Equinox Class Review: Anthem – Indoor Cycling

This post is a bonus continuation of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution to try every group fitness class offered at my gym, The Equinox in Chestnut Hill. See the full list of reviews here. Maintenance goal: leave no class untaken!

The different hand position names for the class.

Today’s Class: Anthem with Cora Waring

Class length: 45 Minutes

Description from the EquinoxTurn your cycling up to 11 with a music-fueled indoor ride. Bike to the beat of our hand-picked tracks in a sequence tailored to take you on a journey that’s as challenging as it is thrilling. Get lost in every moment—forget the metrics, shift with the rhythm, and let the power of the playlist drive your performance.

What Class Was Like

 

 

A cycling class that matched our cadence to the beat, guided by effort and feel instead of wattage.

We turned our consoles on but then covered them, allowing people to track the class and see their stats after class if desired, but not look at them during class.

I highly recommend unplugging like this sometimes, whether you’re running, cycling, or timing your laps in the pool. It can be really nice to let go of the metrics for a while, work your heart rate up, and go based on effort without thinking about results. Seeing my stats during the ride can help give me the confidence to push farther because I know what I can typically average in a class, but it can also take some of the enjoyment out of the ride. It’s a bit therapeutic to let it go, not worry about it, and let your legs and lungs guide you. You may also find yourself working harder because there’s no wattage displayed telling you that you’re doing the best you’ve ever done (which can occasionally de-motivate us.)

Sample segments:

One signature song was a 6-minute Equinox curated blend of songs designed to increase cadence at one-minute intervals. Keep your resistance the same, and speed up your pedal strokes to follow along to the beat until your heart is pounding and you’re just hanging on at the end. I loved it. It is hard not to adjust the resistance; I ended up adding a little more on partway through because it wasn’t hard enough. Taking the class more frequently would help me choose the starting resistance better.

Another song had us using the resistance shifters to add brief spurts of resistance, 8 counts hard, 8 counts medium, 8 counts hard, 8 counts medium.

Each Anthem class will also include a chill-out song, where you ride your own ride with no instructor intervention, eyes closed optional, and recover or recharge at your own pace.

Upper body stretching.

Who would love it?

I think anyone who enjoys indoor cycling should try the class. If you’re super competitive and love The Pursuit, it might be good to compete blindly against yourself and see what you can do if you let effort guide you and don’t have numerical feedback. (You might also benefit from taking a break from trying to push yourself, and just enjoying a heart-pounding ride to the music.)

If you want to chill out and ride with less pressure, this is definitely a great class for you, because the only feedback you’ll get during class is how you feel. (Keep in mind that you can throw your towel over the console during any class.) Cora was welcoming and energetic, making this a ride that’s all about enjoyment and feeling good.

Amazing class for someone coming back into indoor cycling after a hiatus, or who used to be stronger than they are now. No need to stare at your wattage while sweat drips down your arm thinking about what the numbers used to be. You don’t need that. Effort is truly what matters when it comes to health, so let it go!

 

Know before you go

Cycling shoes really help you get more power for the full foot-stroke when you’re cycling indoors. Bikes at the Equinox are SPD clip compatible and Look/Delta compatible, but they also had cages so you can wear your normal shoes. (Don’t be afraid to do that before investing in cycling shoes.)

At the Equinox you reserve your specific bike in advance; look for the numbers on the front of each bike to find your spot when you get there.

I recommend earplugs for most indoor cycling classes.

The Muse by Equinox – New Class!

This post is a bonus continuation of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution to try every group fitness class offered at my gym, The Equinox in Chestnut Hill. See the full list of reviews here

CLASS: The Muse with Paula Fonseca

Class length: 30 minutes

Description from the Equinox:Graceful. Intense. Extraordinary. Get swept off your feet in a burst of dance-inspired cardio. Train like a dancer with a fierce athletic edge as you use light round-weights to boost your burn. Twist and turn to simple choreography in a music-driven flow that’ll have your heart racing and your spirits energized. Sound easy? Just try to keep up. 

The photo on the class page shows the spheres.

WHAT CLASS WAS LIKE

Don’t be intimidated by the term “dance-inspired”; this class doesn’t require any prior dance experience or a knack for choreography in order to pick up the sequences and follow along perfectly.

Class used little 3 lb spheres that we held in our hands in order to obtain more conditioning from the graceful cardio movements.

My heart rate was definitely elevated, I was sweating, and I felt the conditioning treatment my arms were getting from the added weights. It’s amazing what a small weight can do when you’re holding it far away from your body for an extended time. I liked the spheres as opposed to using light dumbbells because they gave the class a more lyrical feel and it added an element of balance and dexterity by preventing you from just having a death grip on a dumbbell.

I also loved feeling like a dancing acrobat with the little weight spheres.

One strength of this class was the range of motion used. Circular overhead motions holding the spheres, graceful windmills, leaning to the side on one foot… these were all wonderful balance exercises as well as conditioning that went beyond the parallel, in-line movements of tricep curls or overhead presses. Those are important too, but when I’m reaching for something heavy on the top shelf of my closet, on my tip-toes, classes that got me moving my body on the diagonal and pushed my range of motion when using overhead weights are going to be helpful.

Sample Exercises:

  • Chassés (gliding side steps) diagonally then extending arms up overhead, chasses back and reaching arms down
  • Burpees (without pushup) with balls under-hand, coming up and lifting balls gracefully overhead and then kicking right and then left (grand battements)
  • Balancing on one leg with arms in second position leaning away from leg that’s in the air then after pausing, chasseing (gliding side steps) and repeating balance on opposide side
  • Forward bend up into windmill arms ending in a wide squat
  • Curtsey and moving ballet arm sequences
  • Winding halo arms around the body and over the head holding weights, down into a curtsey, and reverse

Who would love it?

Anyone who wants to sweat while they condition their arms and improve their balance and gracefulness. Perfect for anyone who has enjoyed a dance class, definitely, but not exclusive to dance-enthusiasts. (DANCE! and Zumba, while amazing for many people, weren’t ones I would go back to. This class is.)

Because this class is only 30 minutes, I highly recommend checking it out if you’re intrigued. You can even pair it with another workout; Paula suggested people consider taking the True Barre class offered afterward as a nice complement to the cardio offered by The Muse.

Know before you go

  • Wear sneakers and if you bring a water bottle (you may not need one for a 30-minute class if you go in hydrated) stash it to the side of the room so you don’t kick it over
  • Make sure you pick a spot with enough room to move
  • When in doubt, bring earplugs. Volume is a preference and they might be helpful here.

I’ve Taken Every Class that Equinox Chestnut Hill Currently Offers

I completed my 2017 New Year’s Resolution!

I’ve taken every single group fitness class that the Equinox in Chestnut Hill currently offers. You can read a recap of all 50 classes I took here, and a really cute (read, naive) description of my goal here: http://www.iamrunningthis.com/2017-goal-try-every-class-at-the-equinox/. When I wrote it I assumed it’d be about 22 different classes, not realizing that class offerings change regularly. Totes adorable.

I ended up taking 50 unique classes.

But I did it. I got to the point where I could look at the schedule and there was nothing I hadn’t taken.

To check, I printed out the PDF of the regular class schedule and wrote down the date I’d taken every class. I then cross-checked it with my spreadsheet of when I took classes and discovered that there are 11 classes I took throughout the year that aren’t currently on the schedule.

When I checked my phone today after my last class, there was a text message with confetti waiting for me from Greg. Love. 🙂

Would I do it again?

Well….

I’m so glad I did this.

I’ve worked out with the after-dinner crowd and the 6 a.m. crowd. I’ve competed with a college student in rowing class and talked yoga instructors with an 81-year-old who can hold a headstand longer than I can. (Ok, I can’t even hold a headstand.) I’ve burst out laughing in the middle of a pilates class and barely survived Tabata Circuit. I’ve stopped collapsing in my chaturanga or feeling self-conscious when I ditch the weights during a jab sequence so I can focus on technique.

But there were diminishing returns. After I’d taken about 20 or 25 fitness classes, I felt like I’d pretty much tried everything and was getting variations on a theme when I walked into a new class.

By June I had successfully pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I’d tried every style of class, gone to class at all different times of day, and met a lot of incredible instructors. At that point, I might have benefited more by sticking with something.

I wonder a little how much I sacrificed by prioritizing variety over consistency. What would have happened if I’d taken the 9 yoga classes back to back over three weeks instead? How much could I have grown and improved by focusing in that way?

Would I recommend it to others?

I love the idea and how much I grew during the process, but I don’t think taking every class your gym offers is necessary (or even advisable) to reap the benefits. You could easily break it down into a smaller goal that meets your end needs more efficiently.

Love yoga? Try taking every style yoga class offered at your gym, or take a class from every instructor, or visit every yoga studio within a certain radius of your home.

Want to push outside your comfort zone? Try taking a new class once a week for 10 weeks, hitting at least one in every category.

Want to really experience your gym? Try taking a class at every single start-time to see it all hours of the day. You might fall in love with how you feel taking a late afternoon class.

Trying new classes, learning from new instructors, connecting with other people at the gym, and getting out of the house at different times of day were all richly rewarding.

What’s next for me?

2017 was a year where iamrunningthis didn’t… and it’s time to get back to it.

I’ve signed up for the Maine Coast Half Marathon in May.

Equinox has its new Precision Running lab opening in the Spring, so it looks like the perfect time to take my new love of fitness classes and use them to boost my running instead of replacing it.

Best wishes as you daydream your next goals!

PS – If anyone knows where I can buy one of the discontinued t-shirts that says EQUINOX MADE ME DO IT… I’m kind of in the market for one. 😉

Cardio Kick at Equinox Chestnut Hill

This post is part of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution to try every group fitness class offered at my gym, The Equinox in Chestnut Hill. See the full list of reviews here.

PROGRESS: 50 CLASSES DOWN. GOAL COMPLETED.

CLASS: Cardio Kick with Kristy Discipio

Class length: 50 minutes

Description from the Equinox: An intense non-contact cardiovascular workout derived from classic boxing and kick-boxing training methods. The class integrates kicks, punches and blocks into high energy, athletic combinations.

WHAT CLASS WAS LIKE

Class used light hand-weights to mimic the weight of a boxing glove during shadow boxing sequences that alternated with high-intensity cardio for a sweat-inducing workout.

Incredibly similar to Cardio Sculpt, except without the medium-weight dumbbell work. Instead of incorporating 10 lb dumbbell work in between kick-boxing sequences, we did brief cardio intervals in between sets, like jumping jacks, fast feet with high knees, burpees, and jump squats.

Kick-boxing sequences were well demonstrated and moves were practiced individually for technique before adding them to the existing sequence. What started out as three jabs and a cross punch ended up becoming a long kickboxing sequence by the end of class, but thanks to the gradual build-up it was easy to memorize and execute.

Ended with ab work on the mat and some brief stretching.

Sample Exercises:

  • 3 jabs, 1 cross, front kick, back kick, uppercut, hook, uppercut, hook, roundhouse, squat roundhouse, squat (all practiced individually and then added onto the starting sequence one at a time)
  • cardio intervals of jumping jacks, fast feet with high knees, burpees, jump squats, mountain climbers, planks with alternating shoulder taps
  • ab work including sit-ups with weights

Who would love it?

Anyone looking to sweat in a cardio workout with a kick-boxing twist. Great for someone who is interested in taking The Cut! but who’d like a little more instruction and repetition of the moves first.

Kickboxing is great because it’s so much more than just cardio. You’re squatting after a kick, balancing and switching feet to go from a front kick to a back kick, increasing flexibility with your roundhouse, engaging your core so you can move with precision, etc. I felt a lot of different muscles being utilized, including my brain, to execute the workout to my best ability. The light hand-weights do build strength and endurance, particularly if you’re holding them high enough to block your face in a good blocking position in between punches.

Know before you go

  • Wear sneakers and definitely bring a water bottle.
  • Watch where you’re kicking, and make sure you pick a spot with enough room to move
  • When in doubt, bring earplugs. Volume is a preference and they might be helpful here.

Heated Vinyasa Yoga at Equinox Chestnut Hill

This post is part of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution to try every group fitness class offered at my gym, The Equinox in Chestnut Hill. See the full list of reviews here.

Progress: 49 Classes Down, 1 remaining (Cardio Kick)

Heated yoga while the snow gently falls outside?

Yes, please.

Equinox added two new classes in December so far and they’ve both been yoga classes. Yessss. I like yoga. There are no jumping jacks in yoga. Maybe this means I avoid some of my weaknesses, but you know what, my chaturanga is getting better and I’m working plenty hard and I love the way it makes me feel and I can’t say the same of jumping jacks.

 

 

Class: Heated Vinyasa Yoga with Adam Caplan

Class length: 60 minutes

Description from the Equinox: A thoughtful, Vinyasa-based class in a heated room. A base temperature of 80 – 85 degrees will help release toxins, encourage a deep connection to breath and increase strength through flowing sequences. If you like to sweat, this class is for you.

What Class Was Like

They’re still experimenting with the heat settings for class, and the studio didn’t feel like it was that hot. It was definitely heated, though, and it felt like a brick of heat walking in. But I acclimated quickly and the spots closer to the windows were a bit cooler. I didn’t visibly sweat during class.

The gentle heat made it feel cozy on a day when it’s incredibly cold outside, and it did feel good stretching in a warmer environment than usual. Adam coached us to be aware of how we’re feeling, to drink water whenever needed, and to stop if we felt dizzy and leave the room if necessary.

Those are all wise prescriptions for any heated yoga class, but the class wasn’t so overbearingly hot that I felt dehydrated or dizzy at any time.

I enjoy Adam’s classes; I’ve also taken his Yoga Flow class and recommend either.

This Is Not Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is a very specific style of yoga. In Bikram, the studio is usually carpeted, lights are bright, it’s a set sequence of 26 postures done for 90 minutes, rooms are heated to between 95 degrees and 108 degrees at a set 40% humidity, and teachers are certified in Bikram.

So there’s Bikram, which is a popular style of heated yoga, and then there’s yoga done in a heated room in order to get some of the benefits of a warmer studio but without all the Bikram stipulations.

This was Vinyasa Yoga done in a heated studio. That meant it could be an hour long, the studio was at a better heat level for those new to practicing heated yoga, and it was a familiar (to me) Vinyasa style class.

Who would love it: 

Anyone who enjoys yoga and wants to try it in a heated studio. You might find yourself relaxing a bit into the stretches, and honestly, in winter time it feels good for the soul to be in such a warm room for an hour. I left feeling warm all the way through my toes, a wonderful feeling after a week of standing and shivering outside at school pick-up.

Know before you go:

  • Bring plenty of water and a towel because you might sweat more than usual
  • There are new anti-slip towels to go on top of your mat that you can use for the heated class – that way you won’t slip if your feet sweat
  • If you’re worried about the heat, remember that you can take water, take a break, or step out of the studio at any time

FYI – Limited time only? This class is currently on trial at the Equinox, so if you’re curious, go to one of the three remaining scheduled Heated Vinyasa Yoga classes on Saturday or Sunday at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow and then next weekend (Dec 16 and 17). If it goes well and seems popular they may add regularly scheduled heated yoga classes in January. A good month for hot yoga. I think I’m in favor.