I tackle Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco – and conquer a hangover

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I enter Barry’s Bootcamp reluctantly and exit a toned Barrliever

It’s 10:30 p.m. Friday night. I’m at the Brixton catching up with friends over my fourth drink in as many hours when suddenly a light bulb goes off in my head: I signed up for Barry’s Bootcamp tomorrow morning. Expletives float in my wake as I run to the bar to close my tab and out to the curb to catch an Uber home. It’s going to be a rough morning.

Fast forward ten hours. I’m downing coconut water and ibuprofen in a vain attempt to silence the throbbing in my skull (these are the rare occasions where I wish I was 22 again as to be able drink hangover free) and mentally psyching myself up for this work out.

Thinking it will my nerves will calm if I know what to anticipate—preparation is, after all, the antidote to anxiety—I head to their website for some info on class. My curiosity is met on the homepage by a throng of aggressively fit men and women with skintight black leggings, conspicuously absent shirts and rippling abdominal muscles. Their power poses (and tribal armband tattoos) communicate virility and their pouts are nothing less than Blue Steel.

Clearly, I’m not about to enter the “judgment free zone” of Planet Fitness, where there are no dumbbells above 75 lbs and a Bay Area woman was infamously asked by management to cover up because her toned bod was “intimidating” other members.

Hollywood’s favorite workout comes North

Barry’s Bootcamp, I read, is a staple in Hollywood, where it’s so beloved that it was part of a storyline on HBO’s Entourage and is frequented by the likes of Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal. Allure magazine named it the “best celebrity workout” and a cover of Shape magazine with a hand signed “thank you” from cover girl Kim Kardashian is featured prominently on the website. All this high profile love is very well and good, but I’m still unclear about what the class actually entails, and I’m growing increasingly  leery of the term “bootcamp.”

I take a deep breath, pull on my Lulus, pour my coffee into a to-go mug and drive to SOMA, where Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco opened in May. It’s just a block from AT&T Park, but there isn’t a game, so I’m able to find street parking easily.

I drag myself through the threshold of the brand new, bustling studio. As one class filters out and the next checks in, the lobby is filled with the kind of bubbly camaraderie built on sweat and endorphins. I get the feeling there are a lot of regulars around me who, like those at Soul Cycle or CrossFit , would say they were “obsessed” if asked how they like Barry’s Bootcamp.

I store my belongings in a keyless locker and check out the shower-equipped ladies locker room before heading to class.

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The fitness studio is hot, the music is thumping and the lights are low and moody. My head spins. Treadmills line the back wall and the front of the room is full of aerobics steps with a variety of hand weights and balls. Men and women filter in,  dividing themselves evenly among the apparatus. I’m trying hard to ignore my nausea and focus on the words of the instructor who is already buoying us up for the start of class with animated reminders of why we came here today and how hard we’re going to work to improve ourselves during this hour. I soak up her encouragement. I need all the help I can get.

From the spins to the sweats to the sweet endorphins

Class begins with a bang of Beyoncé. The lights soar up, flashing disco-style as the instructor issues two sets of instructions; one to those warming up on the treadmills and the other to those of us, like myself, who have started on the floor. She then proceeds to talk us through an approximately 7-minute set.

The room is steamy by the time we switch so that “treaders” are now on the floor and I’m on a treadmill. “Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up,” I silently implore myself as the treadmill begins to pick up speed. After 60 seconds spring at 8.0 speed, I break into a heavy sweat. It’s restorative. The endorphins have overtaken the ache in my head.

barry's bootcamp San Francisco review

I fit in after just one class!

By the time we complete the first floor-treadmill rotation, I’m no longer feeling sick. By the time we finish the second, I’m sweating hard and feeling good (maybe I was thirsty from sweating out all the toxins from the night before, but I had to refill my water bottle mid class) and by the time we start the final rotation, I’m mentally scanning my schedule to find a time I can come back.

Constantly switching between anaerobic strength training on the floor and aerobic cardiovascular work on the treadmill is both effective and distracting, which makes time fly. Energy stays up throughout class, crescendoing at the end of each set with a high-intensity energy sprint accompanied by an uptick in music and increased flashing of the lights.

I appreciate how directed the treadmill work is. The choreographed incline and speed changes keep even a non-runner like me engaged and challenged. On the floor, the exercises multi-task by working several body planes at once–squats with hammer curls, lunges with side twists. We’re encouraged to pick up the heaviest weights we can handle, which makes sense for those who want to build muscle mass, but, since I want to build long lean muscle for a more dancerly bod, I stick with light to medium weights.

As we wind down after the final set, I stretch out my burning hamstrings and reflect on the word “bootcamp.” From I can tell, the term refers only to the militant-like insistence that each participant have fun and work hard. There was none of the angry yelling or singling out I feared. It was completely acceptable to slow down and catch your breath as necessary during class.

Would I do Barry’s Bootcamp again? Absolutely!

It’s the perfect way to mix up my regular fitness routine and challenge myself once a week–or, whenever I need to combat a hangover.

The Barry’s Bootcamp Breakdown

Pros: The treadmill was surprisingly fun and provided a level of cardio that’s hard to achieve outside of spin class. The comprehensive mix of cardio and strength training is a rare blend and made for a super effective workout. Constantly switching apparatus made the hour-long class fly by, and I enjoyed the intensely encouraging style of instruction.

Cons: The SOMA location is geographically undesirable from my neighborhood, and the parking situation is undoubtedly sticky during the week and impossible when there’s a Giant’s game. The club like atmosphere inside the fitness studio was mostly a pro, but, at times, it had the same drawbacks of being in an actual club; the music could reach  ear-piercing levels and the room was hot and sticky.

Verdict: This a fun yet challenging, fast-paced workout that I’m sure to try again.  I enjoyed the atmosphere and loved the combo of cardio and strength training. It seems to build a more jacked physique than I aspire to, so I wouldn’t make it my regular workout, but I would throw it in the mix for a fun challenge.

Cost: single class $3o, less with package

Difficulty level: 8/10

Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco offers classes multiple times a day at 236 King Street

Barry Bootcamp in Irvine. Foto: Thomas Engstrom

 

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Fit Friday: Loosen up with these foam Roller Stretches

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foam rollers are time & cost effective muscle relievers

After doing nothing but eating and drinking wine for four day straight over the long weekend, I returned to San Francisco and promptly did what any gal whose skinny jeans are fitting like sausage casing does; I hit the gym, hard. Four workouts in five days has helped with the jean problem, but left me with a sore muscle problem. With tight hammies, aching quads and knotted glutes, I contacted  Brett Rivers, owner of the San Francisco Running Company located in Mill Valley, for advice on how to loosen up.

Brett’s recommendation? A foam roller! They’re fantastic at releasing tension in the connective tissue and breaking up knots and scar tissue in the muscles. Plus, they’re super cheap and easy-to-use! You simply roll back and forth on the roller using your own body weight to gently apply pressure to sensitive areas of the muscle. In essence, you’re giving yourself a deep tissue massage! How fab does that sound?

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Brett had to say…

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Foam Rollers are a great! We carry several models from Trigger Point Performance. Regardless of brand, we recommend purchasing a model that has a solid core with foam around it (like the Grid from Trigger Point), as the all-foam rollers lose effectiveness over time.

For runners we use them for:

  • Warmup – loosen up muscles and get blood flow increased to muscles and areas that are relied on my the body while running (achilles, calf, shin, IT Band, Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, low back)
  • Active Stretching – everything from neck on down to feet
  • Recovery – post run to break up any knots in the muscles, soft tissue, stretch muscles, and increase blood flow to promote faster recovery and reduce soreness.

My 3 personal favorite roller stretches are:

  • Glutes/hips: Sit on the foam roller on one glute and cross an ankle over the other knee to create a figure 4. Stretch through the glutes and hips
  • Groin/hips: lay on the end of the foam roller with one leg on the roller and the rest of the body on the ground, slowly work into the hips, groin, eventually rolling up onto the upper IT Band.
  • Lumbar Spine: Lay on the foam roller with it aligned with the spine. Work throughout the back and shoulders, and extend the arms beyond the top of the head and back to cactus to open shoulders for efficient arm motion while running.

The other 2 items we highly recommend beyond foam rollers are:

  • A trigger point ball on top of a yoga block (for leverage). It gets in even deeper in points like the soleus.
  • The R8 from Roll Recovery. I use it on a daily basis, and it has replaced a lot of what I used the for with regards to the quads, calf, and IT Band. I still use the for everything,  especially the low back and glutes.
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Easy Ways to Stay Active on Vacation

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A little movement goes a long way on vacay

Fourth of July weekend is the perfect time to take off toward warm weather and cool water. Unless you’re heading for the Hamptons, where Soul Cycle studios are as prevalent as rosé, it’s hard to keep up with your workout routine. Plus, who wants to be stuck in a gym on their vacation ? This long weekend, I’m making an effort not to turn into a total sloth, as is my tendency while on vacation, and to partake in fun, easy-to-incorporate forms of physical activities that don’t involve a gym.

Jenna Pietersen Myself Shoot by Daniella Midenge fitness fashion shoot fitness fashion editorial

Here are 5 easy ways to stay active on vacation this long weekend…

  • Take a dip: swim laps at the pool, battle the surf at the beach, or go paddle boarding at the lake. All these water sports will get your heart rate up and your muscles burning.

  • Go for a walk: have you ever noticed how on European vacations all you do is eat bread and pasta and yet you don’t gain a pound, like you would at home? It’s because in between those decadent dishes, you’re moving. Walking is a huge part of sightseeing. At least once a day, get off your lounger and explore your surroundings. Walk along the beach, take a hike through the woods, tour a museum or stroll through downtown. Want a companion? Grab a dog and head to the park. The pup is sure to quicken your pace!

  • Utilize Downtime: Restorative time reading, napping and watching TV is one of the best (and most fundamental) parts of vacation. But, after staying in your pajamas for a few days straight, start using commercial breaks to do squats, pushups, jumping jacks and other simple exercises. If you want to get ambitious, put together a Tabata program (get more info on Tabata and exercise suggestions here) and repeat the four minute spurts for a total of 15-20 minutes. This is enough time to break a healthy sweat and torch some calories. If you aren’t good at self-directed exercise, bring your favorite workout DVD. I love the Physique 57 video workouts!

  • Get around consciously: taking advantage of all the small movement opportunities will equal big total daily movement. Take the stairs instead of the elevator (except, of course, when you’re wearing heels) and ride your bike instead of driving. When you do have to drive, park far away and walk the last block. It all adds up.

  • Partake in the local activities: check out what’s big where you are; water skiing? why not give it a try! Deep sea fishing? Perfect way to strengthen your arms! Kayaking? Jump on board! Golf course nearby? Play a few holes–and skip the golf cart. You’re walking! Tennis courts abound? Sign up for a lesson. In wine country? Walk through the vineyard and do a grape stomping! You’ll get a new experience and challenge your body.

How do you stay active on vacation? Let me know in the comments!

Jenna Pietersen Myself Shoot by Daniella Midenge fitness fashion shoot fitness fashion editorial

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Have a Fit & Fun Friday Evening at Sweat Republic

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Looking for an active Friday evening social option? Ride the wave to Sweat Republic!

Look no further than Sweat Republic in Cow Hollow! This boutique group fitness studio opened just six months ago, but it’s already won me over with their super team of instructors and disco lights–nothing motivates you to feel the burn like multicolored lights flashing in the studio! I’ve become addicted to their SurfSET class–check out my article in 7×7 here for the full scoop on SurfSET and check out pics of me taking the class at Sweat Republic below!

Every week, Sweat Republic hosts the Friday Night Social Series in which everyone is invited to take part in a complimentary physical activity–from Surfset demos to mini TRX classes to games of tag–followed by a social activity and usually finished with cocktails. Last week they joined forces with Social Beauty Co. to offer spray tans, eye lash extensions and other such fun beautifications while serving Kombucha sangria! Yum!

This week, they’re getting in on the World Cup spirit by putting together an adult P.E. class and soccer session! As the studio’s Fitness Manager Jason Root told me, breaking a sweat, meeting new people and having a drink is the perfect Friday night as it leaves you feeling socialized but still ready to get up for your early morning hike in Marin on Saturday.

I strongly encourage everyone–especially the single people–to check it out! Sweat Republic’s Friday Night Social Series already boasts one love match!

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One week until the beach: What do you eat?

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Sadly, over-indulging in my favorite foods the week before a beach vacay does not equate to a Marissa Miller Sports Illustrated-ready bikini bod

Banish bloat 3 days before the beach with these 3 changes

The Pacific is not the most hospitable body of water in which to take a dip. And sunbathing? Forget about it! Between the fog and the frosty breeze, I rarely peel off my sweater at the beach, let alone expose my naval. By contrast, when I lived in Charleston, every weekend was a “beach weekend,” but these days my only occasion to bare skin has been the many Southern weddings I’ve been traveling to this spring. This weekend is no exception (as I mentioned earlier in the week), I’m heading to a Florida wedding.

Since working out is already a part of my weekly routine, I aimed to step up my bikini readiness for this beach wedding by tweaking my diet in the 3-5 days before I have to suit up. I affectionately refer to my bikini-ready diet as the “ABC elimination diet”—it stands for the foods I try to cut out (or at least cut down on). Essentially, they’re all my weaknesses: alcohol, bread and cheese.

While my diet works to increase my beach body confidence on a placebo level (I don’t own a scale, so I don’t have an actual weight metric), I wanted to know if there was any merit to my ABC method; thus, I turned to a pro; Megan Wolf, New York-based nutritionist and the blogger behind The Domesticated Wolf. She said that there was merit to my diet, but recommended her own professional version, called DIP—yes, we love alliteration!

Check out Megan’s tips below….

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Izzie and I freezing our tails off at Baker Beach! No bikinis here.

As a registered dietitian, my clients often ask me “what’s the fastest way to slim down before slipping into a bathing suit?”  And because summer is here (yay!) this question has been coming up more and more.  So when Maggie asked me to weigh-in on her ABC elimination diet, I was happy to share my thoughts. 

While I am not one to recommend crash dieting (I’m all about sustainable lifestyle changes), there are three things you can do to help you de-bloat.  So…here goes:

“Before you go for a dip, don’t forget to DIP.” 

DRINK

at least 2L of water to hydrate (your choice: plain or with lemon)

INDULGE

on lean proteins (think chicken, turkey, fish and tofu), whole grains, healthy fats and LOTS of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Specifically non-starchy vegetables: all greens, carrots, zucchini, celery, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions and green beans (bonus points: this is something people should be doing anyway…I always encourage clients to eat at least 2 cups of raw vegetables a day) and fresh fruits: apples, berries and melon for extra hydration (lots of water packed into those juicy berries), belly-filling fiber and loads of antioxidants.

PASS

on all white carbohydrates (bread, crackers and potatoes) these options leave lots to be desired because so much of the good-for-you “stuff” has been removed! Instead, opt for whole grains (think quinoa, oats, barley, wild rice, whole wheat bread and wraps).  And a note on potatoes: while they are not “bad” for you…they are very easy to overeat.  So it can be easier for many people to simply avoid them.

What do you think of the ABC and the DIP diets? How do you get your bod bikini-ready?

 

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3 Steps to beautiful, short shorts ready legs

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 Rocking a pair of short shorts in Miami earlier this month during dinner at Il Sole at the Versace Mansion.

Rocking a pair of short shorts in Miami earlier this month during dinner at Il Sole at the Versace Mansion.

San Francisco is in the midst of a rare heatwave

Because the temperatures only soar above 80 degrees a couple times a year in San Francisco, the city is quite ill-equipped to handle the heat. Air conditioning is nonexistent and wardrobes are full of insulating layers.

While walking to a lunch meeting in the Financial District yesterday, I overheard one distressed woman say to another, “I don’t even own shorts!” The panic in her voice echoes the panic of San Franciscan gals everywhere who are, perhaps for the first time since the 2013 heatwave, exposing their legs.

Whether you bare your legs once a year or live in a climate where May is the first of many legging-baring months, there are three easy steps you can take to beautify you gams.

 Check them out below…

eos shave cream

1. Shave with EOS Shave Cream for a smooth, nick-free shave

Since I first began shaving in middle school, I’ve been plagued with horrible cuts and nicks. On more than once occasion, the shower has looked like the scene of a shark attack after I’m done shaving. That was until I discovered EOS shave cream. This stuff is fantastic. You can use it wet or dry and still come out with a beautiful razor burn-free shave.

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2. Moisturize & Perfect with Jergen’s BB Body Lotion 

As an active person, my legs are often marred by a few bruises or scrapes. But, after a winter spent doing squat in the gym, I don’t want these passing imperfections to distract from my hard-earned gams. Enter Jergen’s BB Body Perfecting Skin Cream; it’s like a tinted moisturizer for the body, hydrating and providing transparent coverage against imperfections. If you need extra coverage on your legs or just a quick dose of beachy color for a sexy night out, check out St. Tropez’s One Night Only, a temporary bronzing lotion that washes off in the shower.

Tend Skin Razor Burn Liquid

3. Prevent ingrown hairs and razor burn with Tend Skin

If it wasn’t for this potent ingrown preventing liquid, I would never be able to wear a bikini! I soak a cotton square and rub Tend Skin across any irritated, razor burned leg skin and over the super sensitive bikini area before bed each night to prevent itchy, icky ingrowns, so I can rock my short shorts with confidence.

 

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