RippedPHL: A review!

Philly is currently blowing up as far as fitness goes. I’m not the first to notice this (Be Well Philly even put together a list of all the new studios coming to town). I’m definitely not the first to experience most of these. But hey, maybe some of y’all are on the fence about some of them. Maybe you’re not sure what the workouts are like, maybe you wanna know what to wear, maybe you’re just narrowing down your list of which fitness to focus on this week / month / year. And I need a little more “sweat” in this whole foodsweatnbeers situation (it is wedding season, after all.) So I’m going to try to check some of them out. And then I’ll talk about them. And we’ll go from there.

First up: RippedPHL

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This studio opened a few weeks ago on 15th and Walnut and I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy two classes already. And, while this doesn’t make me an expert by any means, I do think I understand the general concept of the classes. Let’s get into it. First of all, when you walk up the stairs (so many stairs, call this your workout), you’ll enter a clean studio with a sexy, sleek atmosphere. Red, white, and black are their colors and they let you know that immediately. To your left, the studio (where you’re going to be sweating your face off).

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To your right, the locker rooms. These are pretty small, but you can nab a key from the front desk to keep your goodies safe, and the lockers themselves are big enough to hold a backpack, jacket, a tote. You know, the essentials. There’s also a little vanity area to get dolled up a la Marilyn after your class complete with hair dryer, curling iron, and assorted products. 263cfe12-98b7-4e44-8d0a-9336fdef5b24.jpg

But, knowing you, you’re not interested in hearing about how good the hairspray smells (pretty good). You’re here for the workout, so let’s get to it:

According to them:

 RippedPHL is Philadelphia’s newest and best high-intensity class designed to torch calories and push your body to new limits! The class alternates every 15 minutes between intervals on industry-leading Woodway®treadmills and strength training on the floor with TRX®, Dynamax balls, body bars, free weights, etc.

According to ME: RippedPHL is literally the only experience that has ever made me want to get on a treadmill. Ever.

It’s grueling. You can choose to be on the treadmill or ground first. If you choose treadmill (would recommend choosing treadmill), you’re going to hit these cool “Woodway” treadmills at paces and inclines you get to watch on these little TV screens. The screens also are a nice touch, showing different scenes. The first time I went was a reddish canyon-looking setting, but the second was scenes from the Boston Marathon! Since I’m someone that will never ever run a marathon, this was pretty novel. Loved the pace and incline changes, made the 15 minute chunks go by like a breeze, and added a lot of variety (read: spice!) If you’ve got a heart rate monitor, that cues up to the treadmill and you can see your heart rate as you’re running. Top of the line.

The “floor” is where you hit the weights, but don’t think you’re off the cardio hook, yet. Mixed in with heavy balls, body bars, free weights, etc., you’ll get some fun bonuses like burpees and tuck jumps! Lucky you. Then, just when you think you can’t go any longer… back to the treadmill to repeat the whole cycle over again.

As promised, this workout TORCHED calories.

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THE PROS:

  • The trainers are motivating, pushing you against yourself and occasionally the other folks in the class. They’ve got free weights for all levels (if you don’t see the weights you want, they could be hiding from you against one of the walls). They don’t have time for stretching after, which I didn’t love. That said, it does make it a true hour-long workout.
  • The showers are INCREDIBLE and they provide towels for both your workout and your shower after PLUS great bath products. Love that. The whole studio is pristine.
  • They’ve got a pretty rich schedule with classes seemingly all the time. I’ll be really impressed if they can maintain this pace and fill the classes, but I honestly preferred my smaller class to the first class which was completely full

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THE CONS:

  • The classes are not cheap. If you buy a 15-pack it’s about $19 / class, $18 if you splurge for 20. That said, there are some decent introductory options. Either 3 classes / $45 OR a $140 new client month unlimited, if you’re just going for it. That said, as I’m balling on a budget, I probably won’t make it back unless there’s a sale or a special event.
  • Lack of stretching after each class, or suggestion of stretching on your own.

BUT it’s definitely a workout that gives results. My tush was sore for days after.

Go, get RIPPED! And let me know how it went.

 

 

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.

Hai St. Kitchen US: Rollin’ and Bowlin’

What does a newly graduated Master do with all that free time (until, of course, I have to start actually working in June?

Well, there have been a few things. I’ve been napping… a lot. There have been happy hours and puppy visits and Game of Thrones (books and show… Getting real wild over here.) But there’s one pretty cool thing that comes with all of this time: the ability to queue up with Philly’s finest foodies for a chance to fall in love at first bite courtesy of the new Hai Street Kitchen.

Lots of Options

Lots of Options

Get this: Hai St. Kitchen decided to generously offer a free entree to folks the day before their official “Grand Opening”. Super great minus one tiny little fact:

Hell hath no fury like the a Center City lunch crowd lured by the word “FREE”. 

Initial reports touted an opening time of 11:30am, running until 3pm. I ambled over around 11:45 to a line that wrapped around the block. Luckily, I had a fully charged phone and nothing but time…. And very perked up ears to overhear the gossip. Apparently, Genji, a Philly-based sushi company that rocks out the wholesale sushi scene thanks to a hookup with Whole Foods, has one Hai St Kitchen location in the UK, and this is the first venture in the US.

The concept is pretty basic, and reminiscent of Chipotle. Almost to a T…. except instead of a tortilla, all your rice and fixins are wrapped inside of some nori. Yup, basically a seaweed burrito. That’s very appealing to me…. but also, very appealing to a zillion other Philadelphians. I waited for about an hour and a half, largely due to the fact that they opened a little later than intended. Luckily, there were snacks on hand.

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For about 2 hours, the corner of 18th and Chestnut/Ranstead was the free food capital of the city, with samples from Sabra (hummus and salsa) and some Snapea Crisps (WOW!! These are insanely delicious) and hydration from Boxed Water (it’s water in a box. I don’t know.) We also had plenty of time to look over the menu.

I was torn between a few options.

Sumo Steak: FLANK STEAK, BLACK PEPPER TERIYAKI SAUCE, ROMAINE, SAUTEÉD ONION, RED CABBAGE, ASPARAGUS

Slammin’ Salmon: TATAKI SALMON, SPICY GOCHUJANG SAUCE, ROMAINE, CUCUMBER, PICKLED MANGO, RED ONION

And after watching folks in line come back with their little cardboard tubes, and salivating for just over 90 minutes, it was my turn.

 

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Appreciate the natural, and you can tell from the look of things that they’re fresh. Here’s a SUPER COOL ACTION SHOT of my sushi-rito being made:

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If you’re wondering “are those pickled mangoes?” you have a great eye for pickled fruits. And yes, they are. Finally…. it had arrived.

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Cardboard tube chock-full of goodness. But the real test comes from the taste….

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Pretty solid shot considering it’s an iPhone picture…. That salmon was just on-point. But the real star was the spicy gochujang pepper sauce. I don’t know really what that means…. but I think I want it all over everything I eat from now until forever. They offer a “crunch” option which included fried garlic, fried shallots, or yucca chips. I went for fried shallots but, honestly, didn’t taste any crunch. And truly, that’s the only thing that I felt was missing. A crunch. But I loved the texture of the nori roll, the rice was full of flavor from all the other ingredients, and  pickled mangoes: damn.

I’ll be back soon. Because I love a novel ‘rito wrap.

More Like Federal GO-NUTS! Federal Donuts in Center City

Ever see that flick, Wicker Park? The one where some girl dates Josh Hartnett, then she leaves him, and then some other crazy girl is obsessed with him or something. I clearly was only watching to ogle Mr. Hartnett, but I do remember the one quote from the end of the trailer.

Love makes you do crazy things, insane things… can’t help it.

Point in case? This morning, I woke up before the sun because I’m in love. In love with donuts. My crack-of-dawn-wake-up-call was all to be one of the first to taste the heavenly decadence of Federal Donuts‘ newest location in Center City.  Clearly, I was pretty amped.

LET’S DO THIS!

I got to soak up some of the Monday morning sights of Philadelphia… Namely, the piles of trash on the street, as it’s trash-pickup-day.

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Smell that sweet, morning air.

As I crossed through the park, I was greeted by streaks of light and sunshine. And, as my stomach growled with excitement,

Good morning, world. Did you wanna share my donuts?

When I rolled up to their new location (1632 Sansom Street, if you’re wondering), the inside was bustling with activity.

No surprise, this go-getter was the first in line (a line of two for a while…)

I AM NUMBER ONE!

Before we knew it, the 14 minute wait was over, and it was time to get at the good stuff.  We were offered our choice of four of their donuts. This was absolutely not an easy choice for me, considering they had 6 fancies (flavors listed under the pictures) and 3 “hots” that were made fresh (flavors of hots included strawberry fennel, vanilla spice, and Turkish mocha).

(Clockwise, from Upper Left) Maple Bacon, Green Tea Sesame, Mint Chocolate (I THINK) and Butter Pecan (I think? I had tunnel vision.)

Right side: Spicy PB&J on the top, Lemon Bar on the bottom

Icing!!

Icing the Fancies

HOT hots!

I carefully observed and plotted and licked my lips.  And then, I decided on my four and excitedly walked out with a bag of goodies.

The Final Four

I went with 3 fancies:

  • Maple Bacon (White frosting with a brown drizzle, looks like a flower. I KNEW Ry would love that one!)
  • Green Tea Sesame (Green, with sesame explosion!)
  • Spicy PB&J (PB&J stripes!)

And ONE perfect, highly recommended hot:

  • Strawberry fennel (Pink fairy dust!)

As I walked back into the apartment, donuts in hand, Ryan assumed I was a heavily armed killer. Lucky for him, the only heat I was packing was my single hot donut AND I was ready to share.

We split two for breakfast (and are saving the other two for dessert tonight).  The Maple Bacon was mind-boggling. I didn’t see any bacon… but I tasted it in the frosting drizzle. And it tasted like a savory salty creaminess, one which I’ve never experienced before.  I didn’t taste as much of the maple, but it was still delicious.

The star of our morning, though, was the strawberry fennel. HOW DO THEY MAKE THE PINK STRAWBERRY FENNEL CRYSTALS OF GOODNESS?!?!!? This is a mystery to me, a delicious mystery that is best served warm and split with a loved one while catching up on your favorite cartoons.

FedNuts opens its Sansom location officially on Wednesday morning, and you better BELIEVE I’ll be back soon. For donuts, yes, and to finally try some of their infamous fried chicken. Yes, donuts and chicken.  The healthiest, right? I never said I was a role model.

Can’t wait to try round two tonight….

Which flavors would you have chosen?