ClassPass in Philadelphia: Reflections and Progress

(Heads up: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I make a few dollars if you sign up for ClassPass using this link [You’ll also be able to skip the waitlist!] I received no compensation for writing this post, however, and all opinions are my own.)

Ok, Christmas is fast upon us. And, if your office/family/friends are anything like mine, you’re likely experiencing a deluge of sweets and treats flooding from the gates of Pinterest with unparalleled force. A veritable nonstop influx of all things sugary, savory, seasonal, and sensational.

Corned beef and cheddar latkes? Sure.

Corned beef and cheddar latkes? Sure.

Cupcake in a Jar? WHY THE HELL NOT?!

Cupcake in a Jar from office mate? WHY THE HELL NOT?!

However, due to my dedication to this Jan1 Challenge inspired by my uber-fit bro and a pretty regimented tracking document with a few friends, near and far-flung, I have, for the most part, been able to steer clear of the mounds of muffins, caches of cookies and cupcakes, and the droves of donuts (nope, someone brings in Federal Donuts, I’m like a woman possessed). The past few days, especially though, have been jam-packed with potlucks and dinner parties, holiday parties and ugly sweater crawls so, despite keeping a pretty tight lock and key on the sweets, there’s definitely been a fair amount of indulgence lately.

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Lucky for me, I’ve got a secret weapon. It’s my new ClassPass and I’ve definitely been giving it a workout lately. In the past six days, I’ve gone to three different classes with the pass, and one without it. The results? I’m actually feeling fantastic!!

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

I’ve visited Bikram Yoga Philadelphia for an early morning class (WOW, talk about sweaty!!) I actually went to BIkram about 8 times earlier this year through a little daily-deal unlimited package. I believe it was 2 months, and I actually got pretty into it. There’s something really soothing about the same 26 poses over the course of 90 minutes in a piping hot room. Sure, maybe I’m just relishing in the opportunity to rock spandex shorts again in a socially acceptable fashion, but repeated visits had me noticing marked improvement in my balance and back strength.

This most recent visit…. rude awakening. I was teetering and tottering, but found my center towards the end. I’m hoping to go back at least once if not twice before the pass runs out!

Focus Barre and Yoga’s Barre Class was…. insane. First, the studio: Clean, bright space, comfortable carpets for the barre class, and check out the view!

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I know, it’s just Chestnut Street, but I do appreciate a good window in a studio, especially one where you can actually see out of it. There are a number of classes scheduled (click link for schedule), though not TOO many, which could be tough if you were going here regularly.

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The class itself, though, that was the most impressive part. I haven’t felt that type of burn in my legs and arms since Pure Barre in North Carolina! Lotsa gear in this class, from balls to weights to resistance bands.

Because what woman doesn't love to accessorize?

Because what woman doesn’t love to accessorize?

The instructor was super high energy the entire time, and chimed in with helpful, non-judgmental sounding critiques every now and then (if you’ve ever been to a barre class, you might know what I am alluding to when I say her critiques didn’t sound judgmental. If you haven’t, LUCKY YOU!) My thighs were on fire, my arms shaking, and my abs resonating with the deep burn of an incredible workout, all in only one hour.

FULL recommendation to this joint, truly. When can I go back?!

Finally, Philly Power Yoga. I’ve visited this studio a handful of times in the past, so nothing really blew me away. They are tough workouts. The instructors won’t hesitate to tell you when you’re doing something wrong, or where you should be pushing yourself. However, I’m not 100% sure it’s my favorite style of yoga/critique. I don’t know, the jury’s still out, but the location is almost too convenient and the temperature too comfortable warm to write it off completely. They have so many class options, it’s hard to say no.

I also threw in a BodyPump class on Sunday, just for good measure. All this, and a trip to Zumba last Monday, and I’m finding myself working out 5 days in one week! I’m sore, but in that muscle ache because you know you’re doing it right soreness. And I’ve got a lot of ClassPass left to use like crazy. Tomorrow’s agenda calls for a Cross-Training lunchtime class at Unite, which I’m maybe even a little nervous to try. But if there’s ever a time to give new exercises a go, this is it.

I know that life isn’t ALL about the numbers, but I will say that, since November, I have lost about 5lbs. My clothes are fitting better, I’m falling to sleep more easily, and my independent weight lifting feels like it actually…. matters? That sounds about right.

Now all I’ve gotta do is make it through Christmas without being trampled by Bell-jar baked goods. Wish me luck.

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ClassPass Comes to Philly!!

(Heads up: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I make a few dollars if you sign up for ClassPass using this link, or the links throughout the post [You’ll also be able to skip the waitlist!] I received no compensation for writing this post, however, and all opinions are my own.)

I’ve been holding onto a secret for about a week or so, but the cat is outta the bag: ClassPass has officially arrived in Philadelphia!!

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If you’ve ever met me, spent time with me, or really even read my blog, you might understand why I’m so pumped for this arrival. For $99/month (the cost of some gyms around the city, and the cost of something like 4/5 classes at a lot of Philly’s premiere studios), you get unlimited classes to use at studios in the ClassPass network (Well, unlimited to a point… While a member can take as many classes per month as they’d like, they can visit the same studio up to 3 times per monthly membership cycle.)

It’s basically an all-access pass to work out at different studios all throughout the city (and some are even in the suburbs). For more information, check out their FAQs.

I’ll admit, I’ve been anxiously awaiting launch because I’ve been given a month membership to try out Philly’s own take on ClassPass. My heart skipped a beat when I received the email that launch had gone down, and immediately signed up for my first class. After ogling all the others, you can BET I’ll be visiting a buncha spots. Here’s just a sample of the studios that are participating in Philly’s ClassPass (and the ones I can’t WAIT to check out):

  • Focus Barre and Yoga (20th and Chestnut)
  • Allongée (Old City) – ballet based fitness, I’ll give it a try!
  • Body Cycle Studio (Also 20th and Chestnut, looks like the same address as Focus) – for all my spinning needs!
  • RowZone (Rittenhouse) – I’ve been DYING to try a rowing class!!
  • Lithe Method (because DUH)
  • Unite Fitness Studio (12 and Arch) – they’ve got yoga AND cross training, which is like cardio strength and yoga!
  • Bikram Yoga (16 and Sansom) – LOVED this earlier in the year enough to do 2 months unlimited. I think I went at least once a week throughout, great for the cold weather, let’s get bendy and sweaty!
  • FlyWheel (Rittenhouse) – Another one I’ve been meaning to try forever…. now’s as good a time as any!!

If I even went to a single class at each of those, with drop-in costs, I’d probably be dropping at least $160. However, I can go to all of those spots like… 3 times each. I’m overwhelmed with anticipation.

I’ll keep y’all abreast of what this experience is like, and feel free to follow along on Twitter with #ClassPassPhilly and #LivingtheSweatyLife!

T-minus 2 hours until my first class, wish me luck!

PLUS if you wanna skip the waitlist and join ClassPass ASAP, click this image to use my affiliate link.

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Philly: All I Want for Christmas is YOU!

When I was down in NOLA in November, I crossed paths with a buddy from my fraternity. He’s living in New Orleans now, and asked me how I was liking Philly after 7 years in sunny North Carolina. When I responded, gushing about how much I love Philadelphia, he shook his head, professing general distaste for the city I love. I scoffed in his general direction, turning back to the bar to get something ridiculous like a hot buttered rum because, “When in N’awlins…” (But seriously. why isn’t every bar offering this drink the second temperatures drop?)

I tell you this story to lead into this post. This post is nothing more than a love letter (not a Love Note, as someone already has that covered) to Philadelphia. This is not to say that my previous homes (Wilmington, DE; Chapel Hill, NC; Durham, NC) weren’t all wonderful in their own rights. And, in some way, I’ll always love them for the person they made me. But I spent the last two years of my 7 in NC trying to get back to Philly. And the way I feel about this city can easily be described as romantic. Truly, it’s a relationship you can only have with a city that is oft hated, mocked, and seemingly never celebrated for more than sloppy meat sandwiches. The love you defend to the death, despite complaining all year about the cold, the dirt, the smell, the Rittenhouse rats, and the PPA.

So click on this Youtube version of a Mariah Carey-oke (BAHAHA get it?!) version of All I Want for Christmas, and sing along with my new, much more romantic lyrics.

This one’s for you, Philly.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There’s not much I really need
Tastykakes, could take or leave them
Prefer my steaks grilled, hold the cheese

Head to Monk’s to have a beer
Thank goodness that I live here
My wishes all came true…
Philly, all I want for Christmas is you!

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I don’t want a lot for Christmas
Really, not much that I need
Maybe just a lil’ Budino
Spicy cukes – Han Dynasty

I don’t need to hear those carols
Sang throughout Rittenhouse Square
I’ll give up the lights on Locust Walk
Honestly, don’t even care!

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I just want my postal code
to start with one nine one ZERO
Wishes all came true….
Philly, all I want for Christmas is you!
Youuuuu, Philly.

I won’t ask for much this Christmas
Definitely won’t ask for snow
Trudging out to get some groceries
Fighting crowds at Trader Joe’s

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If I were to make a list I’d
Send it straight to RTM
Stock up on some “OK” Produce
Meats and Sausages from Martin.

‘Cause I just want to spend the night
Staring at those PECO lights
Wishes all came true…
Philly all I want for Christmas is YOU!

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Oh, all the kids are watching
The Macy’s Christmas Show
As folks slip at Rothman
Butts are sore, ya know…

And though our skin is stinging
Still hear those sleigh bills ringing
Philly, bitter as we may all seem
Won’t you please spend this Christmas with me??

Oh, I don’t want a lot for Christmas
This is all I’m asking for
I just want to have my city
Right outside my tiny door

Oh, I just want you for my own
(Though I don’t mind sharing, don’t ya know?)
Wishes all came true
Philly, all I want for Christmas is you
You, Philly.

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Philadelphia’s Christmas Village: Eats n’ Sweets!

If you’ve been reading for a little while, you may know a little about my belief in pockets of magic, hidden throughout Philadelphia. Maybe it’s a monochrome pop-up picnic. Maybe it’s a giant garden made up of found items, mosaic, and art. Maybe it’s one of those incredible nights where you look around and realize you know more people at the bar than you don’t, and you’re all singing along to the same jukebox. Moments like that where you look around and just fall in love with the city all over again.

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Philadelphia’s Christmas Village, modeled in the style of German Christmas villages, is one of those awesome annual traditions that is easy to overlook with the holidays being as jam-packed as they always are. Every year, my parents take a trip to the city to visit this spot, and I normally meet them afterwards. But, this year, I got the chance to tour through (when the weather was oh-so-frightful) and sample some of the goodies and, I’m telling you this, “Make Philly’s Christmas Village a destination this year, not an afterthought!”

Come for the photo-opps, stay for the baked cheese?

I don’t know, something like that.

We first got to try the meats.

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Wurst?

More like…. best. (Is that the most played out German food-based joke? Good.)

I think the Germans just like…. “get it” when it comes to sausages. Every single bite was tastier and snappier than the last. And then, the icing on the cake (or… the sugar on the streudel).

Look at this REAL LIVE GERMAN DUDE who brought dessert out for us!

gute Nacht, herr streudel-meister

gute Nacht, herr streudel-meister

But sometimes, your loved ones can’t make it out to the village with you. Here’s where the shopping aspect comes in…. only shopping’s much better when you can taste some of the goods before you buy them (I wouldn’t recommend this with like… scarves. But definitely with: bacon jam!)

Spreadable bacon: for the one who has it all!

Spreadable bacon: for the one who has it all!

This stand has bacon everything. You see that bacon caramel popcorn?

Yup, for the one who has it all!

Other folks prefer the sweet to the savory. Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered:

It's like a tiny Willy Wonka stand!!

It’s like a tiny Willy Wonka stand!!

German treats, gingerbread hearts, marzipan fruit. There’s also a macaron stand in the back that I had to fight every urge not to rob purchase heavily from. But I’ll give you a serious tip: if you just get ONE edible treat for someone important to you, give the gift that keeps giving (good feelings… and maybe a stomach ache if you overdo it).

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Yeah. That’s just like… baked cheese full of bacon.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

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I tried Original, Bacon, AND Garlic. And I did it for you all. Although the bacon was pretty world rocking, the absolute tastiest was definitely the GARLIC CHEESE. Imagine halloumi. And then, imagine it being even better.

Stocking stuffer? Mouth stuffer? Why choose just one?

I mean, I won’t pretend that there’s not a TON of great shopping to be had at the Christmas Village. Everything from jewelry to decorations to handmade scarves to doner kebabs [oh sorry, those are food too. One track mind.] It’s picturesque. It’s festive. AND, if you buy a cup of mulled wine, you get a pretty cute mug to take home. I’ve already got plans to crash my parents’ date night this year and get some full-sized snacks of my own.

Ok, I did get ONE full size snack.

Ok, I did get ONE full size snack.

Bring your family. Bring a date. Bring your appetite.

Sometimes, You Just Knead Bagels (get it?)

I woke up Saturday morning feeling, as my Carolina friends might say, like death warmed over. And I’m not sure if it stemmed from a restless sleep, my general malaise in the winter, or (most likely) a few too many celebratory Proseccos following a buddy’s successful dissertation proposal defense. Whatever it was, I spent the first half hour of consciousness sending whiny Snapchats and wondering, David After Dentist-style, “Why is this happening to me?”

2n04rwmBut then, something magical happened. Something that social media, god bless it, made possible. The folks at Knead Bagels, a new bagel joint at 7th and Walnut, tweeted out this picture.

Come to mama.

Come to mama.

In case you can’t see, that’s a Nigella Seed Bagel, jalapeno bacon (from 1732 Meats) and Agave cream cheese. As I’ve been eye-ing Knead for some time now, drawn to the exciting bagel flavors and intriguing cream cheese options, I had a feeling this was just what the doctor ordered. I begrudgingly donned all the rainy cold weather attire needed for a miserable winter morning and headed out the door. A woman with a mission.

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished.

The space is open and almost rustic. Think wood, think chalkboard menu, beautiful art on the walls. And though my tastebuds were piqued by options like pastrami spice, togarashi, fennel seed & sea salt, flax and chia seed bagels…. scallion lime, kimchee, roasted tomato, and balsamic cherry cream cheeses…. I knew what I needed.

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I squirreled my special bagel back home to be enjoyed on the comfort of my couch as I watched something dumb and mindless on TV. The verdict?

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MEDICINAL. Momentarily disregard the bags under my eyes and realize that these bagels…. I’m fairly certain they’ve got healing properties. Because as I consumed my nigella seed bagel, full of burnt onion flavoring, and the hearty bacon-filled cream cheese (spice and sweet, oh yes), I felt rejuvenated from the inside out.

I can not WAIT to hurry back and try the rest of the options. Or perhaps, when I’m feeling peckish, I’ll even enjoy some of their new lunch options.

Knead has won my heart and my tummy. Philly (k)needed a new bagel spot, and Knead delivered.