Back in May, I wrote up a list of different types of “boutique” fitness classes that I wanted to try. I wrote down Lithe Method, barre, Soul Cycle or Flywheel, SkyZone SkyFit or SkyRobics (trampolines!!), and Trekking treadmill. I didn’t set any deadline to get to each of these, and of course none of them are very convenient for me, so with marathon training being my priority for so long I have fit in what I could, when I could so far.
If you read my Be Well Philly Boot Camp recaps, you’ll know that I was able to do Lithe and Pure Barre mini classes. Frankly, I’m glad that I was able to do those rather than a class in the actual studios. I was never a cheerleader, nor did I ever have a desire to be, so that mini class made it clear that Lithe just isn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid workout, is fun and would definitely achieve results. I have deliberated about going to a class at one of Lithe’s actual studios but for now I’m satisfied with what I’ve tried. Barre was nothing like what I expected. I guess I really didn’t know what to expect for barre, and I wouldn’t rule out taking a class again sometime, but I am happy with other group exercise classes.
In July, I drove up to New York to do one of two NYRR-organized NYC Marathon long training runs. Knowing that I was only going to do eight or so miles, I decided that this would be the perfect chance for me to try out a Soul Cycle class. Since I had driven in, I was able to get in and out of my car with my gym bag, and later do some shopping. I went to the E. 83rd St. Soul Cycle on Third Ave. and the class was led by Ginny, who was a newer instructor. Prior to this, I had never worn clip-in shoes for spinning, so that was a little challenging to figure out, but I like that over not clipping in anymore. From the first song, I was sold on the entire aura that is Soul Cycle. The connection between music, movement, and even the mind, was more than in any other spin classes I’ve been to. Using weights, doing pushups, and the inclination to move with the beat was all new and fun for me. Since that first class in July, I’ve done one more, at the Union Square location. I also learned last week that the new Short Hills studio is barely an hour away from me, so I have a bike booked for a class this weekend!
In August, I decided to make an impromptu trip to Lululemon in Wayne to get a specific pair of shorts, and on the drive down it occurred to me that I could make it to a Flywheel class in Bryn Mawr. The room was more spacious than a Soul studio, with a stadium set up with each row of bikes on a different level all circled around the instructor bike in the middle. Each of the bikes have a weighted bar rather than dumbbells like on the Soul Cycle bikes, and a device that tells you your tension, RPM’s and overall effort. The instructor used a great playlist and had a standard mix of hills, sprints and recovery. During Flywheel, the instructor will give you cues on what tension and RPM to strive for, and a little over halfway through we did a four-ish minute sequence with the bar. I took a second Flywheel class this past weekend while I was in Philly for the Philadelphia Marathon Expo. The Center City studio was set up much like Bryn Mawr’s, and the class was also similar. While it’s great that for Flywheel you can see your overall effort, personally I prefer Soul Cycle’s style. I feel like at Soul Cycle the music was a more central part of the experience, while with Flywheel it’s almost background noise. I know that Flywheel has more locations outside of NYC so it’s more accessible, and I would certainly recommend trying it for yourself and to not let my preference deter you from giving it a shot.
Remaining on my list are SkyZone and Trekking, and with the marathon now completed, I am going to find a class sometime soon! I’m even thinking about taking my niece along for SkyZone because I think she’d have a blast.
Do you ever try new fitness classes? Have you done any of these, and if so, what do you think? What are some boutique fitness trends in your area?