Working out is both expensive and time-consuming. With a tight budget and a tight schedule, young professionals in Boston need quick, down and dirty, honest reviews of gyms, studios and fitness classes in the city. In the Happy Hour Athlete series, BostInno will attend classes and write first-impression reviews about our experiences – from what to wear, to what the music was like, to who you’ll be working out next to. We’ll also tell you where to get a drink after getting your sweat on.
Pilates, years after it popped off as the next trendy workout (subsequently followed by yogalates, and eventually the Shake Weight), still maintains an air of mystery in my mind. For some reason, it always makes me think of Jennifer Aniston. I don’t know how that makes me feel.
So when I signed up to take a class at btone Fitness, a studio specializing in Tone classes (Barre and Spin classes are also available) that use the Megaformer, an evolution of the traditional Pilates reformer — I was in the dark. What is a Megaformer? How do I operate one? Will it hurt me? I was about to learn the answers to these questions and more on a Thursday evening at the Back Bay studio. (For the record, I still don’t exactly know what a Megaformer is, but I can almost operate one. And yes. It hurt. In a good way.)
Happy Hour Athlete’s First Impression
Classroom: btone’s Back Bay studio is a long, bright room with one wall lined with mirrors. There’s cubbies for bags and shoes, as well as a locker room to the left of the entrance. The Megaformers sit innocently side by side, facing the mirrors. Looking over Newbury Street, the classroom is located high enough (on the fourth floor), so you can’t see people lavishly relaxing as you sweat up a storm.
Where to Sit: If you’re new, don’t grab a machine on either end, because you’ll want to eye up you fellow btoner if you’re confused about the moves, and if you’re on the end you’ll have to do that eyeing-over-the-shoulder-while-wobbling-on-a-Megaformer thing. Other than that, just grab any machine — they’re all the same.
Who You’ll Be Sitting Next To: Once again, this one seems to be for the ladies. The young ladies in their — you guessed it — 20s and 30s. I feel more comfortable in the company of my own kind, what can I say?
What to Wear: Stretchy pants and a tank top will do the trick, just make sure they’re form fitting. Don’t want any loose sleeves or dragging pant bottoms to trip you up — literally — as you work the ‘former. These babies also require bare feet, so feel free to leave the house in slip ons.
What You’ll Do: OK, bear with me, because this one isn’t as easy to explain as the Downward Dog. The Megaformer has a moveable carriage in the center, which you’ll move back and forth using your arms and legs, and the springs determine how intense the resistance will be. You’ll find yourself grabbing the handlebars at each end as you walk the carriage back and forth, or in a high plank over the base platform as raise your hips and lower your arms. Sound hard? IT IS. Ahem. Sorry.
You’ll also spend time on the reliable, unshifting floor, pulling the carriage with your arms by handy cables as you lunge, and using the handlebars as stabilizers for a series of intense squatting.
Who Will Teach You: Jenny, a super fit master of the Megaformer. She knows who’s new to the workout, so she’ll take a few minutes before class to teach the noobs the ropes of the machine. Most important lesson learned from Jenny: don’t stand on the carriage without holding on to the handlebars.
Level of Difficulty: On a scale of 1 (a couch potato could do it) to 10 (it would be difficult even for Bo Jackson), the class was a 7. I’m not merely judging by physical difficulty, though: those reformers take practice, so for a beginner, you have to focus both on getting the best workout and not falling off. But don’t get me wrong, the physical workout itself kicks your butt. No wonder Jennifer Aniston is so buff.
Length of Class: 45 minutes.
Location: 30 Newbury Street, 4th floor. Nearest T stop: Arlington.
Cost: New students can take a class for the intro price of $5. After that, you can choose from cluster packages ($125 for 5 classes, $220 for 10, $300 for 15) and 30-day passes ($144 for 8 classes, $204 for 12, $250 for 30). For more on pricing, click here.
Would I Do It Again? Yes. At the time, I was uncertain about how good of a workout I was getting as I attempted to balance on the machine. I’m about as coordinated as a baby deer, so I usually prefer my workouts to take place on solid ground. But, I quickly learned that I indeed got my butt kicked. I was so sore — it hurt to laugh, to walk, to exist. btone provides a crazy intense workout for those who are looking for results. They’re not messing around.
Where to Reward Yourself: Poe’s at the Rattlesnake, located nearby at 384 Boylston Street, has a full list of margaritas, wine, whiskeys, and cocktails, perfect for your post-workout cool down. I recommend the Cranberry Jalapeno Margarita (Patron Anejo Muddled Jalapenos & Cranberries, Drambuie, Homemade Mix).
Are you a Happy Hour Athlete? A young professional with a competitive side — and a 9 to 5? Then join BostInno and the best health and wellness brands in the Hub at Happy Hour Athlete at Game On! on September 24. Click here for more information, and get your rookie pass below!