Crash Course: Body Conceptions is a unique combination of cardio dance + pilates + barre, without the awkward tucking and pulsing. Each class focuses on the principles of muscle exhaustion and dynamic movement and is set to an upbeat playlist. It takes the best of all three disciplines and combines them into one sweaty, burn-tastic hour of fun. Click here to see the full schedule of class times.[line] [left]where: 161 W 22nd Ground Floor | Chelsea
bring: water, towel
perks: all in one wellness center
sweat score: 6 out of 10[/left][right] wear: shoes for dancing in
instructor: Lauren Rodriguez
class: Body Conceptions
cost: first class $20 / drop-in $32 [/right][line]
BellaVita is a full-service wellness destination in Chelsea offering fitness classes, one-on-one coaching, and various events and seminars. Because healthy living looks different for everyone, BellaVita’s goal is to provide its clients with the tools to live their best life from the inside out. It’s a unique one-stop-shop kind of place where you can take a fun workout class, get nutritional guidance, and sign up for a master meditation class all the same spot.
It’s a little tricky to find on 22nd Street. Make sure to look for the sidewalk sign out front and enter through the black door marked “161.” I thought I was in the wrong place at first, but I promise you it’s correct.
BellaVita moved into its new location in Chelsea just a few weeks ago, and when I attended class much of the space was still under construction. They are renovating the lobby area so do not be alarmed if, when you arrive, you encounter an abundance plywood and drop cloth. It’s a very temporary addition as they beautify the space. Just make your wait to the end of the hallway and check in at the small desk.
Through a door directly behind the check-in desk, the group fitness class space is a sleek urban mix of exposed brick, wood flooring, and lucite chandeliers. There is a cubby space and a coat rack for your belongings. Matts, weights, and other accessories are kept in a space toward the back. There are no showers but one bathroom.
The best way to describe the Body Conceptions by Mahri class is this: it combines the best of your favorite dance cardio class and the most burn-tactic of your favorite barre class. Think of it as a master barre session with a few dance parties mixed in. The idea behind it came from Mahri’s experience as both a master trainer at the Tracy Anderson Method and as creative director at FlyBarre. Those are two of NYC’s most powerhouse fitness brands, so you know it’s got to be good.
We kicked things off with a few dance songs – overall it was way more cardio jazzercise than Beyonce music video. There was a lot of jumping around and lunging, but all of the moves were easy to follow. You definitely don’t have to have any dance background to keep up. You do, however, need fast feet.
After we were thoroughly warmed up and limber (and, admittedly, pretty sweaty), the class moved into an arm sequence using small hand weights and painfully accurate micro-moves. If you’ve ever been to a barre class that included arm work, you will know exactly what this feels like. It’s torturous. It burns like hades. And you know it’s working.
The leg and seat sequences were also exquisitely excruciating. What set them apart from traditional barre classes, however, was that there was no “tucking” or pulsing. Instead, the moves were bigger and more fluid. In one instance we were on all fours while gracefully swooping our legs in an arch behind us. And then up to our elbow and back out. And then up and down at ninety degrees like a clock. It. was. beautiful. torture.
Between each segment of class there was a short guided stretch break to help quell the quivers. It was a short but welcome respite from the intense burning sensation taking over every muscle in my body.
We finished class with the lights turned low for one final dance song. This one was a bit slower and more expressive. There was some sassy hip shaking and maybe even body roll or two. With only one mirror in the room, I was lucky to be at a hidden angle and couldn’t watch myself try to mimic the instructor. It was actually a nice change of pace as I just took in the moment and danced to my own beat.
And just like that, we were finished. Everything burned. Everything in my body was really tired. Especially my poor legs. But I absolutely loved the energetic combination cardio dancing and targeted body weight moves. I’d like to lovingly refer to it as barre on steroids.
Within ten minutes of class, I remember thinking, “wow, this instructor is incredibly on point.” Not only was Lauren able to time the moves to the beat of the music, but she often finished a sequence just as a song was ending. That takes some serious planning and talent.
The other thing I absolutely loved about her was that she would readily admit that various moves were horrible. Terrible. The WORST. And it was empowering to know that, while you might feel like your right leg is about to fall off, she’s feeling the same way too. Sure she can get her leg up to a beautiful ninety degrees while yours barely hovers above the floor, but she’d be the last to call you on it. Everyone was there to do their best, and we were all in it together. And never once was I promised that a move would somehow miraculously give me long, lean legs. At 5 feet nothing, you know how I feel about people who sell that pipe dream.
I loved Body Conceptions – I don’t always love barre classes, but this different take on building a dancer’s body was right up my alley. It took all the moves I enjoy and added a cardio buzz. Best of all, I didn’t leave feeling like I had spent 60 minutes awkwardly tucking, thrusting, and pulsing, hoping to the ballet goddesses that I was doing it correctly. With the larger movements, I knew immediately that it was working. I definitely recommend stopping by BellaVita to check it out!
Thank you to BellaVita for inviting me to be a part of their wellness community and trying Body Conceptions. I can’t wait to go back for another crash, maybe Zumba or Yogilates next time!