Gym Classy Lady: Physique 57 Cardio—For When A Regular Barre Class Isn’t Hard Enough
A few months ago, my editor put me in touch with the PR folks for Physique 57, a boutique fitness studio with locations in New York and Los Angeles. It's been around since 2006, but has recently seen a surge in popularity as barre classes become all the rage.
Barre classes—for those of you not keeping up with all the rage—are low-intensity, full body workouts where victims attendees do a series of small movements targeting specific areas (usually thighs, glutes, arms, and abs). Think light weights, a lot of repetition and ample time spent at a ballet barre. The classes are meant to build long, lean muscles; I'll be reviewing some in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for those!
Physique 57 is one of the original barre classes, but recently the Physique 57 founders have introduced a new option: Physique Cardio—and they invited me to try it. I was excited and emailed them to sign up, until I noticed they only had two sessions of Physique Cardio in NYC, at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays. Apparently if you work full time and can't take a two-hour lunch in midtown, Physique Cardio isn't happening.
When I asked about signing up, the next two weeks were full. I signed up for a few Fridays out, prepared to take a long lunch to check out this Cardio madness.
Before I went, I looked online to see if I could figure out what to wear and anything I needed to know. Most barre classes require you to wear socks, but not shoes, and I wanted to see if this was the case for Physique 57's cardio class as well. As I was perusing the studio's website, I noticed the following: “Please note that due to the pace of this class, it is recommended that you have taken 10 or more Physique 57 classes or are in good cardiovascular condition.”
I'm usually a rule follower, but since I had waited two weeks to get into this class, I threw caution to the wind and gave Physique Cardio a shot. And in case you were wondering, I wore lululemon and socks. No shoes.
Here's my tally for Physique Cardio! All factors are ranked from one to five with five being the best.
EFFECTIVENESS – Overall, was it a good workout? How sweaty was I at the end (from black tie ready to fat man in Texas July)?
4 – I'd say overall, this was a total body workout and a pretty good one at that. I was sore the next day, it challenged me to try new things, my muscles were shaking—the whole nine yards. If you've taken a barre class, imagine taking that on fast-forward and you have Physique Cardio; same movements, just much faster. Despite that, it wasn't super sweaty and my Irish/Scottish face didn't turn tomato-red, so it was kind of perfect for a mid-day workout. They were onto something with the noon scheduling.
AMENITIES – How posh was the gym/spa/studio? From lemon water to BYO.
3 – This was my first time at the original Physique 57 studio, which is on (you guessed it) 57th Street. I have to say I was a bit disappointed, especially given the price ($36 per class in New York). My basis for comparison here is Core Fusion, which takes place at Exhale Spa and is a spa first, workout second, but Physique couldn't hold a candle (or even a match) to Exhale. It was a nice studio (hence the three), but sort of cramped and office-building-chic. Also, I didn't have a lock, so I was left cramming my bag, work clothes, boots, and coat into the studio's cabinet.
STUDIO VIBE – Was the place full of lululemon or ratty old t-shirts? How awkward did I feel, from inner-Beyonce to sixth grade me?
3 – I didn't feel completely awkward, despite being brand new to the studio and experience. There were probably 15 people in my class, all women, all fairly young and attractive (so all you male readers, it's probably a great place to pick up girls), and everyone seemed nice.
TEACHERS – Did the teacher add to or detract from the experience? Did they put together a good playlist?
5 – My teacher, Tanya, was fantastic. She walked around introducing herself and meeting all the students, and when she got to me, she knew I was new and from Blisstree. She immediately positioned me where I would have a good view of myself in the mirrors (I guess she knew I liked to look at myself! No, really, it's so you can see your positioning.) And she remembered my name and was frequent with the encouraging feedback and corrections (some people don't like being corrected but I say bring it on! I'm there to learn!). Tanya was also extremely motivating and divided the class into four “Sprints,” which sounds kind of silly but really helped to keep me motivated. It was easier to stay in tough positions if we were almost done with a fictional sprint, weird as that sounds. Also, Tanya sent me a welcome postcard after the class, which was a nice touch. So Physique wins at customer service.
OVERALL EXPERIENCE – Would I go again? What else contributed to my experience?
4 – The workout and teacher were really superb, even if the studio and class times weren't the best. If you want an effective, efficient full-body workout, I'd say Physique Cardio is a great option that would generate results with regular attendance—and since they're adding more class times, regular attendance might actually be possible.
About “Gym Class Lady”: Inspired by my love of trying all things fitness, every other week I’ll be reviewing a workout class, fad or video. I try all these classes so you don’t have to! Have a class to recommend or a review you’d love to read? Leave me a comment or tweet me @lizlemonyall
Note: Physique comped my class, but all opinions are my own and were not influenced by this comped class.