By Allyson Caire
As a busy new mom, finding time to take care of myself is a priority. During a recent Sweat Date open house event at a gorgeous new River Oaks gym called The Preserve, I found a relaxing, nature-inspired environment combined with challenging fitness classes that were a welcome respite from my on-the-go routine.
The space truly feels like an oasis inside the loop, set in a modern building with floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking a beautiful greenspace outside, which includes a garden, patio and lap pool. The Preserve – which is like an all-in-one boutique studio – features a full gym with state-of-the art equipment and garden views along with sleek locker rooms complete with showers and steam rooms on the first floor. Upstairs includes studios for cycling, Pilates, Functional Strength, and other group classes, in addition to an outdoor yoga terrace for sunrise and sunset yoga.
The greenspace lawn was the location of my first session, a small group class called Fit Games and billed as “fun with fitness.” I was both challenged by and enjoyed the competitiveness and camaraderie I found with my fellow class-takers, with whom I competed against individually and in teams during various exercises and relay-like events reminiscent of school field days.
Bear-walking, frog-jumping and crab-walking down the lawn kicked off our warm up. We followed it up with an individual “obstacle course” race of front-and-back jumps, 10-pound ball drops, burpees, side-to-side jumps, and mountain climbers.
We then moved to team activities. These included what I considered our “bowling” and “shot put” competitions. The first was aiming to throw 10-pound and 15-pound balls across the lawn through a set of cones to our teammate until we reached 20 points (one throw within the cones equaled one point.) Needless to say, I did not earn 20 points, but my stronger and better-in-shape teammate did that work for us. Next, we competed by squat-throwing 10-pound-balls into jump rope loops for points. My team fared better this time, collectively reaching 100 points, and I’m proud to say I contributed a good portion of those points. My arms and shoulders thanked me for it the next two days.
I found myself smiling throughout the entire Fit Games class, which I can say with certainty I’ve never done during any other boot camp. The perfect weather and beautiful setting also didn’t hurt.
Following Fit Games, I immediately jumped into a 45-minute, rhythm-based cycling class. Featuring an energetic instructor, music-synchronized lighting and magnetic resistance bikes, the class followed a standard format set against dance-pop-club music in a dark studio space. We started with a warm up then alternated between heavy resistance training and speed work in and out of the saddle. As an avid indoor cycler who has tried classes at many Houston studios, I experienced the Preserve’s cycling class to be more challenging than other boutique classes. It pushed my heart rate up to the point of breathlessness more than once, and my instructor was a great motivator. But as any spin enthusiast will tell you, the difficult classes keep us coming back for more.
My Apple Watch has never clocked 1000+ calories in one day, so I would consider my Sweat Date at the Preserve a success. It was peaceful yet challenging and fun yet fatiguing, and the environment didn’t feel like a gym at all. I can see myself returning to the Preserve for a break from my constant go-go-go lifestyle and busy Houston landscape. Those sunset yoga classes on the outside deck certainly seem like a Zen way to close out my day amidst the beautiful setting the Preserve provides.
On April 28, The Preserve will host three cycle classes open to non-members at 9, 10 and 11:30 a.m. Come on out. You may see me there!