Sunday, March 24, 2013

Feeling Momentum at "Momentum by Iron"

Last week, Paula and I took advantage of a great promotion: 1 free week of classes at Momentum by Iron. Paula was my go-to buddy to attend classes at our local dance studio because we lived in the same apartment building. Unfortunately, she recently moved to Santa Monica, and I no longer have my ride to dance classes with her. But, I promised her that I would try out some classes in her neck of the woods (and, yes, she still meets me at our old dance studio occasionally). She stumbled upon this little studio that offers dance, yoga, and other boot camp classes in Santa Monica. As much as I was dreading the traffic, it usually only took me about 22 minutes to get there even during peak traffic time (as I learned on the first day when I forgot my sneakers and had to drive all the way home to get them!).

Over the course of the week, we tried out Momentum’s Groov3 classes with 2 different instructors, cardio hip hop, and a sad attempt at a yoga class. Rather than review this studio and these classes using my traditional factor approach, I think I will go over them class by class as they each were unique experiences. I would say that overall the classes I tried would fit mostly into my Sweat Factor, but I know they offer boot camp and TRX classes that I didn't try that would surely fit into my Strength Factor.

While looking for an innocent bystander to take our photo in front of the studio, I was shocked to run into an old friend from college. I hadn’t seen him in probably 8 years, and I definitely had to do a double take. Once I realized who he was, my stomach turned in knots as I put 2 and 2 together. We had worked together during a summer job, and he choreographed a hip hop routine for a cabaret show that we did. Crap! He’s a legit dancer coming to this “Groov3” class; I was definitely WAY more nervous about the class! He happily snapped this little photo for us:

Those nerves slowly eased as the class progressed because this community of dancers was so welcoming and chill. At the beginning of both Groov3 classes we tried, the instructors came up to introduce themselves to us, ask us our dance background, and reassure us that everyone is here to have a good time. Surrounded by former dancers, I still felt somewhat uneasy at times, and we had to do what I dread most…divide the room in half and dance in front of the other half of the class – barf! Aside from the knots in my stomach from time to time, I really enjoyed the dance environment…the choreography was appropriate for multiple levels as it was open-ended enough to let the real dancers add their own flare and simple enough that my uncoordinated self could at least manage to hit most of the moves. I looked like a stiff, uptight, nervous robot doing it…but hey at least I was able to get through it!

Added bonus: they usually have a live DJ who provides the music for the class! I had never taken a class with a live DJ, and that made the dance environment all the more exciting.

My only gripe with the Groov3 classes were that they did not stick to their schedule too closely. Both classes started 15-20 minutes late, and if I were to make a habit of going, I would plan accordingly. It already can be such a hassle to drive in LA traffic to make it to a class, so when the studio doesn’t follow the schedule, I don’t appreciate feeling like I could have stayed at work a half hour longer or feeling bad because my boyfriend had dinner ready on the table a half hour before I came home since the class ran over.

Cardio Hip Hop
While I did enjoy the unique experience of Groov3, I would have to say that I enjoyed this class the most at Momentum. The instructor, Ginger, who was injured and not feeling well…showed up on time, pushed us hard in the conditioning warm-up, and gave us such fun choreography with great Top 40 hits to give us a sweaty, strength building workout. She provided us with interesting conditioning exercises I had never done that left my arms and core sore the next morning. My favorite part of her dance choreography was that she would repeat each move 2 to 4x…this was perfect for me because sometimes I miss the transitions or forget the next move, but the repetition made sure I smoothly made it through the entire routine even when I missed a beat (which is like every other beat).

Power Flow Yoga
I was super excited to try out this class because I was missing yoga for the past few weeks. You know I was determined to get this yoga workout because I woke up at 6:10 am after going to bed after midnight the night before. For those of you who do not know me personally, I usually get to bed around 10 pm to comfortably wake up at 6:30 or 7 am. I know, it’s ridiculous. I’m just stocking up on my sleep while I’m pre-children and enjoying the flexible student schedule! Anyhow, Paula and I show up bright-eyed and chipper (one of us more than the other, I won’t say who) right as the class should be beginning around 7:15 am. We’re chatting and met the other student trying to take the class. Lo and behold, now it’s 7:35 am. Paula is getting antsy because she has to be at work by 9ish. Finally the instructor arrives around 7:40 am, and on top of being late, she declares that she must end class by 8:10 am because there is somewhere else she needed to be. She promised to give us a good workout in 30 minutes, and I must say that did not happen. I didn’t feel like I got stretched or worked out at all. Waking up at 6:10 am and then making it to school later than I had wanted without even getting a workout….I felt incredibly gipped. In addition, the teacher wasn’t even that nice or apologetic about the whole debacle of a class.  

What’s the deal?
As I mentioned before, Momentum by Iron offers 1 week free of classes. I took four classes divided by $0 is exactly $0 per class. Especially if you live or work in the area, I would recommend trying out these classes at that price. Just go to and fill out this form to earn your week of free classes!
Individual class prices range from about $13 to $17 per class depending on the package you purchase. I'm also attaching the exact package prices below.

All and all, I'd have to say my momentum from taking classes at "Momentum" ebbed and flowed. Different classes were better than others, and different aspects of each class were better than others. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fitness Fashion on a Budget

As easy, peasy, lemon squeezy that I thought attending new workout classes every week would be, turns out that's not so simple. I had good intentions of starting a boot camp or aerial arts package, but I just never worked it into my schedule. Despite my failure to attend an exciting new class, I still managed to do some decent workouts. Here's what I pulled out:

     Monday: 45-minute Nike Training Club workout courtesy of my iPhone app
     Tuesday: 30-minute Pyramid Workout in the park courtesy of 
     Julie @ A Better Life with Burgers
     Wednesday: 30-minute stretch sesh' to ease the pain of my sore legs
     Thursday: 60-minute dance class
     Sunday: Walk (and cartwheels) in the park and golfing at the range
From these workouts, you can see 2 fabulous outlets for staying in shape on a budget: iPhone apps and other fitness blogs. Based on recommendations from friends, I have tried Nike Training Club, I Map My Run, and My Fitness Pal. These were all free apps that at various times have motivated me to focus on my health. Secondly, I'm still branching out to read new fitness blogs, but I can always count on Julie's A Better Life with Burgers to detail some challenging in-home workouts. 

As promised last week, though, the rest of this post will be about finding cute workout clothes...on a budget of course! Last weekend, I went on a little shopping spree with Julie. We both wanted some new workout clothes to spruce up our wardrobes. In particular, as the days are getting warmer and longer, I really wanted some more knee or calf-length workout leggings. I already have 2 full length workout leggings: LuLuLemon and Gap Body....and 2 shorter leggings: Avia and Old Navy, which now that I'm writing all this down seems like a lot. However, I can go through all of those in 1 week, especially when you factor in that we do laundry about once every 3 weeks!

I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. I LOVE coming home with new clothes, but I hate that I can never afford everything I want! Historically, I tend to shop either alone (terrible idea), with my mom, or with my boyfriend. Let's just say I'm entirely too indecisive to ever be trusted to shop alone. Then, I have the competing ideas of my mother and my boyfriend like the iconic angel or devil on my shoulder whether they're with me or not.

Mom: Do you really need that? Only buy that if you absolutely love it!
Justin: Stay focused. Come on, let's go. Yeah, that looks good. Buy 2 of them so we don't have to come back here anymore.

So Julie brings me to TJ Maxx, and I'm thinking, "Great! Stuff is cheap there..." True, but not when you try to buy 25 things. The woman in the dressing room had to give me some jinky, hand-written "16" items to bring with me in the fitting room. It was so fun watching her count the items on the way in....and out. Trust me. Then, Julie is a terrible influence when it comes to saving money, "Jenn, you should totally get that dress, tennis skirt, and highlighter yellow tank!" 

Thankfully, I came home to my voice of reason (sometimes) boyfriend who helped me decide what to return! He often reminds me to focus while shopping, and since I lost sight of that without him, I am returning the extra impulse buys. At the end of the trip, I scored 2 new spandex leggings (mission accomplished) and 2 new flowy tops (and a super cute knit, mesh sweater not featured below). 

The bill: 
Kyodan leggings with pink accents: $19.99
Avia leggings with purple accents: $14.99
Marika flowy workout tops: $9.99 each
Looking good while working out: Priceless

My boyfriend and I tried to capture the magic of my new workout clothes in the park. Here are some highlights:
I know what you're thinking, "Why is her left bicep so much smaller than her right?" I'm working on it, people! Focus on the cute pink waistband of these pants!
Notice more cute little pink accents on the calf of the leggings! 
I wasn't lying about those cartwheels.
Yes, you caught me, I tried color-coordinating with the flowers behind me.
I wore this last outfit golfing today, and it was super comfortable! I already have $14.99 Avia pants that I've had for over a year, and I'm still loving them. So I know I will be happy with those. I'm looking forward to wearing the other items to some dance classes this week. My guidelines for purchasing workout clothes:
  1. Leggings should not be see-through.
  2. Leggings should not cut off my circulation.
  3. Leggings should be sleek and not bunch up...anywhere.
  4. Workout shirts must be sleeveless (even short sleeves make me claustrophobic).
  5. Workout shirts should be breathable.
That's all she wrote! You'll be the first to know if any of my fitness fashion items on a budget let me down! Until next week, keep that booty movin' and a groovin'.

A penny for your thoughts...
  • What are your favorite workout leggings? Seriously, I want to know what they are, why you love them, and where you bought them! 
  • Where are your favorite places to buy workout clothes?
  • Do you like to buy cute, new workout clothes or use old clothes you don't like anymore? My workout wardrobe is a mix of both! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Barre Class? I Just Prefer the Bar

I’ve been avoiding writing about the series of barre classes that I tried for 2 straight weeks…I almost bumped it again to next week because I went on a fun, bargain-hunting shopping spree for workout clothes this weekend, and I really would much rather blog about cute fitness clothes (including photos from my personal fashion show). Oh well, you all have that to look forward to next weekend. Get excited.

Alas! I must write about these barre classes while they are fresh in my mind. I took my last class in my 3-pack series this week, and the memory of the workout will surely whither away with another week. I bring up this avoidance because I think it really signals that I just wasn’t too jazz-ed about these classes. In the past, there has been such a buzz surrounding barre workouts. I tried one a couple years ago, and I really disliked it. However, I’m all about 2nd chances, and I bought a Groupon for 3 barre classes at Pop Physique for $29.

So what are these barre classes all about? As a seasoned veteran of many types of workout classes, I thought that barre workouts really fused together elements from pilates, yoga, and ballet. All of the quick repetitions of the exercises were done simultaneously with short exhalations that reminded me of mat pilates classes. Between the quick repetitions of exercises, we often cooled down in yoga poses such as child’s pose, downward dog, spinal twists, happy baby, or planks. Much to my dismay that I lack personal experience doing ballet, the exercises at the barre and doing splits align with my vision of things that happen in ballet. This fusion has the potential to create an effective workout, but overall these barre classes did not meet my high bar.

On a positive note, I will say that the studio I tried out, Pop Physique, has done an excellent job of branding themselves into their own fitness entity. Anytime I see this butt in scrunchy underwear, I think of Pop Physique (or a creepy American Apparel billboard). 

Butt seriously, this marketing logo bewilders me. Is this what I should wear to class? Underwear that scrunches up my butt crack with sweat wristbands? Or is this what I should pose in my before and after barre photos? I’m not really sure. They are clearly marketing primarily to women…once women inquire into their studio, they are also targeting women with some mula. As you’ll read below, I don’t think Pop Physique passes my cost-benefit analysis, but it must for lots of women as this chain seems to be growing!

Strength Factor
I would say that barre workouts primarily build strength through their quick bursts of repetitive exercises that focus on the various parts of the body. At Pop Physique, the classes seemed to start with some planks for abs and exercises using lightweight dumbbell for arms. Then, we would move to the bar for an ounce of stretching and tons of exercises focusing on legs and butt. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced my legs uncontrollably shaking quite so much. I figured this was partly due to the new kinds of exercises, and the teacher reassured me that it’s “good” if my legs are shaking. I get that to a certain point, but I felt like I was having a seizure on the lower half of my body. After the exercises at the barre, we rounded out the class with another burst of abs, which were super awkward positions. I expected to be trying new things, but typically I can naturally ease into whatever the teacher directs since I’ve been to so many classes before….not the case here! For me, aside from the shaky legs, I felt like as soon as I was starting to feel my muscles get a little tired, the exercise would be over, and we’d move on. However, right when my muscles start to fatigue slightly, that’s when I would like someone to push me a little harder. That’s why I pay to take a class: to have that extra external push when I would likely give up at home.

Soreness Factor
Even though I didn’t feel like I was pushed as hard as I would have liked in terms of strength, I did wake up sore the following day after my first two classes. However, my body must have already started adapting to this new workout because I did not get the morning-after soreness after my 3rd class.

Stretch Factor
I think I had higher expectations for the stretch factor since I had always assumed that barre workouts stemmed somewhat from ballet, and all ballerinas I know are freaking flexible! The stretches we did were super short, and therefore I felt like I couldn’t fully sink into any particular stretch (e.g., folding over raised leg on ballet barre, splits, happy baby).

Sweat Factor
Because of the format of the class, I did not get sweaty at all. There would be quick bursts of repetitive exercises, then a cool down stretch, rinse, and repeat. As soon as I would start to heat up, we would cool down. I could actually just cruise into work after that class because I really did not get sweaty or gross.

What’s the deal?
Um what’s that you see in the background? It’s missing the scrunchy butt underwear, but do you see their branding in full effect again?!

As you can see the regular prices at this particular barre studio range from  $20 for drop-in and $180 for 10 one-hour classes. Being on a budget, if I’m going to pay $20 for a one-hour workout, that workout better kick my butt (in or out of scrunchy butt underwear)!! These barre classes did not cut it for me, especially because this workout would need to be heavily supplemented with other stretching and cardio activities.

A penny for your thoughts…
  • How would you describe barre classes?
  • What are some of the strengths of barre classes?
  • What other studios have you tried barre classes?
  • Do you think I should give barre workouts another chance?