Thursday, March 10, 2016

HIIT Fit Fun

One of my 2016 Resolutions was to increase my workouts and to more formally mix up my regime. For two years I did barre and only barre 5 times a week. This was immensely effective, in no small part because I simply fell in love with barre and finally found an exercise I simply wanted to do all the time. And it did make me stronger, leaner, and more flexible than I'd ever been before. I weighed roughly the same, but 6 months after having Cora I'd lost inches all over my body and was a pants size smaller than before I got pregnant with her. All because of barre.

But now I think I need to mix it up. I started running last year and while I still don't enjoy it, I can do it, something that has yet to not surprise me each time I step on a treadmill and bang out 3.5 miles at a 9:15 pace. Before last year I'd never run more than a mile before. Again, I think it's mostly due to barre and just being much stronger and lighter than I've been in the past, though I think teaching has increased my cardiovascular health because I have to talk the entire way through my 75 minute class and that definitely gets my heart pumping. Barre also made me interested in yoga and I've flirted with passes at different studios over the past 2.5 years, ultimately really connecting with the dynamic vinyasa flow classes and bikram hot yoga classes. I want a work out and while I believe in the power of yin and restorative yoga, at the end of the day, if I've carved an hour out of my day and the $15-20 out of my pocket, I want to be challenged. I want to shake and sweat and walk out with my endorphins soaring.

In January I decided that my ideal was barre 3x a week (teaching 1-2x and being a student 1-2x, depending on my teaching schedule), yoga 1x, and running 1x. I've settled on a Sunday 8 a.m. Bikram class that I just love. It's the same flow every week, which I think would get old if it was my regular workout, but for a once a week "check in" it's perfect. I slip out of the house before anyone is awake and spending 80 sweaty minutes in a 105 degree room with pounding music and then come home to a happy house just finishing up breakfast with everyone ready to jump into whatever we're doing next that day. It's become a sacred part of my week.

Running was my hang up. I could go run at the Y, and I did, but it's boring and it's more of a mental exercise than a physical one to get myself to finish all 3.5 miles. I ran in the wild once and decided that is definitely not for me- I need a treadmill telling me precisely how far I've gone and how far I have yet to go; running around our neighborhood was a million times harder and I came home after half the distance, totally annoyed at my lack of commitment.

Last week a friend posted about her Orangetheory workout on facebook. I was intrigued by the idea of a group class involving high intensity cardio intervals and weights. It offered a free first class, so I decided to join her on Sunday at 1:00, even though I'd just done my hot yoga that morning and had never done HIIT and the thought of anything boot-campish makes me freeze indecisively between wanting to both curl up in the fetal position and run very fast the other way. But I went and OMG I LOVED it. I love group classes- they're so motivating for me and I push myself so much harder and have so much fun when I'm in them. And OTF gave me the opportunity to do that while lifting heavier weights- something I never do- and pushing my cardio- something I have to force myself to do- in a fun, fast, seriously effective way. Plus, you wear a heart rate monitor the whole class that tracks your heart rate (duh) and calories burned on a big screen overhead that flashes whatever color "zone" you're in- reminding you to pick it up, or warning you that you should maybe back off. And at the end, you get this wonderful little chart and you KNOW how I feel about a good chart.

I want to go back just to get more (and I did, on Tuesday night).

Orangetheory did two things- it let me know that barre has done a really good job of getting me in good overall shape, which was affirming as someone who both loves and teaches it. I was able to keep up on all the cardio and my strength work was solid, though I definitely found some holes (like the chest flies with heavy weights; I only use 1 lb. weights in my barre class and we don't have a bench so WHOAH were those hard for me; I was shaking and had to keep taking breaks for water/breathing) and I got to use equipment we just don't have in the studio (like bosus, TRX bands, benches, ab rollers, and more). We didn't run as far overall as I usually do, but oh my goodness, we ran so much harder. Intervals at high inclines, alternating speeds between your base pace, push pace, and all-out pace. I've never set my treadmill on a 9.5 before and holy crap I thought my legs might fall off and I had some real concerns about what would happen if my legs turned to jelly and I flew off to hit the rowers behind me, but then the 30 seconds was up and we were back to base pace for 2 more minutes and I felt amazing. OTF also affirmed that classes like barre really have something unique to offer. The ab and core work in barre is second to none, as is the strengthening of the supporting muscles and the stretching, but seriously, the core work- the 2 minute plank "challenge" at the end of OTF was like a cool down from the various (much longer and much harder) plank series I do in my class every week.

So it was really fun. I'm hoping to go every week, eliminating my plodding treadmill runs and vastly increasing my cardio and strength work. On Saturday it will be my one year anniversary of teaching my first barre class. It's been an incredible opportunity and journey and I'm so glad I spent the last year really focusing on increasing my barre skills and learning various moves to mix up my classes (I write a whole new class every time I teach). But it's time to branch out a bit and I'm excited to have found something new to do that I think will compliment my barre work and yoga release.

Have any of you tried it? Anyone have any other favorite workouts they're doing now? Group or home options? I also have a friend obsessed with Zyn22 (not sure that's a chain, but apparently it's like SoulCycle)- has anyone done that? I did a spin class once, in 2005, and I hated it so much it's the only group class I have ever up and left before it was done. As a people pleaser who always feels like people are watching her- when intellectually I know of course they are not- the idea of up and leaving a group class is insane and shows a level of desperation I have never reached since. I mean, I nearly passed out in my first barre class and didn't even consider backing out. But I also wasn't in as good of shape then and it's entirely possible I was doing it all wrong, so I suppose I could give it another try. I never thought I'd do yoga, run, or ballet either and that's pretty much my athletic life now.

Also, I'm branching out my athletic apparel because the support tanks I adore for barre don't work so well to hold my 32D chest in place while running all out on a treadmill at Orangetheory. I'm really liking layering looser tanks over a sports bra, and having an excuse to buy more workout clothes. The GapFit line is a new favorite, particularly since it's 40% off right now, but any other faves beyond Athleta and Lululemon. Nothing at Athleta fits me as well as I want it to and while Lulu's prices are worth it for me for my barre teaching gear, I'm looking to branch out for my alternative fitness wear.


  1. I like a lot of the same workouts you do and I love spinning.

    Also fabletics! Kate hudsons line. I'll email you a referral link. The clothes are a lot like lulu but what cheaper. And they come in the mail.

  2. I like spinning, too - you can dial resistance up or down and so the whole group can have different fitness levels, but all do the same workout.

    Whenever I read your posts I think: God, I gotta get out of this law firm and get a real job that lets me exercise again!

  3. I'm a DD, so I really love Lululemon's Ta Ta Tamer, because it's sized liked a proper bra. That said, it isn't that cute for layering, so I tend to wear it under a workout shirt with short sleeves. I also like Nike's Pro Hero ( for the same reason, and it has a cross back and is way cuter, so good for layering under tanks.

    All that said, I've heard really good things about Oiselle (, although I don't own any yet.

  4. The lulu tata tamer cannot be beat!

  5. Ahhhhhh! I'm so excited that you tried OTF and loved it! They are just opening a branch where I live and I signed up months ago for discounted unlimited passes! Next week is the grand opening and I can't wait to start! I started doing Barre classes about a year ago after reading your posts about it. I loved it, but unfortunately the only location in my town is way too far away and doesn't have good class times. I'm sad that I had to give it up, but I'm really looking forward to trying OTF- and this post made me confident that I'm going to LOVE it! =)

    Also, I've also got huge "ladies" and think the "Moving Comfort: Maia Bra" is best for high intensity activity!