Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pure Barre-NYC Review

The ever-expanding NYC barre scene has a new addition: Pure Barre. Although it has been around since 2001, when Carrie Rezabek Dorr first opened her studio in Michigan, since 2009 it has become a franchise and there are now locations nation-wide in over 20 states. I do admit a mild obsession with barre workouts and so was excited to give this one a try.

Pure Barre is located conveniently off Columbus circle on the third floor of a high-rise. Upon walking in, I was surprised at how small the space was but it was immediately warm and inviting. Two curtained stalls in front of the reception desk constitute the changing rooms. There are cubby-holes for belongings in one corner  of the reception area, along with fitness apparel (and Pure-Barre's grippy socks) for sale in another corner. There is one studio whose mauve hues had quite a soothing effect on me.

The studio

My instructor was Leslie Coakley, who is also one of the two owners. I got to the studio super-early and so I chatted with her prior to class. She had been teaching the method for four years in Nashville, before the move to New York. She gave me a quick run-through of what props I would need: a set of 2lbs weights, a set of 3lbs weights, a small medicine ball and a stretching band.

The props

It was the day before Thanksgiving so the class was small (I was one of 3 clients).

Overall, the class reminded me a lot of Core Fusion albeit with some new moves that I had not done before. For starters we plunged straight into a rather intense burst of ab work right after the warm-up. I'm not complaining. I thought it was great- it just caught me unaware. We held a plank and did something rather unusual....pelvic tucks while holding a plank. At first it was terribly awkward but as the class went on and we did pelvic tucks in various other barre-class moves I started to get the hang of it!

After the initial ab burst we did a set of arms using just the light hand weights. I usually prefer going much heavier than 3lbs but the arm section here was quite humbling. Small movements in a continuous state of contraction =  major burn! After this shock to my abs and arms I was pumped for the rest of the class. Unfortunately the thigh section which came next left me wanting more. We did three exercises at the barre; all involved slow movements with sustained contraction. So while I was definitely feeling a burn I wanted more reps. The thigh section usually leaves me spent after barre classes but that did not happen here. Not to worry. The seat section totally made up for it! We did do a set of thigh dancing with pelvic tucks while holding onto the barre. Again, a little hard initially but the learning curve was steep.

Abs were classic Lotte Berk, similar to the format at The Bar Method and Core Fusion. I am not a fan of the round back and flat back version of these abs as I always feel it in less in my abs and more in my hips. Leslie was great at correcting form, especially when she saw my lack of agility in this part of the class. "It's more mind-body than anything. It takes a few classes to master," she added encouragingly.

All in all, I liked it. The pace of the class is slower than what I normally prefer but the small movements and sustained contractions led to a super burn  and I left feeling sufficiently challenged.

The Good:
1. The class: I love how there are so many barre classes and yet all of them have their own unique elements. Pure Barre definitely has added its own variations including the pilates-inspired abs section at the beginning of the class, the pelvic tucks interspersed among other class exercises for added core work and a surprisingly tough arm workout!

2. The instructor: Leslie seemed a little shy in person but once she started teaching she commanded the room. She emphasized correct form and adjusted us all throughout the class. According to one of the "regulars" I spoke to, Leslie's class is the toughest. I could tell she had put a lot of thought into the choreography.

3. The space: Despite the small space, the studio has a cool vibe about it which I liked a lot.

The Not-so-good:
1. The class: I felt like the thigh section could have been tougher. Maybe I'm just a thigh warrior but I wanted more repetitions.

2. Not enough cardio: This class is more about toning and less about cardio. I barely broke a sweat.

3: Music: The music was not memorable. Music is key to my workouts and I love it when classes are choreographed to the beat of a song. Making the music a part of the actual class choreography will  give this great class a lot more oomph!

Pure Barre is classic Lotte Berk, with lots of slow and sustained movements. I definitely liked it, especially  the upper body and core work. It's a great addition to the NYC barre scene and I have no doubt it will find a loyal fan base very soon. There is currently a newcomer's special: $150 for one month unlimited.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Intensati for Mommies

I wanted to let you all know about a great event taking place next week that I shall be attending.

Jolynn Baca, a nationally certified fitness instructor and personal trainer, has organized a weekly Intensati class specifically tailored to moms and those that want to be moms someday. "Intensati for Mommies" has been created in conjunction with Lucky Lil' Darlings who will provide childcare for your little ones while you can work out!

Intensati is an exhilarating workout combined with spoken affirmations.

The class is described as follows:

"We are building a community of moms and those who want to be, who can learn from and help each other, get a fantastic workout and have someone watch their little ones while they do it! EVERY week we will have a one-hour intenSati workout focusing on inner and outer strength...burning serious calories while speaking positive affirmations helping us focus on creating the life we've always imagined. (Of course we will offer movement modifications for those expectant mommies.) At the end of each month, we will have a 30-minute "Mommy Talk" that will focus on topics relevant to to get pregnant, how to feed that growing baby inside of you, where to go for childcare once it's here, how to find balance once your baby arrives, prenatal acupuncture and so much more! Wait, it gets the mommies work out, the fantastic professionals at Lucky Lil' Darlings entertain your little ones with crafts, healthy snacks and games.

On Wednesday November 30th right after the weekly Intensati class is a 30-minute "Mommy Talk" where acupuncturist Alyssa Proujansky, L.Ac. will discuss the benefits of acupuncture for increased fertility, ease of delivery and recovery.  Blue Print Cleanse will also be at hand to provide delicious juice samples and cleanse discounts. 

This promises to be a really fun event and I would love it if you would join me!
Date: Wednesday November 30th, 2011
Time: 930am-11am
Location: Ripley-Grier Studios, 131 West 72nd St., Studio 2R, New York, NY

Prices are as follows:

One hour class for $20
One hour class AND childcare for one child $25 (RSVP required for childcare)
One hour class AND Mommy Talk $30
One hour class, Mommy Talk AND childcare $35 (RSVP required for childcare)
USE CODE: momatthebarre 

To reserve: Email:

CYBER MONDAY SPECIAL: $20 for class and Mommy Talk if booked on Monday 11/28!

I have been hearing so much about Intensati recently and am really excited about finally trying it out! I will report back next week!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Date Night in San Francisco

I was in the Bay Area for a wedding this past weekend. After six grueling hours on the plane where I was constantly thinking up of ways to entertain my very curious toddler, I was quite relieved to finally see the tarmac at San Francisco airport. My mother, seeing me drenched in exhaustion took pity on me and quickly offered her babysitting services so that the hubby and I could get some quiet time. It had been a while since we had had date night so I swiftly accepted my mum's offer.

We had a car fully equipped with a GPS (how did we ever get anywhere before the GPS???). But where to go? Should we do the touristy thing and hit up Fisherman's Wharf? Be a culture-hound and go to the SF Moma? Drive around aimlessly and look for a whimsical coffee shop? Ultimately we decided none of the above and instead I succumbed to my inner cupcake-lover! I remembered that Elizabeth Faulkner (a constant fixture on the Food Network) owned a cake shop in San Francisco. After a quick Google search we were on our way to Citizen Cake!

As we approached Citizen Cake I saw a long lIne snaking outside a neighboring pizza joint. This piqued my interest. A line outside a restaurant is usually a good sign! 

 Pizzeria Delfina was quite a find! It had a laid-back, hipster vibe but, at the same time it had an inviting aura about it. 

The hubby and I shared two pizzas: The Clam Pie...

and the Porcini Pie..

Can you tell we enjoyed them?

Next stop was Citizen Cake!

We were told the restaurant was fully booked and so were seated at the bar. Not a problem. Except that the restaurant was two-thirds empty when we got there and stayed that way for the remainder of our time there. Anyhow!

The center of the restaurant housed a glass case containing an assortment of exotic sounding desserts..

..which included, but was not limited to, the Retro Tropical Shag! A rum-soaked genoise with passion fruit and mango mousse!


The hubby felt like getting a sundae, so we chose the Red Forrest sundae: Chunks of red velvet cake sticking out of a mound of vanilla ice cream, and dribbled with chocolate sauce and cherries.

It looked pretty good but the verdict? Disappointing. The cake felt dry and did not go well with the vanilla ice cream. Next time I am trying the SF Sourdough sundae. Grilled sourdough ice cream anyone?

Question: What is your favorite thing to do or favorite place to eat at in San Francisco? Next time we are going to come a little more prepared!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games

Firstly, I am so embarrassed by the lapse between my last post and now. My life has been a whirl of midterms, term papers, and homework. Life is busier than ever and has to come to a standstill with regards to anything non-academic. I have friends I have not seen in months. The hubby and I are long due for a date night. I cannot even remember the last time I stepped into a movie theater. And ofcourse I am not getting to workout as much as I would like to.

Sigh. My four-week winter break is looking mighty appealing right about now.

On the plus side, my daily commute involves walking along Central Park South and so I have been getting to see scenes like this a lot recently....

Pretty. No?

What I am getting to do, however, is spend some time with the little guy. We celebrated our first Halloween last month and now that, at almost 11 months, he is a whole lot more responsive, we took in our first trip to the American Museum of Natural History and the Central Park Zoo (both are such treasures!).

The other thing I have managed to do is sit down and read a book. The Hunger Games. I am hooked. I must be the last person in the world to be reading it so I shall spare you a review. Is this book really targeted to middle school children?

Anyhow, the official movie trailer came out today and it looks amazing! I cannot wait to go see this in March!

Question: What did you read while in middle school? I will admit that I was going through a major Sweet Valley High phase...  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Working Out while Pregnant

I am a huge supporter of exercise during pregnancy, provided there are no medical  or surgical contraindications, ofcourse. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends getting in 30 minutes of exercise most, if not all, days of the week. The prospect of going to the gym most days of the week may sound outrageous but what a lot of women don't realize is that you don't need to follow a crazy and, perhaps, unsustainable workout schedule. Something as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day is good enough. And if that seems like a lot, walk for however long you can. Just get moving! Not only can exercise during pregnancy give you great muscle tone, it has also shown to help with sleep, posture, energy, and mood levels as well as providing for a smooth labor process. Just be sure to get your doctor's okay before you start an exercise program while pregnant.


I worked out throughout my entire pregnancy, upto the day before I gave birth. Despite my  legs resembling two tree trunks, thanks to all the swelling, I continued pulsing and plie-ing my way through my favorite barre class. At that point it obviously was not about the burn. My reason for doing it? I felt great! I had oodles of energy and unlike other pregnant friends I did not suffer from back-aches. Labor, unfortunately, was not so easy but hey, three out of four ain't bad!

Physique 57 was my workout of choice while pregnant. The fact that it is low-impact and has the capability to provide lots of variations made it the obvious choice for me. If you are currently pregnant be sure to check out their prenatal workshop this Saturday, November 5th at Physique 57's upper west side studio. It will be taught by Alicia Weihl and Kim D'Agnese, two wonderful instructors, each of whom has prenatal Pilates certification. The 90-minute class is described as follows:

"In addition to learning all of the variations which can be applied to a regular Physique 57 class during your pregnancy, this workshop will teach you the key exercises for you to implement in the weeks immediately following childbirth to ensure a quick, optimal recovery. Time will be allotted to answer all of your questions. Moms-to-be in all trimesters and of all experience levels are welcome."

Details: Saturday November 5th, 315pm, at Physique 57's 72nd Street studio. For more details and to sign up click here.

Question: Would you exercise while pregnant? And if you have exercised while pregnant what was your workout of choice?