Gracie was a little under the weather this weekend (a little cough and sniffly nose) so we opted to take it easy. Saturday morning we skipped swim class in an effort to keep her out of the not-heated-to-bathtub-temp pool and spare the other kids in case she was contagious. However B was sailing and she and I had to run and get some groceries and refills for her “vapor” nightlight. While at Target she was dressed in a slightly mismatched way- black Toms, grey/pink sweat suit, a pink pow, and a navy and pink coat thrown over the ensemble. Match she did not, but she is not yet 2 and I think you get a pass. Anyway, as we were checking out an older lady in line behind us began chatting with her, asking about the snack she was muching on (Joe’s O’s), and generally being kind. Midway through the lady looked up at me and barked out “Wait. Is it a boy?”

There were so many things I could have (or perhaps should have) done but I just kind of shook my head no and said “Nope, girl.”

It? I try *really* hard not to get all “special snowflake” about my child (she is our special snowflake, she doesn’t have to be yours, or the world’s) and I am not one of those “children should be seen everywhere and you must love them and accept them” types either…but can you refrain from calling my child “it”? And furthermore, if the black shoes and blue snack cup holder override the pink bow, the pink jacket trim and the pink stitching on the sweats (which are admittedly a little 80’s, but whatever they are warm and cozy) just let it go. Go home and tell your friends all about the weird Mom you saw who dressed their child in a confusing manner. Let them tell you a blue snack cup holder does not a boy make. But don’t ask me what “it” is.

End rant.

ClassPass: A Full Review

As I’ve mentioned once, twice, eleventy billion times, I spent the past 30 days trying out ClassPass (for free, but they didn’t ask/require/suggest I blog about it). I really liked it and I’ve had a lot of questions about it so I figured what better way than write a super long blog post all about it? I know, genius. Long and short of it: I’m going to continue being a ClassPass member, on my own dime, starting in the middle of this month.

What is it?

ClassPass is best described as purchasing a bulk package of drop in classes for area gyms and fitness studios. At $99 a month it isn’t inexpensive, but when you compare the cost of drop in work out fees (the most expensive way to try out a gym per class) or a monthly membership (cheaper per class but typically more than $100 a month) for the “fancier” gyms it is a great deal. When I started it was limited to 10 “passes” a month but now it seems you get an unlimited number of classes with your monthly fee. The caveat: you can only visit one studio 3x in a month. So it can’t be used to “beat the system” on the cost of an unlimited monthly memberships at any gym. Breaking it down:

Flywheel (the spinning gym) is:

1 class = $25 for a drop in class

10 classes = $225

Unlimited monthly = $195 a month

Pure Barre (fancy barre class) is:

1 class = $23

10 classes = $200

Unlimited monthly = $225

So you can see that living in a big city with lots of fancy gyms could get really expensive really quickly. And you can see how ClassPass is a great deal, considering it is $99 for unlimited classes, and if you attend 10 classes it breaks down to $10ish a pop.

How does it work, generally speaking?

You pay your monthly fee and then you book classes! Easy peasy. You book using the ClassPass website, which was generally easy to use (and was just upgraded with some nice features for filtering and sorting classes). You can cancel any class up to 24 hours prior, but if you miss class (eep!) you are charged $20 for a no-show. I learned that try as I might, 6 am classes are not for me- I missed getting to the studio in time thanks to a middle of the night road closure and missed class. Sigh. Once you book the class you get a confirmation email with any info you need about the studio- how early to show up if it is your first time, what you should or shouldn’t wear, if you need to bring a towel/water/etc. You can also directly input your class info into Google calendar in the website, which was very helpful. Oh, and the 3x per studio max includes all locations…so while Chicago has 90 bazillion Pure Barre studios, you can’t visit each one up to 3x.

What did I think?

I really liked it. I made it to 7 classes + the free opening event class…and the 3 misses (going on the assumption you have a 10 class maximium, which isn’t the case any more, but I was operating under that assumption) were avoidable. I missed one class due to traffic, one becuase I planned poorly, and one because I was spacing things out so as not to use up my 10 classes too quickly but I also wasn’t paying close attention to when my 30 days ended…oops! I tried the following:

Flywheel (2x) – Loved it! Definitely an amazing spinning workout in a very sleek atmosphere.

Go Cycle (2x) – A great spinning class, not quite as trendy as Flywheel but I almost liked it more. I took their “Go Yo” combo class- spin followed by yoga- and it was my favorite class all month.

Eb & Flow Yoga (1x)- A “moderately paced” hot yoga class that was the perfect Monday night unwind, I was surprised when the hour ended because I was enjoying it so much.

Pure Barre (2x)- I really liked Pure Barre…well sort of. I hated parts of it (you want me to plank for how long?!) but at the end I recognized it was a great work out that really felt good and cleared by head, so back I went, happily.

Bar Method (1x)- Ugh, the worst (for me) when compared to Pure Barre. Too bossy/too many corrections by the instructor made me feel dumb.

The list of studios is constantly growing and I have a long list of places to try.

The pros, in a nutshell.

I got a plethora of amazing workouts. I tried to rotate cardio with yoga and barre classes, which worked well for me. I’m glad it has become unlimited (rather than a 10 class limit) which will make coming up with a general schedule going forward (as far as picking nights/days to work out). I feel like I’m on the road to being back in shape, and mentally the time to myself was awesome. I took an early Sunday morning Flywheel class and the instructor wanted us to focus on why we woke up early and we were there. For me, I can honestly say, it was about an hour of uninterrupted alone time to just be without email or housework or errands or parenting or anything else. I know that sounds incredibly selfish but those 2-3 hours a week were just what the doctor ordered.

The gyms were all really great about giving me the quick and dirty on their method. They ask you to show up 15 minutes early for your first time to the studio, and every gym gave me a tour, explained what I needed/how to set up and followed up with me after class, making sure I didn’t have any questions. Super accomodating! There were also a lot of gyms all over the city, so it wasn’t hard to find classes near my house (North side) or downtown (where I often met friends). There are even a few studios in Evanston and the Western ‘burbs (although not many).

The cons, in a nutshell.

I hit a few glitches along the way. The Go Cycle schedule wasn’t quite right on ClassPass so I was late for class (they were very nice about it and I think it is fixed now) which was a bummer. You also don’t get the camaraderie of “belonging” to a gym- hard to settle in and find a favorite instructor or become a regular. You probably won’t hear an instructor calling out your name to praise your awesome form or great endurance- and that is ok with me, but for some, it might be a let down. It can also get expensive in the sense that a lot of these “specialty” gyms have special equipment (of course…) and for us city dwellers, you gotta pay to park anywhere, even a gym. Thanks to ClassPass my Amazon wish list has barre socks, a hot yoga towel with grippers to put over my yoga mat, and more work out pants. My list might be shorter than some since I already owned a yoga mat, spin shoes and spinning shorts. And speaking of spinning and cons…since each studio has their own thing, there is definitely a learning curve. At Flywheel my shoes fit in their bikes, at Go Cycle they don’t (so I have to reserve shoes). For the control freaks out there, this could be really frustrating, although over time I’m sure I’ll settle into my group of favorite studios and there won’t be more uenxpected surprises.

If you are strict about who gets your email and maintainting your inbox, it deserves to be said that each studio gets your contact info and emails you….I use “Unroll me” so I can control what I’m getting, but some people might find this annoying. I didn’t mind, especially since a lot of the studios also offered me a free class outside of ClassPass – no doubt trying to lure me into their own membership!

The biggest cons of ClassPass right now are probably the fact that it is only available in a few cities (Boston, LA, New York, Chicago and San Francisco) and they have a wait list. This is great for people who are already in- you don’t have to worry about slots filling up- but of course, waiting on the wait list is a drag. Hopefully over time that will settle out as they continue to grow!

Transparency/Fine Print/Let Me Be Frank:

1. My Amazon links are affiliate.

2. No other links are affiliate.

3. ClassPass gave me a free month to try, and I attended their launch party, but they didn’t ask me to blog/tweet/talk about it. Oh and they sent me a 2nd tshirt after I mentioned I left the first one in a cab.

Another Mish Mash

Somehow it is already Thursday this week, a surprise to me since I could have sworn it was Tuesday, but here we are. Almost Friday! The weekend! Last weekend was nice but quiet- I realized Gracie hadn’t gotten to stay home and just play with her toys in a long time, so after I came home from early morning spinning (at Flywheel, through Classpass) and B headed out to the Bears-Packers game (cheering for both teams to lose) we had a girls day at home. We read a lot of books, put together a lot of puzzles and picnics and put Piggie to sleep over and over again. See also: we need a new term for this game of laying Piggie down, covering with a blanket and saying “shh” while rubbing his back, because it sounds like we are running an animal death farm around our parts. Also, I think we need a back up Piggie.

Anyway. That was Sunday. The week has gone by in a blur- hot yoga Monday night, gymnastics on Wednesday. Gracie’s fourth and final canine is coming in – truth be told we thought it was in, her others came in so long ago, but nope, unobservant parent x2- and she has been sleeping terribly as a result. We also had yet another trip to the pediatrican where were told “yup, no idea what that is/nothing we can do” for a continually swelling eye that has her looking like a prize fighter. There was some concern she migth have been bitten by a bug or had an infected stye, but neither seems to be the case, which is good.

In other news: my boots arrived, I love them so. I ordered Kiwi Boot Spray for them after receiving very little feedback on shoe sprays- something no one is passionate about, eh- after reading about 3 Amazon reviews and figuring that it can’t hurt. I’m going to have B try it out on his new anniversary shoes that are coming, and at a fortuitous time as he basically destroyed all of his dress shoes this week and will make the cobbler very happy in the near future. So much so that I have spilled the beans on his anniversary gift and will give them to him a week early so he can wear tham rather than go court with shoes that don’t match his suit, THE HORROR.

As I mentioned before, I’m trying out some new workout gear (my paltry collection was starting to become an issue with my newfound hobby of attending fitness classes) so I ordered these Beyond Yoga leggings with fancy mesh inlay, I expect them to up my cool factor significantly while quaking through a barre class. Side note: do we think that trend will go the way of the corner cupcake shops? Because right now there is some sort of expensive workout studio with a ballet barre and toned ladies on every corner of Chicago. Anyway, back to the gear. If I like the ones I ordered, I have my eye on a “quilted” pair (fancy speak for pattern) and the gathered bottom style, which I believe will allow me to pull it over my heel while in class which is definitely what all the cool girls are doing. Cool = college age, so maybe acutally I should skip that.

Speaking of things I ordered from Amazon, I also ordered Gracie another container of probiotics. We started these in February, prior to daycare and since I can’t knock on wood every time someone reads this just know that if your kid is in school or daycare and you worry about illness and you wish you could *do* something, I would recommend these. For about $17 for a 2 month jar you can at least feel proactive, and our pediatrician has told us that at a minimum they help recover from norovirus and rotavirus more quickly, which, SOLD. It doesn’t dissolve quite as well as I would like, but she doesn’t seem to notice it in her milk. You can even add it to your Amazon Subscribe & Save!

Speaking of that I got an email from Amazon that beginning in November the discount for bundling 5 or more items is only 15% instead of 20%, and wipes will no longer be part of the standard “diapers and wipes automatic 20% off discount” which displeases me greatly as Subscribe & Save bundling is how we were able to afford premium diapers and organic formula for the cost of regular old grocery store shopping….but Amazon seems to think that a $30 credit will make me happier.  I’m sure for now it won’t be a big deal (our monthly delivery is pretty much just diapers and dog stuff now) but if I’m ever buying infant formula again, I’m sure I’ll gripe.

On the horizon: dinner with some of my best law school girls tonight, another bar class tomorrow, swimming with Gracie on Saturday, friends over for brunch on Sunday (serving this, please make post-haste) and hopefully another early Sunday morning spin class so I can once again awkwardly shuffle through the office Monday morning.

Amazon links are affiliate, ClassPass is not.



Surprising No One But Me

A few months ago my skin started really flipping out. It went from its usual combination self to break out city and despite a variety of half hearted attempts at dealing with it, nothing really helped. So I ordered replacement Clarisonic brush heads for my Clarisonic that has been languishing in my bathroom drawer. I didn’t order new brush heads earlier becuase I was feeling frugal and then I realized I was spending just as much if not more on new face washes to combat the problem. Genius, no? Anyway, I ordered generic ones (from Asia, probably soaked in avian flu before shipping) which gave me six new brush heads for $7 rather than one for $25. Guess what? Can’t tell the difference in the generic versus name brand, and SURPRISE, my face is looking much better.

As I’ve mentioned I’m trying out a ClassPass membership on them for one month, which means I’ve been booking and trying a variety of different of classes. I’ve been loosely trying to go every other between cardio (spinning!) and Pure Barre/yoga, which seems to be working. Lets go ahead and act surprised when I say: oh man, I feel so good after class. I’m sore and often have to modify things since I’m still working on getting into shape but it feels fantastic to sweat and have an hour to really just be answering to myself, without work emails or housework or toddler wrangling. I don’t mean that to disparage the day to day in any way- I wouldn’t trade it for anything- but that hour of solitude and good music and focusing on my muscles and my heart rate really helps to clear my mind, shake off the day, and I definitely return home in a better mood. Surprise! Next up on my workout clothes list? A pair of “Beyond Yoga” leggings which come highly recommended and in a plethora of colors.

The Target Dollar Spot, something I long skipped over unless I needed something for party planning was never much of a draw until I had Gracie. Now I’ve been regularly scooping up items that are stashed in her closet for plane flights to/from Utah for the holidays and for her stocking. So far I’ve spent a grand total of $8 give or take (thanks Cartwheel coupon!) and I have a big stack of flashcards, Sesame Street books and a pair of Elmo socks. SURPRISE, her stocking is almost done!

I’ve been really intrigued by Whole30, the diet/lifestyle/fad in which you stick to whole foods only. The rules seem incredibly insane/onerous, but the food that I see people eating looks really good. I like the idea- really, truly cutting out refined foods and sticking to “whole” items but…… then I read their diatribe on “pancakes” and how even pancakes made in with “acceptable” ingredients are not in the “spirit” of the Whole30 and I was instantly turned off. Surprise, a diet fad has annoying rules and makes people following it sound like lunatics. I’m still reading about it and considering putting B and I on the Whole30 train, although his initial response to it was…less than lukewarm. There might have been swear words. Surprise!


(Amazon links affiliate, FYI)

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