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

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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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!!!

Me & My Marley Twists!!!

Back in December, I started to get a major case of hair envy  and decided that I wanted to grow Lola out.  However, I quickly realized that without freshly clipped curls, I kinda started to look like Bradley Cooper from American Hustle.  EEP!

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Researching a Protective Style

For months, I’ve been loving the Marley Twist a.k.a. “Havana Twist” look and called up Deedee, The Golden Braider, located in Berkeley, CA to see if she could hook a gal up. After she explained to me that it would take about 4 hours and 6 bags of hair, I was S.O.L.D. (especially considering that normal singles take about 12-15 hours, this new style was a real time saver!).

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28 and Freaking Out.

As a gal in the midst of her 28th year, I’m realizing I’m looking down the barrel at the ol’ 3-0. I know, I know, I know, “20 is the new 30″, which is a trendy and convenient thing to say when you’re in my position, but no matter– I’m kinda starting to freak out.

And apparently it’s…perfectly normal?

I don’t want to get mystical on you guys, but I’m going to get mystical on you guys. Hear me out.

Have you ever heard of Saturn’s Return? According to the astrological world, it takes Saturn 29 years to return to the same place it was at your birth. It’s during this phase of Saturn’s Return that we go through a period of testing, questioning, shifting and evolving that ultimately ends with the dust settling and you emerging with a new perspective, goals and course in life. It’s supposedly this first Saturn Return that is the most difficult because it coincides with the firm end of childhood and entry into adulthood.

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Whether you’re into astrology or not, I think that there is something to be said about this bridge between your 20’s and 30’s and how you navigate that.

I turned 28 several months ago and since then my life has felt a bit unsettled and has thrown some pretty serious ups and downs my way. Coupled with the fact that my body just doesn’t seem as young as it used to in some ways (hangovers!? aches and pains!?!? WTF!?!), I’m pretty darn sure that I’m in the throes of my Saturn’s Return! I’m never too shy about letting you in on what’s going on in my life, so I thought I’d share that things are seemingly a little wonky over in my neck of the woods right now.

I found this great Saturn Return Survival Guide over on Galadarling.com that I thought I’d share with you. While these lessons and learnings seem to be particularly pertinent to me right now, I think we can all appreciate the wisdom they hold.

Never compare yourself to anyone else.

No matter what stage you’re at right now, that is the exact place you should be. We all move, grow & mature at different times, but that doesn’t make any of us better or worse than one another. Someone may have their career all figured out but their relationships are a mess, while you might have your spirituality on lock but haven’t learned to save any money yet. It’s okay. You’ll get there. Take it one day at a time.

Take responsibility for your thoughts & actions.

I say this over & over & over, but now is REALLY the time to put it into action! You will never be in control of your life or your emotions until you start to own up to everything you think & everything you do.

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FINALLY! I’m 100% Natural.

Here’s the thing: I absolutely LOVED having colored hair. I thought it enhanced my skintone and eye color and allowed me to show off my unique texture in a really great way. Thing is, over the past few months, I really and I mean really started to miss my natural hair color.

The anxiety started to plague me in my sleep (y’all know I get weird hair anxiety dreams) and I started to think about how gray hair is probably just around the corner for me (le sigh). Each day that passed, I started to hate the little straggling blonde curls and even pulled out the scissors and cut a few off myself. When I saw the damaged ends after my most recent adventure in straightening, I new that it was time to cut it off.

Sitting down in Marie’s chair, I explained that I just wanted the blonde gone.

“You’re going to be able to see your scalp, you know,” she explained.

“I know. Just cut it.”

And cut it she did.

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The result was shorter hair than I’ve EVER had before, but I’m absolutely enamored with my natural texture AND color. As I said earlier, I loved having colored hair, but there’s no question that it is a chemical process that altered the texture and integrity of my curls. I definitely fell off on the care front, for some reason short hair doesn’t seem as though it needs as much deep conditioning and pampering as long curls (although this is probably not at all true.)

Knowing me and my whims of style, I will certainly be back to color sometime in the future, but for now that I’m back to fully natural, my hair is softer and more shiny than I can remember!!

In Which I Straightened My Hair (???????)

If there is one person that shouldn’t go messing around with my hair, it’s DEFINITELY ME. I am absolutely the WORST when it comes to experimentation, but for some reason I just can’t seem to resist it!

Case in point: a few weekends ago, I woke up with a craving to straighten my hair. I mean, it’s been YEARS since I’ve done this myself (and last time I almost broke my neck in the process), so I guess I was due for a bit of adventure.

I rummaged around my natural hair goodies and remembered that Motions had sent me a sample of their new Straight to Finish line! I popped open the box and not only was the whole product set in there, but ALSO a handy-dandy little flat-iron! How serendipitous indeed!

So I washed and conditioned my hair with their products. There’s actually only a leave-in (no conditioner), which made me nervous, but whatever—I was on a M.I.S.S.I.O.N.!

First things first, I sat beneath my hooded dryer and let my hair dry 85% of the way through. Then I dug out my comb attachment for the blow dryer and worked it through my curls.

At this point you might be asking yourself a very, very, important question:

Cass, do you even have enough hair to blow dry it straight!???

The answer is no, not really. But I worked it out.

Well, kinda.

The result was one of the more ridiculous looks I’ve ever, EVER seen on my head.

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So, yea. That happened.

Then I proceeded to smooth on the Motions Straight Finish Sealer, aka heat protectant, a CRUCIAL step. Ever since I had to cut of 10 inches of heat damage once upon a time, we do not mess around without heat protectant!

Then there was the flat-iron. Almost immediately I was ready to be done. It’s that SMELL, ya know??? My hair wasn’t burning or anything, it just smelled…. straightened. It is a scent (stank odor?) I do not miss.

After about 30 minutes, I was through my entire head and the result was………..less than appealing.

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I tried to make it work by adding my side part back and using some styler to hold down the sides, only to realize that the only styler I have is actually for CURLS so almost immediately my hair started to revert back to its natural texture.

Within 30 minutes, I was in the shower washing my hair and getting it’s texture back!

So what did we learn??

  • First of all, the Motions Straight Finish products did a great job. My hair reverted immediately and there was no damage. Thumbs up on the product living up to its promises!
  • Ya girl needed a haircut. BADLY! When I got my last cut, I didn’t want to go TOO short, so the blonde ends were left on. It added a little pepper of color, but honestly it always kind of annoyed me. However, seeing the colored pieces in their straightened form realized just how dry and damaged they were. It was absolutely time for them to go!
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  • I love my natural hair. Simple as that!
  • Welcome back, curls!!  You were missed!

    Welcome back, curls!! You were missed!

The Politics of Being Friends with White People….and Latinos, Blacks, Jews, Indians and Generally Most Other Humans.

Yesterday Salon published an article titled “The Politics of Being Friends with White People“, which discussed one woman’s journey from childhood to adulthood and the evolution of her friendships through the lens of race.  The author, Brittany Cooper, claims that as a kid she was surrounded by lots of white peers and as such as many white friends, but as she grew older and found herself in more situations with persons of color, that her friendships shifted and she found herself with closer friends who were black.

The article caught my attention because, well, I have white friends.  In fact, I have a lot, of white friends. And many of my best friends are white.  Awhile back I explored my position at the intersection of race as a “black girl living in a white world” with the Harlem Shake Divide example.  This “Friends with White People” article brought up similar themes and caused me to reflect on the fact that I am a black girl who not only grew up with a lot of white friends, but still has a lot of white friends.

I decided that I wanted to craft a response to this article, but in doing so realized that a response wasn’t so —pun intended— black and white.  As I took an initial stock of my group of close friends, I realized that it was a pretty darn diverse group of kids and I realized that I didn’t want to respond to this article about the racial demographics of my friend group alone, I wanted to get my friend’s opinions on it as well!  I mean, hey—if I’m going to put our interracial friendships on blast, then they should have a say in it!

Within hours and after a series of text messages, emails and phone calls, six of my nearest and dearest had agreed to make individual cameos here on NaturalSelectionBlog to explore the ideas of race and friendships.

While the author Brittany Cooper suggests that she spends more time with one group over another, I selected this particular group of friends to feature, because they frequently find themselves at the intersection of two ethnically disparate worlds. Just like me. Which is why we’re probably friends in the first place. See? It all makes sense.

So over the coming weeks, I’m going to be giving the keyboard, and in some instances the microphone,  over to a few of my close friends.  Here, please let me introduce you to them!  In no particular order:

 

Dani

 
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My college roommate, international adventure buddy, and general all around badass. She was born in Argentina, raised in Atlanta and currently lives in Tennessee where she is studying to get her PhD in Educational Policy. After 5 years of working in public schools in DC and Brooklyn, she decided that the system sucks and she needs to change it. She is also a frequent commenter here on the ol’ blog.
 
 

Stephen

 
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Born and raised in the A, Stephen now lives in San Francisco where he manages one of the most popular restaurants in the city. As die-hard advocate of the importance of eating well with an emphasis on quality ingredients, Stephen shares a passion for writing and has started a media empire over here. Okay, real talk: our friendship was cemented because of a poll about whether or not people of color like grapefruit (DO YOU?). Two years later, our friendship is still thriving, only proving to me how impactful these discussions can be.
 
 

Bianca

 
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A college friend and sorority sister who I became extremely close to while studying abroad in France. Bianca was born and raised in Louisville, KY and is the daughter of two India-born parents (whose hospitality and cooking I will never, ever forget). Dr. Bianca is currently in residency at a hospital in Washington DC, which means that she sleeps little, works a lot and is very kind for letting me rope her into this dialogue. Because of her awesome curls, Bianca has also been featured on this blog before so you might recognize her.
 
 

Jeff a.k.a. Bubba

 
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A native San Franciscan, Jeff grew up in a diverse circle of friends that still exists today. As a Criminal Defense Lawyer, he is an outspoken advocate on racial justice issues. For those of you who have been to my events, you have likely seen him there because he has a stellar track record and knows more about natural hair that you might ever expect. Jeff is constantly disappointed in my lack of engagement with hip hop and soul, his two musical passions, and we speak frequently about how we can bridge the gap of our mutual Racial Music Expectations. So far we have honed in on vintage Brazilian and his participation in this project.
 
 

Paloma

 
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Pal and I have been roommates for going on six (!) years now in San Francisco. Growing up half-Brazilian in the suburbs of Boston, Paloma was exposed to both an international network of family and a school demographic seriously lacking in ethnic and economic diversity. As a queer woman, Pal often talks about living within these two worlds and coming to a place of balance between them herself. As a school administrator, Pal is incredibly insightful about diversity within relationships and communities at all levels.
 
 

Phallon

 
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Phallon and I have been friends literally since the day I was born (she beat me by three days). We grew up together in a small suburb of Minneapolis, MN that the census lists as 94% white. Phallon brings not only this understanding about the ethnic make up in which we grew up, but also the need and ability to establish community of color. After an inspiring 90-minute conversation about this very topic just last night, I’m so excited to welcome her voice to this conversation!
 
 
So there you have it, friends: my friends. As I mentioned, you’ll be seeing a feature from each one of them in the coming weeks as we discuss and explore this conversation of interracial friendships and the roles they’ve played in our lives. Here we go!

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