Art Of Strength New Jersey Class Review

Disclaimer: I was provided a free class through Sweat Pink. All opinions are my own.

Earlier this month, I took a class at a fitness studio called Art of Strength in Warren, NJ. So fellow New Jersey-ans…take note!

Someone from Sweat Pink reached out to me to see if I’d want to review a class here. It was funny and coincidental because the owners actually live in my home town. I agreed and was excited for a bootcamp/interval type workout, since I haven’t done one in a long time.

I honestly had no idea what to expect. But I kinda like going into classes and not knowing what we’ll be doing. Once I got there I found out the class I was taking was called ROPA, which stands for Be Resilient, Outstanding & Always Perform with Attitude. Love it! Here’s a description of the class from their website:

The R.O.P.A. Fusion experience consists of a 45 minute workout and is comprised of three vital pieces of equipment that make up the core of the program – ropes, bandits loops (also known as the “Suspension Training System”) and body weight drills.

I really liked the open layout and feel of the studio. I’ve been to studios where you just feel cramped or there is equipment everywhere. You could tell we would have room to move around and not get in anyone’s way.

Art Of Strength NJ

Art of Strength NJ
Check out all those ropes! When I saw those I was super excited to use them. I used to do rope workouts when I worked at my old personal training studio – such a great cardio and strength exercise.

The workout itself was tough!! I figured I’d be in decent enough cardio shape from running but I was wrong. I was sweating bullets.

We would do 20 seconds of an exercises followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat that 4 times before switching to a new exercise.

Exercises included burpees (where 20 seconds seemed like an ETERNITY), squats and lunges with the ropes, cardio with the ropes, pushups, core work and more. Did I mention I really liked the ropes exercises? ;)

Some of the rope exercises we did were:

  • Rope slams
  • Rope rainbows (I’m making names up because no clue what they’re actually called): You swing the ropes up and over your head and down.
  • Rope rainbows with a punch. Same as above but you add in a punch (similar to a row motion).
  • Squat jumps holding the ropes that were hanging from the ceiling. We used the rope to support ourselves.
  • Bulgarian split squats with our foot in the rope. This was really hard, I have awful balance.
  • Mountain climbers either supported by the rope or with your feet in rope loops.

I was SO SORE the next day. My glutes were on fire. Those split squats with your foot in the rope loop were no joke.

Valerie, the owner, explained to me the logic behind rope workouts. Basically, you’re doing movements that you do in every day life, also called “functional movement.” You’re lifting the rope up over head, slamming it down, twisting your core…all things you probably experience on a daily basis somehow. You’re moving your body in all different planes of motion as opposed to just one. This is what made me so sore!

I really loved this workout and will be back again. I think that a class like this will definitely benefit runners. As runners, we only really move in one plane of motion (forward), so adding in a ROPA class will help you train a different way, and also help keep you from hitting the dreaded plateau.

For more information about Art of Strength and the various classes they have, visit their website. And let me know if you decide to try it out! Here’s a group pic of us after the class (thank goodness I brought a towel for all that sweat!) :

ropa class nj


Follow Reach Your Peak:


10 Things To Do Before & After Your Next Track Workout

Track workouts are awesome…at least in my opinion. I soooo much rather prefer a track workout over a long run.

Whether you’re a beginner runner or not, we could all use these reminders before our next track workout. I’m the worst with warming up and cooling down, but recently I’ve had my cross country runners going through a certain routine, which has made me want to “practice what I preach.”

Track Workout Tips


Eat something. Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to do the work. Nothing is more frustrating (to me at least) than being pumped for a workout but stopping or slowing down halfway because I feel lightheaded or weak. Make sure to eat a good meal or snack beforehand, depending on what time you’re doing the workout.

Warm-up. If you’re anything like me, you slack on the warm-up before runs. You just get up and go…well I do. And hey, Jenny Simpson told me she does too ;) But the warm-up is so important when it comes to doing any type of speed workout. You want your muscles and joints to be primed for the action. They need to be warm and loose. Coach Marc usually has me doing a 1 mile warm up before any sort of workout.

Do a dynamic warm-up. Okay, so you did your 1 mile warm-up. But you’re not ready to go yet. Now it’s time for dome dynamic movements. I have my cross-country team do a series of moves before a workout or meet, which I wrote about here. This includes A-skips, butt kicks, mummy walks, cariocas and more. When I was personal training, I had clients go through these movements as well. It’s another way to get your joints ready and loosen up the muscles through your range of motion.

Strides. Before a workout or race I like to do a few strides, or pick-ups. Once again, it just helps loosen you up a bit and get you acclimated to that faster speed you’re about to run. Do anywhere from 3-5 for about 50 meters. Marc has me do them after runs too just do get in a little speed at the end of a run.


Cool down. I actually hate the cool down more than the warm up. When I’m done with a hard effort, all I want to do is go home and collapse on the floor or couch. But a cool down is so important for your muscles and heart. It gradually brings your heart rate back down and will prevent your muscles from tightening up or being too sore the next day. I usually do anywhere from a half mile to a mile cool down after workouts. Pace doesn’t matter!

Stretching. Once you’re done with your cool down, it’s time for some stretching and more dynamic stretches. Before getting into static stretches, I have my runners do some mummy walks and skips. It helps get everything flowing and also stretches the muscles. Once you’re done, go through a stretching routine. I switch it up between certain yoga routines or my own routine, but stretches I always do are calf stretches, quad stretches, pigeon pose, and hamstring stretches.

Hydrate. This one is obvious right? You just had a hard effort. Drink some water!!

Protein. Within 30 minutes of any workout, whether it’s running or lifting, you should be eating a recovery meal or drink. If I’m having a shake, I have PlantFusion, which is my all-time favorite protein powder. Getting in protein right away will help with muscle recovery, which means you’ll be ready to go (and stronger) or your next workout.

Pre-hab or rehab. If you have a nagging ache or pain like I do (shins), speed workouts may make it worse. My shins are always sore after track or tempo workouts. Monitor yourself for any sort of pain and do the proper rehab right away. Don’t wait! For example, I had a track workout two days ago and right when I got home I made sure to massage my calves and shins with Biofreeze.

Foam roll. This kind of goes with the pre-hab, but while you’re watching TV after a workout, get on the foam roller or tennis ball. Your muscles will probably be tight, and a foam roller will help work out those knots. You don’t want to be tight for your next track workout! I love sitting on a tennis ball and self-massaging my glutes…even though it hurts SO much.

I just did a track workout on Tuesday and I felt awesome! Coach had me doing 8×400 and I told him I felt on fire!! 

When’s your next track workout? What kind of warm-up do you do beforehand?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

Feeling so tired today. Ever have those weeks where you just need like 1 day to sleep in and catch up? That’s how I’m feeling this week. Oh well…gotta keep trucking along! At least it’s already Wednesday :)

I have some great info for you all today, so when you have some downtime, take a look!

Featured: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Balls (Nutritious Eats)


These look so good! I have made similar “protein balls” in the past, and I can attest to the fact that they taste like a cookie or sweet treat, when in reality they are much healthier. Doesn’t take long to make at all!

  • Ultra Fluffy Vanilla Pumpkin Chickpea Pancakes (Strength & Sunshine) – I’m currently all about pumpkin so I need to make these. I’ve never actually had pumpkin in anything other than coffee :-P
  • 18 Spiralized Recipes (Side of Sneakers) – I have been loving spiralized zucchini lately. I use my Veggetti which works well and is small so it’s easy to store. Except yesterday I accidentally sliced my finger in it =(
  • Killer Legs & Glutes (Fighting For Wellness) – This looks like a great lower body workout. I love swiss ball leg curls.
  • Better Than Takeout Chicken Fried Rice (Eat Pray Run DC) – I actually haven’t had takeout in forever, which now has me craving takeout. Perhaps I’ll have to make this for dinner this week!

Have you used a spiralizer? What are your favorite veggies to use?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


That Time I Met World Champion & Olympian Jenny Simpson

I never in a million years thought I’d be able to go for a run with and get coffee with an elite runner. My “runspirations” are Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan and Jenny Simpson…who I met last week!!!

It all started when I met her at the 2012 5th Avenue mile. I watched her race and was right by the finish line so when I saw her I figured I’d ask for a picture. I remember her being super nice about it.

Then, she started following me on Twitter (!!) and we interacted a few times. I reached out to her a few months ago to see if she could do a quick email interview for my blog, which she did. Read it here for some great running advice from a pro!

After the interview she said to keep in touch once 5th Ave. Mile came by again, so I went out on a limb and emailed her 2 weeks ago to see if she’d like to meet up for coffee and/or a short run since she’d be in NYC. To my own surprised she emailed back and said sure! I was so pumped!

So we met up on Thursday before the race (Saturday) at her hotel and went for a short 1 mile run through Central Park to the coffee shop. It was so cool and she was so nice and down to earth – it felt like running with a friend.

We talked about so much ranging from sneakers to travel to Rio De Janeiro to her epic race where she fell at the finish (and needed stitches). Here are a few key points I remember:

  • Pros take off after a season too. 5th Avenue Mile was her last race of the season so she is now taking 2 weeks off from running. She said she struggles getting back into it once those 2 weeks are over and feels just as out of shape and sore as us regular runners do when we take running breaks.
  • Her long runs are 15 miles (and she runs the 1,500-3K…clearly I need to be running longer since I’m half marathon training!)
  • She loves long run days. We chatted about how I like track workouts and am not a fan of long runs but she likes just getting up, going out for a run and not having to think about pace or anything.
  • When she runs in the AM she gets up, stretches and is out the door. She does dynamic warm-ups before workouts. Good – because that’s what I do too!
  • She’s a fan of Roll Recovery and suggested it to me for my shin issues. I should look into it. Currently I’m a fan of the Rumble Roller.
  • She had to get stitches after her win in Zurich when she fell. If you haven’t seen the race, check it out here:

  • She doesn’t do as many double days as Kara Goucher (who’s a marathoner). She runs doubles probably twice a week.
  • Her husband runs a marathon each year and she suggested checking out Chicago Marathon because they have a great atmosphere. She wasn’t a fun of the LA Marathon.
  • Eventually maybe she will do a half or full marathon. That’d be cool to see!
  • She’s also inspired by Kara and Shalane and we talked about Shalane’s awesome performance at the Boston Marathon.

That’s all I can think of right now but it was a great conversation. Now I can say I have run with an Olympian! I’m sure my pace was like walking pace for her ;)

So yeah, this was definitely an awesome experience, and thanks to Jenny for agreeing to hang out with me. Feeling inspired and motivated now with regards to running…now if only I could run a 4:20 mile like she just did at the 5th Avenue Mile…

PS – She won the 5th Ave. Mile this past weekend. I wish I could have been there, the field had some great runners like Brenda Martinez, Jordan Hasay, Mary Cain and more!

What athlete would you like to run or workout with if you could?

Who is an athlete who inspires you?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


Weekend 5K Race Recap

Is it Monday already? I had an awesome weekend and wish it didn’t end so soon. Mainly also because I didn’t get a chance to sleep in/catch up on sleep ;)

Friday night my mom and I went to see Luke Bryan at Madison Square Garden.

He was so good!! I’ve been wanting to see him for a while and I’m glad I finally did. We had to leave a bit early because we had the 5K in the morning, so that sucked but it was such a fun time. Even with leaving at 10:45, we didn’t get home until 1:30AM. Yay for 5 hours of sleep before running a race…

So Coach Marc wanted me to negative split the race and really focus on making the last mile the fastest. This is always the hardest part for me in 5Ks. I always end up going out to fast and fade hard towards the end.

My goal was to make my first mile 9:45 and go from there. We got there early to pick up our packets and have time to warm up. My mom’s friend was running too and it was her first race ever – so I was excited for her. It’s always great getting others involved with running!

Anyway, we did our warm up and lined up. My mom likes to run an even pace as opposed to going from easy(ish) pace to faster pace towards the end. She went off right from the start, whereas I stayed back.

My first mile was in 9:20. I felt good and was thinking oh wow, this will be good if I can maintain this! My second mile was 9:25. I slowed down a bit to try to gather my energy for the last mile. I still felt good though and not like I needed to slow down or walk, which is a big change from my first few races this year.

Once I hit the 2 mile marker I sped up. I started passing people which felt really good and also made me feel stronger. I would “pick people off” as we used to be told in high school cross country. I saw my Garmin “lap pace” slowly decreasing and just kept giving it all I had. I ended up running my last mile in 8:49, with my final .1 in 8:00!

I crossed the finish line feeling strong and proud of myself. A few weeks ago I ran a 5K in 30:44…this is a big difference! Granted, the course was flat and the temperature was perfect, but still!

I had a feeling this would be a good race because I had a tempo run on Wednesday that went really well. I am finally starting to feel more in shape than I have been recently. And I finally was able to follow Marc’s race strategy! :)

My mom and I both ended up winning 3rd in our age group. It was a great morning overall and now I can’t wait for the next race. I’m planning on a 5K and 10K in October. Now just need to stick to Marc’s training plan and keep getting into better shape!

Did any of you run a race over the weekend?

What is your usual 5K strategy?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


The 10 Minute Leg Workout

My mom and I try to do strength training two times per week. We are training for a half marathon but also want to make sure we make time to lift as well. Some days we run beforehand and go to the gym after…so let’s face it, we really don’t want to be there for hours. We want to get in and get out.

So that’s why this past week we started incorporating this leg workout into our workout. It only takes 10 minutes when you do it for 3 sets. And trust me it’s not easy. Once you’re done, you now have more time to work on other body parts like back, arms, and especially core.


So you go through and do each exercise for 30 seconds, then take a 30 second rest. You do this for three sets. You need to make sure the weight is heavy enough. You should be getting 8-10 reps in those 30 seconds. If you’re doing more, then the weight is too light. I am always dripping in sweat after this workout!

Here’s a picture I posted on my Instagram showing the exercises (ignore my running splits, that was from my tempo run that day which was awesome!!) :

This workout targets all the major muscles in your legs, like glutes, quads and hamstrings. It’s great when you’re short on time or want to do something quick after a run.

Let me know if you try it out! What types of lifting do you do while you’re training for a race?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

It’s finally getting cooler out – my favorite season is upon us!

Last week was crazy, thankfully think week has slowed down a bit though I’m still busy with work, coaching and my own business. But I’m so pumped for this weekend. I’m seeing Luke Bryan on Friday and there is a big Rutgers football game on Saturday against Penn State. 

What are you all up to this weekend? Is it here yet??

Here are your links for today :)

Featured: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running (Happy Fit Mama)

10-Things-I-wish-I-knew-before-I-started-running-happyfitmama.com_-1024x1024These are all great points. If you’re just starting to run, check this out! My favorite: never say never when it comes to running a marathon. I always said, “Omg I would NEVER run a marathon that is way too far!” Yup…

  • Support Chickens (Dare You To) – After I saw a PETA documentary on chicken farming, I think about it every time I buy chicken at the grocery store. Label to look for? “Certified Humane.” 
  • Crockpot Salsa Chicken (Hungry Mother Runner) – With cooler weather comes all sorts of things you can make in your crockpot! Definitely saving this recipe.
  • College Football Workout (Kate Moving Forward) – A great way to get in a workout while watching football. Who’s excited football season is back??
  • Zucchini Noodle Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing (Eat Spin Run Repeat) – I have been loving zucchini noodles lately. Never thought to add an egg and avocado – need to try this!

Will you be watching football this weekend? What game?


Follow Reach Your Peak:



Quick Hill Interval Workout

Are you limited on time or just want a good finisher after a lifting workout? Then you have to try this hill interval workout I did yesterday!

My mom and I were sweating bullets once we were done, and it only took about 10 minutes (or maybe less). 

Doing hill sprints helps torch calories as well as make you stronger – which is a great thing if you’re a runner. Adding in hill intervals will help build speed, strength and endurance. 

Here’s the workout:

Hill Sprint Workout


  1. Warm up for 5-10 minutes. Obviously skip this step if you have been lifting or exercising prior to this and are using this as a finisher.
  2. Start running! Take a 1 minute break in between each interval. I like to walk or slow jog.
  3. Cool down & walk for 5 minutes once you’re done.

Like I said, perfect for when you’re short on time but want to get in a good sweat.

Do you like hill sprints? I know some people hate them but I love them. I also like hillier courses better than flatter race courses. How about you?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


Philly Half Marathon Training Week 6

Skipped some runs this week, not gonna lie, but had an awesome long run yesterday and am feeling good! Last week was incredibly busy for me so I did what I could.

Here’s how last week went:

Monday: Scheduled –> 35 min. XT + 25 min. strength. Actual –> Took off. 

Tuesday: Scheduled–> 3 mile fartlek run. Actual –> I took a 45 minute. battle ropes/tabata class as part of my SweatPink ambassadorship, so I counted it as XT…stay tuned for the review!

Wednesday: Scheduled –> Day off. Actual –> Obviously took off ;)

Thursday: Scheduled –> 3 mile run. Actual –> 2 mile run + lifting. Felt awful. The heat and humidity got to me AND I was not the best with nutrition that day. Let’s just say the night before I ate multiple cookies, and during the day on Thursday I had multiple cookies…what a horrible run. Can you tell I have a sugar problem? We did lift so at least that got done!

We did:

  • Bench press
  • DB squats
  • DB deadlift
  • DB reverse lunges
  • Cable tricep pressdown
  • One arm cable rows

Friday: Scheduled –> 3 mile run. Actual –> 3 mile run. Felt good despite the humidity. Actually felt really good. It was a later run (7 pm) so that might be why. I also had my first XC meet as a coach this day and it went well! So proud of my runners. Here is part of the men’s team warming up:

Saturday: Scheduled –> 35 min XT + 25 lifting. Actual –> 30 minutes of tennis with my mom (as XT). The tennis bug has definitely bit us after watching the US Open live! There was also a Rutgers game (season opener) so that’s where I was during the day…so pumped football season is here, and that Rutgers will be playing in the Big Ten!

Sunday: Scheduled –> 6 miles. Actual –> 6 miles. Felt awesome! I was kind of dreading this run but it turned out to be a great run with my mom. Kept it below 11 min./mile which for us, right now, means we are slowly getting back into shape!

I just checked my training calendar for the next two weeks that Coach Marc laid out, and I’m excited! Finally some tempo runs and track workouts. I love track workouts. Tempo runs…not so much…but I like that they make me faster and a stronger runner.

I’m still on my runner’s high from my 6 mile run earlier. Finally feels good to be running again, as opposed to trudging along hating the fact that I feel so out of shape.

Are you running any fall races?

What is your college alma mater? Any RU alums reading? :)


Follow Reach Your Peak:


5 Low-Impact Exercise Ideas

You may be injured. Or just may just want a change in your routine. These low-impact exercises are great when you have some sort of lower body issue (like my shin splints) or just want to switch up your cross-training. Really, who wants to be on the elliptical for an hour?? You can try doing one (or a mix) of these instead. I’d say my favorite are the battle ropes.

low-impact-exercisePhoto Credit: Tooley via Compfight cc

Battle Ropes – I recently took a ropes type class which I’ll be reviewing next week. Let me tell you, I am sore. We did all sorts of stuff with battle ropes. My heart rate was jacked up and I could feel my core workout. Any exercise where I’m doing cardio and abs…I’m in. The great thing about using ropes is that it can be as low-impact as you need. I told the instructor I had shin splints, so she modified certain exercises for me. Regardless, I still had to take breaks because I was so winded. Talk about a great way to exercise when you’re injured and can’t run!

Here’s a great and simple move to do with ropes:

photo-3Source: powercakes.net

Stairs - For some reason, I get more winded with stairs than running. No joke, I go up like 10 steps and I’m out of breath (can anyone tell me why??). Stairs are a great way to get in some lower-impact cardio and feel the burn in your quads. If you don’t care about low-impact, add in some jumps (similar to box jumps) to really get in a good lower body workout.

Hiking – About a month or so ago I went for a 1.5 mile hike with Dan. 1.5 miles is nothing right? Well it was straight up a rocky hill, so by the end I was pretty sweaty. If you’re injured, this is a great way to cross train and be outdoors at the same time.

Suspension Training – I’m sure you’ve heard of TRX training. You can do suspension training with anything similar to a TRX. At the class I took we simply used ropes that were hanging from a pull-up bar. There are so many things you can do with suspension trainers: lunges, mountain climbers, planks, rows, single arm rows…the list goes on.

Rock Climbing – During grad school, I worked with the college Recreation department. As a team, we took a trip to the rock wall at our school. I was really scared because I had never done this before. Turns out it was actually a lot of fun AND a great workout. My arms were pretty sore the next day! Rock climbing not only works your arms, but your lower body too since you use your legs to boost yourself up each time you go for a rock. The best part is belaying all the way back down at the top!

Have you tried any of these (or do them regularly?)

I really want to do more muscle ropes at my gym but also am a little self conscious because you have to do them on the main floor where everyone is working out…hmm…


Follow Reach Your Peak: