Monthly Archives: August 2012

Uplift Studios Review + A Giveaway

There’s a newcomer in the Flatiron District fitness scene. Her name is Uplift Studios, and she’s a sweetheart.

She cheers you on with uplifting mantras at every turn.

She gives you a little juice if you’re running low.

She even feeds you water bottles and snacks for a little pre and post workout fuel. At any given hour there is trail mix, granola, fruit, and an assortment of mini Luna bars laid out for your snacking pleasure. Sometimes there’s even wine. What a gal.

I tried out a couple of Uplift’s signature classes over the past few weeks, and am pleased to report that not only does the studio boast incredibly gracious accommodations (seriously their bathroom is nicer and better stocked with beauty products that my own), but it also has some great fitness classes.

Of Uplift Studio’s many classes, I have tried (so far): Summer Shape-Up, Tighten and Tone, and Power Yoga. My overall conclusion is that I would happily return to all three. In fact, I already have. Here’s a brief overview of my experiences:

Summer Shape-Up: A seasonal offering taught by a real live surfer girl, (who hails from Alaska, amazingly) Shannon. The class is meant to simulate summer sports: surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. Shannon is bubbly, encouraging, and just downright adorable. She also effectively guides the class through the use of its many, many props. (dumbbells, weighted balls, stability platforms, resistance bands, and “magic circles”- I think it’s the most props I’ve ever used in 1 class.) The exercises tap into muscles that are ordinarily left underutilized, and left me sore for days. (I love when that happens!) Sadly, the end of summer means the end of Summer Shape-Up as well. Good thing the fall class lineup looks fantastic…

Tighten and Tone: This class blends elements of the Lotte Berke method, pilates, ballet, and good old-fashioned resistance training to form a 55 minute full body toning session. Also, Patricia may be Fitness Barbie. Seriously, she is the happiest fitness instructor that I’ve ever met. Her demeanor can’t help but make you smile- even as you power through your thousandth weighted leg raise. The many props make another appearance in this class (weights, resistance bands, magic circles…) and are all used to help work each major muscle group to the point of fatigue. This makes the final figure four stretch especially glorious.

Power Yoga: I was lucky enough to take this class with only two others, so it felt like a semi private yoga session. Our instructor, Amanda, asked what muscles each of us would like to focus on that day, and we replied with hamstrings, hips and core. (Core was my vote, if you were curious.) Amanda used those cues to divide the 55-minute class into thirds, addressing each of our needs and providing an intense sweaty yoga workout. The class was athletic in nature, and the poses were held for longer periods of time than in a ”regular” yoga class. I emerged feeling toned but limber- an incredible feeling.

These classes all get a thumbs up in my book, and I’m looking forward to trying even more. In my mind, however, what really sets Uplift apart from the crowd is the way it blurs the line between working out and socializing. It’s a women-only studio that bills itself as a “fitness and social movement.” The check-in station is set up like a bar, complete with counter seating. One of the studio’s three owners (Leanne Shear, Helena Wolin and Katie Currie) can usually be found behind the counter, striking up conversations and offering up treats and beverages. Nespresso by day and generous wine pours by night. Yes, that’s right. Get your sweat on, and then chill out with a glass of vino and snacks. Prior to visiting Uplift I was impressed by a water bottle or an apple. The bar (or barre, har har) may be officially raised in my mind.

There are those times when I just want to workout and get out, but more often than not, I appreciate the opportunity to relax with friends, meet new people, and hang out in a place where a head-to-toe Luon outfit is socially acceptable. It’s a wonderful message: working out is fun. YES! I couldn’t agree more.

Now, the part I know you’re excited about: the giveaway!

Uplift has generously offered to give a free 55-minute class in their NYC studio to one HealthyPantz reader. To enter, simply comment with your favorite “uplifting” quote. You can enter with a new quote each day to increase your chances, but you must leave a separate comment for each. I’ll randomly choose the winning quote next Thursday evening. Please keep in mind Uplift is a women-only studio. (Sorry, fellas.)

Good luck!

White Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

I’ve seen a bunch of bean-based brownie recipes flying around the Pinterest world lately, and have been admittedly intrigued by what a genius idea it appears to be. I pinned a bunch, and then finally worked up the nerve to whip up my own batch. Not only did I really want to try baking with legumes, but I was also determined not to let the hours I spent on Pinterest go completely to waste. (That site is a black hole for my productivity.)

Chocolate Covered Katie is a great source for healthy baking inspiration, and her Genius Blondie recipe caught my eye. Starting with her version as a base, I improvised based on what I had in the cabinets, and ended up with something pretty sharable. (Hooray!) The recipe below is gluten-free, and if you omit the white chocolate chips, is vegan as well.

Healthy White Chocolate Chip Blondies

Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe.

(15-20 blondies)

  • 1 can of chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed (1.5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 3 tbs smooth almond butter (any nut butter is fine, as long as it’s smooth)
  • 1 tbs unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (white, milk or dark chocolate all work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients (except chips) until very smooth in a food processor. Fold in chocolate chips at the very end, and then transfer into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Don’t worry if they don’t look completely done when you first take them out, since you want a texture of fudgey goodness.

Just be careful not to eat the whole batch at once. There’s a lot of fiber in those bad boys. Please let me know if you try them out!

I’m now a huge fan of baking with legumes. Do you have any recipes to share that use beans rather than flour? Link em up in the comments!

Bootcamp with As One

Even though it was a cool evening, (by NYC in August standards) last week’s Summer of Fitness workout sponsored by LOLË and FITiST was the sweatiest workout of the series yet. Here’s what As One’s version of bootcamp looked like. (Sidenote: they do not take the word “bootcamp” lightly.)

Squats.
Pushups.
Wide second position raised arm squats.
Fold-up crunches.
Lunges.
Tricep dips.
Plank.
Burpees.
Water/Breathe/Re-do ponytail.
Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Eight exercises. 30 seconds each. Eight times. Not necessarily in this order, because sometime after the 3rd rep you just have to shut your brain off and go with it. So truthfully I don’t remember what order the exercised were in. Just that I started with squats, ended with burpees, and hustled through everything in between. Pausing between exercises is a no-no. Quick transitions are key. Sweat is proof that you’re working hard.

Thus, Pier 25 was full of super sweaty ladies (and gents).

Photographer Vic Sorvino took some stellar photos

Photographer Vic Sorvino took some stellar photos

I liked As One’s point: you can get a great workout by using nothing more than your own body weight and a few square feet of floor. They’re right that there’s no excuse not to exercise, and the excuses that we often feed ourselves are pretty much bogus. You don’t need expensive equipment or a fancy gym. You just need will-power. And in some cases, lots of it.

This photo nicely captures me in a moment of wilting will-power. Laid out on the ground around rep 700. No, really, I was JUST about to do a fold-up crunch. Really. (The hot pink sneakers come in handy for ID-ing myself in photos, right?)

Thanks to Vic Sorvino for capturing the moment

Though the 8 reps of 8 exercises got a little monotonous, the workout went by pretty quickly. Morale was also helped out by As One’s fitness instructors’ continuous patrolling and coaching throughout the exercises. I’m the type of person who likes to be pushed while working out, so this was an ideal format to help me hustle through a tough workout. I could have done without the burpees at the end though. Those things are killer! (Who am I joking? I loved them. Especially because the instructor yelled “BURP IT OUT!”… and I have the sense of humor of a 9-year old.)

Question: Do you prefer to be pushed by a fitness instructor, or are you a fierce “I can do this on my own! Rawr!” type exerciser?