I am a member of the Brooks Family YMCA, yet somehow I don’t feel like the classes at the YMCA are as strenuous as the classes taken at facilities that specialize in specific workouts. Exercise has always been important to me, but since being diagnosed with Celiac disease I have experienced huge mood swings and lethargy so motivation to exercise has been tough. (See Mayo’s 7 benefits of exercise). I needed a workout that could provide some variety, excite me and motivate me to put on my gym shoes (or yoga pants) on a regular basis. Which is why the Groupon/Living Social Workout of 2011 worked for me!
What is the Groupon/LIving Social 2011 Workout? Since January 2011 I have bounced from yoga studio to exercise program trying to find the one I like the most while trying out new things and saving money in the process. Here is the workout:
The Deal: 20 days of hot yoga for $20. Radiance of San Marco is one of the newest Bikram Yoga Studios on the scene. Bikram Yoga is “hot yoga.” Each class is 90 minutes and you flow through the same set of poses each class. It is led by an instructor who tells you everything you need to be doing so that you don’t need to look around the room to see how you should look in the pose. Time flies by because you are constantly listening to the sound of the instructors voice to inspire you to go deeper into each pose. Bikram Yoga works every single muscle and tendon in your body, however, it is not for everyone. The room is close to 100 degrees and there are times you may feel light headed or dizzy. I did Bikram during my training for the Gate River Run and while I usually have some sort of knee injury, I was able to avoid any injury. My only criticisms of the practice is that there is not a whole lot of upper body strengthening and there is no music, not even during savasana (my favorite pose, haha). There is no vinyasa, downdog or updog or plank positioning which usually are used in yoga for arm and core strength. However, there are a lot of other core strengthening exercises as well as lower body strengthening exercises in this work out. Probably the best core workout of any of the exercises in the Living Social/Groupon workout plan.
The Deal: One month of unlimited personal training sessions for $23. Timed Exercise is scheduled in 30 minute blocks of time. Each day has its own workout that mixes up reps and sets so that there is never a duplicate workout throughout the month. The object is to complete the workout as fast as you can and try to finish before the 30 minutes are up. You are assigned your own pod to complete your workout in and all of the equipment is right there for you, except for pull up bars that are shared throughout the class. They play awesome music really loud to motivate you and there are 2 instructors who constantly walk throughout the room to scream your name, correct your form or help you out if those last two reps are difficult to complete. The instructors get to know each and every person and they remember your name every time you attend (this impressed me most). Each workout includes some type of push up, some type of sit up, some type of pull up, some type of row and some type of full body exercise. I have never been so sore in all my life as when I did Timed Exercise. While I loved the intensity this is not the work out for me. I liked how quickly the exercises could be completed, but I need a workout with more of a warm up and cool down. I have a lot of friends who have lost a ton of weight and have great biceps from these classes. I will say, my upper body strength was the best it has ever been after these workouts.
The Deal: $15 for one month unlimited. I have been to this yoga studio before. It is located in San Marco between Emerson and University Blvd on Hendricks Avenue in a nice space with an outdoor courtyard. It is an older studio by a busy and sometimes loud road. The instructors are very informative and there are all levels of yoga practitioners in the room. This practice incorporates the yoga flow with down dog and up dog in a soothing relaxing atmosphere. Yogi’s in this practice are quiet before and after each class and the smell of insense fills the studio. The room is not too warm and they rely alot on various props from blocks to straps to bolsters. Classes are one hour and any fitness level can attend.
The Deal: 35 days of yoga for $35. MBody has been winning awards from various publications as the best Yoga studio around. This was the first time I had ever tried it. This deal was good at their Southside and Neptune Beach locations and not good at their San Marco studio. This is a very popular practice. Unlike Bikram and Power Yoga of San Marco this is a very active and social and engaged practice. Everyone is talking, the instructors are loud, you are forced to have your mat relatively close to your neighbor. At my first class we were encouraged to use our neighbor to help us with certain poses. The instructors are very loud. At first it was distracting, now I have realized that they get loud right about the time I feel I can no longer hold a difficult pose. This helps me push through. The room is heated but it is not as hot as Bikram.
The Deal: 5 hot yoga classes for $25. Bikram Yoga Jacksonville is located in Neptune Beach close to the intracoastal just off of Atlantic Boulevard. This is the hottest of all the yoga studios. It is run by Rob who actually used to be one of my Junior Volleyball coaches in high school. His friendliness creates a nice environment in this studio. If this studio was closer to where I lived I would become a regular. It has such a great beach feel to it. There was usually plenty of space in the studio to practice. After each class, when I was drenched in sweat I looked forward to the outdoor showers located behind the studio. It was such a nice reward. On one particularly hot day during the summer, Rob bought watermelon for everyone.
The Deal: One month of unlimited dance classes for $29. I have known about Dance Trance for some time. Many of my girlfriends have told me how fun it is. So I was excited to try out this deal because I love to dance. I was not prepared for my first class at all. I knew none of the dance moves, the music was fast paced and loud, but I had a blast. There is some repitition to each of the dances so I picked them up pretty quickly. I was not the only person there who didn’t know the routines so I just hung out in the back of the class with the rest of the relatively new crew. If I got completely lost I just shook my hips and waved my hands in the air. They have a class called breakdown where they teach the new songs for the week. I loved the music. Almost all of the songs were current popular songs and were about feeling strong, getting over that guy, feeling good about yourself, etc. It was such a great workout, I forgot I was exercising a few times and found my self smiling ear to ear the entire time.
Prior to beginning each of the deals, I would call the facility to tell them I am a new student and ask if I need to do anything or come on a specific day. The only deal that had a specific start date for new students was Timed Exercise. Not really sure why because you have to sign up online to schedule your “pod” and pretty much every day I was there there was someone else who was new.
There was something that I liked at each of the facilities. I thought I would do a little “best of” from each of the classes. Here go:
Best Deal: Radiance San Marco 90 minute classes, 20 classes for $20 at $1 a class and you could take multiple months to complete
Best Overall Workout: MBody 90 minute classes
Best way to build large bicep muscles: Timed Exercise
Loudest Instructors: MBody
Best Savasana: Power Yoga San Marco (because they play music and they have props)
Best at remembering your name: Timed Exercise
Best changing/shower facilities: Radiance San Marco
Best overall wellness program: MBody
Most social: Tied: MBody and Timed Exercise
Sweatiest: Bikram Yoga Neptune Beach
Best snack and beverage options: Timed Exercise
Most likely to pick up a date: Timed Exercise
Most coordiation needed: Dance Trance
Best place to go if you need a pick me up or just had a break up: Dance Trance
Best music: Dance Trance
Where is your favorite place to workout? and why?