ClassPass: Barry’s Boot Camp Review

I was very nervous for Barry’s Bootcamp. Very very very nervous. Everything I had heard going into this class made it sound like hell, but also those same people gave if the most rave reviews and kept going back for more. Still, I was nervous and willingly expressed such directly to BBC.

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Their tweet response actually DID make me feel a little better, you know, if I felt like puking on the treadmill then I could always just take it down a notch.

Their Promise: The best workout in the world

The Experience: Upon arrival, the front desk staff was SUPER helpful and before swinging into the lockerroom I noticed none other than a JUICE BAR where you place your order before headed into the gym so that it’s ready when you come out. I ordered up some sort of Vegan shake with a HUGE dose of protein and a healthy amount of calories. I knew I was going to need it after a sprints on a minimal breakfast.

I started off on a treadmill. The flow of the class is that you alternate between treadmill time and floor work. On the treadmills you’re going between runs and sprints, sometimes at an incline. Your recoveries are done at pace, which means you’re still running at about a 6.

I’ve always been a decent sprinter and over the past couple years I found myself enjoying a run here and there, however nothing and I mean NOTHING could have prepared me for this experience. It’s one thing to go for a 4 mile run, quite another to be sprinting at a 10 on an incline followed by calisthenics that involve a step and weights. It was the most difficult workout I’ve had to recent memory, but in one of those ways that leaves you with a sense of accomplishment.

There’s something about working out in a dark, sexily lit room that really gets you in the zone. I honestly don’t think I could have sprinted my ass off if there were lights on. It’s kinda like “what happens in Barry’s stays in Barry’s” and I left it all on that treadmill. 60 minutes later, I was worked out, worked in, worked down and even diagonally.

Chris, the instructor was 6’9” or something and SUPER awesome. I loved his energy and enthusiasm for getting us to MOVE. The weight sessions were hella tough. Nothing was ever a simple bicep curl, everything was layered on top of one and other for max muscle workage. BBC is NOT fucking around when they say it’s the best workout in the world.

Because I worked out before work, I used the facilities to shower and was *delighted* to come face to face with a suite of Malin + Goetz products, towels, and dryers on hand. Paired with that smoothie that was waiting for me, it was a perfect experience start to finish. I mean, save for that part where I almost yuked on a treadmill, but that’s part of it too. I loved that there were a lot of guys in the class too. It’s refreshing to see a gender balance in a group fitness studio

I get while people are addicted to this place. I’ll be back. Specifically 7:50pm next Thursday. EEK!

BBC gets a 10 out of 10 for sure.

ClassPass Review: Mighty Pilates

As I mentioned in my Mint Studio Review, I’m really interested in expanding my pilates repertoire beyond my springboard exposure at BURN. I decided to hit up Mighty Pilates for the sole purpose that it’s incredibly close to my house so a 6:30am class was NBD.

Their Promise: Mighty Pilates offers energetic group classes so you get fit quickly and feel empowered. Be Mighty in Laurel Heights with classes that combine stretching, cardio, and core.

You’ll work out your whole bod head to toe on a mix of the Reformers and the Towers. Power up your powerhouse in this vigorous class that mixes it up. Appropriate for students familiar with the Tower and Reformer.

The Experience: Gorgeous studio. Just gorgeous. Reformers up front, towers in the back. Wish I had given myself more time to explore the space. The instructor Sabrina, was very throrough in asking about my injury (like what vertebrae is my injury on and shame on me for not remembering). I appreciated that. We began the class doing a series of core and arm exercises on the reformers. Since I have some basic knowledge of pilates, it was easy enough to follow along, execution on these tired muscles was a whollllle other story. At first blush, pilates equipment looks straight up like torture equipment (and I guess in a way it is), but Sabrina had excellent cueing and kept us in our exercises for the perfect amount of time. I never felt like anything was *too* hard.

After the reformers, we went into the tower room and began our work there. One thing I did find impossible was our planks on an un-sprung bar. I just could not hang there. Nothing in this class was, easy. At all. But I really appreciated the pace, instruction and flow of this studio.

I give this class a 10 out 10 ten for it’s instruction, experience and space.

Next Up: Barry’s Boot Camp

ClassPass Review: Mint Studios

It’s been years since I’ve taken a classic pilates mat class, but more importantly I have not taken one since I myself became an instructor at BURN, a studio that combines cardio, weights and pilates into one hella hard, but sweattastic 55 minutes. I was particularly excited to check out this genre of class with my more trained eye on pilates and fitness instruction. Mint Studios fell into my lap of course because of ClassPass, but also because it’s one block from the CalTrain, what I use to commute every day.

The Gist: With some of the hardest and most effective classes in San Francisco, Mint’s beautifully designed space is reminiscent of a spa, offering clients an escape from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Take a Reformer, Mat Pilates, or Barre class and you’ll laugh, shake, and maybe even cry a little! Take a vinyasa flow Yoga class to center your body and mind.

San Franciso’s SOMA neighborhood is definitely not known for its aesthetic charms, so imagine my delight when I open the door of a nondescript building in a block of warehouses and enter into this gorgeous, pristine, refined and welcoming studio space.

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I’m not sure what else to say except for: OMFG THAT CLASS WAS TOUGH. We began with what felt like 5 minutes (and i’m actually pretty sure it was 5 minutes) of planking and plank variations. Enough planking to feel the rumble through my core up into my shoulders and down my legs. Following planking we did a variety of floor work involving balls and resistance bands. While most of the exercises focused on the core muscles, I was surprised to discover how the work extended into my arms as well. For example, while holding a V shape (read: CORE WORK), we would wrap a resistance band around our feet and do a shoulder press or bicep curl at the same time, working two different sets of muscles.

The class was only 45 minutes long, but it was more than enough in terms of strengthening exercises. The instructor, Gaby, was very good and provided sufficient cuing, instruction and encouragement. There was one particularly difficult moment in which I’m she caught me silently screaming an expletive that starts with an F. I didn’t break a Yoga Flow-esque sweat or anything, but I certainly felt the workout in every fiber of my soul. It was great.

I give Mint Studios a 9 out of 10 and actively look forward to going back soon!

Next Up: DOONYA a cardio bollywood dance class

ClassPass Review: Doonya – Cardio Bollywood Dance

When I first peeped this class on the ClassPass app, I thought I had struck the motherlode. Three words for you: Cardio. Bollywood. Dance. Sounded like my DREAM.

Their promise: Doonya uses Bollywood songs to get you sweating. The classes feature cardio and strength fitness choreographed to the latest high energy, Bollywood-inspired music. The energy and expressions of Bollywood-inspired music and dance will keep you smiling as you burn up to 800 calories while learning dance and fitness fundamentals.

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The Experience: Arrived to a non-descript building in a dark SOMA alley, but found myself in a open, bright dance studio. I was a bit early, my bad for mis-reading the class time, but luckily had some time to chat with the instructor before hand. She explained that “Doonya is not enough cardio if you’re into CrossFit, but not enough dance if you’re a dancer.” Thank heavens I fall right in-between those two extremes myself.

I popped myself into the front row of class, even though I’ve never done it before. I know that I always have a terrible time following a dance class from the back. These routines were fast and pretty simple to follow. The hardest part was definitely the hands and finding alignment.

In terms of workout, you’re basically hopping around for about 55 minutes straight, which will definitely get your heart rate up and a little gloss going. In addition to the straight dance moves, there were also lunges and squats sprinkled in for some more traditional conditioning.

The teacher, Palak was SUPER friendly and easy to follow. She’s been doing Doonya for 6-7 years she explained and even sent a super nice follow up note to all students, which I thought was a nice touch!
Overall I give the class about a 7.5 out of 10, I think she was right that it wasn’t *tough* enough for my liking, but at the same time, whatevs, I got to smile and dance and have a shit ton of fun to some very happy making music!

Next Up: Mighty Pilates – Mighty Mix

Yoga Flow, SF • ClassPass Review

Decided to make an audible today and register for a yoga class after teaching my couple classes at BURN. I told my roommate, a practiced yogini, where I was going and she casually mentioned “oh man…that’s a hot yoga class.”

Welp. Guess I missed that in the fine print.

I tend to avoid hot classes like the g-d plague. I can’t even sleep in hotel rooms that don’t have air circulating within them because I get so sweaty. Considering hot yoga is like that times that by about a million and add in physical exertion, I knew I was just going to be a mess.

But let’s get back to the experience, not my speculation of what it was going to be like.

Their Claim: Flow classes are typically fast paced and set to great music! Our instructors are skilled at catering to all level practitioners by offering modifications for different levels of students. Be prepared to sweat and get a great workout! This class is sometimes set to rock, reggae, hip-hop, blues and worldbeats.

I was able to walk to the studio from my house and was welcomed by a friendly bro at the counter who graciously comped my mat and towel since it was my first class–much appreciated! The studio was already warm upon entering so I braced myself…I was delighted to walk into a gorgeous space complete with skylights and floor to ceiling windows. Looking back I now realize it is basically set up as a yoga green house.

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Fitness in ’15 • ClassPass Reviews

With a new year inevitably brings with it some sort of new dedication to your fitness routine. Even if one is in reasonably good shape, you cannot escape the NEW YEAR NEW ME JUMPSTART YOUR FITNESS GOALS OMFG 2015 IS THE YEAR OF ME!!!!!! Thing is, I personally set my fitness goals back in June 2014, when I realized that I had just one year left in my 20’s. I decided that I was going to lose 30lbs before I turned 30. Six months into the plan, things are right on track: 15 down 15 to go.

So all this New Year New Me stuff, really resonated, because, well this year I’m turning the page into a whole new decade.

Long story short, I decided to sign up for Class Pass. I’ve found myself needing to mix up my workouts and introduce more cardio into my strength training. I also have a lot of friends and co-workers at BURN who are *very* into it, so I figured— WHAT THEY HEY! For $99, I’ll give it a whirl.

Signing up, I was frankly overwhelmed by the amount of classes offered. If I’m going to be really nitpicky, and I will for a second, the filtering options are an effing nightmare. All cities within a 50-mile radius are lumped into one master list by time slot. There are neighborhood filters in San Francisco I’ve never even heard of. BUT, a lot of the classes sounded cool, sounded like things I wanted to get in there and try. We’re talking TRX, yoga, spin, bootcamps, something that involves balls and surfboards, martial arts, kickboxing, dance and so much more. Basically the city has become my little sampling platter. (That is, if I can work around these dang filters).

After a bit of time playing with the interface, I was able to assemble myself a pretty sick little workout schedule for the next week beginning with TODAY. I’ll review the places and spaces I wind up, what I like, don’t like , love, loathe and more.

First Up: START FITNESS

Their Claim: ”Push and pull yourself into a strong body on Fridays. Indoor class targeting strength and aerobic conditioning using TRX, tubing weights and body-weight exercise.”

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Natural Tresses Event THIS WEEKEND 10•26

Who has two thumbs, lots of curls and hasn’t been to a hair event in a hot minute?

THIS GIRL

That’s why when Charmaine Marshall of Natural Tresses reached out to me to ask me to be the emcee of her event coming up this weekend, my interest was piqued. When she told me who was involved (spoiler: some of my favorite people in the natural hair world), I simply couldn’t refuse!

This Sunday October 26th, I’ll be emceeing the 2nd Annual Natural Hair and Wellness Expo in Fairfield, CA (just outside of the Bay Area). So jazzed.

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The event will be going on from 1:30-6:30pm and will feature awesome vendors and presentations including:

  • Fitness classes
  • Product swap
  • Vocalist + other musical entertainment
  • Lil Curly Girls (so excited, gonna be adorbs
  • Meet and greet with the one and only Kim Coles!!
  • I’m pretty excited to be joined on stage in the afternoon by Miss Kim, she’s a dear friend and I’m so excited that we get to do the commentary on what is sure to be a fabulous hair show by the Natural Tresses Hair Studio!

    Tickets are available ONLINE here for $14 General / $35 VIP or at the door for $20 General / $40 VIP.

    Can’t wait so see your fabulous natural selves on Sunday!!! Xx -Cass

Turn Up & Twist Out: How To Get VOLUME

I’m so excited to announce that NaturalSelectionBlog will be the Official Media Partner of a fabulous event coming up on May 4th in NYC: The Natural Aristocrat Tea! Hosted by the uber talented and creative stylist Jennifer Lord and Sabine’s Hallway Salon in Brooklyn, this event will invite naturalistas to dress in their best and enjoy a truly aristocratic haute hair affair. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be passing the blogger mic over to Jenni to help us get ready for the event—from hair tutorials to vintage shopping tips—so we can all get our vintage glam on POINT! Without further ado, our first styling tutorial!

Greetings ladies and gents! I’m natural hair stylist Jennifer Lord, CEO of Natural Hollywood, a platform designed to showcase natural hair with high fashion in our magazine, runway and art shows. This year Natural Hollywood is teaming up with Sabine’s Hallway Natural Hair Salon in Brooklyn to bring you The Natural Aristocratic Tea!

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Our first stop on this tour is NYC but we promise to bring it to a city near you. Our event includes a live natural hair art exhibit and fashion show as well as a live band and other performances. We will also be honoring the work of 3 women making positive contributions to their community. To help you get ready for #TNAT I will be doing a series of tutorials and tips perfect for #teatime! See you on May4th, 2014 for The Natural Aristocratic Tea, #pinkiesup.

Twist Out Tutorial

1.

Wash and condition your hair with a natural and organic shampoo. I use Aloe Vera from the Nature’s Gate line sold in Wholefoods Market. Comb through your hair while the conditioner is still in it using a large wide tooth comb. Section the hair into about 10 twists. In other words, while the conditioner is in your hair, grab medium sections, comb each out and double strand twist to the end. When finished, using warm water, rinse each twist out thoroughly. Squeeze the twist to make sure conditioner is completely washed out.

2.

Towel dry your hair with a t-shirt. Remove the majority of moisture.

3.

Spray in your choice of a natural, organic leave in conditioner (6-8 sprays. Oyin Handmade has several choices and they are in Wholefoods as well. Giovanni and Carol’s Daughter also have great options. Pick whichever one you like.

4.

Apply a dime sized to quarter sized amount of Argan oil to each twist. Massage in thoroughly.

5.

Make your own pomade with slightly melted raw shea butter, a mild hair gel like Giovanni from wholefoods, and olive oil from your local grocer (not virgin, just plain olive oil). For someone with shoulder length medium volume hair, your measurements should be as follows: 4 tablespoons of raw shea butter, 1 tablespoon of gel, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Mix well! Increase the amount if you have longer hair and lessen it if you have shorter hair.

Don’t feel like creating your own chemistry lab? You can also purchase Nourish and Shine from Jane Carter Solutions, Shine and Define by Oyin Handmade, or Karen’s Body Beautiful Butter Love or Koils by Nature Butters.

6.

Starting from the nape of your neck, untwist your twists.

7.

Once the hair has been untwisted use your comb to create triangular parts for sections. Use safe cloth covered elastic bands to keep your sections in place. The parts should look like a color wheel with the angles coming to a point in the center.
To achieve a fuller twist, make parts bigger. About 8 – 12.

8.

Comb out 1 triangular section and apply your choice of pomade from root to tip. Massage in with fingers. Next apply a tiny bit of the organic gel or organic hair wax by Giovanni to the hair line. Using a 100% boar brush, start from your edges and brush hair to the central area of the section. Brush one final time and manipulate hair into a sectioned ponytail.

9.

Grab ponytail and separate remaining hair into two pieces. Twist the two pieces to the bottom also known as a double strand. Next, Bantu Knot the twist up. In other words, grab the twist and wrap it around itself until it creates a small knot. Make sure to twist smoothly and use control. Repeat until each section is done. Sit under a hair dryer for 1 to 1.5 hours or blow dry the hair holding the blow dryer at least 12 inches away for 15-20 minutes and wear the knots overnight.

10.

Finally untwist or take out each twist the next day or after the hair is completely dry. Make sure you are using your gentle hands and fingers. Too much rigor may lead to less than desired results. Using your fingers, open up the two strands again to create 4 strands.

11.

Over the course of the style, have fun creating different looks using pins and bands!

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Growing My Hair Out = The Worst.

I really liked having short hair. It’s easy, chic, and pure. However, a few weeks ago, I saw one of my old YouTube vids and decided I actually REALLY liked my longer curls and needed ’em back:

I guess I somehow wound up with hair envy of myself and I’m on a quest to grow my hair out so I can get my fun little curlies back for me to play with! Yay!

Thing is, I’m smack dab in the middle of that awkward length where it kind of just looks like my hair is some sort of fuzzy cap sitting on top of my head. Since I’m used to having super precise haircuts, having a non-shaped style is driving me absolutely crazy.

Each and every day, I am tempted to cut it all off. I even went as far as calling Marie to tell her I was having a “hair emergency” and made a last minute appointment. When I walked in she took one look at me and said “THIS is not an emergency. You just need to keep growing it out.”

And she’s absolutely right.

Thing is my curls HAVE grown back a lot and are healthy and thriving, but they’re not short enough to look polished and styled, nor are they long enough do anything with.

I was able to talk Marie into cutting off what I considered to be my curly mullet so my hair could have SOME shape while I grow it out. Check out this Before & After:

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I can’t wait until my hair is out of this awkward adolescent phase of the grow out, but stay tuned because Lola is coming BACK! Woohoo!!!

I laughed. I cried. I laughed even more. Kim Coles’ Must See Show!

A couple weekends a go, I had the absolute pleasure of checking out Kim Coles’ one woman show titled “Oh But Wait…There’s More!”. I’ve heard of this solo journey into theatre, and truthfully was not at all sure what to expect, but my Nana and I buckled ourselves into the front row of an intimate Oakland theater and settled in for the journey…

The next 90 minutes were filled with a truly authentic, but mostly hilarious glimpse at Miss Kim’s entire life. Aided by visuals projected onto a screen, we enjoyed these amazing anecdotes from throughout her childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

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Now before you start thinking this is some sort of stuffy allegory about life, please let me stop you:

This is Kim Coles: homegirl is FUNNY as all hell

No serious, there were points in during the show where I was laughing so hard that tears were spilling out of my eyes. I IRL LOL’ed like 8 times. Maybe more. Case in point:

  • Kim’s recreation of a “motivational speech” by her Puerto Rican Girl Scout troop leader slayed me.
  • Her recounting of her days doing plus size fashion shows at churches had me on the flo’.
  • The extreme measures she had to take when nature called while Bill Cosby was on the phone giving her life advice…I can’t. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
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    The truly beautiful part of the show, was this underlying theme of growth and discovering one’s truly authentic self. As a 28 year old woman just trying to figure it out , I was completely in awe of and inspired by the lessons learned by Kim herself and then shared with the audience during the show.

    When “Oh But Wait…There’s More! comes through to your tow, please make SURE you get yourself to the theater to see this awesome production by this fabulously talented lady. Next time it comes through The Bay Area, I’ll be there front row and ready once again!!!

    Connect with Kim and make sure you don’t miss a show!!

    Facebook
    Twitter
    Website

    Upcoming shows include:

    March 28 – Newport News, Va
    April 25 & 26 – NCCU in Durham, NC

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