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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!

Figure 4 Review + Private Class Giveaway!

I’m a huge fan of barre method classes. Huge. Luckily there are a number of these studios sprouting up all around the island of Manhattan. (Of course, they exist in other cities, but I can realistically only go about indulging in the NYC-based ones for the time being.) One of the new-ish classes I’ve been chomping at the bit to try is Figure 4, which was created by Kate Albarelli at Pure Yoga. Pure Yoga is a membership based studio, and taking the class a la carte is typically not an option. I also don’t live near either of their locations, so unfortunately full-fledged membership doesn’t make sense for me right now. (They are based on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side;  I’m a downtown girl.) But that doesn’t stop a barre enthusiast from hearing rave reviews and wanting to try out the class for herself. I had taken a great Core Fusion class with Kate Albarelli awhile back when she was working at Exhale Spa, so was really excited to see what she had cooked up.

I love to read articles and blogs penned by fellow health and fitness lovers. Recently, I was catching up on one of my favorite websites, Well + Good NYC, where they were offering up a giveaway for a private Figure 4 party to a random lucky reader and a group of friends who commented on “why you like to work out with friends.” I commented on this post, and I was their lucky winner! YAY- I would finally get to try the class!

So a couple of weeks ago, 15 barefoot friends and I “partied” our way through an intense Figure 4 class. Heather, our awesome instructor, coached our rowdy group (about half of whom were brand new to the barre method) through an hour of pulses, pliés, crunches, and stretches. Those who hadn’t seen the inside of a gym all winter struggled more than others (the class was legitimately tough!), but I’m proud to say that we all made it through the class with only moderate amounts of groans and whimpers. (And we only digressed into an impromptu round of dodgeball with the prop balls once!)

Our Figure 4 class started with the thigh section facing the inside of the room with our elbows leaning on the barre for support. Heather led us through a series of pulses and pliés which made my friends quickly realized that this party might not be such a cake-walk. At one point we were instructed to raise our hands into the air while holding a deep plié, a move that required stability and core engagement… and whimpering from the peanut gallery. The rest of the thigh section was performed facing the barre, and utilized a variety of poses to exhaust the muscles. I was fearful that we may lose a couple of party-goers while in round-back chair, a pose which requires holding the bar with outstretched arms while the body squats into a seated position with a rounded back- all while maintaining a 90 degree angle in the knees. We performed a never-ending series of pulses and holds while in this position, the last of which was done holding the tush as low to the ground as possible, with our heels held high.  That’s tough for even an advanced thigh warrior. But everyone held on (figuratively and literally!)

Next up: arms. After a lovely stretch, we moved back to the center of the room and began the upper body series with light weights. We all assumed that this was going to be sooo easy, but then Heather threw a wide second position plié into the mix, and we were fed a slice of humble pie yet again. (My friends are such good sports.) We worked through push-ups, triceps dips, and planks of varying difficulty on the floor before moving on to the abs section. With a cushion positioned at the small of our backs and a small ball held between our thighs, we then curled our shoulders up for a series of crunches and targeted oblique exercises. This section was tough (as was every section!), but Heather definitely did not let us slack. She also provided great guidance and modifications for the varying levels of experience in the class.

Ordinarily, a standing section would follow next to work the seat muscles. Apparently our class needed so much corralling and cajoling that we had to skip this section entirely due to time constraints. (I was mortified when I realized this!) In lieu of the standing seat-work, we stayed on the floor and performed a series of leg lifts targeted to work the outside tush muscles. I’ll be honest: I’m a barre class enthusiast, and I couldn’t perform the entire series without stopping for a break at least once on each side. We were feeling the burn without the standing section for sure.

Class wound down with a final abs series performed lying on the floor under the bar with our legs in the air. Pulling down on a strap hanging down from the barre, we raised and lowered our hips and legs to work the lower abs. Finally, a series of pelvic lifts and tucks signaled the end of class, the humor of which was not lost on my male friends (there were 4 in attendance!!) We finished with a gratifying stretch, and even saw the appearance of a couple of splits from the underdog dancers in the room.

In sum, I loved the experience. The “party” brought a unique cross-section of my health-conscious friends and friends-of-friends together for a truly fun afternoon. The 15 of us laughed and whined together (some more laughing, some more whining), and felt good about an afternoon fit-fully spent. Afterward, we held a post-mortem of our muscles’ trials and tribulations over a healthy brunch and toasted our efforts with (Vitamin-C rich!) mimosas. Hey, we’d earned it!

And now the really exciting part- THE GIVEAWAY!

Since my friends and i had such a great time at our Figure 4 party, the team at Pure Yoga has generously offered to give the same experience- a private Figure 4 Party for you and up to 20 of your friends– to 2 lucky HealthyPantz readers!

To enter, leave a comment below about anything your heart desires- what you’d like to read more about, your favorite workout, or just say hi! For an additional chance to win, follow me on Twitter!

I will randomly select 2 winners on Friday, May 18th at 5pm- and announce the winners that evening. (Pure Yoga is NYC-based, so winners should be located here as well.) Good luck!