Studio Review: Soul Cycle in NYC

Following a 45 minute class at Cyc Fitness in Chelsea, me and the 3 other women I was traveling with raced to Soul Cycle to get to class on time (30 minutes in between classes in not enough time!). 1 protein bar, a few wrong turns & some serious speed walking later, we arrived at the Union Square Location in time for our 11:45 am class.

While I took my first-ever Soul Cycle class in San Francisco earlier this year, every instructor & location is going to be different. With that being said, Danny was the instructor, and he was a lot of fun! Even though my legs were a little burned out from the 45 minute Cyc Fitness Class, I was able to keep up, and the energy in the room was incredible.


photo cred:

Compared to the previous cycle class we had just taken, the room was smaller, and the bikes were very.very.close. You had to weave in and out of the bikes to get out of the room! Insert: Minor claustrophobic panic attack. I had to talk myself down from a ledge, so I focused on the instructor and ended up being fine. Note to self: next time, choose bike near exit.

The workout itself was great – legs were burning, although the arm workout with small weights wasn’t too challenging. Danny’s playlist was awesome, and he even ended up doing done high-kick dancer moves on the stage for the class… definitely kept us entertained the entire class!

soul cycle union square

post-sweaty cycle

Summary: While I don’t normally like cycling, the energy of the class & instructors is what pulls me in. I personally like Cyc Fitness better for various reasons, but Soul Cycle is still a great workout.

Pros: Towel set up on bike when you arrive. Showers at the Union Square location. Toiletries provided in the bathroom. Filtered water station.

Cons: Long line to the bathrooms, showers were dirty & gross at the union square location. Bathrooms/lockers were in the basement, which was super crammed & the air smelled & felt pretty gross. Pricey for a 45 minute workout class

Cost: $34 for a 45 minute single class pass

Studio Review: Tangerine Hot Power Yoga in Brooklyn

I’ve been wanting to check out Tangerine Hot Power Yoga since the beginning of this year, and I am so glad I was able to squeeze a visit in. Since I traveled with 3 other yoga teachers from Melt this time around, I wanted to make sure we hit a good hot yoga studio.

As our 8th class in 2 days, and final class on Saturday, we were a bit rushed to get to Brooklyn, and the trains were running slow. We ended up just catching a cab, and were 10 minutes late to class. With that being said, Tangerine has a 10 minute grace period for late-arrivals, so we were still able to take the class! Seriously, so awesome.

Luckily, the owner of Tangerine was teaching, and she was the sweetest person ever! She taught a nice, easy flow, perfect for beginners to advanced – and while she spoke a little softly & was sometimes hard to hear, it was the perfect, slow class to end with after taking 3 other yoga classes beforehand.

The studio itself was super clean, and I LOVED the interior of the studio. It was clean, organized, and looked brand new.

tangerine hot yoga 2

Entry of Studio

There is only 1 studio for classes, and the changing room area was pretty roomy. I never felt crammed like other studios, and I had enough space to move around in the locker area.  You get a free towel & mat for use during the class, which is unheard of in NYC (or most studios anywhere!). Following the class, we were handed a cold towel with essential oils on it, which felt awesome after the heat.

tangerine hot yoga

Inside the Studio

The actual temperature of the studio wasn’t extremely hot, and it was a drier heat than what I am used to. However, I loved it! According to their website – which, BTW, is pretty amazing (I build websites for a living, so I totally appreciate how awesome it is!) – “Radiant Heating Panels that simulate heat from the sun ” are used to heat the room. Since I normally teach & practice in a room at 99 F & 65-75% humidity, it was easier to breathe & not as intense. I would definitely come back to this studio for a light, easy class!

Summary: Perfect amount of heat. Not too difficult, great place for beginners. The staff & owner are very, very sweet. Very clean. Eco-friendly.

Pros: water filter station. Free mat & towel. Free cold towel post-class. Lockers. Eco-friendly products. Great class for beginners. Late arrival up to 10 minutes!

Cons: Only 1 bathroom

Cost: $22 for a 1 hour single-class pass

Studio Review: Laughing Lotus in NYC

When ultimately choosing what studios to check out while traveling, I rely heavily on locals, friends, and my own encounters/knowledge of teachers. I generally like to let fate lead me to the right places at the right time, as it never disappoints. With that being said, back in March, a friend told me to head to Laughing Lotus for a an awesome yoga class. So what did I do? I put it off. And my only justification for that, now, is that I was meant to take 2 classes this time around – because honestly, the instructors were AMAZING and beautiful, and I learned so much from them!

First off: I chose Victor Colleti for a “Fly” Class on a Friday afternoon:
Our fearless FLY team share their secret tools for taking flight. This spicy class is loaded with inversions and arm balances! ADVANCED

Definitely right up my ally, because I do love to stand on my hands 🙂

Upon arriving at the studio, I walked up 3 flights of stairs and was immediately greeted with very, very bright colors. Orange, pink… Holy Moly. If I wasn’t awake, I was now!

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, so I just watched what everyone else was doing – walk through the hallways to a room that opened up to the main area. There were cubbies & benches to store your shoes & things, so I took my shoes off & walked up to the front desk. Everyone was so nice signing me in, and they directed me to the changing room/bathroom area (I was in sweaty clothes from a 4 mile run I had just gone on & realllly needed to change!).

Ok. So, this is my least favorite thing about the studio – the changing room is covered by a curtain, which means, if anyone walked in & out, people outside the room would see your bare butt peeking out if you were changing. There is also only 1 bathroom. There were a decent amount of people coming in & out of there, so I guess your only option is to wait for the bathroom to open up to privately change in there, or quickly get over your fear of being nude in front of complete strangers. I chose the latter, because honestly, I don’t care. It was just super crammed in there, and I just needed more space to crawl out of my sweaty clothes.

laughing lotus

After changing, I refilled my waterbottle with filtered water & entered the room (SEE, i told you it was bright!!!). There were cubbies to my right where I stored my belongings, and I picked up a block before settling down.

The instructor, Victor, walks in – he seriously has the most wonderful long, brown hair ever, btw – instantly cheering up the class.
We started out doing a breathing exercise, and talked about Prana – it was such an amazing talk about Prana & life force, and I loved how he explained it. He smiled & laughed the entire class, encouraging students, calling them by name… and I couldn’t stop smiling! There were so many fun people in that class, and I loved performing the sequences being taught (um, super HARD but amazing!). By the end, I was super sweaty & so incredibly happy I chose this exact class to attend!

Laughing Lotus Selfie Wall

Following class, I chatted with Victor briefly and met one of the owners, Dana! She was so welcoming and wonderful, giving me a few free passes to hand out to my friends & encouraged me to come back! (yes, I will be in a few weeks!) Before leaving, I took a selfie with Victor in front of the selfie wall – because obviously, every cool studio has a selfie wall 🙂

laughing lotus_victor

Second time around: I chose to squeeze in a 1 hour class before flying back to Columbus on a Sunday afternoon:
The Lotus hour:
Our GLOBALLY-LOVED signature flow is fluid, adventurous and totally transformative. We could go on, but you need to get to class.
Get all the #lotuslove in 60 minutes ALL LEVELS

The teacher for the class was Felipe Gonzalez  (who, btw, is originally from Cuyahoga Falls, OH – something I just found out by looking on the site.. I literally find Ohio people EVERYWHERE I travel!). He has shiny, beautiful black hair  & the voice of an angel!

Class started out with Felipe chanting & playing the Harmonium – then the rest of the class chimed in. The flow was beautiful, non-stop, and the cues absolutely perfect. This man was made to teach yoga! At the end of the class, the Harmonium was brought back out, and the class finished with 6+ rounds of chanting – the room literally sounded like a choir of angels, I kid you not. This man has beautiful vocals!

laughing lotus NYC nina elise yoga

One of the Amazing Murals at the Studio!

Unfortunately, surviving off of 1 hour of sleep, I got out of there and went to grab a bite to eat with a friend instead of staying and chatting. However, I will be back to take Felipe’s class again! Seriously, so so good!

In summary: Come take a class here. The studio is bright, the staff is kind, and the teachers are amazing.

Pros: Wonderful. Colorful. Inviting. Amazing Teachers & Staff. Can store personal items in room you were practicing in. Filtered water refilling station. Lots of blocks, straps, blankets available for use. Can rent mats/towels.

Cons: Small changing room & only 1 shower (bring flip flops!) + 1 bathroom – all pretty typical for most studios in NYC

Cost: $20 single class pass

I Hate Running

Wait, what?

Yes, that’s correct. Don’t get me wrong – I love how I feel during & after a good, slow, short run – but a long, tough run?  All. Mental.  Running is not something that I am a natural at – which, if you know me, makes me really, really mad. Being super competitive by nature, if I’m not good at something, I am going to practice it and do it over, and over and over again… pushing myself until I’ve gotten to a place where I think I am good at it, or have mastered it to the level that satisfies me.


Unfortunately, running is something that I never feel satisfied with. Whether I’m running a 10 minute easy training pace, or a 7:30 minute race pace, it never feels “easy.” There are people who rarely workout and can just get up and run an easy 7 minute pace (especially men.. do you guys have hidden springs in your legs or something??), and there are people like me, and maybe you, who try and try and can’t get past a certain point unless an immense amount of time is dedicated to getting better.

So why do I run? I run because it’s a challenge. I run because I want to improve myself. And because mentally, it’s a battle I have won once I have completed a race. I also run because others can’t – and as I’ve been physically limited & unable to walk, I am grateful that I have the ability to do so now.

You are probably asking… where the heck is she going with this? While the title of this post is “I hate Running,” I wanted to use this as a gateway to speak to a few deeper thoughts about pushing ourselves, and the motives behind our decisions & actions.


I stumbled upon a video about a man named David Goggins – maybe his name rings a bell? He is a Navy SEAL, former USAF Tactical Air Control Party member (served in Iraq and Afghanistan), an ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, and triathlete. I watched a video of him on Runners World (also see below), explaining his mindset and the motivation behind his active life. [Read his story here – you will seriously be left wondering WTF HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY LIFE?? And also want to try to run a 100 mile race. Almost.]


While he hates running, he does it to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which gives full college grants to children of Special Ops personnel killed in the line of fire. He runs for others. And not only that, he runs  because it’s hard. He doesn’t race because he wants to finish – he does it because there is no end. He is constantly looking for ways to push himself past the edge, and his only limitation is himself.

He speaks of the 40% rule – something the Navy Seals live by – meaning, when you think you are done, you are only 40% done. So after you think you’ve reached your limit, you have another 60% of reserves to keep going. Shit – right?!  But not unheard of.


99% of people who start a marathon, finish. Seems crazy, but it’s true! So for anyone that has ever run a full, or a half, or is even just beginning to run – understands the mental limits they have to push past in order to keep going. When your muscles are burning, your legs feel like lead, and your lungs are on fire, you don’t stop. Why? Because you know, deep down, you are capable of so. much. more. There is something inside of us, that when taken out of our comfort zone, we can tear down our limitations and do things that seem impossible – mentally, emotionally, and physically.

If you aren’t inspired after reading/watching David Goggins story, I don’t know what else will. There are people that come into this world to break down barriers & help others realize their greatness when so much of us seem to forget it, and he is definitely one of them. So next time, when you are out on a run, or doing something that seems uncomfortable or hard, remember to ask yourself – “Am I really at my limit, or can I push myself – even just a little bit – more?” Before you know it, you’ll be running faster, doing things you have only ever dreamed of, evolving into a more bad-ass version of your current self, AND inspiring others along the way.

Feel that fire inside of you, and light the way.

XoXo Neens


Journey to Handstand

As part of my yoga teacher training, I am required to put on a 1.5 hour workshop of my choosing. This includes coming up with a marketing plan, pricing, creating a flyer, and creating an outline of your workshop. I am so glad that this was part of my training, as I had so much fun researching my topic and envisioning the end result!

Since I absolutely love being on my hands, I wanted to put on a workshop that broke down the basics of handstands, including a daily practice to build up strength & confidence. So, the title of my workshop was “Journey to Handstand” – and it happened this past Friday night! Guys, I loved it. Putting on a workshop is SO different than teaching a yoga class – you walk around, you talk, interact, stop, start, coach, talk some more, and work one-on-one with others. If you know and enjoy what you are talking about, it is so easy and fun!

Nina Elise Yoga Handstand

9 people showed up for my workshop – students from my yoga classes, as well as my fellow teacher trainees. Everyone was such a good sport, and I am so incredibly grateful for the support from everyone!

The workshop was broken down into 3 parts:
Beginning/Intro: introductions, history, basics, overview
Middle: warm up the body, drills, prop use, partner work
End: Cool down stretch w/savasana, reflections

I also sent out a few tips/drills for at-home practice at the end. And that was it! 1.5 hours – If there were more people, I could have made it to 2 hours. It was fun, a great learning experience for me, and hopefully a learning experience for everyone who attended!

Looking back at where I was 1 year ago – just having ended a 4 year relationship, barely being able to drag myself out of bed every day, low confidence, and having no idea what direction I wanted to go in my life – I am shocked and humbled to see how far I have come. I never would have dreamed of teaching a yoga class, let alone teaching a room full of friends I only met in the past 7 months how to handstand. I am so full of love, gratitude, and happiness – and cannot wait to see what next year brings! Facing fears and doing small things that you love every day changes you – I truly hope everyone one of you can realize that there is always love and hope, even in the seemingly darkest times. And with that – I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my favorite book(s):

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

– Albus Dumbeldore

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