• Without Walls: The Fit Crasher

    Your first time in a new fitness class can be a lot like a first date. You think you're interested, but you’re not sure the class is a good fit until you can meet it in person. And just like a date, you know within minutes if it's right for you—and also know that you're stuck there unless you can come up with an excuse to bounce.

    Enter The Fit Crasher: Meaghan Stakelin launched her blog after an injury sent her exploring fitness classes around her DC neighborhood (she's since relocated to New York City). "In 2010 I tore my meniscus running the Boston Marathon” she says. “Up until that point, my workout revolved around running and triathlons. After the injury, I needed to find new ways to work up a sweat, but I was frustrated by the lack of information about DC studios. So I started a blog to write about my experiences."

    In her attempt to provide candid, comprehensive, fun-to-read reviews, Meaghan wound up creating a go-to resource for the latest in buzz-y fitness classes. "Trying a new workout can be daunting; you don’t usually know what to expect. I want my blog to be a helpful resource that gives readers all the relevant information they need before they walk through a new studio’s door," she explains.

    Since The Fit Crasher’s inception, Meaghan has crashed hundreds of classes and studios, trying everything from spinning to yoga to bootcamps—fueled by a seemingly endless stream of new studios and sessions popping up weekly not just in New York, but cities across the US (she now has contributors trying out classes from San Francisco to Boston).

    But while trying new classes is exciting, making a career out of it can cause your own workouts to suffer from what Meaghan calls "shiny object syndrome." It’s difficult to focus on any one routine long enough to make real progress. Which is why, after crashing class after class, Meaghan recently added some consistency to her workouts. "I joined a gym here in New York City to help me prepare and train for a half marathon and triathlon,” she says. “I needed a pool, a weight room, and a reliable place where I can work toward my goal."

    As for that goal, Meaghan’s half marathon and triathlon training has shifted her focus to running, biking, and swimming. She also hits the weight room three times a week for strength-training and physical therapy exercises for that injured knee. "On top of that, I try to fit crash a new studio once or twice a week,” she says. “Let's just say I basically live in spandex and carry an extra pair just in case a workout strikes." Sounds like our kind of girl.

    We got her picks of the best, the worst, and the up and coming—no experience required.
    And Meaghan will also be reporting on the coolest new workouts every month for Without Walls; follow her Sweat Proof series for an inside look in what is getting her heart rate up.

    Favorite class: "
    I gravitate toward classes that involve functional movement and interval training. Put me in a studio with sandbags, heavy ropes, and a rowing machine and I'm a happy crasher."

    What to look for:
    "You can't fake quality instructors who know their stuff, are personable and approachable, and bring a killer playlist. The rest is just icing on the cake."

    Least favorite class:
    "Any class that tells me I’ll get ‘longer, leaner legs.’ Believe me, I've heard that more than once and my reaction is never positive. I'm just over five feet tall and am proud to have the legs of a triathlete; don't try to sell me on that hocus pocus."

    What she can't wait to try:
    "I'm intrigued by aerial yoga, I’ve always wanted to try trampolines, and I have my sights set on an obstacle race sometime soon."

    Her latest obsession:
    "It changes rapidly here in New York, but the newest thing on the scene these days is a group treadmill workout called Mile High Run Club—it's like your local running group, but indoors. And there's a lot of buzz about a soon-to-open luxury boxing studio that some are calling the ‘SoulCycle’ of boxing.”

    Photos by Stef Mitchell, words by Kelly Turner