The Handle Bar Opens Newest Location in Fenway!

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Last Saturday I was invited to try out The Handle Bar’s newest cycling studio in Fenway. Having recently checked out SoulCycle, I couldn’t wait to compare the two! Being a spin newbie, I must admit spin is not always my preferred exercise of choice ( I always have a difficult time locking those damn shoes in!), but nonetheless was excited for a sweaty cardio sesh. Spin studios are abuzz these days with boutique shops popping up all over the place, similar to Crossfit “boxes.” So, naturally I had to see what all the craze was about. High energy, high intensity are just a few words to describe this 45 minute dynamic spin class. The Handle Bar provides both new and experienced spinners with a place to sweat and spin without all of the bells and whistles of some of the other spin studios. Filled with passionate instructors, whose goals are to make you feel challenged and inspired, you are sure to leave with a great workout under your belt and a sense of empowerment.

Unlike SoulCycle, I didn’t really feel like our rhythm was set to a beat or that we were having a dance party or engaging in any choreographed moves on the bike. It was simple and straightforward. I did like that both studios incorporated weights with the Handle Bar literally using a weighted bar for arms! We incorporated an abs circuit as well but me +coordination= major fail. I can’t seem to figure out yet how to crunch and do pushups while also moving my legs…so I didn’t get much of a workout during these portions. The bikes were also a tad close together so every time I went to do a pushup I was hitting the girl next to me. Fortunately, the room was cool and the music wasn’t blasting, which I appreciated. I know others who prefer the deafening music at other studios and the heated rooms, but to each their own. This studio at The Handle Bar worked just perfectly for me.

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My class was also extremely challenging, with a huge focus on sprints and hills. I loved our instructor Jenn who’s got a crazy free-spirit about her that was uplifting and challenged me to push through to the end.

The Handle Bar offers a single class for $20 and 5, 10, 20 and 40 class packages, ranging in price from $95 – $640. Riders also have the option to purchase a 1 month unlimited class package for $175 or a 1 year unlimited class package for $1680. Bikes can be reserved online up to seven days in advance and walk-ins are also welcome.

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After class, I walked out to the reception area, which similar to SoulCycle, offers apparel and a wide array of products, including adorable T’s, drinks, and rental shoes. It was a tad smaller and cramped a bit in the front, but perhaps it is the location. I have never been to the one in Southie so I can’t compare. The lockers also were open cubbies so I hope you trust your neighbor when you go! I felt a little uncomfortable about just leaving my stuff out in the open, but again, I guess it is part of the “no frills” aspect of The Handle Bar.

In terms of pricing, The Handle Bar offers a single class for $20 and 5, 10, 20 and 40 class packages, with prices between $95 – $640. You can also  purchase a 1 Month Unlimited: $175
First-Time Month Unlimited: $100
1 Year Unlimited: $1680
AND Shoe rental is complimentary for unlimited riders.
It is recommended to make a reservation online and single rides and packages can be purchased in studio or online. Bikes can be reserved online up to 7 days in advance. Walk-ins are also welcome.

In comparison, your first class at SoulCycle is $20 at and a single walk in after that is $30.

All in all I enjoyed my experience at The Handle Bar. Even though I am TERRIBLE at spinning, I was excited to check it out and was pretty impressed. Ultimately, YOU have to find what you want out of these exercise specific studios. Some like it hot and loud with more a spa like feeling (soul cycle), while others like myself prefer the no-frills, chilled room, simple and basic spin class (The Handle Bar). I have yet to try out Flywheel but that is certainly next on my list!

Question: Have you been to The Handle Bar? What did you think? What is your favorite cycling studio?

Disclaimer: I received this class complementary. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own. 🙂

Homemade Low cal Paleo Pasta!

Happy Almost-Monday!

This weekend was a complete whirlwind and diet disaster for me. Saturday I attended Reebok’s Fitness Instructor networking event, complete with brunch, mimosas, and one sweaty kick-butt workout. Elspeth Polt flew in to teach the class, which consisted of a 45 min circuit training workout! The class completed plank-ups, burpees, lunges, jumps, and reverse-crunches to name a few. I don’t think any of us expected to sweat as much as we did. Not having had any time before to grab something to eat, I nonetheless was tempted by the assortment of bagels, potatoes, quiche, and fresh fruit. Ugh- major downfall!  The class was intense and I was craving something starchy, but definitely knew I should have eaten a little something before the class to prevent that. Bai, Hint, and Motto were also kind enough to provide refreshments for the event, which helped us all cool down and wash down our bagels and quiche 🙂 I adore healthy thirst-quenching beverages.

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Post-class, I was invited to brunch with a good friend at L’Andana, out in Burlington, MA. L’Andana is quite similar to Sorrelina and Mistral and Boston, but resembles an old-school Tuscan farmhouse that is luxurious and warm. The restaurant was serving light fare to the public, and a huge fan of Mistral, I could not pass up the opportunity. We arrived around 130pm to a room full of people!  L’Andana fortunately has a large space as they primarily serve as a wedding venue, because boy was it packed! The lines moved quickly though and we were soon greeted with smells of their famous pasta bolognese, steak tips, caesar salad, and charcuterie and crudités. If you ever make it up to Burlington, stop by this place and PLEASE order the bolognese. I never eat pasta ( and I’ll talk about that more below), but their bolognese is the best I’ve ever had.

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L’Andana does offer gluten free options and has quite the selection of wood-fire dmeats and fishes. The prices are a little on the steep side, and needless to say we were the youngest ones there, but the dining is meant to be upscale, decadent, and unsurpassed.

Naturally, I tried everything, with a glass of prosecco, and of course left feeling fuller than full and even more guilty than my morning fare left me. It was a lovely meal though and a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Attempting to make up for the larger part of the day, and be healthy and “good,” I decided it was time to make one of my favorite meals: Spaghetti squash pasta! My inspiration actually came from my mom because she makes a delectable squash with heavy cream and butter. Not wanting to go that route with my squash, I chose to season it with pasta sauce, shrimp, and mushrooms, with a side of broccolini. It’s real simple to make and low calorie! I add in a touch of salt, pepper, and olive oil, and you have one of my favorite dinners! Spaghetti squash “pasta,” is such a great alternative to regular pasta, is loaded with nutrients and provides about 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates not to mention fiber. I love recommending it to those looking to watch their weight but still need their “pasta and sauce.”

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So have you ever tried spaghetti squash?  If so, how do you like to season it?