Backbody Project | Meegan Gregg

What: Backbody Project is a mix of plyometrics and full body exercises, focused on strengthening and toning the glutes and other underworked muscle groups. Expect a lot of cardio as well as high reps of big and small movements.

Where: Steps PDX, Vitalidad Movement Arts Center, and Yoga Pearl

Tips: Take breaks! This workout is no joke. Really pay attention to the alignment of your feet, joints, etc., when you’re moving and landing. Instead of doing it all, focus on doing it right.

Backbody Project Instructor: Meegan Gregg

I’m going to be honest with you. Backbody Project has got to be one of my favorite workout classes I’ve done, for a couple of reasons. First, Meegan is an amazing instructor. She is super musical in the way that she talks, as well as how she syncs movement to her music. She also cues postures in a way that is easy to understand, and she is attentive in making sure you’re doing it right. Second, the music is fire. Meegan’s playlists are a mix of hip hop, EDM, and energy bumping songs that are a blast to workout to. I seriously get the urge to break out and dance on my mat during every class. Third, the class is effective. It’s the perfect amount of cardio and strengthening exercises, where you don’t feel like you’ve missed anything. I really could go on and on. Have I raved enough for you to try it?

CZ: What led you to create Backbody Project?

MG: I went to NYC to open barre3 studio. While I was there, I took a bunch of classes, and none of them really focused on the glutes. I wanted to teach a class that I wanted to take. I love jumping and choreography.

CZ: How do you want your clients to feel when they come out of your class?

MG: I want them to feel like they had an opportunity to push themselves, which they normally don’t have in their day-to-day lives. I want them to feel like the class flew by.

CZ: What drives the energy in your class?

MG: Music.

CZ: How do you stay inspired as an instructor?

MG: I take a lot of breaks— I’ll get into fitness and get out of it. I don’t try to do it every day, so I don’t get burnt out. I listen to tons of music, and I take yoga classes and take the essence of pose into my class.

CZ: What would you say to someone who wants to try your class but is too nervous to come?

MG: Honestly, I would say it’s not for everyone and I totally respect that. The cool thing is that it’s kind of a buffet— you can take what you want and leave what you don’t. Don’t take it too seriously, but it is more of an advanced workout. I want everyone to feel welcome and that it’s their class.

CZ: How would you describe your class vibe in one word?

MG: Jane-Fonda-on-Drake

BurnCycle | Danielle Lucia

What: BurnCycle is a 45 minute cardio-based indoor cycling class. The classes take place in the dark with bumping playlists way better than you could make yourself. It’s like going to the club to workout on a bike instead of binge drink.

Where: Pearl District, Lake Oswego, and Seattle

Tips: Come prepared to sweat! You’re going to sweat through your shirt, and if you don’t, I don’t think you did it right.

BurnCycle Instructor: Danielle Lucia

I first took Danielle’s BurnCycle class when she subbed a Friday evening class in the Pearl. I left that class feeling more than amazing. How can you not after doing jumps to Michael Jackson’s “Bad?” This girl commands the room and knows exactly what to say, and how to say it. I had a chance to take her class recently at the LO studio and had just as much fun as the first time. Her music was also on point: Cardi B’s “I Like It” and 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” were personal favorites. Danielle’s energy is incredible. It’s strong but also authentically cool at the same time. In addition to BurnCycle, Danielle is also an instructor at The Lab x Burn (side note: check out The Lab ASAP if you haven’t already).

CZ: What brought you to BurnCycle?

DL: I took my first BurnCycle class over winter break in college and hated it. My best friend ended up working front desk, and when I was looking for jobs out of college, she recommended that I work the front desk. I gave it another chance because of her, and ended up falling in love with the workout and the community.

CZ: How do you want your clients to feel when they come out of your class?

DL: I want them to feel like they’ve been pushed, but also really strong and proud of themselves. I can sometimes be hard on them in class, but I want them to know that they should be able to take care of the bodies.

CZ: What drives the energy in your class?

DL: Music is huge— it can bring the energy of the class up, or it can leave it flat. The music needs to be true to yourself; I think people can feel when you like the song. Everyone in the room drives the energy as well. The things that I say, how I say them, combos that we’re doing, and being genuine also contribute to the energy. When I have fun, other people have fun.

CZ: How do you stay inspired as an instructor?

DL: I stay inspired by other people: taking other classes and getting to know the people who come to my class. Everyone is going through something different in life but we all come to the same class. I see it as: “They are here tonight, so I need to be here for them too.” I also get inspired by the fact that I love my job.

CZ: What would you say to someone who wants to try your class but is too nervous to come?

DL: There’s a spot for everyone. From a 70-year-old, to a 14-year-old, to someone who has an injury, to someone who’s never worked out before, we’re here for you. We’re here to motivate and empower you, and we don’t expect you to be perfect. More people are nervous than not, and they shouldn’t feel that way.

CZ: How would you describe your class vibe in one word?

DL: Badass.

Active Aerial | Keri Padon

What: Active Aerial is a yoga class where you use a silk that hangs from the ceiling as a prop for different postures and inversions.

Where: Knot Springs

Tips: Listen to the cueing and watch the instructor demonstrate so you are able to get into the postures. Ask the instructor for help if you’re struggling!

Active Aerial Instructor: Keri Padon

I took class at Knot Springs with Keri Padon, who is originally from Montana and moved to Portland in 2011. The class only allows for a couple people, so it’s really intimate and hands-on, which I loved. I have only taken this type of class a couple times so I am by no means experienced or fully comfortable doing it, but Keri’s cueing was on point. She walks you through each of the poses step-by-step and transitions very smoothly. We hit a variety of postures, including being upside down. There are a bunch of modifications though, so no need to worry if you aren’t very flexible or are uncomfortable doing anything. I personally did not sweat, but some of the poses were intense and I would’ve started sweating had we held them a little longer. At the end of the class, we laid in the silk like a cocoon and Keri dabbed an essential oil on our foreheads, which was magical. Keri’s got this calming, encouraging energy that makes you feel like you’re going to be just fine, even if you’re about to fall flat on your face.

CZ: How did you get started in your aerial yoga practice?

KP: In 2007, I went to China and ended up going to a Chinese circus. It was the first time I had seen aerial dance with fabrics. Three and a half years later, I moved to Portland. At the time, I was doing 200 hour yoga teacher training, but I saw a flyer for aerial dance and ended up getting into it at the same time as yoga. A studio opened up and they offered aerial yoga— the owner took a chance on me and I ended up taking over the program.

CZ: How do you want your clients to feel when they come out of your class?

KP: I want them to feel both empowered and embodied— like a rockstar but also tender. Mindful, present. The class is about meeting ourselves where we are: truth leads to transformation.

CZ: What drives the energy in your class?

KP: The flow (subtle or dynamic) in terms of physical. I focus on finding a way to encapsulate being present, where thoughtfulness is driven by curiosity. I use music to complement everything.

CZ: How do you stay inspired as an instructor?

KP: I stay inspired by bringing in new flows and new things, and also by furthering my own practice of movement, dance, and music. Meditation as well. The experience of practicing and sharing inspires me.

CZ: What would you say to someone who wants to try your class but is too nervous to come?

KP: The class is built for all levels, beginners included. Trust yourself. I’ll never ask you to do something you don’t feel safe or interested in doing. There are so many modifications, the silk is there to support you.

CZ: How would you describe your class vibe in one word?

KP: Playful. We explore our boundaries and edges and play with that a little bit more. It’s healing because it’s easy to get wrapped up in the seriousness and drama of life.

Barre3 | Lisa Poplawski

What: barre3 is an adaptive workout that combines yoga and pilates. Combining large movements, small movements, and isometric holds, b3 is a whole body workout that delivers a deep muscle burn while provoking mindfulness.

Where: Pearl District, Southeast, Williams, Cedar Mill, Kruse Village, plus over 100 locations across the country

Tips: Get a spot at the barre close to the mirror so you can pay attention to your alignment and form. Trust me when I say feel free do you: go all out or don’t. No one cares what you’re doing!

Barre3 Instructor: Lisa Poplawski

I took class at the Southeast studio with Lisa Poplawski, an attorney-by-day-instructor-by-night. Lisa just came up on her three year teaching anniversary, and she teaches the same classes that she did when she first became an instructor. Warm up had me sweatin’ bullets within the first five minutes. I normally despise carousel horse (think lunge), but Lisa’s series was a blast. It was hard but she took us through a flow that almost made me forget that I was in my least favorite posture. What I loved the most about Lisa’s class was her vocal energy. The things that she says are meaningful and she makes the class exciting by using her voice. When you are at your edge and you don’t think you can go any longer, she brings the inspiration to get you to push past that mental block.

CZ: What brought you to barre3?

LP: I walked past the studio (I didn’t have a car for 6 years), and thought I would give it a try. I was a competitive gymnast growing up, and I wanted to find a fitness routine that worked for me, where I wouldn’t get injured. I took the 6AM class with Harper— one of Harper’s first classes as an instructor (Harper Kalin is a master trainer at barre3). I had an amazing experience, and the class was hard. It was the first time I heard: “You don’t have to if it doesn’t feel good.” I fell in love with the workout and was a client for a few years. An instructor asked me to become an instructor, but I was in my first year as an attorney and didn’t know if I would have the time. I went through the audition process the next year.

CZ: How do you want your clients to feel when they come out of your class?

LP: I want them to feel a sense of pride and contentment with their own bodies. Either in pushing themselves or taking it easy.

CZ: What drives the energy in your class?

LP: My body language and also the music. I try to get low with clients and move throughout the room.

CZ: How do you stay inspired as an instructor?

LP: Being with the clients and people in the class. It’s powerful that people come here to help themselves, have a better day, have a better month, etc.

CZ: What would you say to someone who wants to try your class but is too nervous to come?

LP: You need to just try it. Trust yourself to give it a try. Take what you need, leave what you don’t— the same things that resonated with me.

CZ: How would you describe your class vibe in one word?

LP: Powerful.