July 20, 2013

Workouts I’m Loving: Brit’s Buns of Steel and Physique 57

It’s been almost a week since I ran the Boilermaker – though I finally posted my race report yesterday. Can you believe it took me 82 minutes to run but 93 minutes to write? Now you see why I am so slow on race reports, though I am absolutely determined to get San Diego’s written before the end of July. (Hey, isn’t that what July is all about – catching up on the things I’ve been neglecting??)

Anyway, it’s been so weird going about my normal life (well, except for always standing and never sitting at work) but not working out. I usually work out five or six days a week, and at least one of those is usually a two-a-day! Working out is a huge stress reliever for me, and as Elle Woods so astutely pointed out:

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!
Image source: Youtube

So without exercise and with an aching neck back? I have not been a very happy camper – to the point where I warned some coworkers not to take it personally and that hopefully I’d be back to my normal sunny self after I got to see a physical therapist. Well, I haven’t seen a physical therapist yet – my appointment is now scheduled for Monday – but I did get to go to the doctor on Thursday, and I was quite excited with the results.

After examining my previous medical records and taking a whole bunch of x-rays (in which the poor x-ray intern had to deal with my unexercised butt hanging out of the stupid hospital gown) (cannot wait to track stats on that link and see how many pervy people clicked through thinking it was a picture), the doctor concluded that while I do have some herniated discs, it’s not at all uncommon for my age. Say what?? He told me that if you took MRIs of any desk workers in their early 30s (okay, so slightly older than me), about 80% of them would have herniated discs… but that most people don’t get MRIs because they aren’t in pain. After pressing at various points on my spine and me not feeling any pain (and no, I wasn’t on meds at the time), he believes that the sole causes of my pain are poor ergonomics and lots of stress – which are causing my upper back muscles to get ridiculously tense. With a round of steroids for a week (yippee! Time to find a marathon and BQ!), muscle relaxants every night (uh oh, Fun Laura is going to turn into Zombie Laura at dusk), and physical therapy, he thinks I’ll be all better in no time. So… yay?

I peppered the doc with questions about exercise, but he wouldn’t really commit to anything, telling me that I should take that up with the physical therapist (whom he’s worked with before for a lot of spine injuries and who seems to know her stuff). So today, I decided to cautiously try a legs-only workout from my friend Brit. She was teaching a kickboxing class on Thursday that I was really sad to miss out on (her kickboxing classes are killer), so it was nice to get in with one of her great Pinterest workouts – and this one didn’t require any equipment at all! Buns of Steel here, I come! (PS – check out my No Equipment Workouts board on Pinterest for more workouts you can do anywhere, anytime.)

I did two rounds, but I made a lot of modifications to minimize impact and keep it safe for my neck. Instead of flying side to side lunges, I simply did regular side lunges. Instead of back lunges with knee up jumps, I just brought my knee up without touching the floor. And for the leg raise series, I really did my own thing.

While in the Hamptons a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity via Fitmapped to take a Physique 57 class at their Bridgehampton location. As I posted about a few weeks ago, Fitmapped is sponsoring an awesome summer Fitcrawl where you get discounts at featured fitness studios and every review you write gets you entered into a contest for cool prizes! This week was supposed to be the week that I did my own ultimate Fitcrawl, trying out a different class every day in New York City, but my stupid injury put a huge damper on that. Physique 57 was the only class I ended up getting to try, but the experience has stuck with me well beyond that one class.

First of all, in case I didn’t already say this enough, going out to the Hamptons was incredible – and I am so grateful to Blake for graciously hosting me, Ashley, and Theodora out there for the 4th of July. One thing that I was very pleasantly surprised by while out there was how Hamptons-esque the studios out there seemed to be. Flywheel was located right on a pier, and while I didn’t get to try it, I heard that Soulcycle is in a barn! Physique, meanwhile, had a super-welcoming patio that looked like the perfect spot to wait for class.

Physique 57 Bridgehampton Patio
Perhaps if Blake is ever still in Texas and I want to go lounge in the Hamptons, I can just hang out on the Physique 57 patio?

I headed through into the open air lobby, had an easy time checking in, and then got to explore the beautiful, airy space. There were three studios leaning off the main hallway, and I could see how it might get crowded in between classes, but it looked like all three studios had different start/end times – smart move to reduce traffic. There were cubbies rather than lockers to put your stuff, which isn’t really secure, but the whole vibe seemed to be friendly and welcoming, and I think it’d be really unlikely that someone would steal your stuff while you’re in a class. (Let’s face it, the $36/class pricetag isn’t really targeting a clientele that has to resort to theft for income.) I really loved the whitewashed walls and oak accents – it felt very farmhouse-y and quaint!

Physique 57 Bridgehampton Hallway

Some of the studios had gleaming wood floors, but the one I was in instead had firm blue carpeting, with a ballet barre around the perimeter and a playground ball, stretchy band, and mat at every place. Floor to ceiling mirrors were in abundance, ensuring that you could check your form from every angle. Time to wear your cutest outfit! 🙂

Physique 57 Bridgehampton Studio

Our instructor for the class was a gorgeous blonde who somehow reminded me of Gwyneth Paltrow. But she wasn’t as innocent as she looked! The class started with us standing on the floor, using light (3lb and 5lb) dumbbells for some basic strength moves. This is definitely a class that takes the approach of “light weights, lots of reps” – and while I usually prefer “heavy weights, few reps,” my muscles were totally shaking! We had some great upbeat music while we were working out, and I was very pleased to see right off the bat that the instructor was counting on the beat. It drives me nuts when instructors can’t stay on the beat for reps, particularly in a ballet-based barre class!

I’d like to stop and interject something I really appreciate now but did not pay much attention to at the time. While we stretched for a few minutes before the class began, our instructor asked anyone with injuries or who was a first-timer to raise our hands. Instead of having us call out our special situation, she went around to each person to quietly ask what was up. I thought that was so nice! Being injured now, I don’t really want to have to shout out “my neck is broken!” in a class when an instructor asks about injuries.

Anyway, from the weight work we moved on to the barre and the ball. Ohhhhh the ball. It was a very innocent-looking playground ball differentiated only from what I used to play Foursquare with by it’s white color and blue Physique 57 logo. (Aww, it matched the decor – love!) But that love quickly turned to hate when we did our umpteenth leg raise while trying to hold the ball in the crux of our bent leg between the thigh and calf. I like to blame the fact that the Reebok pants I was wearing were not “grippy” material for why my ball kept falling out and flying all over the place, but let’s be honest, it was really just the fact that my leg was shaking like crazy and completely out of control.

Finally, we hit the floor for some mat work – and here was where my legs really died. Because I was now doing everything wrong, the instructor kept coming over to give me modifications. Instead of feeling bad, though, I noticed that she started offering up the adjustments to the whole class – and many were taking her up on it. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling – this little blonde sure knows how to give us a good workout!

I was really impressed with how the instructor walked around the room to give everyone great corrections, because this is definitely the type of class where a small form adjustment can make all the difference in what muscle groups are working. And work they did! Despite the low-impact nature of the class, I was sweating like crazy from all the little isolated movements, and wondering how I would then get through the Flywheel workout I had planned with my friends next.

While the price tag is a little bit more than I normally like to spend, I really loved the class and would definitely go back as a treat. It was such a great workout, and the atmosphere was just so much friendlier and more welcoming than I thought! As a bonus, while leaving the studio, I discovered that the little patio I had admired before played host to a number of vendors during the day – like a trunk show and a green juice company. Hooray for free samples!


There isn’t a Physique 57 in Dallas, and I am just really not a fan of Pure Barre, which at least in New York seems to attract kind of a snotty crowd where I felt completely out of place the entire time. However, after finishing Brit’s workout today, I tacked on a whole bunch of barre moves (clamshells, , leg extensions, calf raises, tondues, plies, and grand battements). My butt isn’t nearly as sore as it was from the actual Physique 57, but it was a good start. And I hear from my friend Ashley that they have some killer DVDs? I may need to check those out.

Either way, I am a happy camper having gotten at least a little bit of a workout in. I hope this heals soon!


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