I Tried It: Beginner’s Belly Dancing at Studio 1831

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Shutterstock

I’ll let you guys in on a little secret: I regularly convince myself that I am totally capable of doing things that I don’t actually know how to do. Sometimes it’s great for conquering fears and pushing my own limits, but other times it sets me up for complete and total failure. Belly dancing, I learned, falls squarely into the second category.

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I Tried It: 3 Fitness Apps for My Apple TV

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Shutterstock

My crack-like addiction to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman enticed me to buy an Apple TV earlier this year. But once I blew through all five seasons of Breaking Bad, I wondered, Could I get a decent at-home workout with help from my Apple TV? Turns out, yes—if you know where to look.

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I Tried It: The Great 30-Day Yoga Challenge

Be Well Philly Yoga 30

That’s me—all smiles at Mama’s Wellness Joint // Photograph by Adam Jones

It’s an unseasonably warm Monday evening, and even warmer inside the studio at DIG Yoga in Queen Village. I’m hiding in the back near the door. Sweat drips from my forehead, staining my new Lululemon yoga mat, as I struggle in downward-facing dog. I glance at the girl next to me—she looks totally Zen—and begin contemplating a fast, early exit. This is only day one of my 30-day yoga challenge, and I’m starting to think I’ve made a terrible mistake.

I always assumed I would hate yoga: the snail-like pace, the lack of competitiveness, the hippie-dippy ommmms. But for the sake of New Year’s—fresh starts! Personal challenges!—I decided to give it a fair shake: 30 days of yoga classes, at 30 different studios in the Philadelphia area. If I didn’t like yoga after this experiment, I figured I’d officially be a lost cause.

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I Tried Both: Spinning at Flywheel Philadelphia and Body Cycle Studio

Flywheel (left) and Body Cycle Studio (right) // Photos via Facebook

This summer was my first in Philly, and as the new girl to the local fitness scene, I couldn’t pinpoint Philly’s it exercise right off the bat. You know, are Philadelphians yogis? Long-distance running fanatics? CrossFit fiends? Then, as soon as I started writing for Be Well, it came flying at me: It’s Spinning—Philadelphians really dig Spinning. And the best part for carless city dwellers like me is that Center City houses two Spin-only studios within blocks of each other, where you can pedal your heart out: Flywheel Sports at 1521 Locust and Body Cycle Studio at 1923 Chestnut.

Now, being a Spinning novice, I wondered what made each of these very popular studios unique. To find out, I took a 45 minute class at each on two different Sunday mornings to see for myself what all the hype is about. Here are my takeaways.

{P.S. Spinning is totally addicting. Looks like Philadelphians are on to something.}

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I Tried It: SurfSET Fitness Indoor Surfing Workout

I’ve been DYING to try SurfSET fitness ever since I saw it featured on Shark Tank (it’s a guilty pleasure, alright!) back in 2012. For those that don’t know, the workout uses a stationary surfboard to replicate the muscle-toning, calorie-burning workout of a real surf session without the water. Since the show aired, SurfSET has been making quite the splash (ha!) in cities like New York, LA, and Miami, but, sadly, not in Philly. Totally unfair, right?

That’s why last month, I decided to put together a fitness class wish list, hoping that Be Wellers would be able to generate some buzz around SurfSET and maybe—just maybe—help bring this workout to Philly. After the post went up, I received word that a local yogi/trainer had a SurfSET board and was offering private 45-minute sessions. They’re run by Shelsea Acoveno, a super bubbly instructor and owner of Sea Yoga. Truth be told, one-on-ones usually aren’t my scene—there’s nowhere to hide!—but for the chance to try SurfSET, I was willing to make an exception. So that’s how, last Tuesday, I found myself in an apartment complex in Roxborough. On a surfboard.

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I Tried It: Penn Medicine’s Med School Boot Camp

Students at Penn Medicine's Laparoscopic Olympics

Last week, when I learned I would be checking out a summer camp at Penn Medicine, I have to admit I was slightly disturbed at the thought of 55 high schoolers actually choosing to spend their summer vacation at a camp modeled after med school. My idea of a camp, at least at their age, involves bonfires and archery and dips in the lake, not physiology books and cadavers and lectures with physicians. What kind of person willingly swaps one of his last summers of little to no responsibility for a four-week long boot camp devoted to all things medicine? And at age 16, at that? Even I’m not that much of a gunner. I should know: I just finished my first year of med school, and I wouldn’t elect to redo it if you paid me.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong—so wrong. This camp, at Penn Medicine’s Perelman School, in partnership with Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs, is med school on steroids—in a really, really good way. It’s the kind of med school that real medical students wish their med-school experience could be, one packed with as many fun and interactive activities as staffers could think of. (Seriously, they have weekly check-ins with students to make sure the “fun factor” is turned high enough.) Instead of spending the majority of their time slaving away over textbooks and sitting through long lectures with PhDs, Penn’s med school boot camp teaches students to draw blood, certifies them in CPR, lets them watch live-surgeries, and organizes lectures on topics ranging from addiction to global mental health, without the pressure of a big test at the end. These kids are even getting to practice techniques, like suturing, that I—and the camp’s six TAs who are also going into their second year—haven’t had a chance to try out yet. Jealous.

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I Tried It: Outdoor Yoga Atop a 45-Story Building in Center City

The view from the sundeck!

Outdoor yoga on the beach, outdoor yoga at the park, outdoor yoga on the patio

Yes, folks, outdoor yoga classes are all the rage this summer. But here’s one sun-drenched spot you may not have thought to look for a yoga class: 45 floors up on the sundeck of 1500 Locust apartments. And—lucky me!—I got to try it out last weekend.

The apartment complex happens to be home to Nawrocki Fitness, a boutique-style fitness studio that opened up about three years ago. Owners Marlene and Ed Nawrocki offer private training as well as oversee various fitness classes, many on the sundeck, including yoga.

On Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m., Megan Duncan comes in to teach a very casual, happy-go-lucky Vinyasa-style class for about 45 minutes. She gets cool points for being a Fox 29 producer by weekday and yoga teacher in her free time.

Now, I’m not new to yoga, but this was the first time I did a class outside, right in the direct sunlight during the summer heat. There are a few things I advise:
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I Tried It: House Party Fitness at Philly Dance Fitness

This past Monday, I let loose, house-party style. Wait, I should clarify. (Hi, mom!) I didn’t exactly go to a full-fledged, out-of-control house party, but I did go to House Party Fitness at Philly Dance Fitness—and that’s practically the same thing, right?

Nerd that I am, I haven’t had much experience raging out on a regular basis, so I did a little research to find out what to expect. The thing I saw on PDF’s website was this: “You know the type of party where the music is pumpin’, the base is pounding, and you don’t want the party to end?” Um, sure. “Well that’s what this class feels like.” Still a bit unsure about what exactly I was getting myself into, I convinced myself that I could totally do this. I mean, I am an avid Zumba-goer, so how different could this be?

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I Tried It: Trampoline Fitness at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park

Before last Friday, I hadn’t jumped on a trampoline since I was a kid. Our neighbors growing up had one in their backyard, and I remember spending many post-school-day hours on that thing seeing how high we could “popcorn” each other. Ahh, those were the days.

Barring the occasional drunken Fourth of July party, when do we adults ever get to bounce on a trampoline for an hour, just because? Even better: How often do we get to do bounce our little hearts out and call it a work out?

This is where Sky Zone comes in—more specifically, Sky Zone’s newly minted fitness classes. The brand new trampoline park in Oaks (yes, there is such a thing as a trampoline park) just debuted a pair of new fitness classes, and I got to try one out last week. SkyRobics, which is the class I took, focuses on aerobics (duh) and keeping your heart rate up for an hour with some conditioning thrown in to mix it up. I’m told the other class, SkyFit, does the opposite: it focuses mainly on conditioning, with the help of resistance bands, and mixes in some cardio here and there.

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