I had that momentary panic a few weeks ago when I checked the number of purchased exercise classes that expire at the end of the year, added in the YogaWorks number of days I need to run each week to train for a marathon, and compared it against the number of days actually left in the year. These numbers favored 2-a-day workouts if I didn’t use up some of those classes quickly, and I’m no Olympian. In any case, I’ve been at Bar Method more than usual (which is great, because it’s still the best workout I have yet to try), but haven’t been to a new workout class in weeks.
It was time to change that.
A few weeks ago, gal pal Erika suggested I feature in My First Time. I was into it, but a bit hesitant. I have been to some bad yoga classes in my day. Real bad. I once sat through 15 minutes of sitting cross legged alternating breathing out of my right and left nostrils while the sounds of the Amazon screeched on in the background, after which we moved on to what I can best define as Yoga Eye Rolling (no lie). Maybe some people find this beneficial, but I personally need to sweat and hurt in order for it to be considered a workout. Oh, and use muscles that aren’t limited to my face.
Erika assured me YogaWorks was down to accommodate my need for pain and discomfort. Great. Bring it.
I head to the Larchmont studio for a Vinyasa Flow class after downloading a free week of classes coupon that is offered via Yelp. Parking is easy on Gower - just a block east of Larchmont - so I don’t start the class with the anxiety of running late and searching my car seats for meter change. The energy as the reception area fills up is strong and positive. There isn’t that quiet dread or sussing out the “competition” that is so common in some studios. The class is a level 2-3 class, which I may come to regret, but I’m confident it will be enough of a challenge.
The classroom fills up quickly, but seems to expand to fit everyone that walks in the door. The instructor is phenomenal at adjusting where everyone positions themselves to make room for all the students, which I love. The room itself has just enough lighting so that we’re not maneuvering in the dark, but is dim enough to relax. And the soundtrack is not based in jungle sounds; it’s just the right amount of background music.
After a quick guided meditation, the class starts, and my need for a challenging workout is met immediately. While I have a decent time following the flow of the positions, the strength required to hold said positions is intense. Arm and core shaking, buckets of sweat dripping intense. I love it. I am lucky enough to have pro-yogi (progi? mmm…pierogi) Erika next to me, giving me a pointer here or there on the yoga positions I do struggle to remember.
After going through each sequence one or two times with the instructor, the class “flows” through the sequence a few times at varying paces. The sequences are short enough to remember after a couple run throughs, though I definitely take a peak up every now and then to follow the more experienced students on either side of me.
During the class I push myself to jump into positions when instructed, and to hold one legged planks and upward dogs, one armed planks and tree positions, but I never feel forced to try anything I’m not ready for (like handstands. I never see those happening in my life). This speaks to the instructor’s ability to facilitate an environment that is both motivational and low pressure.
I find the workout to be hardest on my arms and core, but this could just be my experience. My legs are really strong from running, and I’ve always had natural Olive Oil arms (to clarify - the skinny chick on Popeye, not pertaining to the type of Olive Oil I slather on everything I eat that makes everything but my arms un-Olive Oily). There are a lot of plank-variations that have my arms shaking, and I will feel the overall workout in my core the next day. A huge benefit was an immediately short-term improvement on my posture, which will still hold strong a day later.
The 80-minute class flies by; I am surprised when it ends because I didn’t longingly glance up at the clock once. By the end of class, my muscles are warm enough that I can fold myself right in half. This will come in handy the next time I need to pack myself in someone’s luggage to save plane fare, so I am very grateful for that. My arms are shaking and my core feels strong, and I am just as drenched in sweat as I was after Sweat Garage on Tuesday. I am also both relaxed and invigorated, which gives me just enough energy to drive myself home, stuff my face, shower, and fall asleep immediately.
After a hiatus from yoga after the eye-rolling-as-exercise incident, YogaWorks has roped me back in. The monthly membership is an excellent deal for regular practice ($100/month). For more sporadic practice, individual classes are $22, 10 class packages are $195 ($19.50/class) and 20 class packages are $270 ($13.50/class).
I have been hesitant to call out specific instructor for each workout, as the quality should be consistent across each fitness studio. To start with, I’m finding that couldn’t be any farther from the truth in some studios - so I’ll start mentioning who’s instructing. In yoga, specifically, so much of the workout is finding an instructor that you gel with, so while this class worked for me, it’s all about what works for you.
YogaWorks - Larchmont
230 N. Larchmont Blvd
The Instructor: Sarah Ezrin
Take aways: Easy street parking east of Larchmont, bring a workout towel for the profuse sweating, free week trial on Yelp OR $30 2 week trial from YogaWorks.