BostonHIIT, Barre, Boxing
BSC Lab (formerly BFX Studio) is the brainchild of Town Sports International (the people who own Boston Sports Clubs). BSC Studio is the globo gym chain answer to creating a “boutique” fitness experience. We use the term “boutique” lightly because while BSC may have that high-end feel, it definitely is not highly specialized. They offer a wide variety of fitness classes ranging from barre to high-intensity boxing. Whichever realm of the fitness world you fall into, there is a class that caters to your needs.
Don’t come looking to get your cardio burn on at BFX Lift. This class is designed to target and tone specific muscle groups, which means it moves at a slower pace. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy breezy; instead of gasping for air your muscles will be screaming for mercy. On the special Wednesday we visited, class targeted the lower bodies of the 12 people in attendance, specifically our gluteus maximus–and as we well know, everyone loves to tone up that peach.
The class was broken up into three stations:
• Station 1: Kettlebell deadlift and walking lunges
• Station 2: Weighted glute bridges and curtsy lunges with dumbbells
• Station 3: Skater lunges and ab ball roll outs with roll-out hip bridges
We spent 10 minutes at each station, completing two rounds of 15 reps of each movement. In between each station was snuck in some Tabata-style core work with planks variations and reverse crunches, just in case we weren’t already feeling the burn (hint: we were).
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “30 reps of each movement in 10 minutes? What a joke and waste of $35!” Yeah, we kind of had the same thoughts. But our butts will be the first to tell you that when we got out of bed that next morning, those 30 reps were enough to feel the burn and then some.
If you’re looking to add strength training into your weekly routine with targeted work so as to make sure no muscle group goes left untoned, BFX Lift is a great option. Our only concern is that BFX Lift and BFX Endure classes are designed to go hand-and-hand. So in order to get results, you should be buying into their entire workout program, which means signing up for a membership. We’re not quite ready for that level of commitment. If you’re not either, specific goals might be harder to reach if you are a casual drop in or ClassPass member.
Don’t let her pint size frame fool you, Cassie means business and we love her for that. She is extremely knowledgable in the personal training world and her class, movement demonstrations (why does she make everything look so damn easy?) and behind-the-science explanations of what we were actually trying to accomplish in this fateful hour were perfect examples. She was commanding and made sure that everyone was getting the attention they needed, be it encouragement, modifications or movement adjustments.
The upside to a large globo gym chain trying their hand in the boutique fitness scene is space. We must say it was a nice change of pace to not wait in line to shower, take our time spreading out in the locker room and drying our hair without ten girls breathing down our necks. Space is nice, we forgot what if felt like.
The main entrance on Boylston Street leads you to the front desk and a small retail area with cute BSC-branded workout gear. The fitness classes, spin studio, personal training area, and locker rooms are all located downstairs … underground. None of the rooms are huge but they do make good use of the space. There is even a “social bar” with magazines and computers in case you need to catch up on your celebrity gossip before class. The locker rooms are spacious and include showers, toilets, lockers, free products, and towel service just like many of the other newer gyms in the area.
699 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116 Back Bay HIIT $$$$
Back Bay HIIT, Barre, Boxing $$$$
699 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
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Once again, BSC Studio has developed a truly ass-kicking class called Box & Bell which is led by one of the best instructors in town Kelly Brabants. You can’t blame us for wanting to keep going back to this gem on Boylston Street. We dare you to stop by, give it a try, and tell us you don’t feel the magnetic pull to return for more.
You might be surprised to learn that this HIIT-style workout is built on a foundation that’s part boxing and part kettlebell swings. The class started off with three rounds of lunges, goblet squats, push ups, burpees, jumping jacks and, of course, kettlebell swings. In between each round we were jumping rope, keeping our heart rates up and our muscles warm.
After we finished all of the floor exercises, it was time to hit stuff. We put on gloves and started punching the heavy bag. No boxing experience was necessary as Kelly did a great job explaining what we needed to do. We finished up with some quick stretches and we were on our way, to the nearest Sweetgreen to eat back all the calories we just worked off.
Hands down, Kelly Brabants is one of the best fitness instructors in Boston. You can find Kelly strutting her stuff multiple nights a week at BSC, always full of energy and positive self talk. The girl knows how to work a class, not only coming prepared with a kick-ass playlist but also doing an amazing job of demoing each movement and correcting form when necessary. We always knew what we were doing next, which is incredibly important, because, hey, we all know what it feels like to have that deer-in-headlights look.
When Ike Ajoku opened up the studio room doors and welcomed us in, we were greeted by three rows of floor mats, neatly set-up with towels folded on top, under TRX stations. While these towels weren’t folded into the shape of exotic animals reminiscent of a cruise ship, in a saturated gym market this was a nice touch.
The class was structured into two “blocks” consisting of five exercises each, which we did for three rounds. Yes, it’s as exhausting as it sound, but still surprisingly quite doable given that each exercise lasted for a short 45 seconds. After grabbing a set of both light and heavy weights, Ike coached us through each movement. The exercises ranged from side and back lunges with weights, to a series of abs, plank rows and Ike’s creative take on burpees–think sumo squat, followed by a 180-degree jump turn into a plank position and then ski jumps from side to side while in the plank. Say it with us: yIKEs! The class actually flew by quite quickly and wrapped up with a brief group stretch. While we didn’t end up using the TRX system in this particular class, we still managed a good and efficient sweat. We’ll definitely be coming back for more.
Instructor Ike Ajoku oozes personality and intensity, so much so that we think in another lifetime he was a radio DJ. At least he’s definitely got the voice for it. And like any good DJ, he certainly seemed to have a strong following for his class. In addition to sounding like a DJ, Ike could also pass for a drill sergeant. He’s tall, and has the physique to prove that he practices what he preaches. “Work hard, or I’ll make you work harder,” instructed Ike midway through our plyometric warm-ups and stretching. We’re not sure if this was a mantra, motivational quote or a threat, but we got to work too afraid to find out.
BSC StudioHIIT, Spin
In BSC’s Fusion class, Strength, Power & Endurance is the story, and instructor Samantha Poccia is sticking to it! We showed up after work to a small, but mighty class. As self-described spin fans, it was strange at first to have Sam coach the spin portion by pacing back and forth on the floor in front of us, as opposed to riding with us. But her routine was smooth, efficient, structured & challenging. She never skipped a beat, & kept the energy level high. Having taken the Fusion class before, Sam’s was a nice reprieve because instead of 30 minutes on the bike, followed by 30 on the floor, she had us alternating back-and-forth in 10 minute intervals. Utilizing sandbags, TRX & weighted discs, Sam demonstrated each exercise and kept a close eye on each of us to ensure our form was in-check.
Cassie Brown’s Synergy class should be sponsored by Red Bull & Energizer, because you need to be the Energizer bunny with wings to keep up! This action-packed class will have you fatigued after the long warm-up that was a workout in and of itself.
Described online to be a blend of Pilates & Strength training, we’d argue this class was more so a cardio-strength gauntlet with an added emphasis on the warm-up & cool-down. Needless to say, we were all about it!
Equipped with yoga mats, gliders and resistance bands for our legs, Cassie took us through several high-energy rounds, each with three different exercises. She designed the class to target and strengthen some of the key areas that one typically under or over-works; think hips, lower back, IT band & hamstrings. A great option for runners who are looking to slate a cross-training day on their rigorous schedule. Knees beware though: there was no shortage of lunges, hops & jump turns galore.
Cassie will absolutely keep you on your toes. Most likely in a plank position or with jumping jacks.
During her workouts, you may wonder to yourself, “how many classes do I need to go to to get the results she has?”. The verdict is still out on that, but we can assure you this class is a step in the right direction.