Hey there! This week I have another fitness class review. I love trying out new classes, and there are so many cool ones out there, especially in the NYC area. I follow a lot of NYC-based fitness instructors and fitness bloggers, so I’ve been hearing a lot about BODYROK on social media. They have studio locations in California, Illinois, Montana, and NYC. If you’re interested in hearing a fitness instructor’s perspective on this class, keep on reading!
What is BODYROK?
BODYROK is a fast-paced 40-minute sculpting workout that uses a megaformer. BODYROK claims to “do in 40 minutes what other classes do in 60”. It’s a low impact workout - pretty much Pilates with music and lighting.
About the studio.
I went to the Union Square location in NYC. I was able to book my class a couple of weeks out. So you shouldn’t have to worry about setting an alarm to book for the upcoming week like you would with SoulCycle.
Some online reviews claimed that the studio was big, but I felt like it was pretty small. Yes, there are two floors, but they’re both tiny. There aren’t any showers; just cubbies downstairs to hold your belongings. I’d advise getting to class at least 15 minutes early because the locker area is small and gets really crowded. Plus, reformers in the best spots get claimed fast. The front desk was super friendly and helpful both before and after my class.
BODYROK offers a discount for first-timers. I paid $20 for my first class. The other option is $99 for 5 classes, but you have to use them all within 30 days of purchase. Since you’re not really saving anything with the 5-class option, I’d go with the $20 single-class pass if you want to try it. BODYROK is also on Classpass, which is another great way to try it!
BODYROK is on the pricier side. It’s $36 for a drop-in class if you aren’t a first time client. They offer class packages, but you aren’t really saving much by buying any of them. If you don’t want a membership commitment, your best option for saving money is 50 classes for $1,450. This breaks down to $29 a class. A bit better than the $36, but it still seems high to me. Especially since most people can’t afford to shell out that much money at one time for a workout class.
The monthly memberships don’t come in an unlimited option. They require a minimum 3-month contract, and any drop-ins beyond your monthly limit will cost you $25. 4 classes a month is $125, 8 classes a month is $220, and 12 classes a month is $300.
Is it worth the money? Keep reading to find out.
I liked my experience with BODYROK, but I didn’t love it.
If you’re new to the megaformer, this probably isn’t the class to start with. I’ve done plenty of mat Pilates, but this was my first megaformer class and I felt super lost throughout most of it. I didn’t feel like the instructor was very good at cueing. Even though the girl next to me was a regular, she seemed to be confused. She was also doing some of the moves wrong. It seemed like most of the class was lost; the instructor didn’t really know how to explain things in a way we’d understand. I’m sure that after a few classes things would become more intuitive, but I wouldn’t say it’s beginner-friendly by any means. I felt like I missed out on a lot of potentially good work because I spent half the class trying to figure out how to get into the pose/movement.
BODYROK claims to do in 40 minutes what other classes do in 60. My experience was that BODYROK attempts to do in 40 minutes what should be done in 60. There’s no real warm-up or cooldown and everything just seems really rushed. We weren’t in a lot of the moves long enough to benefit from them. Had the class been 10 to 15 minutes longer, I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. The express-style class may work for people with tight schedules, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable relying on this as my main workout.
Another issue I had was that the workout was very uneven. For several moves, we didn’t do the same amount of work on our right side as our left, which is a pet peeve of mine. I personally prefer classes that use a set time or number of reps on each side instead of just winging it.
The class certainly wasn’t easy. If you’re experienced with the megaformer you’ll probably get a lot more out of it than I did. I was definitely sweating by the time class was over. I also like how challenging the megaformer can be.
Was I sore?
I left the class feeling like I kind of wasted my time. It wasn’t until later that day that I realized how sore my abs were! I took the class on a Saturday and didn’t feel the soreness completely go away until Monday night. This was such a pleasant surprise! Because I’m so active, I rarely get sore any more. When I do, it’s a great sign that my workout was super effective.
I didn’t feel anything anywhere else in my body - it was just my abs. But, at least I know the class was effective with the core work. I would’ve loved to have felt some soreness in my glutes/legs. Most of the class was focused on core, though, so I wasn’t expecting it anyway.
Tips for BODYROK first-timers.
Is BODYROK worth it?
BODYROK in NYC only offers the one 40-minute SCULPT class. I could see myself coming back via a service like Classpass when I’m looking for something quick and effective, especially now that I’ve gotten a little megaformer experience. I can’t say that I’d recommend buying a membership at BODYROK because I think your money would be better spent elsewhere. For the prices they charge, you can pay for an all-inclusive membership at a place like Equinox, which offers plenty of sculpting classes and much better amenities.
If you love megaformer classes or Pilates in general, I think BODYROK is a good express option for when you don’t have a full hour. As an instructor, I didn’t like that the class had no warm-up or cooldown. Even in a low impact sculpting class, they’re still important. To me, it felt like BODYROK skipped out on some of the important pieces of a workout class in order to make it 40 minutes. It felt rushed, but I got a great core workout.
BODYROK has definitely sparked my interest in megaformer classes. I’d love to see how my body responds to an hour-long class! I’m thinking I’ll try some more popular ones to get more of a full-body burn.
Thanks for reading! Do you prefer mat Pilates or reformer/megaformer classes? What are some of your favorites?
Let me know in the comments!
Happy Friday! Today’s post covers a really important topic: sticking to your exercise routine. I talk to so many people who tell me they only work out 1-2 times a month and they all have different reasons. If you don’t exercise as much as you’d like to, this post is for you! Here are my tips for developing an exercise routine and sticking with it.
Start with an achievable goal.
If you currently work out less than once a week, deciding that you’re going to work out five days a week probably doesn’t make sense. Starting with a goal that you can actually achieve makes you more likely to stick to it. If you rarely ever work out, maybe going for a walk 3 days a week is a good place to start. You can always adjust your goals to make them more challenging if you need to, but holding yourself to an unrealistic standard isn’t going to promote progress.
Find the workouts you actually enjoy doing.
One great thing about fitness is that your routine doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. I interact with a lot of runners, but I personally don’t enjoy running at this stage of my life. I’d much rather get my cardio in a spin class. Do you hate the Stairmaster? Guess what? You don’t have to use it! Most movements and workouts have an equivalent that’ll offer similar benefits. When you’re doing something you hate, the chances of you maintaining a routine are slim. But when you find a class or workout you genuinely enjoy, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it!
Try group fitness.
In 2019, there are so many different types of group fitness classes available. If you haven’t gone to a class in the last few years, understand that group fitness has changed drastically and there are options for everyone now. Some people’s perception of group fitness classes is Zumba or 80s aerobics classes. But I promise there’s so much more!
Once I became a group fitness instructor, I discovered just how much more I prefer taking classes over working out by myself. I have an instructor pushing me and fellow classmates motivating me, so I go much harder than when I’m working out alone. I also don’t have to think about what my workout for the day is going to be. My instructor takes care of that for me! Plus, classes are a great way to meet other people who can eventually become accountability partners!
I’d recommend getting a membership at a gym with a good selection of classes. CrossFit, Pilates, hot yoga, barre, HIIT, and spin classes are some of my personal favorites. A lot of inexpensive gym memberships offer Les Mills classes which are excellent, especially if you want to get stronger. I reviewed some of the Les Mills programs here. Check and see if your gym offers any of their programs!
When I’m traveling and don’t have access to my regular fitness classes, I’ll grab my laptop and put on a workout video from YouTube! POPSUGAR Fitness has some great ones you can do right from your bedroom or hotel room with no equipment.
Consider your workouts mandatory appointments.
Just like work meetings or social events, I schedule my workouts in my calendar. I use my Outlook calendar so that I get a reminder on my phone when it’s time to get ready to go. When it’s in your schedule just like other meetings, you’re less likely to skip it! Eventually, you should start to see your workouts as appointments that you can’t cancel. Of course, life happens. So, stay flexible and shuffle things around as needed.
If you’re just getting into the swing of things, try scheduling workout classes with a strict cancellation policy. That way, you’ll actually have to pay a fee if you cancel last minute or no-show! This will help keep you accountable and make sure you show up.
When I talk to people about the reasons they don’t consistently exercise, the biggest reason I hear is that they’re too busy.
This isn’t a viable excuse! Everyone is busy. We all have things going on. Some may be busier than others, but we make time for what’s important to us. If you can’t wake up an hour earlier to get a workout in, it’s because exercise isn’t a priority to you. Sometimes it’s going to require sacrifices - you may have to go to bed an hour earlier or get home a little later so you can stop at the gym. You may have to skip your daily Netflix binge or say no to happy hour on occasion.
You’re not always going to feel like getting up and doing a workout. I don’t think anyone always feels motivated to exercise. But you have to learn to push through that feeling and get it done anyway. I promise it gets easier once you find your rhythm.
If your reason for not working out is that you feel like you don’t know where to start, group fitness is perfect for you. Having an instructor and classmates to follow will be a huge help. And if you’re not feeling being in a gym setting just yet, try an at-home program.
Change your mindset.
This is sometimes easier said than done, but in order to push yourself to stick to your routine, you have to shift your mindset. Rather than thinking of exercise as something you have to do, think of it as something you get to do.
I don’t think of my workouts as punishment for something I ate or for how much I weigh. I genuinely enjoy doing them because I’m taking classes I enjoy. If I were to spend an hour running on a treadmill, I’d probably hate working out too.
Be grateful for your body. Be grateful for the ability to move, and think of your workouts as taking time for yourself to escape the craziness of life. If you dread something, don’t do it. Use trial and error to find what works for you and stick with it.
I went through a period of my life where I wasn’t active, and I’m so glad to have that behind me. I hope the tips in this post helped you reflect, even if you’re already working out consistently. These are some of the behaviors that helped me get back into a consistent routine, and I’ve been super happy with my progress!
If you end up trying any home workouts online, let me know what you think! I credit workout videos with helping me get back into a regular workout routine and keeping me active while I was constantly traveling for work.
Do you have any other tips for sticking to your workout routine? Do you prefer the gym or working out at home? What questions do you have for me about staying consistent? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey, there! Today’s post is all about how to save time choreographing your barre classes. When I first started teaching barre, I found myself spending hours on end trying to come up with the right class. Along the way, I’ve developed some tips that help me quickly choreograph classes that my clients love. Every studio and instructor is different; so, all of my tips may not work for you. But I think you’ll find at least one tip you can put to use today to help you create your classes a little more effectively!
How I format my classes.
Every studio is different, and some studios require instructors to format their classes a certain way. This section only applies to instructors who have the freedom to format their classes the way they want. For example, I can do core work at any point in the class I choose.
I like to have a set order in which I go through the different sections of a class. If I want to occasionally switch it up, I may do that. But I typically don’t deviate from that order.
Having a set order allows me to easily mix and match sections from previous classes to create a “new” class. Which brings me to my next point…
Class notes storage.
I touched on this in my post where I talked about tips for your group fitness instructor audition. In my opinion, the best way to store your choreography notes is electronically. I don’t use a notebook or paper for my choreography notes at all, and here’s why.
Mixing and matching different sections of the class allows me to create a “new” class without really adding any new choreography. I can pull together a class using different series from a bunch of past classes and boom - I have a brand “new” class with hardly any extra work. But this becomes a lot more time consuming and hard to track when I have to flip through a huge notebook of notes (or multiple).
Here’s exactly what I do:
I have an armband that I wear during classes that holds my phone, which is a lot easier to glance at than a notebook on the floor. Plus, I have an electronic record of what I taught (and when) that makes it very easy to mix and match when I’m short on time.
Use outside resources.
If you’re a barre instructor, there’s a good chance you also have some awesome choreography ideas. It’s important to tap into that, but it’s also important to know that there’s no way you can come up with fresh ideas every week. It’s okay to go online and be inspired. There are tons of resources out there with excellent barre choreography ideas, both free and paid!
I was certified through Barre Above, and afterward, I decided to join their Elite program. It only costs $99 for a full year of new releases every month. I don’t get 100% of my choreography from Barre Above, but I always use at least one or two of their series in my classes. The Elite program gets you get monthly releases of different choreography styles, which I love. Every month there’s a traditional Barre Above release, a Pilates-focus release, a ballet-focus release, a musicality “to the beat” release, a HIIT/cardio release, and more. With all that fresh content being released so often, I can’t even get through it all by the time a new release is out!
I also get great free ideas from YouTube. BODYBARRE has some excellent and fun series. Their Bohemian Rhapsody Plie series is one of my clients’ favorites! There are always new ideas you can get from looking on the internet. Checking out what other people are doing will also spark you to come up with great new ideas.
Finally, take other people’s classes. I can’t stress this enough! Fitness is an ever-changing industry with new trends and movements coming out all the time. We can and should all be learning from one another. I can guarantee you there’s another instructor at your gym or studio who uses a technique you haven’t seen before. In that hour of class, you’ll get a workout AND save the hours you might have spent scouring the internet for that perfect hamstring movement using a Pilates ball. Take other people’s classes, and take them often. You’ll continue to learn new things that you can take back to your choreography sessions.
PS - Take classes outside of your format, too. Your classes will be a lot more unique and creatively designed because of it. Pilates, spin, yoga, and CrossFit have all taught me things I’ve implemented in my barre classes.
Everyone’s classes are a little different, which is one thing that makes freestyle barre classes so awesome. I personally find it so much better to use music in the foreground of my class and develop choreography to the music in my playlist. My clients like it better and catch onto moves easier. Plus, it makes things a whole lot easier for me as an instructor and choreographer. Let’s not forget that Barre is ballet-based. Even though it’s not a ballet class, adding musicality to it and getting clients to understand an 8-count makes the class better (in my opinion).
Storing notes electronically allows me to quickly create a “new” class using sections of previous classes when I’m short on time. This seriously comes in handy during busy weeks!
I’m a huge advocate of using online resources for choreography inspiration. When you find a series you like to use, you can repeat it in multiple classes to a different song to give it a new feel.
While I do try to introduce at least one or two new movements to my clients every week, I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel every class. There are lots of ways to make your classes feel new without actually spending hours coming up with new content every week.
If you’re a new instructor and you feel like you’re spending way too much time planning your classes, try some of these tips! And keep in mind that it’ll get much easier as you become more experienced.
If you’re an instructor, do you have any tips you use to save time creating classes as a group fitness instructor? How often do you use online resources for ideas?
If you take group fitness classes, do you like to have a brand new class every week? Or do you prefer some aspects of the class to be repeated?
Let me know your thoughts below in the comments! And check out the workouts I did last week.
Hey there! This week, I’m talking all about Alani Nu Plant Protein. And I’m including a recipe for VEGAN fruity cereal ice cream using this protein powder. It’s so good!
Alani Nu is a popular, relatively new nutritional supplements brand owned and operated by Katy Hearn. Katy Hearn is a popular fitness trainer/coach with over 1.8 million followers on Instagram (myself included). On top of holding several highly successful virtual fitness challenges each year, Katy and her husband Haydn own several businesses beyond Alani Nu. They own a gym in Indiana, a meal delivery service called Bite Meals, Onyx & Rose CBD Products, and the Fit by Katy weight training app.
Alani Nu products are sold at GNC and online. One of the line’s newest product releases was a vegan, plant-based protein. Given how popular the whey protein is, I wanted to give the plant-based protein a try! I’ve been on the hunt for a pleasant-tasting vegan protein option. While I’m not 100% vegan, I try to stay away from dairy and dairy-based products. Because I drink protein so often, I like to stick to plant-based options. Unfortunately, all of the vegan proteins I had tried tasted awful! People really seemed to really love the Alani Nu Whey Protein Powder. So, when I saw that they came out with a vegan option I jumped right on it.
Cost, ordering, and shipping.
The protein was $44.99 plus a flat shipping fee of $5, which brought the total to $49.99 for 752 grams (25 servings). The cost comes out to $2 a serving, meaning it’s on the higher end of price per serving. I ordered my protein on the Alani Nu website on July 30th and it arrived August 1st. I was super happy with how quick the shipping was and the packaging was nice.
Although I don’t typically drink my protein like this, I decided to just shake it up with some almond milk at first. I usually use my VitaMix and blend my protein with a couple of other ingredients, but I know that some people only use a shaker and would appreciate knowing how it tastes when consumed that way.
To be honest, I hated it. It mixed well with the almond milk and wasn’t very clumpy. But the taste was awful. It was just as bad, if not worse, than other vegan proteins I’ve tried. There was a weird, chalky aftertaste and I didn’t really get the taste of fruity cereal at all - it was just bad. I struggled to even finish the small cup I had.
Discovering how to make it taste great.
The next day, I decided to try it blended with some almond milk, ice, and a banana. I figured the banana would add some sweetness and possibly make it easier to stomach. When I tried it, I was shocked at how delicious it was!
The cold temperature plus the sweetness from the banana brought out all the good flavors in the protein, and it was seriously like drinking a Fruity Pebbles flavored milkshake! I actually look forward to drinking it when I do this because it feels like a treat even though the ingredients are very clean. There’s almost no sugar, sodium is low, and you get 21.7 g of protein in each serving. The protein comes from a blend of pumpkin, watermelon, and pea protein. I usually have bad digestion with pea protein, but I didn’t have any noticeable issues after drinking this. I’m super impressed that the pea protein taste isn’t detectable.
Vegan ice cream recipe:
My favorite thing to do with this protein is to make vegan protein ice cream. It’s so quick and easy. And ice cream is one of the things I miss most while eating a plant-based diet. The fact that you get almost 22g of protein per serving makes it even better!
Although I used a regular ripe banana, you can freeze yours the night before and use it to make your ice cream a little creamier. Or, feel free to just add a little extra ice and continue blending until you get the consistency you want. I used about 2 cups of ice, but feel free to use more or less depending on your preference. Your banana may be a different size than mine and your milk may be a different thickness, so play around with the amount of ice until you get the consistency you want. If you want to make it a “milkshake”, go for it!
I used original unsweetened almond milk. I felt like the banana added enough sweetness. But if you have a sweet tooth, feel free to go for the sweetened or vanilla version. If you want creamier ice cream, you may want to opt for oat milk or cashew milk.
It’s that simple! I really love this protein and can’t wait to see what kind of baked goods I can create with it. While I wouldn’t drink it with just water or almond milk, it tastes delicious when paired with something sweet like a banana. The ingredients are super clean, and I love the fact that it’s vegan. Alani Nu really created an awesome product with this!
If you use this protein to make vegan ice cream or any other recipes, let me know! Do you have any plant-based protein powders that you enjoy?
I finally did it. I finally went to a SoulCycle class!
I really wanted to see what all the hype was about and find out for myself whether SoulCycle is worth the (in my opinion) exorbitant amount they charge for a class. For a number of reasons, SoulCycle is one of the most controversial fitness classes available. From the cost to the atmosphere to the movements done on the bike, this indoor cycling class was the first of its kind and has become one of the most popular classes ever.
I think fitness instructors have a unique perspective on fitness classes. So, I was looking forward to reviewing SoulCycle as someone who both takes and teaches classes regularly. If you’re interested in my thoughts about the SoulCycle experience, keep reading!
For first time riders in NYC, the class is $25. For everyone else, classes are $36 a pop. There’s no unlimited monthly option, but riders can purchase class packs which slightly discount the cost. The most “cost-effective” option is purchasing 30 classes at once for $900, bringing the cost down to $30 a class. They also offer a more expensive option called Super Soul, which allows you to reserve classes ahead of sign-up time, includes full concierge service, and gets you priority on waitlists. The Super Soul package is $3,500 for 50 classes, bringing your cost up to $70 per class.
Being a fitness instructor, I haven’t paid to work out in a long time. I’m also generally frugal and never saw myself paying anywhere close to SoulCycle prices for a class. $36 for one 45-minute class seems insane to me - a piece of me died just paying the $25 as a first time rider! But people do pay it, and they pay it often. There are people who live and breathe SoulCycle, paying to take classes multiple times a week - some almost daily! I wanted to find out what the big deal is, which is why I forked over the money.
I normally elect not to give my business to companies who charge seemingly ridiculous prices like this. However, there’s one thing about SoulCycle that caused me to make an exception. SoulCycle instructors are paid a living wage and receive benefits. While the cost of a class makes me cringe, I appreciate that instructors can earn a salary and have sick time/PTO. The life of a full time fitness instructor can be a struggle. I’m glad that I have a full-time day job that pays me well, but I can’t imagine trying to make it as a full time instructor. Instructors tend to be underpaid and overworked in many cases. But SoulCycle definitely got this right. The instructor hiring process is also incredibly selective, and instructors undergo an intense training program before they can begin teaching. From what I’ve seen, SoulCycle instructors seem generally happy doing what they do. Kudos to SoulCycle for recognizing the worth of instructors!
PS: This review was written prior to the recent controversy surrounding a SoulCycle investor/owner hosting a campaign fundraiser for Donald Trump. Please note that while the review is being posted in the midst of the controversy, the class was taken (and review written) several days beforehand. By posting this review, I am not expressing any particular opinion regarding the controversy - this review is strictly about the class I took last week. Now, back to the fun stuff!
Booking a bike.
Bikes for the upcoming week are open for booking at noon every Monday. SoulCycle classes are known to book up very quickly. So, I was stalking the site 10 minutes before in preparation! At 12:00 on the dot, I booked the bike I wanted and saw that many of the bikes had already been booked by 12:01! I can’t imagine the stress of being a regular and having to do this every week.
After booking and receiving confirmation, I checked out some of the content they had on their website for first-timers. If you’ve taken an indoor cycling class before, there probably isn’t much there that you haven’t seen before. Keep in mind that cycling shoes are required for all bikes! SoulCycle studios have them available for rent or purchase.
My class was at the East 83rd Street location in NYC. When I walked in, I was a little overwhelmed by how hectic it was! There were a lot of people leaving from the previous class or signing in for this one. The desk employees were very friendly, though. We got complimentary water and shoe rentals since it was our first time. I was expecting to have to pay for those, so this was a nice surprise! The studio is small and really nicely decorated. Of course, there’s plenty of SoulCycle gear for sale. There are complimentary lockers where you can store your belongings using a passcode you create.
This location has two studios. We were in Studio B, which I believe is the smaller one. Because I was expecting the room to be huge, I was surprised to find how small it was. It was comparable to the other cycling classes I had tried in the past.
After class, I hit the locker room and shower area just to see what it was like. It was probably the nicest locker room I’ve been in. They also had lots of high-end toiletries. Plus, if you forget essentials like a blow dryer attachment, a hair tie, hair spray, or q-tips, they’ve got you covered. The studio altogether was really nice.
I took a 10:00 AM class with Maya, who was great. Her energy was very positive and she was super welcoming. I also loved her playlist! I can tell she’s been teaching for a long time by how well she handled a participant with a medical issue. Towards the end of the class, a man actually had to be walked out by several people because he was feeling faint. As with most indoor cycling classes, you do sweat a lot and often become very tired. Maya saw him having trouble standing and ran to grab help. We found out later that the man was okay, but it was great to see how well Maya and the SoulCycle team dealt with the emergency situation. Maya, like a true professional, was able to hop right back into the teaching the class after we had been stopped for a minute or two due to what happened.
This was a traditional 45-minute SoulCycle class; it had most of the same things you’d expect from any reputable indoor cycling class. Tapbacks, lots of standing, and mix of intervals. One thing that differentiates SoulCycle from other cycling classes is that they incorporate dancing on the bike. They worked in things like body rolls and clapping, which I found really fun.
SoulCycle is the third indoor cycling studio I’ve tried, and they’re the only one I’ve seen do “push-ups” on the bike. I expected this from reading other reviews, but doing it felt even weirder than I had anticipated. When we did fast push-up pulses, the fitness instructor in me wanted to scream. Moves like push-ups while on the bike, especially fast ones, are contraindicated and not very beneficial. They’re actually downright dangerous, and I wish SoulCycle would do away with them. It would be so easy for someone to hit their face on the handlebars, especially considering how sweaty and fatigued people can get during class. Your feet are also still moving and that just adds to the danger. Plus, these really aren’t doing much for your arms. It’s simply added movement. It’s totally unnecessary. There’s an arm section of class that uses light weights safely. I really wish they’d stop using moves like push-ups on the bike!
I liked that the room was dark and lit with candles. And I don’t mind the music being loud. My only issue is that in studios like SoulCycle, I find it impossible to hear what the instructor is saying. I don’t know if the mic is always too close to their mouths, but it sounds so muffled that I only catch about 30% of what they’re saying. I was expecting to hear really motivational and encouraging words from the instructor (SoulCycle is known for this). This may have been happening but I couldn’t hear it. I’ve had this issue at another studio that’s close to me. So, it’s not just a SoulCycle thing. But I’ve also been to studios where I can hear the instructor.
All in all, I got a great workout at SoulCycle. I was dripping with sweat and my legs got a good burn. Plus, some of the dance moves were really fun and the music was great. I get free classes at a local spin studio thanks to a partnership with one of the gyms where I teach. It’s very similar to SoulCycle; the room is dark and the instructor has different lighting settings to play with (one being glow in the dark, which is very cool!). Classes are 50 minutes instead of 45. And thus far, I haven’t noticed anyone doing push-ups on the bike. The movements are a little less dancey and classes here are significantly cheaper than at SoulCycle. To be honest, I enjoy those classes a little more than the class I took at SoulCycle.
I can see why people love SoulCycle. Some people call it a cult, but I get the sense that it just gives participants a really strong sense of community. The instructors are well-vetted and the experience from start to finish feels very luxe. However, the class itself didn’t wow me. In fact, I prefer the classes at my local studio that’s cheaper and offers an unlimited monthly option. I can see why people who have the money might want to splurge on SoulCycle. But I do get the sense that when you’re paying for SoulCycle, you’re paying extra for the brand name. Their brand identity is very strong, and it seems like attending SoulCycle classes is the “in” thing to do. There are other studios in NYC that are cheaper and probably similar in the quality of class they provide. Paying the premium for SoulCycle is the route a lot of people choose to take, though. Personally, I care more about the class itself; I’m not interested in paying more for the name or the glowing signs in the studio. At $36 a class and with no unlimited monthly option, it’s just not worth it for me.
I would encourage anyone who wants to try SoulCycle to test it out. But also try out other spin studios near you to see which one you like best. If money is no option for you, SoulCycle may be worth it. But you may find that another studio in your area actually fits your needs more. If you like dancey spin classes and like to be at the most popular class in town, you’ll probably love SoulCycle. If you’re looking for a more traditional spin experience, you may find a better option for you elsewhere.
PS: SoulCycle, if you’re reading this, PLEASE do away with the push-ups on the bike. It’s not effective, but more importantly, it’s not safe. Safe dance moves are fine, but dangerously thrusting your face down towards the handlebars are not.
Thanks so much for reading, and let me know if you have any other classes you’d like me to review! I’ve been thinking about trying [solidcore] or Barry’s Bootcamp and letting you know my thoughts. What are your favorite workout classes, and which ones have you been dying to try?
Check out my workouts from last week below:
Hi, friends! This week, I’m doing an honest review of 9Round and letting you know what it’s all about. I signed up for a free trial at my local 9Round location and didn’t let them know I’d be writing about my experience. This review isn’t sponsored and these opinions are 100% my own.
What is 9Round?
According to their website, 9Round is “a specialized fitness center for people who want a unique, fun, and proven workout that guarantees results. 9Round offers a kickboxing themed fitness program that incorporates a functional, interval, cardiovascular, and circuit training regimens. The programs consist of a proprietary system of nine challenging workout stations developed by a World Champion Kickboxer.”
9Round is a franchise with over 750 locations nationwide. The workout is 30 minutes long and consists of 9 stations that differ every day. The first two stations, which target strength, might use equipment like dumbbells or kettlebells. Stations 3-8 are kickboxing fitness stations where you punch and kick a bag. The final station is an abs/core station. There’s always a trainer to help you with each of your stations but there’s no “class”. You can work out at any time during the gym’s open hours. Rounds switch every 3 minutes and you can hop in at whatever time you want.
What I liked.
My 9Round workout was awesome. I was dripping with sweat by the end and I’d learned something new! This was my first time working with a speed bag, which I found really fun to learn. The 3-minute rounds went by super fast. This was partly because for 30 seconds of each round, the trainer threw something different at us. Everyone in the class had to do it regardless of which round we were on.
I love that there aren’t class times. You just come whenever the facility is open and hop in when you’re ready. You don’t have to worry about being late or not finding a time that works for your schedule. I also love that it’s so quick! I felt like I got just as good of a workout as I would in an hour-long class.
I really like that the workout is different every day. This is one of the reasons I love CrossFit. Variety keeps me wanting to come to class! The trainer was also super helpful when I had questions. The facility is super small, so it was easy for her to keep an eye on all of us and make necessary corrections.
The 9Round system also gives you a pretty well-rounded workout. There are elements of cardio; some that are kickboxing-based and some that aren’t. There’s also strength work; we did kettlebell snatches, an excellent compound movement. The workout made great use of compound HIIT movements as well, like box jumps and mountain climbers. We did plenty of burpees too. I love that the workout always ends with core work. It’s so important!
Perhaps my favorite thing was the price. There are several prices for an unlimited membership, which depends on how many months you agree to. There’s a start-up fee that includes your equipment (gloves, hand wraps, heart rate monitor, etc.). It’s a little weird that there’s no information about pricing available online...at all. They don’t tell you until you come into the facility for a class. So, I honestly don’t remember what all the pricing options were. I believe the most inexpensive was around $50 a month for a 12-month agreement, though. Compared to some of the fitness class prices I’ve seen lately, it’s not bad (considering the workout is different every day and you’ll always get some level of one-on-one attention from the trainer on duty). 9Round memberships all include a nutrition program. You can also see your stats on screens throughout the class using the heart rate monitor that’s included in your start-up fee.
What I didn’t like.
9Round locations don’t have showers. This is standard across all locations. If you’re someone who likes to work out in the morning then shower and head straight to work, this might be a deterrent. I prefer working out in the evening anyway, but having the option to shower at the gym and head straight to work is nice. Apparently, they don’t have showers so that they can keep costs affordable, which I can appreciate.
I know 9Round trainers go through a training process that’s specific to 9Round, but I don’t know what other qualifications they hold. I get the feeling that some of them aren’t certified group fitness instructors and could probably benefit from earning these credentials.
As a fitness instructor, proper form when executing exercises is important to me. The average person can’t execute a regular push-up with proper form, even if they think they can. I’m one of those people! In order to maintain excellent form, I need to come down to my knees when I do them. During my 9Round workout, we had to do push-ups. I came down to my knees and started doing them; a few other people did too. The trainer told us that unless we’re hurt, we shouldn’t be on our knees. I guess I’ll come off my knees and do them with improper form, then?
I get more out of push-ups on my knees using good form than regular push-ups with bad form. A lot more. Most of the people in the room weren’t capable of doing a regular push-up with proper form, but they were made to do it with bad form anyway. This really rubbed me the wrong way. While I got a great workout, it grinds my gears when fitness instructors don’t understand the benefit of modifications. There are people of all fitness levels working out here - we shouldn’t all be doing the same thing.
I also noticed that the trainer’s demonstration of how to execute box jumps wasn’t done properly. They didn’t have us extend the hips fully at the top - the focus was just on getting up and down as quickly as possible.
I also would’ve liked more of a warm-up. The first station is always jumping rope, which I think is nice, but the warm-up could be more robust. Maybe something resembling what we’d see in the next few rounds?
Finally, there wasn’t any time in between rounds. Not only do you have zero time to transition to your next round, but you also need to figure out what you’re doing at your next round. This may be less of an issue for people who come all the time. But if you’re new and the trainer needs to explain to you what to do, this is cutting into your 3 minutes at that round.
There were people who had been there before who needed an explanation of the rounds as well. I would imagine this improves as you keep going, but I still think they could work in a 30 second transition period in between rounds. I understand that not having any rest time is part of keeping the workout so short, though.
I think 9Round is a solid, affordable option for busy people who like to have someone else create their workouts for them. The ability to show up whenever you want as long as they’re open is a huge advantage, and I think options like this will become more common in the fitness industry. The workout gives you a well-rounded, challenging session in just 30 minutes.
I do think that almost all of what’s done in the 9Round workouts can be done at a gym on your own for $10 to $20 month. But the convenience of not having to think about what your workout is going to be for the day is worth the extra money for some people. You’re also probably going to work harder in these 30 minutes than you would on your own because you’re being pushed by your trainer.
I do, however, feel that the camaraderie that’s typical of a group fitness experience is lost with the 9Round system. There isn’t much interaction between participants, at least from my experience. You truly are getting in, working out, and getting out all in 30 minutes. Some people like that, but if you’re looking for a workout community to become a part of, you may want to look elsewhere. I find that in CrossFit, although we may all be at different fitness levels, there’s a really strong community and a lot of interaction between participants during classes.
CrossFit, on the other hand, is up to triple the price of 9Round and has set class times. If you’re looking for a more affordable option or aren’t interested in learning how to powerlift, 9Round is a good place to start. You may find that after a few months of training there, you’ve picked up enough that you can do the workouts at the gym on your own.
Hi, friends! Today’s post is all about why I decided not to get certified to teach a Beachbody Live group fitness class format. I’m also telling you what my workout routine was last week. If you’re interested in hearing about this, keep reading.
What is Beachbody Live?
If you’ve been into fitness for a while, chances are you’ve heard of a Beachbody Live format or at least know who Shaun T is. He’s a fitness world legend who’s developed several of the Beachbody Live formats, including P90X and Insanity.
Beachbody Live class formats allow instructors to be certified by completing a 1-day training, much like many pre-choreographed formats that exist today. Beachbody offers home workout programs, but also provides Beachbody Live certifications so that instructors can teach the programs as a live group fitness class.
The Beachbody Live formats currently available for certification are as follows:
Core de Force Live - A high energy, non-contact group fitness class that mixes MMA-inspired cardio drills with explosive power moves for a full-body conditioning workout. No equipment needed.
Insanity Live - A cardio-based, athletic style workout that combines HIIT and strength moves. Each high energy workout is packed with cardio drills, plyometrics, and bodyweight strength moves. No weights required.
P90X Live - A total-body strength and conditioning group fitness class. Designed to burn calories and build muscle using light to moderate weights.
PiYo Live - Designed to build strength, improve flexibility, and tone muscles. You’ll perform a series of high-intensity moves using only your bodyweight, all without putting unnecessary stress on your body.
Turbo Kick Live - A high-energy, fat-burning workout that combines cardio kickboxing with body-sculpting HIIT moves.
Transform Live - A high-intensity cardio conditioning class that uses a step to ramp up your calorie burn.
Why was I considering getting certified in a Beachbody Live format?
I currently teach barre and the occasional HIIT class. While challenging, my barre classes are always low impact. When I teach HIIT classes, I typically have my participants at different stations at a given time. I demo movements at the beginning of class, but I spend the majority of class correcting form and encouraging my clients.
I’ve been on the hunt for a format I can teach that’s high impact but will also allow me to get a good sweat on as I teach. Some of the first ones that came to mind were Insanity, P90X, and Transform.
Transform was at the top of my list since it seems like a fun re-invention of the step classes that were popular a couple of decades ago. It would also give me a great cardio session as I teach my class. Shaun T--a fantastic choreographer-- also created Transform. Since it’s a brand new format, there are lots of local trainings happening in the coming months.
Why did I decide against it?
The main reason that I decided not to get certified to teach a Beachbody Live format was that all of the Beachbody Live class formats are pre-choreographed, meaning that the instructor doesn’t develop the moves or playlists.
The choreography and playlists are given to the instructor by Beachbody in the form of “releases”. Zumba and Les Mills follow a similar structure. If you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on some of the Les Mills programs, see the following links:
Ultimately, I don’t think pre-choreographed formats are for me and here’s why...
Lack of creative freedom.
One of my favorite parts of teaching is coming up with music and choreography. While it can be time-consuming, this is one of my creative outlets. It also allows me to tailor my class to the wants and needs of my clients. If a client tells me s/he wants a longer calves section during barre, I can easily fit that into my next class. If I were teaching P90X, I wouldn’t have any control over which body parts we focus on - I’d have to teach the choreography I was given.
In general, I also tend to dislike the music that comes with pre-choreographed formats. Zumba has really awesome music sometimes, but formats like Les Mills and Beachbody Live use awful fitness remixes of popular songs. Everyone’s taste is different, but I rarely like the music in those classes. I also find that my clients love the music I put into my playlists and it’s always fun to take song requests for future classes.
Teaching group fitness isn’t my full-time job; it’s a passion project of mine. I don’t think I’ll be as passionate about teaching choreography that isn’t mine to a playlist I didn’t create. Once I give creative control to someone else, I no longer feel like the class is mine. Yes, instructors of pre-choreographed formats can add their own personal touch to the way they deliver the choreography. But they really have no freedom to change things up if they want to. Teaching a class I’m not 100% passionate about would be a disservice to my clients and myself.
Issues with the Beachbody brand.
There’s no doubt that Beachbody has some of the best trainers in the business on their team. They also have some uniquely awesome workouts. Clients at one of the gyms I work at love their P90X and PiYo classes. However, I have some conflicts with aspects of the Beachbody brand.
I don’t support MLMs.
If you’re on social media, chances are you’ve either seen or been contacted by a Beachbody “coach”. As a fitness professional who went through the process of getting certified, it’s pretty infuriating to see people with zero credentials calling themselves “coaches” and attempting to make money off of people who don’t know any better.
Aside from offering the live programs, Beachbody is an MLM company. MLM stands for multi-level marketing. Also known as network marketing, MLM consultants earn commission from any product they sell as well as product sold by other consultants they recruit, known as their “downline”. MLMs require their consultants to pay a fee, typically for a start-up kit of some kind, in order to start selling. One of the most common themes in an MLM is that consultants focus more on trying to recruit people to join their “team” and start selling rather than actually selling the product themselves. According to recent studies, more than 99% of MLM consultants end up losing money. Some other examples of popular MLMs you've probably heard of include Herbalife, ItWorks, Mary Kay, and Monat. Now, back to Beachbody.
Their “coaches” attempt to recruit more “coaches” to be part of their “team”. Some of the tactics I’ve seen Beachbody “coaches” using are downright disgusting. Targeting women who recently gave birth and are insecure about their weight gain, single moms, immigrants, and people from low-income areas are just a few examples. MLMs have ruined a lot of people’s lives, and I find that a lot of their tactics are really dishonest. This isn’t meant to be an anti-MLM post, so here are some good resources if you’re interested in learning more about what I mentioned above.
If you’re in search of a fitness/nutrition plan or looking for motivation to get fit, please don’t seek the advice of a Beachbody “coach”. The vast majority of these people aren’t certified in anything fitness-related and are trying to sell you something. And whatever you do, please don’t give them any of your money! If you’re looking for someone to push you, find a good certified personal trainer or registered dietician.
As far as I know, the Beachbody Live programs aren’t part of the MLM side of Beachbody. However, it all falls under the Beachbody umbrella. If I were going to teach a pre-choreographed format, it wouldn’t be one associated with practices I don’t agree with.
Who should be a Beachbody Live instructor?
I think a lot of people would have a good experience teaching a Beachbody Live or other pre-choreographed format. There are a ton out there. Beachbody Live, Les Mills and Zumba are some of the most popular companies offering pre-choreographed classes. Each of those has multiple programs you can choose from to be certified to teach in. I would encourage you to do your research on the companies as well as the programs they offer if you’re interested in teaching a pre-choreographed format.
New instructors or people who don’t want to spend time creating choreography and playlists.
Did you just get your group fitness certification but don’t know where to start? A pre-choreographed format like one of the programs Beachbody Live offers may be an option to consider. You’re guaranteed to get an effective class that was designed by professionals who know what they’re doing. This can help relieve pressure for people who are new to teaching. Or, maybe you’re not new, but you’d rather not focus on creating choreography and playlists. If this is you, Beachbody Live programs may be a good fit. They’ve already done the legwork for you - all you have to do is learn the choreography and deliver it to your class!
People interested in becoming a Master Trainer.
If you’ve ever attended a training to become certified to teach a particular class format/modality, you were probably taught by a Master Trainer. All certifying group fitness companies have them. If you’re interested in hearing about my experience with Barre Above training, click here.
If you want to “train the trainers”, you can become a Master Trainer and lead the trainings that develop new instructors in your format. Most companies require you to have taught that particular class a certain number of times before you can become a Master Trainer. This is generally more financially lucrative than just teaching.
Becoming a Master Trainer for one of the big companies like Beachbody Live, Les Mills, or Zumba can open the door to lots of opportunities. This is a great place to start if you want to make fitness a full-time career. Beachbody Live programs are wildly popular and the brand has been around for years. If you want to become a Master Trainer, getting certified to teach is the first step!
If you really enjoy Beachbody Live programs and don’t have an issue with their MLM alignment, I’d say go for it. I don’t think teaching a Beachbody Live format is for me, but I know people who do it and love it.
What’s next for me?
I’m still thinking about getting certified to teach a more high-intensity, sweat-filled class. I’m actually considering indoor cycling! There are a few different companies I can get certified through, but I’ve been looking at good old Spinning. It’s one of the most popular and it’s been around a long time. I think indoor cycling would be a great format for me to teach because instructors always get a great workout and I’d have the freedom to use whatever music I like. While there are only so many moves you can do on a bike, there are ways to keep it exciting.
If anyone has any recommendations or tips for getting certified to teach indoor cycling, I’m all ears! Check out last week’s workouts below.
Thanks so much for reading!
What are your thoughts on Beachbody Live? Do you take any of their live classes or teach them? What’s your favorite class? Let me know in the comments!
Hi there! Today, I’m sharing my tips for keeping up with your workout routine while traveling/vacationing. I partnered with adidas to create this post as part of their Staying Fit For Summer campaign!
Since I spent most of last week in Toronto, my workout routine was very different from usual! This was my first time in Canada and I had so much fun. While I didn’t get in much resistance training, I stayed active, which was my focus during this vacation.
If you want to know my tips for staying active on vacation, keep reading!
Thank you for reading this week’s post! I hope you found some of my tips helpful! These are some of the things that help me stay active while I’m on vacation. Do you have any other tips to share? How do you plan to stay active during any upcoming vacations? Let me know in the comments!
Other posts you might like:
Hey there! Are you a group fitness instructor or interested in becoming one? Or maybe you’re just curious about what it’s like. If so, keep on reading! This post is about the HONEST pros and cons of being a group fitness instructor.
All in all, I think the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to being a group fitness instructor. While making extra money is awesome, my biggest reasons for teaching aren’t financial. Yes, making $45 for a 50 minute class sounds great. But when you factor in the time it takes to prepare for class, arriving early to greet clients, and staying after to chat with them, the hourly rate goes down. If you’re in it for the money, you’ll probably find yourself disappointed!
My day job pays the bills and my fitness jobs provide some extra income, but the best thing about teaching is how fulfilling it is on so many levels. Preparing my choreography and playlists takes me a lot less time than when I first started teaching. But even when it took forever, it was something I enjoyed doing. I don’t teach any pre-choreographed formats - all my choreography and playlists are 100% original. Teaching gives me an opportunity to express myself creatively. It’s also really honed my public speaking skills, increased my confidence, and contribute to my ability to network. Most of all, the feeling I get when I have a room full of people who got an awesome workout is unmatched.
Check out my workouts from last week:
Taught barre class
Taught PiYo class
Taught barre class
Taught barre class
Do you want to know anything else about being a group fitness instructor? If you teach group fitness, what’s your favorite and least favorite part? If you’ve tried group fitness before, how did you like it?
Let me know in the comments!
Hey there! You may have noticed that I took two weeks off from blogging! I’ve had this post written for a couple weeks now but found myself subbing so many classes I haven’t had much time to edit. It’s important to protect your energy and mental health, so I’m proud of myself for recognizing that I needed a break. I’m officially back to weekly posting! Thanks for sticking around.
This week’s post is all about my experience on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship (currently). If you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on the ship, continue reading. This is a longer post, so I’ve included links here in case you want to jump to specific sections:
As much as I loved this cruise, I can’t lie. The embarkation process was a nightmare. The new Miami Terminal A was built since my last cruise so I was expecting a more streamlined process. Our entire party was Crown & Anchor Gold members and supposedly would get access to priority check-in, but there was no evidence of any priority check-in from what I could tell. There was a massive crowd of thousands of people with no one telling us where to go. There wasn’t really a line, but more of a giant blob. Of course it was swelteringly hot outside and we were delayed in boarding by a couple hours due to the computers being down. Chaotic and stressful are the best words I can use to describe it. This doesn’t reflect on the ship at all; it’s really a Miami port issue. The stress of the situation is just amplified when there are more than 6,000 passengers trying to board the same ship and crowding around the area with no direction on what’s happening. Just like my experience with my last cruise, Miami port employees are generally incredibly rude. Once again this isn’t a reflection on Royal Caribbean, but when you’re preparing to go on vacation the last thing you want to deal with is nasty attitude from people at the port.
Symphony of the Seas is an absolutely gorgeous ship. There was clearly a ton of thought put into the design. From the elevators to the floors to the staircases, everything is beautifully designed and there is stunning artwork everywhere you go. We had an interior stateroom and found it very spacious for two people. The bathroom was also very modern with great shower pressure.
The ship is so huge and has so much to offer that I can’t possibly talk about all of it, but here were some of my favorite areas: The Boardwalk is right by the aqua theater and is such a cool place, especially at night. You really get the feel of a carnival here. There’s a candy shop and hot dog stand, as well as a carousel! Playmakers sports bar is located here as well.
Central Park is a nice area where you can walk around and feel like you’re outdoors in your favorite city park. There are real plants and trees and lots of benches to sit down and relax. Central Park 150, one of the specialty restaurants, is located here. I didn’t try it, but the people in my party who did really enjoyed it. Park Cafe is here as well.
I was super impressed by the gym and spa. I didn’t get any spa treatments but it smelled amazing and looked very clean. The spa leads into the gym and also sells healthy shakes/smoothies. I worked out a couple times at the gym and couldn’t believe how much equipment there was! TRX, weights, cardio equipment, you name it. Plus, it was so spacious!
I spent time in the Solarium every day of the cruise! The Solarium is for people ages 16 and up, so it’s a nice escape from some of the other pool/lounging areas where there are typically lots of kids throughout the day. There are pools, hot tubs, a bar, and plenty of places to catch some sun. In my opinion, the Solarium is one of the most aesthetically pleasing locations on the ship.
Would you believe that we only got to try one waterslide? There are several on the ship, but we just spent time doing so many other activities that we didn’t get a chance to try them all. The line moved quickly and the slide was really fun! There is also Flowriding (simulated surfing) and ziplining, which we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try either. Somehow, even with over 6,000 passengers on board, the ship usually didn’t feel crowded. The Windjammer got a bit chaotic at times, but we never had issues finding chairs by the pool. We found ourselves at the karaoke bar most nights. They hosted some fun games and had lots of open karaoke. We did plenty of people watching and two of us even got up and did karaoke! This was a really popular place at night and we did find it difficult to get seating. If you plan to hang out there at night, get there EARLY to claim a spot!
This was a 7-night cruise leaving from Miami. We stopped in St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and Nassau. Apart from embarkation day and departure day, we had 3 sea days. I didn’t get off the ship in St. Thomas, and we had excursions through the cruise line at the other ports. I’ve been to St. Thomas before (and wasn’t very impressed with it) and since there’s so much to do on the ship, I felt no need to get off!
If you’re going to get off the ship in St. Kitts, do an excursion. It doesn’t need to be one you book through the cruise line - check online for cheaper prices. But just walking around the port area won’t be fun - just stay on the ship! Trust me on this one. You’ll be harassed left and right by people trying to sell you things. It’s nearly impossible to just sit and enjoy a nice meal or have a drink without being solicited. On top of that, there really isn’t much there. On my last cruise we stopped in Key West and were able to just walk around the port area and have a great day, but I wouldn’t recommend trying this in St. Kitts.
I ended up doing the Beach Break excursion through Royal Caribbean. It cost $43 a person and since we had some onboard credit, it seemed pretty reasonable. The excursion took us to Cockleshell Bay, a beach located in an upscale residential area. The drive was incredibly scenic and we saw some amazing views. It’s a drastic difference from what you’ll see near the port! On the way, your driver may stop and let you out to take photos at a mountain. It’s absolutely gorgeous - be sure to get pictures! But stay away from the guy with the monkey. He’ll charge you $20 to take a picture on YOUR cell phone with the monkey. Plus, the monkey was really angry and was running all over us. Not a good feeling when it’s an animal that has long nails.
The “welcome drink” you get upon arrival is a cup of juice. If you’re expecting an alcoholic beverage, sorry to burst your bubble! The beach, although not the most gorgeous beach I’ve seen, was nice. You’re provided with umbrella chairs which is great! No food is included with this excursion. My mom got a massage from one of the women selling them on the beach and didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t get one, but based on her experience I wouldn’t waste your money. You don’t really get much time at the beach, but I was ready to get back on the ship when it was time to go anyway. Overall, it was a nice and relaxing couple of hours at the beach.
I stayed on the ship because I don’t really care for St. Thomas. Had this been a ship with less offerings I may have gotten off to walk around for a bit, but I didn’t find it necessary. I was happy to spend another day on the ship! If you want to get off in St. Thomas, I’d recommend a day trip to St. John and a visit to Trunk Bay. It was named the world’s most photogenic beach, and it really is beautiful.
If you’ve never been to the Atlantis, I’d recommend visiting as an excursion. The excursions are very expensive, but the waterpark is awesome and the beach on the resort is AMAZING. No rocks or shells and the water is beautiful. Jet skiing on the beach is super fun as well! I’ve stayed at the resort for a regular vacation twice and did an excursion there on my last cruise, so I decided to do something different this time.
We initially planned to do the Blue Lagoon excursion which was pretty expensive. We met a really nice family on the ship who had some family members get sick, so they sold us their tickets at 50% of the original price for the Pearl Island excursion. I don’t remember the exact cost, but I know the original price of the excursion was over $100 per person.
To be honest, I was pretty disappointed with the Pearl Island excursion. We got lucky being able to buy tickets from someone at such a discounted price, but in my opinion it’s definitely not worth what the cruise line is selling it for (or even half that). First off, the Nassau port was a disaster. I don’t remember it being that bad on my last cruise, but it was incredibly disorganized and very difficult to find the meeting place. No one from the staff knew where we were supposed to go, and we kept being directed to the wrong place. Once we finally found the line we were supposed to wait in, we waited about 20 more minutes before taking a very long walk to small ferry boats. The boat ride was nice - the Nassau waters are stunning and there were some beautiful views.
By the time you actually get to Pearl Island, you probably won’t have much more than two hours there, three tops. The condition of the place just wasn’t up to par considering what most people paid to be there. Every single beach lounger we found was broken and had to be jimmied using rocks and sticks to get the umbrella to stay up. Many were rusty and ripped. The beach also had a ton of rocks and shells. It was actually pretty uncomfortable trying to get into the water, and once I was in the massive amounts of seaweed made it hard to really do much.
The food situation was my least favorite part of the excursion. Lunch was included and consisted of what you’d expect - BBQ chicken, fried fish, rice and peas, and coleslaw. I loved the rice and coleslaw. The chicken was incredibly dry and almost inedible. The fish was okay. About 5 minutes into lunch, they ran out of food and had to go make more. We waited probably 30 minutes for the food to come out so that we could eat. This was really disappointing because not only were we hungry, but waiting around for the food cut into our already limited time in the sun/on the beach. They know how many people are coming well in advance, so why they wouldn’t have enough food is beyond me. I wasn’t expecting an outstanding lunch, but the subpar food would’ve been more acceptable if it was ready when we were told it would be.
One thing I loved about the excursion, though, was the free access to kayaks and paddleboards on the beach! The attendant giving out equipment was super friendly and gave me a quick 2 minute lesson on stand up paddleboarding. I tried it and loved it! Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures, but this was the best part of my day.
If Atlantis excursions aren’t in your budget but you want a nice beach day, you might want to consider one of the free beaches in Nassau. I haven’t been to any, but I’ve seen many people have great experiences opting for that over an expensive excursion.
The entertainment on this ship was one of my favorite parts of the cruise. I took full advantage of the entertainment and saw all of the shows that were offered! Hairspray, in my opinion, was the best show of the cruise. It was Broadway quality, probably even better! The dancing, singing, and acting was seriously amazing and way exceeded my expectations. HiRo, the aqua show, was really cool. Really impressive stunts, great music, awesome dancing. If you don’t want to get wet, don’t sit in the first couple rows!
1977, the ice skating show, was so fun. A couple skaters fell down, but the costumes and stunts were great. The show takes you through a bunch of different time periods and cultures, so you get some awesome music and dancing!
Flight was another one of my favorites. There were parts that make you laugh and cry, and the finale is something you should NOT miss.
The comedy show was hilarious. We laughed to the point of tears. I honestly don’t remember the name of the main comedian, but he was pretty funny. The opener, Simeon Kirkiles, was SO funny. I don’t know how he wasn’t the headliner!
The music on this ship was so much better than on my last cruise! There are always live bands performing by the pool throughout the day which is really nice. The Silent Party was really packed and lots of fun, as well as the all white party at the Solarium. Royal Caribbean does a great job with activities programming, and there was stuff to do all day and all night. We had several different ages in our party, and everyone found stuff they enjoyed doing! Trivia, sports tournaments, competitions, outdoor Zumba, game shows...The list goes on! Make sure you don’t miss the Love & Marriage game show - it’s hilarious (but not appropriate for kids!).
I ate breakfast in the Windjammer (buffet) every day. The food, just like on my last cruise, was awesome. The buffet is HUGE and has pretty much every option you could think of. My favorite during breakfast was the avocado toast station they had each morning! Everything I tried from the Windjammer was delicious.
For lunch, I found myself eating at El Loco Fresh quite often! It’s a newer option for Royal, featuring quick Mexican fare like burritos and quesadillas. It’s close to the pools and sports areas which is where I was most days, so it was a convenient option. Even though it’s a quick grab and go place, the food is freshly made and nothing is sitting out for long periods of time. The quesadillas and burritos were awesome with a side of rice, some chips + queso, and a small cup of flan for dessert! There’s a soft serve ice cream machine nearby which is great for a day at the pool! I also ate lunch a couple days in the Windjammer.
For dinner, I ate at the Main Dining Room 3 out of 7 nights. The MDR on this ship was much more impressive than the one on Enchantment of the Seas, understandably so. I thoroughly enjoyed all of my meals there, but there were two standouts! I saw jerk chicken on the menu one night and had to try it. It came with plantains, coconut rice and a festival dumpling. This was seriously some of the best jerk chicken I’ve ever tasted. If you see this on the menu on your cruise and are a meat eater, make sure you try it! (Side note: I typically stick to a pescatarian diet, but I allowed myself to be a little more lenient on the cruise. I try to avoid eating meat other than fish as much as possible.)
My other favorite was, of course, lobster night. Lobster is one of my favorite things to eat, so when I heard the MDR does a lobster night at no additional cost, I knew I had to be there! They were some of the best lobster tails I’ve had, especially with the butter on top. Be sure to ask your waiters what night lobster night will be on your cruise. Portions at the Main Dining Room tend to be on the smaller side (with the exception of the jerk chicken, which came with a lot of food). But don’t worry - as with all Royal ships, you can always ask for a second appetizer/entree/dessert at no extra cost.
I ate dinner two nights in the Windjammer and was seriously blown away by the number of options and how delicious everything was! From soul food to Jamaican to Indian to Korean to American to Italian and more, there was something for everyone. And the desserts… Unreal. So many different types of cakes, pastries, cookies, and brownies. Try dinner in the Windjammer at least one night!
For late night snacks, Sorrento’s, the pizza restaurant, is open until 3am. The pizza is good enough (nothing special) and nice when you’ve had a long day/night! They also serve some appetizers. There’s a hot dog stand on the Boardwalk open during the day, but we never had a chance to try it!
I tried two specialty restaurants on this cruise: Solarium Bistro and Wonderland.
Apparently a lot of people don’t know that Solarium Bistro is a FREE specialty restaurant. It’s Mediterranean-inspired food and it’s delicious. You do need a reservation, so just be sure to book ahead of time. We decided to book here for the first night of the cruise to avoid some of the crowding we expected at other places. We were the only party there and received excellent service. The salmon was perfect and the desserts were unique and crazy good! If spending extra on dining isn’t in your budget but you still want a specialty dining experience, Solarium Bistro is the perfect option!
Wonderland is the dining experience of a lifetime and I highly recommend eating here if you can. Make reservations early because it’s sure to book up quickly. Wonderland is a specialty restaurant inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and each course is inspired by one of the elements. I won’t spoil all of the experience for you, but this was the most impressively unique food I’ve ever tried.
To be honest, I’m scared to try any cruise line other than Royal mainly because I don’t want to be disappointed by the food. Imagine being stuck at sea for 7 days with food you don’t like! While the ship had plenty of premium dining options, the free options were still outstanding.
This cruise was the best vacation I’ve been on, and my family felt the same. My mother has very high standards when it comes to vacations and didn’t expect to enjoy cruising, but she loved it! While actually getting on the ship was difficult, once we were on the experience was top-notch. From the entertainment to the dining to the service to the staterooms, everything exceeded my expectations. I promised myself I’d come back on this ship, I’m hoping to make it back on Symphony in 2020!
Taught barre class (sub for another barre instructor)
Taught barre class
Taught barre class
Taught barre class
Have you cruised before? Have you been on Symphony of the Seas or any other Royal Caribbean ships? Do you have any upcoming summer trips? Did you reach your exercise goals last week?
Let’s chat in the comments!