New Blog Inspiration...Fitness Class Reviews and My First Review!

4399B14A-A5EB-4066-8B5D-1867D36FB841.jpg

For the past 20+ years I have focused on explosive workouts as my go-to form of fitness. As a former National gymnast, undefeated cross-country runner and all-star lacrosse player, high-intensity workouts have been my natural state of flow. However, this past year, after working with a functional training specialist to better understand my physical imbalances in hopes of achieving optimal health and fitness, we determined that my quads and shoulders were overdeveloped, while my inner thighs, glutes and obliques were underdeveloped. We agreed that I would take 6-months off from my usual HIIT classes and workouts, in order to lean out my quads, rest my rotator cuffs and strengthen my glutes, inner thighs and obliques. Instead of my 7 days a week of bootcamp classes and running, I had to find lower impact alternatives such as swimming, biking without getting out of the saddle, running with only negative splits and preferably on flat ground, and classes that sought to slow down and hold rather than speed up and pulse.

This plan kicked off my search for the best classes and modalities that would continue to challenge me, while emphasizing strength-training in my new focus areas and avoiding quads and shoulders. After exploring several studios in the Bay Area, NYC and around the world, I quickly learned that the modern trend of fitness assumes that if you’re not dying or sweating your ass off, you’re not really getting a workout. Therefore, most boutique fitness studios and classes focus on the high-intensity, get you in the sweat zone asap, approach. This is something I’ve enjoyed myself, but I was surprised at how difficult it was to find classes that didn’t have me doing burpees, push-ups, planks and sprints.

So the hunt was officially on and over the past year I have tried over 50 different classes, studios, techniques and training methods worldwide and am psyched to share my findings with you to date and as I continue on this journey. I also cannot wait to hear about the classes you’ve found and loved in your hometown or while traveling. It truly is the best feeling when you find a class, space and experience that make your entire body smile, isn’t it?!

Rating System I’ll use for each experience (out of 10, 10 being the best):

  1. Overall Experience = How was the overall experience from ease of signing up to environment to soreness afterwards?
  2. Body = How challenging and effective was the class physically?

  3. Mind = How positive of an impact did the class have on my mental health and overall wellbeing?
  4. Instructor(s) = Was he/she knowledgeable, fit, motivated, passionate and encouraging?
  5. Accessibility = Was the class accessible, easy to find and access physically and online to sign-up, while offering a variety of classes throughout the day and week?

First review...

Power Pilates with Kristin at The Pad Studios in San Francisco (Marina/Cow Hollow)

The Pad Studios describe themselves as “a team of committed, passionate and top tier instructors dedicated to the benefits of daily practice. As professionals in our field, we aim to meet you where you are physically, mentally, even spiritually. We welcome men and women of all ages and fitness levels. We also serve women during pregnancy and infants and children. The Pad is a gateway studio; all are welcome...We invite you to come take Power Yoga and Power Reformer Pilates classes in our clean, bright and beautiful studio space where all public classes are set to fun, upbeat and energizing music.”

Overall Experience - 8/10

I came to Pad Studios in search of a traditional reformer pilates studio and am glad I did! It was the first pilates class I found that was incredibly challenging while remaining true to Pilates’ core principles (concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing). The class was small, with only 6 reformers, and although I was the only newbie I felt welcomed, appreciated and tended to. Despite having ‘Power’ in its class name, there was no jump board, free weights or explosive movements added into the class for assumed added difficulty. The transitions were fast, but manageable and the overall flow was very challenging yet energizing. The studio was bright and in a pretty area of the city, it was super sunny the day I was there but luckily the instructor opened the door to reduce the sauna effect. I found the class effective, educational, difficult and fluid.

Body - 9/10

Challenging, technical and consistent. I appreciated the routine’s level of difficulting and overall sequencing. I found new depth in simple poses and appreciated the time spent on each movement, while leveraging all muscle groups. It was definitely a full-body workout with focus on inner thighs, glutes, core and pelvic placement. By the end of each move, the isolated muscle groups were appropriately shaking. I admired Kristin’s ability to incorporate everyone’s desired area of focus seamlessly and effectively.

Mind - 8/10

Pilates requires an intense mind/body connection, as you cannot rely on momentum but really have to engage each muscle to slow it down, stretch and work resistance in both directions in order to do it properly. Kristin’s sequencing really focused on this principle and I found new difficulties in traditionally easy poses as she eliminated my temptation for speed, slowing it down with a steady, meditative count and purposeful instruction from one move to the next. Kristin’s focus on breath was also organic and incredibly helpful, as the entire class stayed in sync which created a chorus of movements, making the time even more therapeutic for me.

Instructor(s) - 9/10

Kristin was great! She was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate. She was very fit herself, prepping for the swim from Alcatraz island to SF the following morning, and was very thoughtful in her routine and class engagement. I appreciated her noticing the temperature increasing in the room during our class and letting some air in without breaking rhythm, while also being mindful to close the door when a group of toddlers were passing by only to reopen it once they were gone. Since everyone else in the class was a regular, she adjusted to their needs and asked what areas I would like to focus on as well. Not only did she ask, but she incorporated my requests instantly without hesitation. As a trainer and instructor myself, I know it’s hard to adapt when you’ve prepared a specific routine, but could tell Kristin’s expertise when she was able to adapt on the fly and still accomplish a successful and challenging class for all involved. Kristin’s playlist was playful, upbeat and helpful not distracting at all.

Accessibility - 8/10

From SoMa the class was quite a walk away, but well worth it! The studio is light and welcoming  with a bright open room just behind the check-in desk for yoga, mat pilates and pre-natal classes. Venturing back into the rest of the studio, you’ll find the reformer room, other pilates apparatus rooms, plenty of locker space and a minimalist restroom. Pad Studios is on the Mindbody app and offers a variety of classes from 6:30am-7pm most days during the week. The reformer room got quite warm during a mid-day sunny session and I wasn’t sure where to go once I checked-in, but everyone was super friendly and happy to point me in the right direction.