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Gym Belle  - noun  one who enjoys pull-ups, push-ups, lifting things up/putting 'em down, PRs of all kinds, racing, jumping, spinning, daring and blogging re same (more here)


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Physique High

I often joke that Regis & Kelly is G-d's punishment for me not getting my butt out the door by 9am. That said, Kelly Ripa's taste in workouts is impeccable and it's hard to argue with her results.

I don't think I've ever taken a bad class at Physique 57. The instructors are consistently enthusiastic and helpful, the workouts are intense and I always leave with a buzz. Physique also gets my abs better than anything.

Physique's classes offer their own spin on the Lotte Berk method (think ballet meets pilates and throw in a couple rounds of push-ups). You basically burn out the muscles on small, repetitive movements and then stretch them. And when I say burn, I mean burn. The pain - and the shaking that often accompanies it - is no joke.

The 57 minute classes all follow the same pattern. You warm up the upper body with free weights, push-ups and tricep dips. Next comes two rounds of thigh work at the ballet barre. You work one side of your "seat," do another round of thighs and then get in the other seat side before moving to the floor for a few different positions to get your abs. Despite the formal regime, I've never taken two classes that were quite the same. The instructors keep everything moving with almost inhuman (and yet miraculously not annoying) perkiness and upbeat music. You're working too hard get distracted or bored.

The classes are popular, so you're better off signing up in advance and canceling as needed than waiting to the last minute to see if a spot is available. My personal pick for a good first time instructor is Amanda and for a serious ass-kicking is Chanelle, but really you can't go wrong.

-Gym Belle-


Hangin' Around

Yoga is so not my bag. I don't have a "practice" and nothing stresses me out more than be told to relax. While I recognize that more yoga would do me good, I'm rarely willing to sacrifice another workout to squeeze it in.

Until today, the only yoga I've ever been psyched about is bikram. I like to sweat, and the heat definitely helps me stretch into the poses, but mostly I like the lack of preachy "let's appreciate" stuff talk. (No disrespect intended, yogis; it just makes me uncomfortable.)

Purists might not consider Crunch's Antigravity(R) Yoga Wings class a yoga class, but it rocks. The 90 minute Sunday morning class @ 59th street fills up quickly. There are only 17 spots and they only do sign-ups in person starting an hour before class. The downside to this archaic system is obvious - but getting there more than an hour before class gave me a chance to run beforehand.

I staked out a spot towards back of the room by the side mirrors. (I like mirrors when I work out generally and it was helpful to be able to see what I was doing.) After the instructor came around to adjust the height of our hammocks, which apparently can support up to 1,000 pounds, and handled the inevitable drama of turning away the wait-listed people, we got started.

The class started with sun salutations that incorporated the hammock into each movement. The hammock made the movements interesting and allowed me to get deeper stretches than I would have otherwise. Mid-way through that portion of the class, we got to the first flips. That's when I knew I was hooked. If you miss the days of swingsets and playing on the monkey bars, this class is totally for you. After flipping fowards and backwards around our hammocks, we did some more yoga-esque movements - and then we got to swing. Very fun. But while the regulars appreciated the flips and the swinging, they couldn't wait to get to the inversions. I get that now. Hanging upside is down pretty cool.

All in all, the class was a lot of fun and it was a pretty intense workout. I definitely used my upper body a lot to pull myself up into the positions. As for the yoga aspects . . . I'm not going to lie: I'm going back for the flips and to master the "vitruvian man" pose and any yogic benefits that come along with the class will be gravy. Is this the answer to my yoga class woes? Time will tell.

-Gym Belle-

Gym Bit: Non-members can take classes @ Crunch by purchasing $16 day passes.


On The Move Again

A slight concussion (thank you NYC taxi drivers) kept me out of that Tuesday class I was looking forward to, but this morning I finally made it back to ZoneHampton for my second spin class on the bikes that move. Since I knew what to expect and just how much that bike would wobble, I was able to relax my arms this time and go with the flow. I wish I could say for sure that I really worked my obliques. I definitely used my core more this time, but I suspect my technique still needs some work. I'm still between heart rate monitors (thank you CitySports for selling me not one, but two bum watches this week!), but I promise this was a good workout. Do these bikes really make it worth spending money for spin when there are plenty of good classes at Equinox? I'm definitely in for a class or two more before I make that call.

-Gym Belle-

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