Never Coast [#flywheel]

When I first heard about FlyWheel, I thought, it can’t be that different than other spin classes. I taught spin in college. I’ve taken classes at more than a dozen different gyms/studios. So what’s so special about FlyWheel? I’ll tell you. In FlyWheel, I can compete with myself and with the other riders by watching the torq board and seeing where I fall in the class. The men and women are separated on the board, and participation is all by choice, and nicknames are used. While I am proud of my rides, and feel exhausted at the end of class, I quickly learned that the other women can kick my butt on these rides.

IMG_8176FlyWheel is a workout where you can push yourself to new limits. Each teacher has a different style of workout. Some like faster rides where you sprint until you’re out of breath. Others have you climbing imaginary hills until your legs feel like jello. And because each workout is so amazing, people keep coming back and paying large sums of money for class passes ($180 for 10 classes).

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The teachers ride on a stage in front of the class which is shaped in a semi-circle. When the ride starts, the room goes dark. No one is looking around at the other riders, you’re focused on your own torq and RPMs. Rides typically last for 11 songs in the 45 minute classes (60 minute classes are also offered). One song is a break for your legs and work for your arms with weighted bars. Another difference in FlyWheel and other cycle classes.

flyshoes

In FlyWheel, you are given shoes that clip into your bike. Most classes at other gyms, you wear your own tennis shoes. The clip in shoe really gives you the feel of cycling. It can be tricky to get the hang of clipping in and out at first, but the stability of this is much better than riding in your own shoes with non-clip pedals. Have you ever slipped off the pedal and had it hit your leg? OUCH.

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Towels, changing rooms, and lockers are also provided. With the lockers, you set your own code each time, so only you can access it. No worries if you forget the code, a master key does exist for those cases. When you arrive to FlyWheel, you check in at computers in the front. You select your bike when you reserve the class, so there’s never any waiting to see if you have a bike. You also have pre-loaded your shoe size and your shoes are waiting for you in a numbered cubby (matching your bike number) when you arrive.

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The water station is a nice alternative to water fountains and allows 3 users to get water at the same time. I have to fill up at least twice while there. Whatever you do, don’t forget your water bottle when you go for class.

IMG_8181If you’re in the mood for new workout clothes after sweating through class, they have quite the selection and generally have a good sale going, too.

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If you’re looking for a sweaty, excellent, indoor workout, check out FlyWheel on Providence road. Your first class is FREE (for both FlyWheel and FlyBarre). I tried my first FlyBarre class yesterday and it hurts to type this today but now I understand how all of the instructors have arms that make women everywhere jealous. It’s a free class, what are you waiting for? Here’s a link to get you started with signing up for your first class. Let’s ride together!

 

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We Believe Santa 5k

A few weeks ago, I ran my last race of 2014 in the form of a trail race at the USNWC. The We Believe Santa 5k happened on a fabulously sunny December day and started near the new Pumphouse Biergarten which is going to be amazing in the spring/summer.

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Runners were able to participate in a costume contest (which many did), have their photos taken with the Coke polar bear and also received these awesome shirts for participating.

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The race started in heats, which was a change from past races. If you’ve ever done a trail race, you know the trails are thin and there tends to be a bottleneck of runners at certain points. That didn’t happen in this race for the most part and was much appreciated. Also, it was a chip race, so no matter what wave you started in, your time was counted by your chip and not just the running clock.

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The race went around the perimeter of the USNWC and then looped through the trails before coming back around the same trail to the finish. Only a mile or mile and half was spent on actual trails but it was still a nice run.

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The whole event was actually exceptional, with NoDa Brewing serving Santa Baby to runners, burgers and hot dogs being served at the pump house biergarten and the weather couldn’t be beat.

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Looking forward to experiencing the new biergarten in warmer weather and having more options for beer/food. If you haven’t participated in a race at the USNWC, you should add one to your calendar. They do a wonderful job of putting on races and events! And even if you don’t want to run, you can hang out, have a beer and cheer on the runners as they finish!

Passionate about Passion8

Passion8 became one of my favorite restaurants years ago when we visited their Fort Mill location to celebrate our anniversary. Every part of the meal was spectacular. We loved the intimate setting, the farm-to-table food, the service, the creativity of the drinks, and of course, dessert. So, I was a little hesitant when I heard they were moving to Elizabeth and found out that they weren’t going to be in a stand alone house like they were in Fort Mill. But I’m here to tell you today that I was once again, blown away with Passion8 and their new location.

IMG_7776From the moment we walked in, I loved the new space. While it’s TOTALLY different than the old location, it still is full of charm.

IMG_7777A long bar awaits you just around the corner from the entrance. The old location had a much smaller bar which agreed with the restaurant’s intimate seating plan, but the new location is more open and airy and needs a bar like this one!

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The cocktails are just as spectacular as ever, and they serve a variety of local and NC craft beers, which is always a plus in my book! We attended for their first ever brunch and my husband was the first to access the bloody Mary bar.

IMG_7781This is no ordinary bloody Mary bar. Items like jalapeno salt can be found here. The only thing I thought was missing was olive juice, but I was told that they would be adding and changing items up until they found the right items to be offered. If you order the house bloody Mary, it comes with a special lobster roll attached (like I said, they do it right at Passion8). The food didn’t disappoint either.

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My in-laws dined with us and absolutely fell in love with the place. My mother-in-law ordered the trout and broccoli and was pleasantly surprised. We also split a side of cheese grits. Upon asking Chef Luca’s wife what the cheese was in the grits, we were told there were THREE kinds. That news just made me love the grits even more!

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I opted for the brisket and poached eggs. Ah-mazing. Seriously. I’m drooling thinking about it. It was so delicious (and filling!). I could not have picked a better dish!

IMG_7786My father in law also got brisket, but he got it on top of the salad he ordered. While the salad seemed like the least interesting thing to order, it was actually quite beautiful and delicious according to him!

IMG_7787My husband got the roasted vegetable flatbread. If you like colorful food, this is the dish for you. Oh, and it was super tasty!

IMG_7790While everyone else had coffee after our meal, I couldn’t resist ordering dessert. I mean, come on, I have NEVER been disappointed with dessert from Passion8 and this brunch outing was no different.

IMG_7793I don’t remember what it was called but it was a heavenly combination of peppermint, bread, white chocolate, dark chocolate and beet foam. Completely delicious. I can’t wait to go eat this again. And to of course try all the other desserts.

IMG_7779The dining area is much larger at the new location and they can fit at least double, if not triple the amount of people inside. There’s also an upstairs! I’d love to go back with a group and dine at the private table looking into the kitchen.

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I also think it would be incredibly fun to go for a cooking class that they’re offering. Learn how to make those amazing dishes from Chef Luca himself? Yes, please! They also have a ton of other events going on, like a fun Gatsby themed New Year’s party with 3 dinner seatings. If you haven’t been, check it out. It’s in Elizabeth, right by Visulite theatre and in great company with other restaurants like Carpe Diem and Custom Shop.

Magic of Christmas

Every year around the holidays, we attend a show or symphony at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Bank of America Center uptown, for the past two years we’ve seen the Magic of Christmas (I also highly recommend seeing The Nutcracker).
IMG_7805Albert-George “George” Schram is the most energetic maestro, conducting the symphony through a variety of Christmas songs. Watching him is so uplifting and exciting. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone loved what they did THAT much? Such a lively character!

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The symphony is absolutely wonderful. What a talented group! They play so beautifully through popular songs, songs you sang as a child and even have sing-alongs at the end!  They are accompanied by local choirs, including the Charlotte Children’s Choir and the Oratorio Singers. It seriously is a magical experience!

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The center is decorated with trees and garland and bows. Everything you need to get in the holiday spirit (and pose for family photos in front of).

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Singing bears perform in the lobby, much to the children’s delight. Holiday songs sung by singing bears, what could be better?

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Multiple times are offered for shows, so if you’re taking the kids, you can grab a 2:30 slot, or if it’s a holiday date night, the 7:00 PM show is excellent. Depending on what time you go, coffee and libations are available to get you through the show. It’s DEFINITELY worth going. Make it a family or friends trip or a special date night, but don’t miss out on this experience!

Where everybody knows your name…

Harry’s Grille & Tavern opened several years ago when I was living in the Steele Creek area. It occupied the space that was previously Red Lion, a bar, but we quickly noticed that Harry’s was completely different than Red Lion. While it’s tucked away in Ayrsley, located in South Charlotte, it’s actually got a pretty great location.IMG_7365My favorite place to sit is at the bar, or the tables surrounding the bar when we go. They do have a dining area downstairs and are able to accommodate large parties. My bridal luncheon was actually hosted here and they did a FANTASTIC job.

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Harry’s always has a great selection of beers on tap and in the past year or so, started making their own infused liquors which are certainly interesting.

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While the place definitely has a bar-atmosphere, the food is a little more upscale and somewhat creative. In place of normal buffalo wings, they serve duck wings. Their burgers are far from “regular” and have toppings such as fried eggs, pimento cheese and crispy onions. And they have some of the best sweet potato fries you can get.

Old Fashioned Burger

Old Fashioned Burger

Cali Burger

Cali Burger

I love their side salads which are quaint and delicious. The ingredients always seem fresh and they don’t charge extra if you want to use this as a side (cha-ching!).

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We’ve always loved going to Harry’s, and the service is wonderful most of the time. There were a few episodes when we sat in the dining area but I think that was just a “new restaurant” thing and they’ve likely sorted that all out by now. Again, my favorite place to sit is in the bar area. They’ve recently added new farmhouse style tables to accommodate more people up there (they used to have couches for a more casual feel).

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While there are definitely TVs in the place, you’re still able to go and have a conversation without all the normal bar noise. They also have an adorable outside space which is nice for 3/4 of the year. Had I waited until spring, I could have gotten a much better photo but I was there in late November so here’s what we’ve got.

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A great spot to mingle with friends over a few cocktails and appetizers. Plus, the location is prime to the Ayrsley movie theatre. Grabbing dinner or drinks before walking over to the theatre is such a great time. There, I just planned your next date night for you. You’re welcome.

Seriously though, go check out Harry’s. Try a few of their cocktails, an appetizer and a delicious burger (or the crab cakes, which are amazing, or the fish tacos, also amazing) or go for brunch. I haven’t had any thing off their menu that I didn’t at least love a little.