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I received a gift certificate for Class Pass from my parents-in-law for Christmas. This week, I activated it and started using it. This isn’t the type of thing I would normally be able to fit into my budget, so I’m taking full advantage of the free month I have thanks to the gift certificate. Class Pass lets you take fitness classes at any participating gyms, of which there are many if you live in a major city. The classes go across the board, ranging from yoga to kickboxing to boot camp to barre. There are also classes at all different times of day and different locations throughout the city. I think it works especially well for someone like me who works from home and has a flexible schedule because I can take a 10 a.m. class on one side of town on Tuesday and a 4 p.m. class on the other side on Wednesday. For those who work full-time, I noticed there are plenty of early morning and late evening classes offered.

This week I wanted to focus on slow, quiet, gentle yoga. I have a race coming up and didn’t want to tax my muscles too much. Also I wanted to do something entirely different from my usual routine. Yoga is the opposite of what I normally do as a runner. Running is all go-go-go, but yoga asks me to sit still and reflect.

When I was in college I attended yoga classes three times a week, but since then I’ve been lucky if I drop in a few times a year. One thing that’s dramatically changed since I was a college student: props. When I went to yoga back in the day, we all used mats. That was it. Now every yoga studio comes equipped with a plethora of blankets, bolsters (which look like pillows), blocks and straps to support students as they ease into poses. The props even come into play during shavasana, that quiet time at the end of a yoga class when you lie still and relax. The use of blankets and pillows during this time makes it feel a bit like an organized nap. 

This week I took a few different styles of yoga but all with an emphasis on slow, gentle movements: restorative, gentle, and yin. Yin is maybe my new favorite because it really works those muscles I hit so hard during running. In yin, stretches are held for a long time (3-8 minutes), to the point that it’s almost-unbearable-but-not-quite in terms of mentally staying with it. In this sense yoga is a lot like running: you get through something tough and realize you’re capable of more than you thought, which allows you to keep going. Gentle yoga was a wonderful experience because I was there with only one other student (a sweet elderly man) and we did a lot of our stretches from a chair, not a mat. Talk about a change of pace from my typical H.I.I.T. and running routine. So long high intensity, hello gentle patience. I nearly forgot what it felt like to sit still and allow myself to just be present in my body for an hour. Restorative yoga was also nice as a runner who sometimes gets sloppy about stretching after runs and often feels the tightness in my muscles as a result.

There were a few glitches in my first Class Pass foray. I couldn’t find parking at a noontime yoga class in a busy part of town with limited street parking and had to bail on Wednesday. On Thursday, I showed up for a class that had been confirmed by Class Pass but was no longer offered by the studio. For whatever reason, the updated schedule for this studio wasn’t the same schedule Class Pass had on their web sites. Those two snafus were bummers, but overall I’ve been loving the experience.

Next week I’m focusing on barre and Pilates, the latter of which I’ve never tried but have been interested in for a long time. I like the idea of lengthening and leaning workouts, and again it’s a style that differs from what I normally do. I work out a lot and therefore I need to shake up my routine every now and then. Class Pass is giving me the perfect opportunity to do just this. I may not be able to afford it all the time, but I’m certainly going to enjoy the heck out of it for this limited time.   

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