Archive for June, 2014

Use the Force at FORM{yoga}

The teacher, Mandy, and I after class.

The teacher, Mandy, and I after class.

Studio: Form{Yoga}

Class: Use the Force

Class description from website: CHALLENGE YOUR PRACTICE AS WE EXPLORE SOME JEDI-MIND TRICKS….JUST KIDDING (KINDA). A more challenging and energizing practice, this strengthening class is for students looking to explore and expand their practice. In this class we will build upon our best alignment to explore some of the more advanced postures of yoga. This class is vinyasa-based and may include short tutorials (aka Jedi mind-trick tutorials) on arm balances, inversions, deep backbends, and other gravity defying postures. The class will also include modifications and a range of options for students to work towards these postures at their current level.  You will burn calories (tons of them). You will sweat. You will work your core. You will challenge yourself.  You will transFORM your practice. Please bring a strong understanding of the fundamentals of the asanas and unpack your humility as you will experience a more intense and challenging practice.  Bring water and a small towel to soak up the sweat. A regular vinyasa yoga practice recommended but not required.

form store front

Location: 2752 E Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

IMG_7964Cost: $15 drop in but they have specials for new students.  Get to class 10 minutes early so you can fill out paperwork and pay for class.

What to Bring: Yoga mat, water, and towel.  Cubbies are provided for you belongings

What to wear: Comfortable clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are never the best option for yoga as you never know what poses will give the person behind you or next to you an impromptu peep show.  You are required to remove your shoes in the reception area.

Class size: Small.  There were 11 people including me.

Lower level studio.

Lower level studio.

Props used: Yoga blocks and blankets (all provided by the studio.)

Volume and type of music: Low volume.  Mandy calls her playlists “an eclectic blend of genres” and that is the perfect description.

Impact: Low impact.

Modifications: Any good yoga instructor will always give modifications.  Mandy gave several options for most of the poses and we always had the option to go to child’s pose.

Format of class: This 60 minute class was exactly like the class description on the website.  It was a nonstop class that focused on building strength…although we didn’t get to the Jedi mind tricks this time.

We began class in child’s pose (the calm before the storm) and then jumped right in.  We warmed up with several vinyasas (this word simply refers to sequential movements that interlink different postures to form a continuous flow) and were given the option for additional chaturangas (basically a triceps push up).  The first 30 minutes (give or take…I lost track of time) was mainly standing poses.  We were given several modifications for each pose, from a beginner option to an advanced option.  We visited a few arm balances, again with options for different levels of practice, and eventually took our mats to the wall to practice inversions (upside down poses).  During this period, Mandy spent time with the class newcomers, teaching tripod headstand, while most of her other students worked on handstands.  We finished our practice with the option to do bridge pose or full wheel pose (back bend) and then ended class with a much needed savasana (corpse pose).

Encouraging atmosphere at FORM.

Encouraging atmosphere at FORM.

What to expect:

  • A great strength/resistance training workout.  Yoga incorporates lunges, squats, push ups and so many other bodyweight exercises that are excellent for building strength.
  • A guided practice that you can customize to fit your personal level of yogi-ness.
  • An opportunity to practice arm balances in new ways.
  • A judgement-free atmosphere.
  • Hands on adjustments.  I find this to be a necessary part of any yoga practice so you can get a full understanding of certain postures.  If you don’t like people touching you, I would tell the teacher before class.  This applies to any yoga practice.
  • A laid back teacher who maintains a fun and all-inclusive atmosphere.
  • A lot of poses accompanied by instruction and clarification.  Mandy packed a lot into 60 minutes but I never felt rushed or pressured to keep up with anyone’s elses pace.
  • Some sanksrit when referring to different poses, but also fun names you may not be familiar with.  For instance, we were given the option to do baby crow, teenage crow, or big boy/big girl crow.  Definitely not a stuffy studio.

Who should take this class:

  • People who have a basic understanding of proper form when practicing yoga.
  • People who are looking to build strength.
  • People looking to enhance their inversion practice.
  • This class is not for beginners but there are several beginner classes on the schedule.

I was lucky enough to have my mom in town with me this week so she was able to come to class!  After retiring from her position as a cantor two years ago, she went through yoga teacher training and became an RYT-200.  At the age of 68 she regularly practices yoga and teaches classes so I asked for her take on the class.  I now give you my mom’s two cents about the class:

“Mandy provided a well thought out flow with a lot of poses that had clear and concise instruction.  I didn’t find myself having to look up all the time to see what a pose was, or how to get there.  We were given freedom to modify poses when necessary.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable practice.”

From left to right: Me, Mandy, my mom!

From left to right: Me, Mandy, my mom!

Thank you to my the owner of Form and my instructor, Mandy, for a fun and energizing practice!

Even the bathroom is encouraging at FORM.

Even the bathroom is encouraging at FORM.


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Blast Full Body at Blast 900

Flexing with my instructor, Bri, after class.

Flexing with my instructor, Bri, after class.

Studio: Blast 900 Buckhead

Class: Blast Full Body, Tuesday 4:30pm

Class description from website: BLAST900 is a fat shredding, muscle toning, personalized group exercise class in which people of every fitness level alternate between cardio on a treadmill and strength training on the floor, each working at their own pace to reach THEIR maximum effort. Our specific formula for creating our class structure is what guarantees each client THE ULTIMATE WORKOUT and will forever change how you look, feel and perform.

Blast entranceLocation: 56 E Andrews Dr NW #11, Atlanta, GA 30305 (Second floor)
They also have locations in Midtown and Dunwoody

Phone: 404.841.5430

Cost: First class is complimentary.  Single class is $28.  They offer packages and memberships as well.

Blast cubbies


What to Bring: Yourself.  They provide cubbies for you to store your belongings while in class.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are fine, but I always encourage you to wear bike shorts in a fitness class like this because you are on your feet, on your back, in a plank, jumping, running, and many other things that might lead to an unsolicited peep show.  Comfortable athletic shoes (cross trainers, running shoes).

Class size: Small.  There were 12 people including me.  Range of ages.

Props used: Step 360, resistance band, dumbbells, treadmills (gruelingly wonderful treadmills that both incline AND decline).  The props change from class to class.  They have a whole closet full of fun fitness equipment.


Blast Tread BigBlast props


Volume and type of music: Music was loud enough to motivate you, but not loud enough to drown out the instructor.  Top 40, upbeat.

Impact: Low to high impact.  You control the intensity of your workout.

Modifications: We were given modifications throughout the class.  The instructor, Bri, told me ahead of time to pick the intensity that I was most comfortable with.  When we were on the treadmills, she always gave three speed options, one always included a walking speed.

Blast Tread DisplayFormat of class: The class was 60 minutes of circuit training.  Prior to starting the class, Bri showed me how to work the treadmill and how to get on and off the treadmill while it was in motion since they stay on for the entire class.  Since there were more people than treadmills we were split into two groups.  One group started on the treadmills and the other group started on the floor with the props.  Both groups warmed up: treadmill group did some low speed intervals and the floor group did some dynamic movements on the 360.  After a few minutes of warmup, the treadmill group ramped it up to intervals at higher speed and various inclines, while the group on the floor did some chest and ab exercises.  After 5 minutes, the groups switched — one went from treadmills to floor, the other from floor to treadmills.  We rotated for the rest of class in 5 minute bouts so that both groups were on the treadmills four times, and the floor four times.  Each round on the floor focused on a different muscle group, eventually covering all of the major muscle groups (chest, back, arms, legs, abs) and each round on the treadmill was different (sprints, running, jogging, lunges, and walking using incline and decline.)  As I said before, we were always given a walking speed option and there was no pressure to do the suggested speed.  I played with the speeds the entire class.  We ended class with a 5 minute cool down.

What to expect:
Expect a ‘fitness concierge’ to fill up your water bottle, change your towel, and wipe up your sweat.
Expect a class filled with different levels.
Expect to get a complete total body workout including all the major muscle groups and your heart! (Cardio)

Who should take this class:
People who are new to strength training and aren’t sure how to perform exercises using fitness-related props.
People who are training for anything from 5Ks and 10Ks to marathons and triathlons.
Experienced exercisers. Every Blast class is different so you will get a change up in your workout each time.
People who get bored with weight lifting. You won’t have time to get bored because you are constantly changing exercises and moving around. It was a fast 60 minutes.

Professional advice:
Put your blinders on! You will be surrounded by people of all fitness levels, so just remember, it is NOT a competition. As with any workout, you should push yourself reasonably beyond your comfort zone, not someone else’s.
Be aware of your form and posture while on the treadmill. Shoulders back, belly button in, chin up, abs engaged. This is a perfect opportunity to practice posture!
Don’t use dumbbells that are too heavy. You want to use weights that will challenge you, but not weights that will make you sacrifice form. Fortunately the Blast instructors are sticklers about form and will correct you if you are doing something dangerous.
Don’t feel pressure to adjust your treadmill to the speed, or interval, your instructor calls out. Their suggestions are just that, suggestions.  The instructor will not yell at you if you are using a lower speed or interval.

Thank you to my instructor,Bri, for a thorough and motivating butt-whooping!

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