Monday, March 28, 2011

equinox nyc review continued

I'm about as cheap as they come for things, but upgrading my Equinox gym membership was one of my best decisions. Our closest location is now Brooklyn Heights, which has limited class offerings and oddly-timed classes. I also have greater flexibility to work outside of the apartment and drop into any location for an afternoon or evening class. I haven't yet visited many locations, but I plan to try them out once the weather warms up. As promised in a post from a long time ago (yikes, sorry) are some reviews of Equinox locations that I have visited.

Equinox 19th Street (Union Square/Flatiron)

Housed in the original Lord and Taylor, the 19th St. gym is 4 levels (you enter on the 2nd). It's a fairly open and airy space...the 3rd level overlooks the main floor. Free weights, weight machines, and cardio equipment are scattered throughout the 4 levels. There is a cafe on the main floor that does smoothies and made-to-order sandwiches, salads, etc., and a store (also on the main floor) for when you forget your socks or something.

Good variety of clientele. I have seen grandmothers here, as well as college students, hipsters, models, corporate folks, and plain janes. It tends to be a younger crowd in the evenings, but overall, I always felt comfortable here.

*One of the newer locations...fairly clean and well-equipped.
*Locker rooms have bamboo slats over the standard shower floor...makes a difference and just feels cleaner.
*Great variety and schedule of classes, from yoga and sculpt to Pilates. Consequently, I found that some of the best instructors teach here (including one of my faves, Kellie Roman, who has since left NYC...*tear*).
*The spin bikes are the newer variety Schwinn bikes with attached monitors. It's amazing to have an instructor that actually uses the computers, teaching with RPMs, power, etc.
*Staff is super friendly.

*There is a set of weight machines located just behind the check-in desk that are almost always being used by grunting men or trainers and trainees. I found it really difficult (and sometimes intimidating) to ever do a proper circuit.
*The weight areas were almost always overrun with boys! As this was my first real foray into using a NYC gym, I felt super intimidated to workout there.
*The windows on the main level are always covered up by ads or pictures (all by Equinox), which blocks almost all natural light from coming in. The 4th floor windows are open. It's strange to have almost no light coming into such an open and airy space.
*The spin classes fill up crazy fast here. There were times that I set an alarm to remember to register, and the class was already full...that's over 40 bikes filling up in less then 2 minutes. Really annoying.

Equinox Soho (just one block from Houston St.)

This location is 4 levels, but strangely, you don't even reach the check-in counter until the 3rd level. There is a store and a Wichcraft on the 1st level, a small lounge area on the second level, almost everything on the 3rd level, and then the studio rooms and men's locker room on the 4th level. The cardio equipment is all set up in one location - next to the women's locker room, and the rest of the floor is for weights.

I'll say it upfront...that 3rd floor is the biggest meat market! Everything is out in the even get to the women's locker room you have to pass a bunch of weight machines, trainers and trainees, etc. The gym goers are on the young side, and I encounter rude and/or entitled attitudes nearly every time I go. I swear the concept of common courtesy doesn't exist at this location. I'm talking about being slammed in the head by those opening lockers (ever heard of 'excuse me?'), used razors and shaving cream left in the showers, used towels left on the benches, etc. Overall, the crowd is young, good-looking, and pretty fit.

*Good variety of classes. Although I really only come here for spin, I know that there are so many classes to choose from throughout the day. The instructors seem pretty great too. If it weren't for some awesome spin instructors (and the proximity to Griffin's daycare), I'd steer clear of this location.
*This is the only location with tampons in a jars in the locker room. I'm sure that is useful information for someone!

*I covered my cons about the clientele above (ugh!)
*Crazy crowded in the evenings...if you get there past 7pm you probably won't find an open locker.
*Locker room is a little cramped and shower stalls are small (also no wooden slats on the floor). The water is almost always lukewarm at best during peak times, and the shower pressure is abysmal.
*For such a high traffic location, you'd think they'd have the newer Schwinn spin bikes with computers. Nope!

Equinox Midtown (43rd and Lexington, next to Grand Central)

I've only been once because I hated it and never went back, but I think it was 3 levels...there is a small cafe on the main floor.

Mostly corporate clientele. This location is right across from Husband's office, and I think many of those (and other) lawyers come here.

*Never really that crowded (according to Husband).
*Convenient to Grand Central.

*Limited class schedule (this gym seems to cater to the hours of corporate folks).
*Awful spin room layout. Long and narrow, with the bikes set up in long rows facing the instructor bike. The bikes are super close together on all sides. You have to walk up and down the aisles to get to your bike...meaning it's also impossible to duck out early.
*I don't remember the locker room, which must mean it was adequate but unremarkable. I know the showers aren't outfitted with the wooden slats, and they are on the small side.

Equinox Midtown (44th and 5th Ave)

Only 3 levels, and on the small side. No cafe or store (but a shoeshine on one level)! You enter on the 3rd level...both locker rooms are on the 2nd level, spin room is on the 1st level, and weights are distributed throughout.

Mostly corporate folks, but a good mix of young and old. People seem to want to get in and out quickly, but everyone is friendly and considerate.

*Perhaps the cleanest location I've been to. This place is immaculate. The staff are super friendly.
*Spacious locker room...showers have the wooden slats that I love and Speakman showerheads with great pressure (critical for rinsing out the mounds of Kiehls shampoo suds I use). There is actually one aisle with a counter and wall-to-wall mirrors, as well as hair dryers. SO much better than other locations, which just have a few small stations (so only one person can use the station at a time).
*Layout of spin room is good...nice spacing between bikes. Bikes are older Schwinns with no computers though.
*Wireless available throughout the gym; consequently, lots of folks with ipads doing cardio,

*I really can't think of any, I love this location! Maybe the's a bit limited as this location mostly caters to working folks (though not as much as the Lexington Ave. location).
*No store and no cafe.

Equinox Brooklyn (near Borough Hall, at corner of Joralemon & Court Sts.)

Five floors, and really open and airy throughout. This is the only location that gets amazing natural light everywhere (even in all of the studio class rooms). The 1st floor where you enter has a small cafe, computers, and coat check. The 2nd floor has the check-in desk, store, and kids' room. weight equipment is spread throughout the 3 main workout floors, but if you're just doing circuits and just a few moves with free weights, you could stick with the 2nd and 4th floors (avoiding the 'boys' area on the 4th floor). Cardio is also spread among two floors.

Very mixed clientele - young, old, male, female...lots of young professionals. Mid-day, I see a lot of moms. Generally a nice and courteous bunch.

*I've always felt comfortable here, doing weight training, picking up a jump rope in the main studio, etc.
*Good variety of classes, though I wish there were more spin classes (and better instructors, though we love Rachel Buschert, our Saturday morning instructor).
*The main studio is HUGE (the biggest I think I've seen), and light and airy. I've never felt cramped in a class here.
*This is the only location I've seen that has a child care/play room. I'm not sure what this service costs, whether you need to reserve a time, etc, but it seems like a wonderful thing to have if you need it. Many of the women in my Sculpt class leave their kids here while they workout, and then shower.

*The coat check room has really odd's only open briefly in the mornings and evenings. This meant that I always had to carry a lock with me to the gym, and store things in a locker. Now that spring is coming, it may not be as much an issue, but it was an inconvenience.
*Spin room is small and cramped, and gets really stuffy. The bikes are older, and although I don't use them...most of the cages for the pedals are broken! This baffles me, since I'd say half or more of the people taking spin don't clip in to the pedals.
*For busier spin classes, the staff are pretty militant about giving bikes away...we have literally walked in 3 minutes before class to them about to give away the bike. Now I'd understand if this was the policy at every Equinox, but it's not.
*Almost all of the treadmills (with the exception of maybe 6) are located in rows along the back windows...right next to the heaters. This makes runs a real sweatfest sometimes, unless some kind soul or staff decides to crack open a window.
*The locker rooms are small and cramped. There aren't nearly as many lockers here as other locations. The showers are small (no wooden slats), and strangely, almost none of them drain properly. Also, all of the showers have semi-sheer glass doors (unlike other locations that have half of the showers in little stalls with a shower curtain for more privacy). This doesn't bother me (having lived for 2 years in my sorority house with communal bathrooms and those same semi-sheer glass doors), but I know it's important to many woman I've seen.
*The staff here are sort of meh. No one is overly friendly, and some of the cleaning staff are downright rude. At least three times, my feet have been mopped or swept over in the locker room (eww)! I've always seen them hanging out in the locker room, chatting for prolonged periods, while the place is packed. The trainers never smile or even say hello when I pass them (they do at most other locations).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

review: Madewell Brownstone Bag

Back in January we re-did our annual budget and decided to cut back on things like eating out and shopping in an attempt to save money and start investing like grown-ups. Each month, I've got to stick to our budget allotment, which has really forced me to edit my shopping wishlist and separate the must-haves (new running sneakers) from the not-necessarys (another print blouse).

I mentioned on a past wishlist that I'd been hunting for a black purse...well Husband looked through this blog (sneaky!) and surprised me with the Marc Jacobs Classic Q Natasha purse for the holidays. I love it, and have been wearing it on the regular. The only time it doesn't work so well is for evenings out...the crossbody somehow doesn't complete my standard blouse/skinny jeans/boots look so well.

Enter the Madewell Brownstone Bag. It's been on sale via the website for months, and I bought it when Madewell was offering an additional % off sale items. I'm pleased with it so far! Now, it's no Chanel, but I love that it's a slightly dressier version of a purse I might carry everyday.

The good: The leather is buttery soft, and the construction seems really great. The bag can expand to a decent size, but doesn't appear to large. The chains are set up so that you can wear the bag crossbody or on the shoulder.

The not-so-good: The color is more of a soft black (not true black), which may bother some. Also, it's sometimes difficult to get the chains to sit just right...hard to describe but they almost never lay perfectly right (you can see a kink in the second pic below).

For the price I paid (around $70 - nearly a 50% reduction from the retail price of $158), I think this bag is well worth it. I've already got my fancy party clutches and mini designer bags for events and dressy nights out - this one fits the bill as a slightly dressier purse for dinner dates and casual drinks (which, let's face it, comprises the majority of my limited social calendar). Madewell also has a suede version and this amazing (albeit expensive) pony hair version.