Hey friends! I’m coming at you this morning (Saturday, as I write this) from a cafe in Baltimore – Fabio has a dentist appointment with our brother-in-law, Alex, and I decided to use this time to park myself down and do some writing. No stress and no pressure, which is exactly how I think blogging is supposed to be. Honestly, it’s been a big shift for me not to post two or three times every week, but I think giving myself the freedom not to blog has actually given me more creative inspiration to write about some more fun things. Like today!
Last week I took four workout classes – three on ClassPass and one at OrangeTheory Fitness – and I had a mix of instructors I loved and instructors that I just didn’t. This made me think about the topic for today’s post, a review of some of my favorite instructors and what makes them so great!
First, let’s talk about what’s not so great. I won’t name any names or even say what studio I went to, but I had an instructor on Thursday that left me feeling so turned off. Don’t get me wrong, her actual workout was challenging and left me feeling pretty good, but her attitude was a big NO for me. As soon as she walked into the room I got this sort of vibe from her – like she thought she was just soooo much better than everyone else there. She didn’t help anyone with form, she didn’t give much encouragement, she just told us what to do in kind of a bossy, this-is-what-comes-next tone of voice. It was almost like she thought she was “too cool” to give us any personal attention? Maybe she was just shy in actuality and that’s how it came across? When we left (Fabio was with me) we said goodbye and she didn’t even look us in the eye as she said “Byeeeeeee – have a good one.” As you’ll see from the rest of this post, this is totally NOT what I like in an instructor, especially when there are so many who get it right.
I also want to say quickly that while I’ve been taking classes through ClassPass all over the D.C. area since it first came the area in 2014 (wow!), there are still tons of classes that I haven’t been to and probably lots of awesome instructors that I’ve missed. These are just the ones I go to time and time again because I love them so much.
Stephen from BLAST DC and Fly Wheel/Fly Barre
Does anyone remember the “hardest barre class I ever took” back in 2015? Well, that was Stephen’s class. Back then I’m pretty sure he only taught barre, but he now also teaches spin at Flywheel and, what’s even better for me, bootcamp classes at BLAST DC. And what I said before about his barre class being super hard applies to everything he teaches – I took his class at BLAST earlier this week with my friend Kathleen, and told her I thought it was one of the hardest classes that I have EVER taken. Stephen is just really good at pushing you to work as hard as you can. He tells you to turn up the speed on your treadmill and hold your weights for 10 seconds longer than you thought you could, but always in a really positive, encouraging way. Another thing I love is his music!! He plays all the normal stuff, but then sometimes will throw in something amazing like Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey. I remember one time around the holidays he played a song from the Prince of Egypt during FlyWheel and I thought I was going to fall off my bike, I was so excited. Those fun throwbacks are so motivating! Lastly, Stephen is super nice, encouraging, and always gives you a high-five when you’re done with your workout. I love his classes and frequently look for him on the schedule!
Plus, I love following Stephen on Instagram @SnapsFromSteve!
Virginia from BodyMass Gym
Virginia and her husband Kris own BodyMass Gym in Arlington, and their blast class is one of my favorites! First, I will start by saying that there’s a very similar gym to BodyMass less than a block away from it, and it’s usually empty. But not BodyMass – every time we go it’s absolutely packed! It’s not too fancy (though there is a dog!!) but you can tell people come for the instructors and the workout. The blast class is interval bootcamp style with mostly strength exercises and a bit of cardio mixed in. Virginia knows everyone’s name and does the BEST job at walking around to correct form and encourage you. When ClassPass prompted me to vote for a top instructor for 2017, she’s the one I instantly thought of and voted for. I just think she does a great job at inspiring you and teaches you the right way to do something. I feel like even basic exercises – from my deadlifts to my squats – have all improved since I started taking her class. It’s also really hard, and I love her playlists of rap from the early 2000s. Ja Rule?! Yes!
Virgina also competed (competes?) in bodybuilding competitions, and her Instagram includes some really impressive photos. Follow her @VirginiaVKinkel!
(I should also say that I love all the coaches at BodyMass Gym – especially Chase! – but Virginia really stands out. I’ve also never taken a class with her husband Kris, but somehow he knows my name too, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know anything about my blog. Amazing!)
Earl and DeShay from Definitions
I’m clearly not the only one who likes Earl and DeShay from Definitions DC – Earl even won most motivating ClassPass instructor for 2016! Though I usually take DeShay’s classes because of scheduling, I’ve had Earl a number of times and love the big smile he wears during a class and his positivity. He also calls the different colored kettlebells and resistance bands flavors instead of colors (so the hardest resistance band, which is purple, he calls grape, and the heaviest kettlebell, which is orange, he calls tangerine) which I think is a cute little touch. DeShay is great too, and she always makes sure new students are welcomed by the rest of the class. They both know everyone’s name, and even have a system where they’ll take your picture and save it on their computer so they can always match a face to a name, even if you don’t attend their class reglarly. Though their gym space is small, the intervals they plan are really thoughtful and make great use of the equipment and space they do have. The classes always fly by and are a lot of fun!
Alex from OrangeTheory Fitness Clarendon
Hopefully I’m not being biased here since Alex does read the blog (hi, Alex!) and is the one who invited me to try OrangeTheory in the first place. 🙂 BUT her classes are always packed, often with a waitlist of 20ish people trying to get in. I’ve heard plenty of people say how much they love her classes, so I know I’m not alone! Let me just set the stage for a minute – around this time last year (wait I actually just looked it up and it was exactly a year ago today – weird!) Alex invited me to try out a class at OrangeTheory so I went with Anne and Fabio. I remember loving the class and thinking it was really good/hard, but when I looked at the pricing sheet I knew it wasn’t going to happen – how could I justify paying that price on top of my monthly ClassPass fees? Every time I drove past an OTF after that I would think about it – it was just such a good class and I really liked how challenging it was. Then my friend Courtney moved to Clarendon from the West Coast, and she said she was in the market for a new fitness routine. I suggested we try out OTF since your first class is free and I knew she wouldn’t have to pay anything. So one morning we went together and I paid the drop-in fee to take another class with Alex. At this point, I knew it wasn’t something I could walk away from again. I just LOVED her class – how hard it was, how encouraging she is, and the music (she plays some great 2000s throwbacks, and I even heard some of my favorite old Simple Plan songs that took me back to middle school days). Alex is also really friendly and relatable, and I feel like we could totally be friends. I ran out of classes a couple weeks ago, and just shelled out $500 (ughhh) to get 30 more classes. Right now I am working out at OTF once a week, and I pretty much only take Alex’s classes. (The other instructors are good too, but I feel like I’d rather “save” my classes for Alex.) I’m a fairly frugal person in general, so the fact that Alex got me to splurge on another fitness program on top of ClassPass is pretty telling.
She’s another one who I like following on Instagram – @Alshabes.
Although there are lots of other instructors in the D.C. area that I really like – like Richard from FlyWheel Dupont and Graham from Urban Athletic Club, for exmaple – the ones above are the ones that really stand out for me. I will go out of my way to take their classes and will even move my schedule around if needed. Love these guys!
Question of the day: Who are your favorite DC-area instructors??