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Class Pass


Class Pass Wrap-Up: Week 4 Yoga and Overall Thoughts

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Last week I finished my month-long Class Pass experience after receiving a gift card from my parents-in-law for Christmas. Class Pass partners with  gyms to let you try different classes at different studios for one set monthly price. You want to take yoga on Monday, water aerobics on Tuesday, kickboxing on Wednesday, boot camp on Thursday, Pilates on Friday, NIA on Saturday, and pole dancing on Sunday? Great — Class Pass lets you do that. You want to go to a studio close to your house one day and another near your work another day? Great — Class Pass lets you do that.

Because I was incorporating Class Pass into my regular workout schedule and not focusing on it as my primary source of exercise, I had to be a little creative about which classes I took which week. For example, I knew I had a half marathon coming up at the end of this past week, so I wanted to keep things light to avoid exhausting myself or overtaxing my muscles. During my first three weeks using Class Pass I did at least four classes a week, but last week I went easy on myself and only took two. Both were quiet, calming yoga classes: one yin and one gentle. This was perfect race preparation because these classes got me into the right mental space while gently working my muscles. 

With my Class Pass experience all wrapped up, here's a brief list of some of the pros and cons I experienced.

On any given day, there's a huge variety of classes. I could find anything I was in the mood for, from gentler yoga and Pilates classes to grueling boot camps and kickboxing. I also had the opportunity to try classes I'd never done before (like barre) as well as classes I wouldn't have necessarily taken in a different setting (like circuit training). 

The monthly rate is $79. I'm not saying the price isn't worth it — with UNLIMITED classes every day, it probably is — but I'm saying it's expensive. I'm a freelance writer, people. I don't have an extra $80/month hanging around. There's also an option for $40 a month that allows you to take one class per week, which sounds enticing but is still outside my budget. I'm thankful I had this gift card because I never would have been able to experience this otherwise.

The only way I'm able to stick to a fitness routine is if I mix things up. I have friends who have been attending the same boot camp class every week at the same gym for over a year now. That's great for them, but I would NEVER be able to do that. I get bored way too easily (even with something like boot camp, which is constantly changing). I think there's a real advantage to working with different instructors in different atmospheres. Each instructor brings his own experience and philosophy to the table. Each studio has it own vibe. Each instructor has her own specialty. Different muscles will get worked in different ways when you're not doing the same thing over and over. My love of keeping things fresh has always been a huge part of my personality. I do well as a freelance writer because I enjoy doing different things all the time. I've never worked a traditional job for more than a few years at a time because I always burn out from sitting at the same desk and talking to the same coworkers and performing the same activities day in and day out. Having the opportunity to keep things wildly varied is one of my favorite aspects of Class Pass.

This could be a pro for anyone who needs a little extra accountability; knowing I'll be charged a fee if I don't show up to class certainly motivates me to get there. The only problem: there's no wiggle room for stuff that sometimes happens in life. Your meeting runs late, you're exhausted at the end of the day, you get a last-minute invite to meet up with a friend you haven't seen in forever: too bad. If the class is less than 12 hours away, you cannot cancel. You are going to that class or you're paying the price. You may recall my saga about signing up for a noontime yoga class and being absolutely unable to find street parking despite showing up early. Sometimes life happens, but with Class Pass you're locked in anyway. 

If you know 7-8 a.m. is the time slot that's going to work best for you, you can look at all the classes offered at 7 and choose the one you like the best. If you want to stay in a specific geographical region, you can use the map to select classes within a radius. If you're up for classes anytime, anywhere, you can go through everything that's available and choose willy nilly. It's really a matter of whatever works best for you.

Nearly every studio or gym I went to required me to fill out a new waiver form and as a result of this, I got on the email list for each individual gym. In addition to all the Class Pass emails, I started receiving emails from the studios where I took classes, too. Imagine taking four classes at four studios per week and then getting follow-up emails from each of them. Yuck. 

I tried new things. I worked out without feeling like I was exercising. I used different equipment. I went to new parts of town. It seemed like some of my workouts breezed by because I was having fun and not watching the clock. (If I were a social person, this is the part where I would tell you I got to meet all kinds of new people and what fun that was — but let's be real, I'm an introvert and  I just liked to get sweaty in new ways.)

As much as I loved the Class Pass experience, I'm still a huge fan of any form of exercise that doesn't require me to get in my car. The time commitment for gym classes is greater because I have to factor in travel time. I also have to arrive a little early, whereas at home I can just start whenever I want to start. At home I don't need fancy equipment and I don't spend any money on gas. I also don't have to worry about anyone watching anything I'm doing (though in fairness it was nice when instructors corrected my form and helped prevent injuries, which is something that will never happen in my living room.)




Class Pass Week 3: Boot Camp, H.I.I.T. Training and Kickboxing


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I stepped up the intensity level for my third week with my Class Pass. (If you're just tuning it, I received a one-month gift certificate for Class Pass from parents-in-law for Christmas and have been putting it to use, focusing on different styles of exercise each week. Class Pass lets you visit multiple gyms and studios for group exercise classes as a way to either try things out or keep things varied.) The first week I used Class Pass, I had a half marathon at the end of the week and therefore focused on slow, gentle yoga classes. The second week, I went for Pilates and barre-style classes. Last week, I went full-on warrior and focused on boot camp/ H.I.I.T training/ kickboxing. 

Here's something that may sound slightly insane. As I've been taking these Class Pass classes, I've continued with my regular workout schedule. That means running six days a week and Fit Girls Guide Boot Camp four days a week. When I added in extra yoga or Pilates classes, this wasn't a very big deal. When I added in extremely high-intensity classes, I started to question my sanity. It's not that I wasn't physically capable of handling that amount of exercise (I was happy to discover I was), nor that I wasn't mentally capable of handling the extra stress (I was doubly excited to discover I was), but that I was in no way, shape or form prepared for how EFFING HUNGRY I felt all week long. Mind you, I THOUGHT I was prepared. I added in extra snacks and made sure to get adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. I made sure to keep extra-hydrated by upping my water intake. I went easy on myself when I needed an extra handful of nuts here or a piece of toast with peanut butter and fruit there. But no matter what I did or how much I ate, I was still ravenous. (This is partly thanks to monthly hormonal fluctuations that were coinciding with this week as well.) Three workouts a day, four days a week = NO END IN SIGHT TO MY HUNGER. It got to the point where I felt like I had to eat so much food to compensate, it completely negated the amount of calories I may have burned in the classes. I have no idea how (or why) people work out like that on a regular basis and if I'm ever in that position again, I will definitely lay off my regular workouts and focus exclusively on the group classes. 

That said, this was also one of my favorite weeks. I like the gentleness of yoga and Pilates (I'm talking about the style of yoga and Pilates classes I take — I know some yoga and Pilates classes are quite intense but that's not what I'm talking about here) and the gracefulness of a barre class, but after a few weeks of mostly bodyweight and light weight exercises I was really craving some grit. I've reached a physical level where I'm capable of pushing myself more than I ever have in the past and it's fun for me to challenge myself, seeing just how capable this body is. 

I like to end a workout drenched in sweat. I like to feel the fatigue in my muscles. I like to end the workout feeling both physically spent and emotionally hyped as a result of all the endorphins spinning around my brain. The classes this week delivered on all fronts. 

The titles of my classes said it all: "Bootcamp." "Drench." "S.PA.C.E. (strength, power, agility, core stability, endurance) Camp - Core Stability & Power." "Kickboxing." These are badass titles meant for badass classes. So how did they stack up? I loved them all. They were all extremely challenging but doable and I left each class feeling accomplished. Boot camp was great because it focused on the upper body at a time when my lower body welcomed the break. "Drench" delivered as promised and worked me into a sweaty frenzy. S.P.A.C.E. Camp was an absolute godsend and focused almost exclusively on the hips, which are by far the tightest area of my body thanks to all my running. And kickboxing was like going back home — I did kickboxing regularly about six years ago but had to give it up because I couldn't afford it. Of all the vigorous, intense classes I've been taking lately, I still think kickboxing is hands-down the single best full-body workout. I left that class SPENT. And then I ran seven miles because that's what was up on my running schedule that day. And then I wanted to eat a house.

If I were ever to operate at this level again (and frankly I don't think there's any reason why I should — I stepped things up this particular week because I wanted to take full advantage of a limited-time gift certificate), I will definitely do a lot more research to figure out how to feed myself better when I'm burning that many calories. I'm proud for how much I pushed myself physically and was amazed to discover I had the stamina for these types of workouts (and was double amazed to discover I could do a handstand from the wall, which I didn't even know was possible for me). But the hunger, man. It was intense. If pregnancy hunger is anything like this, I'm considering myself slightly more prepared for if/when that time comes. 

But for now: I'm glad my crazy week is over. I miss the rush of the intense classes, but I'm getting my mind straight again with yoga this week. It's my final week using the Class Pass gift certificate and the experience has been incredible. It makes me realize that I don't think I would want to be a member of just one gym at this point in my life. I get bored too easily. Having the opportunity to take completely different kinds of classes at different types of studios from one day to the next has been awesome. If I made more money, Class Pass would be a great option. I'm a frugal girl on a budget, though, so I'm just enjoying it as much as possible while I still have it. 



Class Pass Week 2: Barre & Pilates

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This was my second week using my Class Pass gift card and I decided to step up my game by focusing on barre and Pilates classes. I've taken Pilates in the past, but this was my first foray into the world of barre. Let me tell you: it may look graceful, but it's a tough workout. At one class in particular, I ended the hour drenched in sweat. Though there's a heavy emphasis on glutes and leg work, there were also upper body and cardio intervals thrown in. 

As you may recall, last week I focused on gentle yoga because I didn't want to overtax my body before my half marathon. This week, without a half marathon on the immediate horizon, I was ready to take on some more difficult workouts. The only problem with this strategy: last week was a super-light running week (again: half marathon coming up), but this week was not. Running eight miles after taking a sweaty-intense Barre class? Yikes. But this gift card lasts for one month and I want to take full advantage of it while I have it. 

Barre, although ballet-inspired, is not overly dance-centric, which is great for me as someone with no dance background or rhythm to speak of. On the surface, it honestly looks pretty wimpy: most of the moves use only body weight and the few that use weights are only two to three pounds. But don't mock it until you try it: the tiny moves I did in my barre classes (think lots of tiny pulses) put fire into my muscles. I had no idea such subtle moves could yield such great results.

As for the Pilates classes, they served as a nice balance that prevented my entire week from being too rigorous. Pilates is a slow, gentle workout that doesn't make me sweat but does help me to connect with my mind and body in a more precise way than I normally do. 

My favorite part of the Class Pass experience so far is the shakeup in my regular routine. Two weeks have already flown by, so I'm halfway through the whole experience. Next week, I'm going to up my food intake to counteract the extra calorie burn (a step I neglected this week, which led to me being way too hungry and making a few less-than-ideal food choices). 

I can't wait to see what the next two weeks bring.