Fitness Travel

Spin in The ‘Dam

Traveling through Europe for a month can be an exciting and exhilarating adventure. It can also be mentally and physically taxing – especially if you are like me and find comfort in routine. So two weeks into my European Freedom Tour (yes, that’s what I called it), I was getting the itch. 

Canals of Amsterdam

While I was in Paris (see Paris Spinning post here), I was able to spin almost every day. When I ventured into Belgium, however, there were no spin classes to be found. Now don’t get me wrong, running around Belgium was incredible, both Brussels and Bruges are electric cities, but there’s something about sitting next to strangers in a dark room and sweating your ass off while someone guides you one, two, one, two. 

Arriving in Amsterdam was just what I needed. Not only did I have friends that live there (yay familiar faces!) but one of them was a regular spin goer. AMEN! Through my research leading up to my trip, I had heard that Rocycle was a good studio not far from where I was staying. To have someone who frequents the studio affirm it is the best in the city (thanks Gabriella!), made me even more excited to try it. 

Rocycle 

With three studios in Amsterdam (and one soon to open in Utrecht in 2019), Rocycle is a spin haven with an endearing origin story. In what started in a KITCHEN (that’s right!) in 2015, has grown to a prominent fitness establishment in one of the most known cities in the world. See Rogier’s story here.

While in Amsterdam I attended classes at the City Center location. You can get your first 2 rides for only 18 Euros and individual classes are only 12 Euros each! This beautiful studio sits right along one of the city center canals AND it has a juice/smoothie bar where you can order drinks ahead of class and they’ll be all set for you when your sweat sesh is crushed. 

Vibe: Classes are structured very similarly to SoulCycle; beat-based, motivational, choreographed – and in English. Shoes are provided and they have Stages bikes which are top quality! The locker rooms have all the shower amenities you need with yummy Zenology products. 

Class: My first class on Monday with Luuk was fine. He used a lot of quick movements with significant speed and cuing was a little off. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of 80% being balls to the wall speed – but it may work for others so this is just my opinion. Aside from the style, Luuk was absolutely lovely. His attitude and motivational cues were PHENOM. He can really hit you to the core and make you feel the ride. Fun fact, he is also a stage performer outside of teaching spin, something I learned chatting with him after class – if anything, he’s a wonderful person to know. 

Tuesday I woke up early and crushed an 8AM class with Rowen. Oh. Em. Gee. SHE F’ING ROCKS. Motivation, counting the beat, “stage” presence – whatever it is, she had it. She introduced me to this AWESOME new drill called a Pyramid. Think alternating between a push in 3rd and a shift back for 8, 4, 2, 2, 4, 8. For those of you who take my class…you can thank her for this heart pumping move ;)! Lots of high energy movement and all the feels. If you are ever in Amsterdam…GO TO HER CLASS! I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

I obviously took advantage of the juice bar both days and was quite impressed by the guidance I received from the nice gentleman manning the bar. I explained what flavor I was looking for and he provided wonderful recommendations. Monday was the “Pro Juice” which had apple, fennel, lemon and probiotics. Great post-sweat fuel. On Tuesday, I was looking for something with more zing so went for “The Reset” which included grapefruit, cucumber, lemon, ginger, cayenne, and orange…YUM!

Vélo Amsterdam

While I did not attend any classes at this studio, I wanted to give it an honorable mention. Vélo Amsterdam is located in De Pijp, a very cool neighborhood bustling with restaurants and coffee shops. 

Classes run similarly to Rocycle in that they are choreographed beat-driven rides with an arms set. With each class, you receive complimentary spin shoes to ensure the ultimate riding experience, and in the fresh white & wood locker rooms you can find all your post-class shower needs. 

I truly appreciate when studios have an intro pack that includes two classes because honestly, you may not love the first instructor you take. But that doesn’t mean the studio isn’t great! Having a multi-intro pack allows the rider to experience the studio more like a regular and Vélo has not skipped a beat. Offering your first two classes for only 14 Euro (!!) and single classes for 12 Euro. I must say, the affordability of Amsterdam spin is ON.POINT.


Coffee Sidenote: If you do find yourself wandering De Pijp, please do yourself a favor and stop into Coffee & Coconuts. This coffee shop is a little slice of Heaven on Earth. Multiple floors with comfy seats for gathering with friends or working. Try the Lavender Coconut Milk Latté – it was divine.


In love and health.

Fitness Travel

Spinning in Paris

Some people throw a party. Others go out to dinner. So when my 32nd birthday came around this year, what did I do?? Bonjour Paris!

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After quitting my job of 10 years this past fall, it did not take long for me to return to the city that has captured my heart. This time around, I had different plans for my trip. Touring like a local is more my style and having hit all the big monuments 2 years ago (Tour Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, etc…) – I was ready to GET.MY.SPIN.ON.

Fitness? Travel? Music to my ears. The idea of experiencing indoor cycling classes in other countries had me bouncing with anticipation – and seriously organizing and reorganizing which workout outfits I would bring. (Sidenote – I am a TERRIBLE overpacker. Probably doesn’t help that I had to buy a separate dresser last month for my leggings and sports bras…woops!)

This year, my goal was to hit all five spin studios in the direct city limits and experience indoor cycling, à la français. Needless to say, the city did not disappoint.

Below you will find a breakdown of each studio, in order of when I attended. Enjoy!

  1. Kiwill Indoor Cycling

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Set in the 11thArrondissement de Paris (Roquette) right next to Le Marais, Kiwill is a delightful little studio with a crisp/natural feel hidden from the main street.

All the necessities are available in the locker room, including shower products by L:a Bruket. They provide shoes with each class and your first ride is FREE!

Overcoming jet lag, I took myself to a Tuesday 12:30P class with Emeric. He challenged the body with sprints galore. While it was a little difficult to hear him on the mic, it wasn’t too much of an issue as I only understood about 2% of what he was saying. Personal opinion, if you speak no French at all and aren’t a seasoned spinner – go to Dynamo instead (see more below).

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The class was similar to a SoulCycle with jumps, shifts, and pulses and the arm segment was a killer! Overall, I was happy with the class and felt I got in a good workout.

  1. Dynamo Cycling

Dynamo has four locations throughout the city; Opéra, Boétie, Oberkampf and Lafayette and each of them ROCKS! If you’re familiar with SoulCycle, you will feel right at home. Over the course of 45 minutes, your body will become one with the rhythm of the music. With movements ranging from sprints and climbs, to crunches and tapbacks, you are guaranteed to walk out of class reinvigorated – and sweaty! Oh and don’t forget the arm song where a 2kg dumbbell never felt so heavy 😉

Classes vary from 40-50 riders in size, depending on location, and while most rides are taught in French, there are English classes offered a couple times a week at the Opéra and Lafayette locations. If you’ve taken spin classes before, comprehension of the French language is not required. Ya, you may be behind a couple beats but just take a bike towards the back of the room and you’ll be just fine!

All locations offer full amenities including Malen & Goetz shower products and all the Bb hair styling goods you need. Shoes are offered with each class – a fitness traveler’s dream – and each studio is equipped with Schwinn bikes. Your first class is only 10Euro or if you’re a fitness fiend like myself, you can also get a 3 class beginners-pack for 45Euro (2 week expiration).

Opéra

Vibe: Crisp and natural – all white with wood floors and potted greens. Very small locker/shower area.

Class: Wednesday 12:15P with Karine did not disappoint. She had so much excitement and encouragement in her voice (while a lot of it was yelling it actually wasn’t unbearable) it really kept you honest with yourself.

Oberkampf

Vibe: Clean cut industrial – white with concrete floors and countertops, exposed structural columns and air ducts, and potted greens. There’s also a little seating area in the lobby with a juice fridge for post-class goodness.

Class: Thursday 7:30A class with John was packed and full of energy! If you’re looking for a fun and challenging arms track…John is your man. My muscles were burnnnning!

Boétie

Vibe: Clean and crisp – white with potted greens.

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Class: Saturday 11A Tyga vs. A$AP Rocky ride with Vince….FIIIIREEEE!! Not only did Vince have amazing energy, and a packed class, but the music was awesome and the choreography was both challenging and fun. My favorite class of the entire week!

Lafayette

Vibe: Most gorgeous entrance – down this cute courtyard that just screams…Welcome, I’m here for you.  Industrial/rustic vibe similar to Oberkampf. And of course, potted greens.

Class: Sunday 12P with Cyril. Good class and killer arms track – he had us holding our arms out straight for long periods of time! There were also small random interjections of English throughout the class which made me giggle.

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My favorite part of the entire experience was that each instructor, no matter where I was, hit us with the Droit, Gauche, Droit, Gauche (Right, Left, Right, Left). It made me smile every time. No matter where we are, in spin, we are one.

Let’s just say, if (when??) I lived in Paris, I would be here ALL the time! So, clip in and let the music take over your soul. Rayonnez!

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Sidenote: When searching indoor cycling studios in Paris, you may come across Let’s Ride. In February of 2018, Let’s Ride announced its merger with Dynamo Cycling to further extend its business and impact. More about the merger can be found here. Alors, if you come across Let’s Ride, it is now Dynamo Cycling – Lafayette.

Fitness Travel

Baxter – San Diego loves you!

Gaslight San Diego

Hi friends! Long time no talk – which I am seriously sorry about. As someone that is in public accounting, I tend to get a little crammed Jan-Mar but that means that come late March I am ready to get out and explore! This year, I was planning to go to Miami, sit in the sun and sweat it out at some local studios, but then I learned that it was the Ultra Music Festival (not my jam), pricing was through the roof, and clientele was more ‘spring break’ than it was zen relaxation. So I decided to pack my bag and travel cross country to San Diego, CA. Knowing that it wasn’t going to be sit by the beach and tan yourself weather, I wanted to explore the spin/avo toast community during my 2 days there. I hope you find some inspiration!

Rush Cycle

Originating in 2011, Rush Cycle opened its first studio in La Jolla, San Diego, CA. So it only made sense for me to pay Ian, the owner, and his crew a visit. While located right on La Jolla Boulevard, the studio offers an intimate, community driven setting and a rock-solid instructor team.

I popped into Paulina’s Friday afternoon class ready to get my legs moving and my mind lost in the music. Rush offers two styles of class: Rush and Interval. Friday’s class was a Rush Ride, which is driven by the beat of the music and incorporates full-body moves (think tap backs, push ups, crunches, etc…). To say the ride was heart pumping is an understatement. Paulina’s expert timing of queues, motivational words and #fire playlist kept my muscles guessing and my soul smiling.

I was able to catch-up with Paulina after class and she explained how all Rush Ride instructors are required to take an intensive 3-month training course, specific to, and originated by, Rush. This helps maintain a consistent, high quality ride regardless of which class you take. From what I experienced, the blood, sweat and tears….ok maybe not the blood and tears, but for sure the sweat, pays off for us in class.

I also had a pleasant conversation with Ian, who made it a point to welcome me personally, offer any assistance, and connect about my being from out of town. Brownie points, Mr. Owner. Well done! But honestly, after talking more with him, it didn’t surprise me. Ian is so passionate about being the outlet people need in their day. Their “me-time”, their “escape.” He mentioned that the culture of Rush is to make each rider’s day a little bit better from when they walked in. As someone who eventually would love to open her own studio one day (can’t believe I put that in writing!) it is that leadership I hope to replicate. Inspiring others, one ride at a time. That’s the dream, isn’t it!?

As with all rides, if you aren’t using spin shoes, you really aren’t getting the most out of your workout. Personal opinion – but true. What I fully appreciated was that Rush provides them for $1 if you don’t bring your own SPD compatible shoes. For a fitness-loving traveler who already packs (way) too many shoes as it is – THANK YOU!

Overall my experience at Rush was awesome! If I had one small asterisk, it would be that there were no showers – so make sure you plan for that if you are on the move after class. However, the close community vibes that radiate from all staff members, the top shelf studio lighting and sound system and the make-your-heart-pound classes put this on my list of “must visit” studios while in San Diego.

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Friday was an exhausting day. After a run around Mission Bay and a killer spin class at Rush, I am pretty sure I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow at 9P. Early to bed, early to rise! Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I woke up Saturday morning and made my way along the Mission Bay path, walking this time – my shins were on fiiire from the day before. Note to self and everyone out there, “training” shoes are NOT meant for a 5-mile run. You’ve been warned. Anywho, I was in search of my love….Avocado Toast. I mean, I’m in California so they must have delicious choices on every corner. While that wasn’t necessarily the case, to my own dismay, I did find the most incredible coffee shop – Better Buzz Coffee – in Mission Bay that was for sure a highlight of my trip.

I walked in to Better Buzz around 8am, like I said – I was up early, and ordered a Cold Brew “on Nitro” and one of their two, that’s right….TWO, avocado toasts. I got the 3-seed avocado which had mashed avo, sesame seed, chia seed, hemp seed, lemon, crushed red pepper & micro greens on thick cut multigrain toast. Let me pause for a moment and let that all sink in…

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Holy YUM!! 3-Seed Avo you rock my world

Needless to say, it was heavenly and honestly one of the best avo toasts I have EVER had. They have four locations in San Diego (and others in Pacific Beach) so if you ever visit, make sure to stop on in. I was so happy I arrived early because by the time 8:30A rolled around the place was packed. Like, line out the door packed. Clearly their motto, “Life’s Better Buzzed” has caught on.

better buzz

Saturday, after breakfast, I made my way Downtown to Pure Indoor Cycling on West A Street for a Pure Rhythm ride with Rachelle. I signed up prior to leaving Boston and man am I happy that I did. The class was full by the time I arrived on Friday afternoon. Pure opened a little over one year ago, and is a beat-based cycling studio. I just happened to be visiting at the end of their Insanity Week, which is a challenge to ride 5 times in 7 days. I loved seeing the wall of people’s names near the entrance of the studio who had reached their goal – visible encouragement never goes unnoticed.

Saturday was the final day of the challenge and man did I luck out! I walked in and was greeted cheerfully by a handful of staff who got me situated with complementary spin shoes – maj points for us travelers – and they had a free braid bar by Wash which I obviously took advantage of. Oh, and after class…bubbly and Pressed green juice – if you make a cocktail out of it, it’s still healthy, right!? Sidenote – If you want, you can use your own spin shoes as the pedals are equipped for both SPD and Look Delta cleats.

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The studio is equipped with Stages bikes, which if you have never used them before, just let me say…they are awesome! They have a “SprintShift” which enables you to go from Light to Moderate to Heavy in one quick flick of a lever. No more turning the dial and wondering if you’re at the right resistance. The lighting system was also on point with stadium seating for optimum viewing capacity (mirror and instructor). Don’t tell me you never look at yourself in the mirror when you’re in class. I do it all the time and in all honesty it actually makes me work harder because I feel like I’m competing against myself.

Ok now about the class. I think it was fine. The choreography were guided through was on par with what I would expect from a well-trained trendy studio; pushups, crunches, tap backs, etc. I must caveat this with a disclaimer that the class I attended was Rachelle’s first class outside of the training room – so I understand the nerves and emotions that occur at that time. That said though, I felt like there was no emotion or encouragement during the first 40 minutes of the 45 minute class. It was more robotic, cuing dryly on what is next. The motivation comes with time so I would not discredit taking a class with her – but I am speaking from my initial experience and it could have been better. Especially since it was the last day of the challenge, I would have thought a more seasoned instructor would have been rocking the bike.

PSA announcement – I almost lost it on one guy in the class. If you are taking a spin class, and you are out in 3rd position and your legs are moving at more than 120 RPM…you’re ruining your body and doing absolutely nothing beneficial. Ya, you’ll be out of breath and your legs will be burning, but that is not safe in any environment. Don’t be a dumbass, you’re not impressing anyone. Exercise smart.

As a studio, Pure itself is crisp, clean, and has a small merchandise area when you first walk in to get your swag on. Also – very important…there is one shower for those of you who plan to head out on the town (or to work) after class. Anything you need to get ready for your day is provided; just remember to bring shower sandals and a bag for your sweaty clothes.

If you work downtown or are visiting the city, I would recommend taking a class at Pure. The feeling of community at this studio is overwhelming and I love when you walk in as an outsider and don’t feel out of place.

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To finish my trip, I ventured a short walk towards Petco Park (super cool ball park btw) to Skybound Coffee on West Market Street. Again, I had a hankering for avo toast…surprise surprise. Caprese avo toast and a fresh squeezed dragonfruit/passionfruit (ya, you read that right) mimosa was exactly what the doctor ordered…hey, it was the weekend and I already broke a sweat. Balance my friends, balance. The staff couldn’t have been more personable; I felt like I was a regular and I had only walked in 30 seconds prior. The place has several different seating options, couches, tables, outside, and a nice rustic vibe.

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Also on my list of studios to visit were Sparkcycle in La Jolla and CycleOM downtown, however, given that I was only there for the weekend, I did not have the opportunity to check them out. Looks like I’ll have to go back another time! Until then…stay classy San Diego.

In Sweat and Health,

Buda

 

 

Fitness Travel

RIDE Cycle Club – Dance On!

Call me crazy, but when a friend that lives halfway around the world is visiting a city reachable in less than 2 air hours, it only makes sense to book a last minute ticket and hop on a plane.  So when I heard my girlfriend from South Africa was going to be in Toronto…cabin crew, prepare for takeoff.

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True friendship is irreplaceable

Being back in Toronto (see CYKL in The 6ix) excited me for other reasons as well. It gave me the opportunity to check out new local workout digs. This time around, I had the advantage of chatting with my girlfriend’s cousin, who lives in Queen West, and could give me some insider 411. Score! After much discussion, I landed on RIDE Cycle Club, also in the Queen West neighborhood.

The Studio

Walking in, ok that’s a lie…literally running in, because I used the Toronto Bike Share and couldn’t find a hub to save my life. (Sidenote: there’s a hub just down the street from the studio, I’m just blind). Anywho, running in, the first thing I noticed was the crispness of the place. Almost everything was white and shiny. The friendly woman at the front desk got me signed in and handed me a complimentary pair of spin shoes…which is key to us spinners who love to travel but don’t want to carry around yet another pair of shoes. Oh and did I mention, first class is FREE!

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Crisp! And awesome gear!

The locker room mirrored the clean white vibe from the lobby, and was a fair size with a handful of showers and hairdryers. And you guys…I totally did NOT plan my outfit (case and point, I was traveling), but when you vibe, you vibe (mind the selfie..but I had to).

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I match the decor!

The Sweat

 From the time you walk into the studio you feel welcomed and a part of the team. Either the instructor or another member of the team is available to assist in bike setup if you are new to cycling or haven’t used Schwinn bikes before.

I took a class with Cat and it was a legit party. If you have ever taken a Soul Cycle class, think about the tap backs, push ups and crunches on steroids. She had us bouncing around the saddle for almost the entire class. While the music was great, I found it hard to get “into” the ride with so much moving around. The beauty of a cycling class, though, is that if you aren’t feeling a movement or if your muscles don’t want to do something, your workout is in your own hands. Instead of a push-up, work in a jump. If you don’t want to move in 3rd, keep your bum in the saddle and pick up the pace. And like I said before, the music was top notch…which, let’s be honest, makes or breaks a class. Cat’s energy was also contagious and kept you feeling engaged and ready to push.

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The Results

Saying I left that class sweating is one of the biggest understatements of the year. Try dripping, pouring sweat. Ya…definitely more accurate. Between the constant movement on the bike and a great arm weight track, my body was feeling pretty worked – a great way to start off the day.

I would recommend trying out this studio if you are into the ‘dance-like’ format, but traditional cyclists beware. Knowing that each instructor has their own style, I would return for another class and see what others have to offer.

In Sweat and Health,

Buda

Fitness Travel

Sweating with Zeus, Apollo and Athena

It feels like it has been an ETERNITY since my last post! Over the last couple months, I have been enjoying the beauty that summer brings to Boston as well as taking some much needed vacation. If you’ve been following my Instagram (@willtravelforfitness), you may have noticed that I was recently in Greece. Let me say, what an incredible experience! But I have to be honest, vacationing can get you out of your routine, especially when traveling internationally and navigating cultures that are different than your own.

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Tree posing at the Temple of Zeus – Acropolis in the distance

Living in Boston has spoiled me. There are fitness studios on every block, and no matter what hour of day, you can always find a fun and challenging workout. In Athens, Greece, it was a little different. The studios were few and far between, and while Street Workout Athens was very intriguing, our schedule did not allow for it. This is where creativity is key. Luckily, our hotel the King George Athens had a small gym where cardio and strength exercises were possible. It’s important to remember, though, that it doesn’t matter where you are; a workout is always one step away.

King George Hotel

During one of our days in Athens, we visited the Panathenaic Stadium – which is literally made entirely out of marble. If you ever want to be in awe, make this a stop. The 2004 Olympics graced this amazement of a venue, so to get in some exercise you HAVE to run the track. If you don’t…were you even there???

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From Athens we travelled to Crete. Now, we didn’t do the typical island tourist visit. Instead, we stayed in this small village of Choudetsi in the center of the island to get the feel for how true locals lived. We stayed with Evangelia at Villa Memories who not only provided personalized assimilation to the village (yes, we drank Ouzo with the locals…or as we liked to call it, “fire water”), but also owns Rhous Winery. Talk about the royal treatment…some of their wines are even sold at Milos in New York City! We were given a private tour and tasting, which reaffirmed my love for international wines. Oh and sidenote…Grecian coffee….hands down the best I’ve had thus far. Cappuccino Freddo needs to be in my life, always.

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Enjoying Rose amongst the vines at Rhous Winery

And let’s be honest…with all the hills in the countryside of Crete (and there are A LOT), I had to take advantage of the breathtaking views…which resulted in a magnificent, yet tiring, run.

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Santorini was a little more tricky from a fitness standpoint as we stayed in the town of Oia. Being one of the most popular destinations, and renowned for the MOST beautiful sunsets on the island, it is tourist haven. However, since the town sits on the caldera, there are cliffs and hills like no other. To get to Amoudi Bay, you have to walk down 200+ steps…and watch out for the donkeys because they literally have NO sense of personal space! While riding them looked like quite a fun experience, I saw the opportunity to get in some stair sprints. Long strides and fancy footwork (watch out for donkey poo!) make running up these stairs both entertaining and tiring! Don’t mind the weird looks you get from passersby…they’re just jealous you’re getting in a workout. Piece of advice…wear sturdy shoes/sneakers.

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Donkey rides from Oia to Amoudi Bay

 

Overall, this vacation was about immersing ourselves in the culture, relaxing and enjoying life. While I did not get in a daily sweat, my body thanked me for the recovery and rebuilding. When traveling, it’s important to find the balance and not stress out if things don’t go according to routine. When on vacation…get in that sweat, but be creative while you do it!

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Cheers! Yamas!

 

In Sweat and Health,

Buda