I’d been wanting to check out Refine Method for quite some time now, so you can imagine my excitement when Running Bun sent over a Valentine’s Day treat: a trial pass to the famed studio!
When I went to sign up for my very first class though, I discovered that I was already in possession of a free trial. Apparently, I signed up for a class back in October, but due to Sandy, I never actually got to go — and the trial class remained in my account. Who knew?
(Apparently, it’s difficult to do things without power.)
Not that I wouldn’t have been fine going alone, but I wanted to spread the Valentine’s Day love. That, and I always find it far more entertaining to check out new classes and workouts with a buddy by my side, and so I enlisted the help of my good friend and old roommate who we’ll just call T. After all, I’m much more likely to know where the nearest Starbucks, dumpling stand or Doughnut Plant is on my daily morning run than how to operate a locker room door.
It’s actually kind of funny that I would extend the invitation to T; spending the morning working up a sweat was certainly a worthy alternative to our typical lazy mornings spent lounging on the couch watching reruns of Lifetime movies and scooping handfuls of Hershey’s.
Sadly, I can assure you that we have spent many mornings doing just that.
Other times we party it up in Miami. NBD.
Moving on, T and I met around 11:15 at my apartment. We walked to Grand Central, took the Shuttle to Times Square, and transfered to the 1/2/3 train. Easy. Breezy.
At Running Bun’s recommendation, we opted to take Saturday morning’s Refine class with founder and owner Brynn Jinnett on Manhattan’s Upper West Side — even if it was much farther from where we live than the studio’s upper east locale.
Fortunately, the commute was surprisingly simple, putting us just steps away from the studio doors in no more than 30 minutes.
Other than for the sake of being adventurous, open-minded and curious about what this fit-minded city has to offer, there are lots of reasons to check out Refine Method. Today, I’ll delve into my top five.
Reason No. 1: This is a place you genuinely want to go to.
A boutique class, Refine Method is tucked away in an upscale yet laid back part of the city and exudes an equally upscale yet laid back feel. The space: both spacious and welcoming, bright and warm. I especially loved the fact that there is just one studio, eliminating those distracting swarms of students who hustle in and out of any number of classes.
Looking back, Refine Method actually harbors many of the same home-like elements (fresh towels, good lighting, air circulation) that made me fall for Jivamukti’s yoga studio downtown years ago. The only difference is, with Refine Method, it’s a bit less om and a bit more ohm-ygod I didn’t know that muscle was there.
Reason No. 2: It’s not your mother’s workout.
Since immersing myself in the New York City fitness scene, I’ve tried a lot of workouts. From hot power yoga to Figure 4, from Physique 57 to anything involving a barre, I’ve pulsed, squeezed, lunged and crunched my way from east to west, north to south.
Then, I’ve rolled to counteract the side effects.
I have to say, Refine Method is very different than all of the above. Part cardio (not that I’m lacking on that one), part yoga, part weight training; there’s really nothing you don’t do during the hour-long circuit-style session.
Something that’s certain: Your pulse will be racing in no time. My first visit to the studio incorporated a blend of traditional exercises, like jogging in place, jumping jacks, burpees, sprinting in place and push-ups, as well as plyometric exercises with the addition of 8, 10 and 12-pound Kettlebells.
Best of all: individualized strength training apparatuses line the walls, which was totally new to me. Each can be adjusted for height, weight and intensity, but don’t worry — if you’re new to the studio, Brynn or another instructor will give you a quick tutorial before getting started.
Reason No. 3: Music to move to.
The same music that’s made for poppin’ bottles in the club…
…can also be awesome for working out to.
Heart-pumping David Guetta during the toughest of moments. Blackbird (by The Beatles, but sung by some chick) to accompany the cool-down. Had you given me access to a catalogue of music and told me to hand-select songs for Saturday’s workout, I couldn’t have done a better job myself.
I can’t exactly attest to awesome tunes during every session since, you know, it was my first time there. But if other classes even come close, I can guarantee that you’ll have no trouble digging deep to find that inner strength that allows you to push on through the most challenging of moments thanks to a kick-ass playlist of current and classic songs alike.
Reason No. 4: Don’t take no.
I have to confess, as I’ve done before, I may have delicately sipped a few too many glasses of white on Friday evening before my class.
Not the first time. Won’t be the last.
You’d think that signing up for a class at noon would have given me ample time to recover beforehand, but no. I felt like crap from the moment I walked into the studio to the moment I walked out the door.
Brynn, if you’re out there, I’m sorry for pretending that I was too weak for push-ups. I swear that next time, I will put the wimp card back in my pocket and press on through the pain.
With Brynn’s gentle (ok, but a little firm) encouragement, I managed to beast my way through a splitting headache that perpetually reminded me throughout the class that I can be far too liberal with my wine consumption — and that I probably didn’t need to eat that order of fries before going to bed the night before.
Reason No. 5: So, I guess it was pretty effective.
After the class, T and I walked over to one of my favorite bakeries on earth: Levain. I know. Softball-size cookie after a grueling workout. Counteractive much?
Actually, the cookies were for my dad, who just celebrated his birthday (in the least celebratory way possible; pretty much everyone in my family dislikes the day they were born).
Who hates his birthday but loves Levain cookies?
To be honest, so does this girl.
Definitely nabbed some of the cookie for myself.
At any rate, if you’ve ever been to Levain’s Upper West Side store, you’d know that the small, hole-in-the-wall shop is located down a few stairs. Let me tell you, these were hands-down the worst stairs I can recall descending in quite some time. Holy hamstrings.
Then came Sunday morning, when I woke up unable to lift my arms or bend my legs. T put it best: For two generally fit girls, Refine Method made us feel like we had never worked out before.
Afterward, I forced Noah to massage me every hour on the hour.
I also spent a lot of time in this position.
If you’ve never checked out Refine Method, I can’t speak more highly of my experience. As a runner, I can truly see why Running Bun believes that her time spent in the studio has translated tremendously to her workouts on pavement. If nothing else, I can already see myself incorporating some of the high-energy movements into my own morning routines at home.
First step, invest in a Kettlebell.
Second step, convince Refine Method to open up shop in Murray Hill.
- Have you been wanting to try, or have you ever tried, Refine Method? What did you think?
- What’s the best workout you’ve checked out lately?