bastard invented treadmills. If anything, it’s worth checking out the free class.
*Usually. Sometimes you just want to keel over, period.
(As always, I wasn’t compensated in any way to endorse/slam/review/pimp this studio. I just like to share. That said, I always appreciate it if you mention where you heard about the studio when/if you go.)