Fitness Review: LIFTED with Holly Rilinger

 The stairs up to Studio B. Are these the most Instagrammed stairs in NYC? Maybe Y7 has them beat.

The stairs up to Studio B. Are these the most Instagrammed stairs in NYC? Maybe Y7 has them beat.

This past Monday evening I got LIFTED. Say what? LIFTED is a brand new class (I was in the very first one), designed and taught by Holly Rilinger. For those who don’t know (is there actually anyone who doesn’t know?), Holly Rilinger is a veritable megastar in the fitness world. Her resume includes Master Instructor at Flywheel, Nike Master Trainer, Certified Personal Trainer, Group X Instructor, star of Bravo’s Work Out New York, and former WNBA player.  On top of all of that, she’s one of the most kind-hearted and inspirational people I know. I have been lucky to have her as one of the mainstays in my rotation of Flywheel instructors for the past several years; in fact she was actually the second instructor I ever took at Flywheel (what up Sag summer 2010).

I was so excited when I learned about LIFTED and couldn’t wait to try it. After my last experience at Studio B, I was a little hesitant, as I had felt somewhat unwelcome in the space. Any doubts I had vanished the second I made it to the top of the stairs where I was greeted by the friendliest staffers from Holly’s team or PR company (I’m not sure which). Soon after arriving, I spotted some familiar #FlyFam faces and Holly herself and, while not totally sure what to expect, was eager for whatever was to come.

To start off, Holly gave a brief overview of her vision for LIFTED as well as what to expect in terms of format and what we would need. LIFTED begins with a meditation, which you return to in the middle of class, and to a lesser extent at the end of class in the form of savasana (there may also have been a brief meditation, I was sweaty and tired and can’t remember). The structure is meant to mirror the rhythm of life. We can go from stillness and calm to movement, to deep moments, to chaos, all in the blink of an eye. By training our mind and bodies this way, it makes us better equipped to face the ups and downs that happen outside the studio. Equipment-wise, we each had a mat (pre-set) and then were told to select one lighter weight and one heavier weight. The lighter is used for arm work (think overhead shoulder presses) and the heavier for lower body (squats and lunges). I went with a 5 lb. and was going to do 10 lb. but picked up a 12 lb. and since that seemed to be what most around me were using, I peer-pressured myself into it and figured, let’s just see what happens and if I have to drop down later so be it. As with The Class, towels were provided and water was available for purchase.

Guess what? This was the first time I have ever made it through a meditation and felt like I got something out it! I think a lot of this has to do with the trust and level of comfort I feel with Holly. Having her as my “guide” felt completely natural and I was ok with my thoughts drifting and then pulling them back. Maybe it’s also because I’m used to her getting me to do this during Arms/To Do list time at Flywheel. Whatever the reason, it was a huge breakthrough and *spoiler alert* there may be more on meditation in an upcoming post…

What did we do for the physical portion? So glad you asked! There are two movements per song, which Holly would demonstrate at the start of each song, and then we would join in. Over the course of the class we did lunges (with and without weight), squats (with weight), shoulder presses, bridges, rockstar pose, oblique work in the form of side back taps (think of having your legs in an extended bridge and then reaching back on one side and then the other as far as you can), Russian twists, lateral lunges/skaters, running in place, and a shadowboxing style set.

LIFTED is one of those sneaky workouts where afterwards you look down at your shirt and you realize you’re sweaty and soreness is starting to creep in. I am now three days out and it’s only today that my glutes and hamstrings are not constantly making their presence known. I may or may not have told Holly I was going to need her to LIFT(ed) me out of bed the next day. Did I get LIFTED? You bet! This class really did change my mindset and I found myself achieving things I wasn’t sure I could do. In addition to my successful meditation, I made it through with the 12 lb. weight and I held a plank for the entire plank song. There were moments when I wasn’t sure if I could, but I kept saying, just try a few more seconds, just count to ten and then if you need to you can take another position, but then before I knew it, Holly was counting down the final counts of the song and I never once dropped!

 Yes, yes I am. [ Source ]

Yes, yes I am. [Source]

If I hadn’t known this was Holly’s first time teaching LIFTED, I’m not sure I would have believed it. Holly was, as always, the consummate professional. Every moment was well thought out and both the sequencing and cueing were spot on. The music was also perfect. Each song complemented the rhythm of the corresponding movements, while never distracting from what we were doing or feeling like unnecessary background noise/annoying elevator music. While a group class, you never felt like a faceless body among the masses. Holly shouted out individuals, ran through the rows during big pushes, made corrections and got people different weights when needed, all the while spreading her infectious joy and energy, uniting the room.

I don’t have any real complaints/tweaks that I would like to see. My mat did shift a bit during class but only minimally so. Because I have a bone cyst on my tailbone (a fancy way of saying that I have extra bone on my tailbone), I can’t do anything that requires direct weight on it, and thus had to modify the Russian Twists. However I’m very used to encountering situations like this. I didn’t love the modification I came up with, so next time I’ll see what else I can think of – if you have a suggestion, please share in the comments!

After class there was time to hang out and get to know each other, with complementary treats. It was during this time that perhaps the best part of the evening occurred. It turns out that the woman who was on the mat next to mine is a big Holly fan and watches her videos at home with her family and said family was waiting to meet Holly when class was over! Wait, it gets better. Her nine-year-old daughter grace has a favorite move, Spiderman push-ups (and those aren’t easy), which she did with Holly! It is truly incredibly to see the effect that Holly has on others and yet, I’m not one bit surprised because over the years she has had the same effect on me. Will I be getting LIFTED again? Next Monday’s mat is already booked!

 How much do you love this?! Grace and her mom with Holly. [ Source ]

How much do you love this?! Grace and her mom with Holly. [Source]

Have you tried any new classes recently?