Empower Fitness Lab – HIIT Box

This place. This place knows how to ave fun. But let me back up for a second. So, I signed up for a class through class pass, and then last minute had to cancel because something came up. I called to see what could be done, and was prepared for them to be like, your shit out of luck and you owe up $15 for canceling late, but that is not even remotely what happened! The guy that answered the phone, was like no biggie, we will try to recredit the class and if you don’t see a credit back within the week just give us a call and we will go ahead and sign you up for a free class anyways. So about 4-5 days pass and I get a text saying, don’t forget to sign up for your free class! I was like OKAY! YAY! Here is the date I want and I was all signed up again. No harm no foul.

I really wanted to try their HIIT (high intensity interval training) Box class. They also have HIIT Yoga and HIIT Strength I think … and maybe some others, but I wanted to try the boxing one. I signed up for a Thursday 5:30 PM class and got there about 20 min early for the typical paperwork and first time run down stuff. I found a parking spot, but the shopping center it was located in was pretty crowded, so I would imagine it may get pretty tough to park at certain times of the day. As soon as I walked in I was greeted, very energetically I might add, by like 4 people. I filled out the little waiver thing and then was shown the ropes. I was also given a heart rate monitor to put on for the class.

So I found out that the person who like started Orangetheory Fitness branched off and started this after he left Orangetheory. I don’t know the full story, but I could see some resemblance like with the heart rate monitor and ‘scoreboard.’ There are a few screens around class and you are suppose to stay in a certain color with your heart rate and you get points based on the time you spend in each zone and you are ranked in the class. Not sure if I really care about the scoreboard though. I mean I am going to workout the same intensity whether I see my points on a screen or not. Some people may really like seeing that though.

Anyways, the workout was half on the floor and half on the treadmill, but not a normal treadmill. It is one of those curved treadmills that you propel it by how fast you run. So the faster you run, the faster the belt moves. So half of the class is spent on that and you go through intervals that the instructor calls out. So there is you base pace, which is basically walking, then a faster pace that I don’t remember the name and then your all out sprint. So he may say, 1 minute base pace, 3 minute middle zone and 30 second all out sprint. You go through various intervals for about 30 minutes, then switch with the group on the floor.

On the floor we spent 15 minutes doing intervals of free weights, TRX bands and the rowing machine. Then the last 15 minute segment is spent on the punching bag doing various punching combos and other workouts like jump squats and lunges. We ended class with a couple minutes of stretching and that was that!  It was basically a middle ground between Sweat 1000 and Orangetheory. I was not a fan of Orangetheory, but I am obsessed with Sweat 1000. If you have class pass, I recommend checking it out. The atmosphere and staff was amazing and the workout was great too. Definitely something a bit more unique.

For more information on Empower Fitness Lab visit http://www.empowerfitnesshouston.com/ or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/empowerfitnesslab/ and Instagram at @empowerfitnesslab

Sweat 1000

I am so glad I went back to Sweat 1000 for a second class and this time I brought along some victims (insert evil laugh here). But really … Sweat 1000 is probably one of the hardest workouts I have experienced so far. If you read my Orangetheory Fitness post, then image that but ON STEROIDS!  

Sweat 1000 Heights is the first location in the US which is pretty cool. As of now (January 14th is when I am writing this post) they are still under construction, but are having trial classes for people to be able to experience the madness before they officially open. Sweat 1000 originated in South Africa and is now spreading their wings into the US, Australia and Switzerland. I have a feeling they will do extremely well in Houston, especially at their Heights location.

My first experience with Sweat 1000 was a great one! Everyone was super inviting and very motivational. Tashie (@tashiesmith) was my first instructor and she was a bulldog, but like a really cute and friendly one. During the workout she was barking out exercises kind of like a drill sergeant, but she never singled anyone out, or put anyone down for not being able to keep up. That is one of the things I loved about this place is that it is SUPER intense, but no one ever pushed you too hard. They motivated you to do YOUR best and forget what everyone else was doing. Andrew (@andrewsweat1000) was the same way. He was tough, like really tough, but always encouraging. Both Tashie and Andrew were super nice before and after class as well, saying how good we did, even though I was minutes away from death. Last comment about the amazing people at Sweat 1000 before I get to the actual workout. The owners, Jordan (@jstrouse4) and Ana (@natassjb) were incredible. I went to Tashie’s class on the 6th and then when I went back for Andrew’s class on the 14th, they remembered me. Not only did they remember that I had been there before, but they remembered my name! Now I know they had a signup list with everyone’s names, but still, that’s impressive and it means more than they know. That’s one of the reasons I love Revolution Studio too, because they know you by name after like 1 class and make you feel like you are really part of this wonderful and welcoming community.

Now it’s time to talk about this craziness they call a workout. The workouts are 60 minutes of insanity. It is set up similar-ish to Orangetheory Fitness like I mentioned before, but instead of spending 30 minutes on the weights and then 30 minutes on the treadmill, you are switching every 5 minutes or so from floor to treadmill. There are tons of variations on the treadmill. Sometimes you are sprinting, sometimes you are maxed out on hills at a 30% incline… yes… I said 30% and if you have never experienced a 30% incline before, I encourage you to go see what it feels like. And if you don’t have a treadmill, just walk over to the wall and try walking up that… it’s basically that same thing! While you are on the treadmill they call out 4 numbers, the first 3 are speeds so you have your runner speed, jogger speed and walker speed and the 4th is the incline. Let’s just say, I can barely keep up with the walker speed…that’s how intense it is. So you do like 5 minutes on the treadmill then jump off and do 5 minutes on the floor. If the class is really full, half of the people are on the floor while the other half are on the treadmill and they they switch back and forth. If the class is on the lighter side, then everyone is on the treadmill at the same time and then on the floor at the same time. Floor exercises vary. My first class we had weights and a buso ball, second class we had like an aerobic step and weights, and I know they also have punching bags that they can set up. All of the workouts on the floor are pretty similar. Lots of body weight and free weight exercises with the last round focusing on abs. At the very end we stretch for a bit and then die…or just begin to dread the fact that everything is going to be sore when we wake up the next day. Hurts sooooo good!

The atmosphere is pretty neat too. I know they are not fully done with construction, but I have seen some insta posts from their South Africa studios and its all black lights,laser lights and loud music. We had a bit of that, but apparently our experience with Sweat 1000 was only at about a 30% level compared to what it will be like when they are done. The Heights location will have full bathroom facilities with showers and towel service so you can go before work and just get ready there to save time. It will also have a limited coffee bar and fresh smoothies and there is even talk of a Seaside Poke kiosk in case you want to grab lunch or dinner after a workout.

So definitely up there in my favorite workouts, and as far as I can think, I think I will go ahead and give it the “toughest” workout award… maybe… probably…

Not sure if they are doing anymore trial classes before they open, but their plan is to open sometime in the next 2 weeks-ish (from the 14th). So they may be open before this post goes live. Oh, let’s talk pricing real quick before I let you get on with your life. There is a founders package which is 200 buck-a-roos per month for the first year that you can get in on NOW, otherwise it is $30 per single class, $145 per 5 classes, $275/10 and so on and so forth. All of their pricing is on their website which I will give to you now …

SWEAT 1000.jpg

For more information on Sweat 1000 visit http://www.sweat1000.com/studios/usa/ or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sweat1000houstonheights/ and Instagram at @sweat_1000

 

TITLE Boxing Club

This is it … almost! TITLE Boxing Club was the closest thing I have found so far to the UFC Gym in Baton Rouge that I loved so very much. I saw an ad on Facebook for a free class, which seems to be a trend for me, and signed up! It was as easy as going to their website, filling out your info for a free class and writing a short message saying which class you wanted to try before hitting the submit button. I was emailed back with confirmation email within 24 hours and followed up with a call a few days before telling me to come a few minutes early so I could get wrapped and set up.

I showed up a bit later than hoped, thanks to my GPS, so by the time I got wrapped up and filled out the paperwork class had already began. I scheduled my class for a Sunday at 10:30AM because again I was worried about traffic and wanted to make sure I didn’t have any commitments or appointments before or after.

Class started with a few laps around the bags (these were the hanging bags I am used to) and then things really started to heat up. We did some really tough bodyweight exercises, like lunges and squats and burpees, but they weren’t like normal lunges, squats and burpees, they were like lunges, squats and burpees on steroids. It was just a lot of different moves to get warmed up and I was sweating pretty hard before we even put the gloves on to do some serious bag work. In fact there was another first timer next to me and towards the end of the warm up I heard him turn to his girlfriend/wife/whoever and say, “Why are we here?” HAHA

After the warm up, we got our gloves on and started some combinations on the bag. Luckily I have had experience with kickboxing before because there was no guidance (unlike iLoveKickboxing) and the instructor would just yell out combinations and demonstrated them 2-3 times, but had I never kickboxed before I would be completely and totally lost, like the people next to us were! I LOVED these combinations though. They were challenging and we were all punching, kicking, kneeing, spinning, jumping, ducking, I mean it was a lot! The instructor also came around with the like punchy glove things … I know, real technical, so that you could do the combination with him vs. on the bag just to give us a bit more of a challenge. After the bag work, we finished with some super intense ab workouts followed by a bit of stretching.

I 100% like this kickboxing class the best so far in Houston, but it still wasn’t up to par with the UFC Gym in Baton Rouge, the main reason being the staff, not that the staff was rude or mean or anything, just because they weren’t very informative or engaging. At iLoveKickboxing and the UFC Gym, they made a real effort to get to know you and teach you, whereas TITLE just taught the class and if you could follow along then it was an incredible workouts, otherwise you were just a lost puppy.

After class I went to return the gloves and there was no one at the front desk. I waited for about all of a minute or so but was so sweaty and smelly and hungry that I just put the gloves down and left. We (my husband joined me for this class) did get a call as we were driving home saying they were sorry they didn’t get to catch us before we headed out and wanted to know how we liked it and if we had any questions. I did check out the pricing sheet while I was waiting to return my gloves and I thought the pricing was pretty reasonable. They had a couple different options for membership so here they are:

1 year unlimited classes = 0 initiation fee, $940 total paid in full

1 year unlimited classes = 99 initiation fee, 69+tax/month

6 months unlimited classes =  0 initiation fee, $450 total paid in full

Month-month unlimited classes = 149 initiation fee, 89+tax/month

2 weeks unlimited = 100

Most of those also include a week pass for friends/family

These may not seem reasonable to some people, but that was one of the most intense workouts I have experienced so far on this journey and am already feeling sore. I know I will be hurting tomorrow. Basically, what I am saying is if you want to have a ton of fun and get an pretty damn intense workout in at the same time, this is the place to be. If they had a location closer to where we live, I would highly consider doing more classes with them. Also, at the beginning of class the instructor mentioned that for any newbies he would offer a half hour of training with him to work on technique, which is fantastic, but it really would be beneficial before the class … not after!

 

For more info, or to sign up for your free class, visit https://titleboxingclub.com/houston-westchase-tx/ or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TITLEBoxingClubHoustonWestheimer/

 

iLoveKickboxing

I mentioned before that I had been wanting to find a good kickboxing gym because 9 Round was such a disappointment when it came to kicking and punching, so this weekend I visited iLoveKickboxing Memorial and TITLE on Westheimer. I will talk about iLoveKickboxing today and then compare it to TITLE on Thursday.

I saw a Facebook ad for iLoveKickboxing that advertised an introductory special of 3 classes plus gloves plus some reading material for 10 bucks, so I thought what the heck, let’s give it a try. I signed up for the introductory offer and within 24 hours I had a missed call and voicemail from the most energetic person I have ever heard on my phone congratulating me on signing up for the classes and wanting to know when I could come in for my first class.

I called them back and got a class scheduled for a Saturday morning at 9 because after looking at their schedule and their location and the atrocious traffic we have seen since the storm, I figured I would be safe and schedule for a time where there would be the least traffic and I didn’t have any other obligations before or after. They asked me to be there a half hour early so that they could give me a tour around and find out a bit about me, etc. etc.

I showed up at 8:30 and was greeted by Jasmine and Daniel. Jasmine led the class and Daniel stood by my side and helped me with my form and combos since it was my first class, which I loved! I have taken many kickboxing classes back in Baton Rouge at the UFC Gym, so I knew the basics, but it was great to have him there to polish up my technique. Before the class though, Jasmine showed me around, gave me my gloves and then we sat together and just chatted about everything from my job to my fitness goals to just life in general. People started showing up around 10 til and then it was time to hit the mat.

The class is an hour long. The first 15 minutes are the roughest part most would say. It is spent doing cardio and drills such as pushups and squats and burpees and such. The next 30 minutes or so were the fun part. It was time to put the gloves on and start attacking the bag. The bags were strange. I am used to hanging punching bags but these were weighted to the ground. The only real difference is that the ones that hang swing around when you kick and punch them, these just stayed in place. When it was time to do bag work, Jasmine was calling out combos and would walk around and help people with technique. Since I was new, Daniel had me start out with just 1-2 punches or jab-cross punches, very basic. After about a round or two, we decided I knew enough to just join in with the rest of the class instead of continuing to do the first time newbie version. The combinations were … okay. Nothing too difficult to follow which to me means nothing a bit stale, but I still enjoyed it and spent a lot of time trying to work on my form.

After bag work it was time to work with a partner and then stretch it out. We did a little but of partner combo work and then some like partner pushups and stuff like that. Lastly we stretched. After almost every workout or combination, there were always people woohooing and high fiving and you could tell there was a really good sense of community and encouragement there. One person had a heart monitor on and wanted to hit 500 calories during the workout but wasn’t quite there after stretching so a few of the other classmates stayed after and ran a few extra laps around the bags and cheered her on as she punched out the last few calories to hit that goal of 500. It was really cool to experience. (See Boomerang below)

After class, Jasmine sat back down with me to see how I liked it and then to run down the pricing. They will tell you when they call to confirm your class time, to make sure to bring a form of payment because they like to give a deep discount if you sign up on the spot. To sign up, there is a 198 intro fee and then a monthly fee depending on how you want to pay, around 80 bucks a month … I think. I was pretty worn out after so I kind of forgot. Anyways they offered 100 off plus a reimbursement for the classes you paid for, so either  110 or 120 (some of the specials are 20 for 3 classes) off the one time fee if you signed up that day.

Overall, I liked the experience. The staff was so energetic and helpful and happy. The facility was clean and easy to find. The class was intense, but not so intense that I felt like I was about to pass out or something. I mean I was able to do all of the moves and combos without stopping soooo, yeah! And I a excited to go back for my next 2 classes.

I am also very excited to share with you the comparison of iLoveKickboxing and TITLE later this week because they were pretty different!

 

If you want to check out iLoveKickboxing Memorial for yourself visit http://www.houston-memorial-ilovekickboxing.com/ or follow their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ILKBHoustonMemorialTX/ to sign up for your first few classes!