February 25, 2016

Class Review: Burn Dallas

Have you ever put something fun on your to-do list, but then it stayed there so long that it stopped being appealing? That’s what happened to me with Burn Dallas, a new-ish fitness studio in Preston Hollow.

Image credit: Burn Dallas

I first heard about Burn Dallas three or four months ago, when I took a spin class with one of my favorite (now-former) Flywheel instructors, Mark. He gave me a rundown of some of the cool new openings in the area, and Burn was actually a place that he was teaching. I immediately knew I wanted to go, no matter what kind of workout it was, since I love Mark’s special brand of motivation and inspiration (#Markspiration), and so I didn’t bother to ask for many details.

But in the last few months, as I’ve scheduled fitness classes using ClassPass, Burn Dallas was always available. That didn’t make me think any less of it, as Mile High Run Club in New York seemed to have plenty of availability and yet was one of my favorite workouts of all time! But the fact that I could get into a Burn Dallas class anytime I wanted to meant that it wasn’t something I had to plan my schedule around. (In contrast, whenever an early morning Bodybar Dallas class comes up, I cancel whatever other class I have scheduled so I can go to Bodybar. It’s a great class and it’s really rare that I can get into it!) For Burn Dallas, I kept it on the back burner as an option, and never tried it.

Until this week, when a coworker suggested going. (Pro tip: if you are a new client at Burn Dallas, you get not just one but two free classes – so snag those before you use your three per month that ClassPass allows.) Unlike me, my coworker had actually looked into what the workout entailed – and he said that it sounded like Orangetheory with the addition of a stationary bike. I love Orangetheory, but three stations is already a lot to switch between – now we were adding a fourth? I was skeptical. We signed up for the 5:30am class, which meant quite an early wakeup call! But after experiencing the workout, I can say it’s well worth it.

There were only five people in the class, so we split into two groups – half went to “cardio” first, and the other half stayed in “weights.” “Cardio meant that you alternated between the treadmill and the rower in short intervals, and presumably some classes you’d also use the spin bikes. But when I saw the workout, I wasn’t impressed. There were a lot of intervals of just 45 seconds or 1 minute each, and that seemed to me to be too short. Wouldn’t I spend the whole time switching back and forth instead of actually getting in a good workout? Turns out that I desperately needed those few seconds in between the machines to try to sneak a quick breath – these intervals were tough!

Our first “block” (they didn’t call it that but I’ll use Orangetheory parlance) was twelve minutes, which consisted of a two minute warmup jog on the treadmill, 90 second row (moderate), 90 second run (moderate), 60 second row (all-out), 60 second run (all-out), and then repeat. As with Orangetheory, we used heart rate monitors that showed our intensity on monitors, and you tried to be in certain zones for each activity. I also tried to move from one machine to the next quickly, to avoid resting too long, and the fancy treadmills made it really easy to stop/start without losing your time/distance. That’s always been a pet peeve of mine at other studios – that it auto-times out, or that it’s not easy to start where you left off.

While the heart rate monitors and switching from activity to activity reminded me of Orangetheory, there was one big difference. Unlike Orangetheory the instructor wasn’t calling out what to do when – there were various signs telling you the workout plan, and then it was up to you to follow it by watching the clock on your particular piece of cardio equipment. This struck me as a little bit strange – if we’re all doing the same workout and it’s time-based, shouldn’t we all change at the same time, and couldn’t the instructor call that out? But since there were no breaks scheduled in, this meant that you could take a breather when you needed it and then resume where you left off. I came to appreciate the break, and the fact that there wasn’t an instructor telling me to hurry up and get back to it, even though I know some days I would take advantage of that and not get as great of a workout 🙁

This is why I like to stand in the front of the room for classes – even more accountability when everyone could potentially be watching!

And speaking of not being self-motivated: the fact that the workout was all mostly on paper really bothered me at first. The instructor was really just there to demonstrate the exercises and then occasionally call out how many minutes were left in the block. However, she didn’t really provide too many form tips or motivation. You could really do the same thing by following some Pinterest workouts and then using a heart rate monitor to make sure you were alternating your heart rate zones properly. For me, the commitment of a class helps me push harder than I would on my own, but I prefer when an instructor is cheering me on or otherwise motivating me.

Back over on the weights side of the room, we had a circuit of four exercises using various equipment – some dumbbells, some TRX, some cable pulleys, some body weight. We did 10-15 reps of each exercise, then moved onto the next one. When we finished the circuit, we went back up to the top and started again. The first circuit was something like 15 pushups, 15 weighted squats, 15 TRX rows, and a 30 second plank. I liked that you could go at your own pace, though I secretly took pleasure that since I’ve been working a lot on my pushups lately, I could bang out my 15 very quickly and with no trouble at all, even when I got to rounds 3 and 4! Made me feel powerful.

I can do 35 full body pushups before I want a break. So maybe not Chuck Norris level, but still pretty great!

In all, the class consisted of a (rather weak) 2 minute warm up, then two 12 minute blocks (alternating weights and cardio), and two 10 minute blocks (again alternating weights and cardio). No cooldown, but you could stretch on your own. I was a little bummed that there wasn’t a guided stretch, since I am super lazy about stretching if someone isn’t leading me to do it! But as you’ve probably noticed, the need for self-discipline was rather a common theme with the Burn workout.

Where Burn excelled, though, was in its equipment. Although an outwardly unassuming location in a strip mall, all of the equipment inside the studio was absolutely top notch, and seemingly almost brand new. The dumbbells were gleaming, the rowers were really nice Concept 2s, and the treadmills were a fancy top-of-the-line brand that made it really easy to stop/resume your workout in between intervals. Plus, the treadmills had fancy picture screens where you could see a Google Street View of where you were “running”! I want to play with that feature more – I have never gotten to use a machine that had that feature before.

In all, while Burn missed the mark for me on motivation, the equipment and the workout itself was awesome – I got super sweaty and feel like I got a great total body workout. You have to be motivated to push yourself rather than have someone else either yell at you or cheer you on, but I can assume that responsibility in exchange for getting a great workout – and at amazing ClassPass prices.

So maybe next time I won’t write off the unknown before I try it, just because it’s languished on my to-do list for so long? Here’s hoping.


2 thoughts on “Class Review: Burn Dallas”

  1. Loved your review- I do have to say that in my first Burn class (I just took one the other day for the first time) the instructor definitely did call out instruction the entire time and helped with form. She was super hands-on. Maybe your instructor wasn’t as good at that? I am going to try orangetheory next 🙂

    1. It definitely varies by instructor! I just left Dallas this week for good and now I miss Burn a lot… it’s really my favorite of the classes in the Dallas area, for how tough it is and how accomplished I feel when I’m done.

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