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Laura Kay’s October Workouts: Barry’s, SoulCycle, F45

F45 Gym
A glimpse of the F45 gym

The first quarter of business school has been a whirlwind.  But, in theSTRETCHEDlife fashion, I have still managed to squeeze in some great workouts.  I arranged my class schedule such that I do not have any classes that start before 10:30am.  This allows me to get a workout in in the morning, even if I stayed up late the night before studying, socializing with my new b-school friends, or networking with one of the many firms recruiting on campus.

I’ve been having fun taking advantage of new student discounts and trying out the studios in my new city.  Here are a few of the highlights.

Barry’s Bootcamp

Chickpeainthecity at Barry's
@chickpeainthecity at Barry’s (because apparently I didn’t manage to take any photos myself)

Kellogg’s Run-Bike-Swim club secured an insane promotion to this infamous fitness studio.  I had seen Barry’s all over my Instagram feed, but there wasn’t one around when I was living in Atlanta.  (Of course they literally opened one the second I left).  Thus, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to go to 2 Barry’s classes every week during the month of October for only $30.

Barry’s is a little bit of a drive (or train ride) away from Evanston, but the workout is worth it, and commuting there with fellow fitness-lovers was a great way to make new friends.  For those of you haven’t tried Barry’s, it is similar to Orange Theory (or BLAST for my Atlanta readers).  It just has a different vibe – think dark retro box gym with pumping music.


Cat and Laura at SoulCycle
After my first SoulCycle class with my friend Cat!

This is another infamous studio that somehow has not yet made its way to Atlanta.  I always just assumed SoulCycle was similar to Flywheel and other cycling studios that I’d tried.  I was so wrong.  If Flywheel is a ballet class, SoulCycle is a hip hop class.  SoulCycle is all about feeling the beat and there is always new choreography that incorporates your whole body.  There are no numbers or scoreboards like there are in Flywheel and many other studios.

I am still trying to decide which style I like best.  I definitely see pros and cons to each.  Some people need the numbers to know if they are pushing at the right level, while others like to feel it out themselves.  Either way, I’ll definitely be hitting up SoulCycle more in November as the aforementioned Run-Bike-Swim club has secured yet another amazing promotion.

SoulCycle class with my sectionmates


Kellogg ladies pushing it to he max by doing wall squats after our complimentary class

So this is one studio I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s such a perfect fit for me that I have actually paid for a monthly membership (*gasp*).  F45 Training was started in Australia and offers 27 different 45-minute high-intensity, circuit training workout classes.  Every day there is a different circuit laid out and two instructors, supported by screens with timers and demos of each exercise, guide you through the workout.

I love that, if I wanted to, I could go to only F45 and cover nearly all my workout goals – cardio, strength, endurance, agility.  It also helps that it’s literally across the street from my apartment so I can roll out of bed at 5:45, throw on some shorts and have a complete workout done by 6:45am : )

F45 Gym
A glimpse of the F45 gym

Running for Beginners

Meg and Friend 1

Note from Laura Kay: This is a guest post from Meg Session, one of my favorite friends and creator of Session Spiels.  All her content is amazing, but I found this piece especially relevant to theSTRETCHEDlife and I had to share it with you all!  The original post from September 10, 2017 can be found here.  If you like what you see (how could you not), I encourage you to follow her blog.

If you are interested in being a guest contributor, please contact me.  I love to switch it up!

Back in January, I decided I wanted to run a 5K every month of the year after completing (not necessarily running) two the September and November prior (2016).  And my main goal over time was just to run an entire one.  I figured if I ran 12 in a year it would be bound to eventually happen.

Well, I ran the entire one in January and just decided the goal had been met so I was done (I am so determined and great at follow through).  Anyways, a couple months later I ended up hiring my trainer, Kevin, and have been working out extremely consistently since March.  And when my friend, Liz, offered to run a 5K with me in November—and then talked me into doing a 10K instead, we decided we should do a 5K midway through our training.

The training program we’ve been using is just a basic 10K running app we downloaded and we have been pretty consistent.  And in turn, I managed to shave off 4 minutes of my January time!  This isn’t saying too much because in January I could have walked faster than I ran, but still!  Logistics aren’t important here!

Meg and Friend 2

I feel like a total rockstar today and I am so ready to take on the 10K in November.  Even though my feet are sore and I could sleep for a week and a half.

Since I was never a runner and still wouldn’t necessary refer to myself as one, I think I am qualified to share some tips.  So here is what works for me.

Advil.  The only reason I think I can make it through my longer runs are because I pop two advil 30 minutes before I start.  This is probably unhealthy or something, but I do it anyways.  It might not actually help at all.  If that’s the case, do it for the placebo effect because it definitely is working for me.

Read Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley.  This book transformed my entire mentality about running.  It turns out when you see people running down the street (by choice) they aren’t necessarily pain free and straight up loving life like I thought you were always supposed to feel!  It will always be hard (ish).  I will always be tired!  But, it’s mental!  And realizing that totally transformed things for me.  And it was nice to read a book about a girl who also wasn’t a runner at all.  And, like, actually not a runner.  Not someone who says they aren’t a runner, but then can run 6 miles if they have to.

Blast that Rocky theme song like a champ!  Or maybe play it on repeat the whole freaking time!  I did that in January.  Today I just played Pandora, but when I got to the last stretch, I pulled my head phones out and blasted Eye of the Tiger followed by the Rocky theme song so literally everyone around me could hear it.  Like, unplugged my headphones, and half ran/danced to the end.  Now, people around us totally sped up.  It just could have been because we either motivated them…or annoyed them.

Last, but not least, get yourself an awesome support system like Ryan!  When I am done with my 5Ks he acts as if I ran a freaking marathon and it makes me so happy.  He is my biggest cheerleader (read this post from January to see what I mean).  I love that man to death if you couldn’t tell already!

Okay, I am going to go enjoy my freshly made bed and snuggle with my pup!  Happy Sunday, friends!  And, as always, thank you for reading!

Tone It Up Bikini Series: Two Weeks In


Tone It Up

Karena, Katrina, and their massive Instagram following (#tiuteam) convinced me to try the Tone It Up Bikini Series.  If you haven’t heard of Tone It Up, here’s a clip from their website:

Karena and Katrina, the founders of the Tone It Up have brought a fresh approach to fitness with their fun, energetic, girlfriend-to-girlfriend method of getting fit.  Since founding Tone It Up, they have built a brand of fitness products, community, retreats, nutrition plans and have graced the pages of Shape, SELF, In Style, Women’s Health and featured in Forbes and People.

Their Tone It Up Nutrition Programs and beach workouts inspire millions of women to live the life of their dreams every day.

Happy So Far

The 8-week Tone It Up Bikini Series started 2 weeks ago and I’ve enjoyed it so far.  Karena and Katrina, two energetic Southern California beach babes, can be a little overwhelming at first.  But you quickly start to fall for them when you start to realize how positive they are, how much they motivate you, and how hard they kick your butt each day.

The first week, I was barely able to do any of the workouts because I was working until 8pm or later every night and was on the road for two days.  I typically try to work out on the road but when you stay up until 1am working on a presentation for the next morning, sleep becomes more important.

TIU Live 5-6-17
Live Workout on Saturday 5/6 with Karena and her hubby

This past week I really got into it.  I was in town all week and my schedule was manageable.  I was impressed by how challenging the Tone It Up workouts were.  When I woke up to work out Tuesday my legs were a little sore from the HIIT workout the morning before.  After finishing the 35-minute Coachella Booty & Abs Workout that morning (I’d subbed this for the live workout, unsure I’d still be motivated to work out at 7:30pm), I was nervous I wasn’t going to be able to walk.  I then still had to do 15 minutes of totally toned with Katrina.  And to be sure, Katrina’s workout included more glute and ab exercises!

While there are no rest days in the Bikini Series (I know, I’d never heard of this either!), Karena and Katrina did give me some breaks later in the week.  Thursday I was finally able to let my legs recover with some yoga, and on Saturday part of the workout was just a “walk with friends.”

The Downside

The biggest complaint I have so far is the Tone It Up website.  There is content everywhere and I find it difficult to navigate.  Sometimes I even find myself googling “Tone It Up + (whatever I’m looking for)” because that gets me their more quickly.

Also, I reached out to their customer service over a week ago and still have not heard anything back.  I accidentally created two accounts using different email addresses.  My downloads are on one and my profile is on the other.  I’d really like to merge the two but can’t seem to get in contact with anyone!*

*Update: Two days after originally posting this article, Tone It Up support reached out to me and fixed the issue with no questions asked!

Looking Ahead

TIU Workout Setup
My Simple Tone It Up Workout Setup

Despite the website challenges, I am excited for the next five weeks of the Bikini Series.  I am already thinking about how the Daily Workout will be a great resource for me even after the Bikini Series on days that I am just not sure what I want to do for exercise.  I love that most of the workouts only require a light set of hand weights.  I can squeeze them in at home or on the road.

Now, whether or not I can continue to fit in a Bikini Series workout everyday is the big question.  The fact that the workouts are only posted for 24-hours helps motivate me to get them done, but it also doesn’t leave me with much flexibility.  I’m not sure how I’ll fit all the workouts in during crazy work weeks.

While I continue the daily workouts, I am also planning to look into their Nutrition Programs.  I’m not sure I’ll sign up for the full nutrition plan just yet, but I’m sure I can find some good inspiration from their Recipes.

Stay tuned for more updates on my experience with the Bikini Series and Tone It Up!

Rise and Shine Treadmill Workout


The other Friday, I woke up to my alarm at 5:32am with no desire to get out of bed. I honestly think that if I hadn’t had to pee I would have snoozed another hour.  However, once I was up I knew I had to get some sort of workout in. With a happy hour at work that afternoon and a community service event the next day, I knew it’d be Sunday before I could get another workout in.

Thus, I got on the treadmill and started walking.  Before I knew it I was running, and by the end I was in a full sprint.

If you can get past the hardest part (getting out of bed), this workout will be the start of a great day!

Rise and Shine Treadmill Workout

Now STRETCH so that you aren’t too sore when you wake up tomorrow to work out!

Physique 57: Online Barre Class Review

Physique 57 - Pause for Thought

Back in January, ihartnutrition posted a promo code for one month of free barre with Physique 57.  Thinking online barre classes could be a great fit for me given how much I travel, I gave it a try.  After my first month, I am extremely impressed with Physique 57’s on demand workouts.  The quality is as good as I’ve seen other places and there is a ton of variety.

Physique 57 Screenshot

Physique 57 Workout Reviews

Below is a brief summary of five workouts I tried last month, each of which was very different.


Cardio Burn: Thighs and Core

Duration:  30 minutes

Equipment:  I really just needed a piece of furniture.  I used a partially deflated soccer ball but technically I could have done the core part without a ball.

Sequence:  Started with a quick warm up then went through three “sprints.”  The first two sprints were focused on the thighs and the last one was on the core.  It ended with a nice stretch.

Burn:  Moderate, but still good for beginners.

My Two Cents:  This was the first workout I tried, and since I was used to 50 to 60 minute classes, it felt a little short.  It could be a good quick workout on a day that I am short on time or a good post-run workout on a day that I have more time.  Also, I liked the instructors – the voices didn’t get annoying it was easily to follow the instructions (note: I have don’t barre before so I had that advantage).


Total Body – Focus: Tri’s, Bi’s, and Buns

Duration:  43 minutes

Equipment:  You just need light weights for this one.  If you don’t have those at home, I have subbed water bottles in the past!

Sequence:  Quick warm up is followed by a full body workout and then a stretch.  The first half is more focused on the arms (tri’s and bi’s) while the second half is more focused on the glutes.

Burn:  Intense at times, but I had five pound weights and they were working with two pound weights.

My Two Cents:  I thought this was a nice length for a full workout.  It’s a could be a good go-to for when you are limited on space and access to equipment.  The instructors were good, they kept up a nice banter between the two of them.  However, there was some pretty bad background noise from all the wind that was distracting.


Mat: Arms and Abs

Duration:  35 minutesPhysique 57 at Home

Equipment:  Light weights and an exercise ball are recommended but you could use your own resistance if needed.

Sequence:  The majority of the time you are on the mat.  However, there is a brief portion in the middle where you get up to work on your thighs and hip flexors.

Burn:  Minimal

My Two Cents:  This workout was definitely more focused on abs than arms.  I wouldn’t count it against an “upper body day.”  The ab work was pretty solid though.  It offered more than just crunches and incorporated exercises that target the whole core region (inner thighs, hip flexors, back, upper abs, and lower abs.)  In general, though, I’d save it for a day when I was looking for an easier and shorter workout.  The nice thing about it is that it’s one of those workouts where you don’t get too sweaty so if you don’t have time to shower it’s not a big deal!


Abs with Katie

Duration:  10 minutes

Equipment:  None!

Sequence:  Push-ups to warm up are followed by a variety of traditional ab exercises.

Burn:  Intense for a bit but then it was done so just push through!

My Two Cents:  This is a nice and quick ab set that could be added on to any other workout!


Cardio Sculpt: Lower Body

Duration:  33 minutes

Equipment:  None!

Sequence:  First few minutes are a warm up.  Then you spend just over 10 minutes on each side, repeating the same exercises on each side.  There are then about 6 minutes of abs in typical barre form before ending with a few minutes of stretching.

Burn:  Moderate

My Two Cents:  I did this workout on a day when I didn’t feel like I wanted to go too hard but needed some exercise to start my day off right.  It ended up being a good fit and I liked it because it felt complete and didn’t require any equipment.  I could see myself doing this again in the hotel room on my next business trip!


Feature image courtesy of Pause for Thought

Quick Cardio Blast: Warm Up, Shred, and Cool Down in Under 30 Minutes

30 Minute Timer and Runner

A True 30 Minute Workout

Sick of “30 minute workouts” that require time to warm up before and cool down after?  theSTRETCHEDlife has been there too.  These workouts can leave us struggling to catch our bus to work or late to dinner with friends.

This workout truly is 30 minutes, from warm up through cool down.  Pull it out whenever you need a quick cardio blast but are tight on time.

The Workout

Quick Cardio Blast Workout

Workout Details

For warm-up and sprint-jog intervals, it does not matter what type of cardio you do.  If you’re a runner, go with the treadmill.  If you have bad joints, go with the elliptical or bike.  Just remember to push yourself no matter what you choose – you only have to go for 30 minutes total!

The sprint-jog interval speeds will be a little different for everyone.  Personally, I do anywhere from 5 mph to 6 mph jog intervals and 8 mph to 10 mph sprint intervals.  Think of the jog speed as slightly below your average pace for a short run and the sprint speed as a few miles per hour above your average running speed.

I purposefully left about 5 minutes on this workout to cool down and stretch so use it wisely!  Take some deep breaths and stretch out the full body.  Try to eat a good post-workout snack within 30 minutes following your workout as well.  If you don’t let your body recover, it won’t get stronger for your next workout!

P.S. I found this workout pairs nicely with Spotify’s Cardio Playlist!


30-Minute Treadmill Endurance Boost

Legs Running on Treadmill

I was feeling surprisingly energized the other morning when I woke up at the Aloft in Bolingbrook, IL.  Knowing I wouldn’t have a lot of free time later in the week due to travel schedules, I wanted to get a good workout in.  I ended up creating a workout that is great for working on hills, speed, and endurance all at the same time.  The workout is especially good for building endurance for two reasons:

  1. Pushes you to maintain speed while increasing incline
  2. Challenges you to keep increasing speed at the end when you are the most tired

My average speed on a steady 30-minute run is about 6.3 so the speeds below worked well for me.  If your average is slower or faster, adjust the starting speed accordingly.  The goal during the middle 20 minutes is to stay at the same speed for five minutes, increasing the incline for the last two minutes.

 Treadmill Workout

 Now don’t forget to cool down and stretch or all that hard work will go to waste!

This treadmill workout could also be adopted for a 5k by increasing the speed at each kilometer, rather than at each 5-minute interval.  With the above speeds I came in at just under 3 miles so if you run just a little faster during your warm up you will hit a 5k.


photo credit: MilitaryHealth physical-activity-120112-M-2021D-019 via photopin (license)

Simple and Complete Upper Body Workout

Dumbbell Rack

Your legs are screaming from leg day and now it’s time to focus on your upper body.  With this workout, you will tackle all the major upper body muscle groups.  And all you need is a bench and a few sets of dumbbells.

Upper Body Workout

What Weights Should I Use?

I recommend dumbbells ranging from 10lbs to 30lbs, but do what works for you.  Your muscles should be feeling it by the last rep of each set.  However, you should also be able to maintain proper form.

You should be able to use heavier weights on the exercises that target bigger muscles (e.g., chest press and dumbbell rows).  Save the lighter weights for smaller muscles such as triceps and biceps.

If the last few reps of each set start to feel easy, it’s time to increase your weights.

How Often Should I do this Upper Body Workout?

Try to incorporate these upper body strength exercises into your training about twice a week.  You want to give your upper body a rest between workouts but you also don’t want to lose the progress you’ve gained.

I like to switch the order of the muscle groups each time I do this workout.  If you always start with chest and end with shoulders, your chest is going to get much stronger than your shoulders.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the same energy at the beginning of our workouts that we do at the end!

Quick Endurance Boosting Treadmill Workout


Jog the Hills, Run the Flats

Have you been staring out the window waiting for the weather to finally be inviting enough for a run?  Can you not bear the thought of getting on the treadmill to get a run in?

Try this quick treadmill workout to get your heart rate up.  The constant change of pace and incline will keep you from getting bored.  Better yet, it will help you improve your endurance in just 30 minutes!

Treadmill Workout

*Remember, it’s never completely flat outside so why pretend it is on the treadmill?!

Why I Ran My First Half Marathon


How It All Started

“Hey, do you want to do the Savannah half marathon with me?” yelled Kate from her cubicle as I walked by.  Kate was a new analyst at my firm and I had been assigned as her “buddy,” or person she could ask stupid questions, and we had become close.  I was trying to keep track of 8 other “to-do’s” in my head as she asked me this question but I was in a fairly good mood so said “sure, sounds fun!” and kept walking to my meeting.

Later, Kate, my “work-wife” Bri, and I did actually sign up for the half in Savannah.  After sleeping on it, I thought it would be a great way to spend more time with these friends and colleagues.  At the same time, running sounded like a great way to escape from work and all the other stresses in my life.  Moreover, who could turn down a Fall weekend in Savannah!

Having never run more than six miles at one time, I started training in July for the November race.  Not only did the training allow me to get in great shape and become closer with my running buddies but it also catapulted me into a new network of runners that I had not been aware of previously.

Unexpected Outcomes

I started making connections with new colleagues in the break room over conversations about upcoming races as well as each of their training schedules and PRs (personal records).  This past Fall, I found that this conversation could be adapted for weddings, pre-MBA networking events, and interviews.  Having run two half marathons and numerous 5ks at this point, I have not only accomplished something that I never thought I would but I have also found a new way to build relationships with people.


Why did you start running?  Is it for the same reasons you run today?

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