If you’re looking for a foolproof recommendation of where to sweat in DC or NYC, The Fit Crasher’s got you covered. With over 140 honest reviews of fitness classes throughout the two East Coast cities, the blog is a treasure trove for curious, yet cautious, group fitness lovers looking to try something new.
The Fit Crasher began in 2010 when its founder, writer and former NCAA Division I swimmer Meaghan Stakelin, was recovering from an injury after running the Boston Marathon. Stakelin, who lived in DC at the time, decided she was bored with her fitness routine. She scrapped her gym membership and embarked on a sweat-infused adventure, sampling different workout classes throughout DC. In order to keep track of her classes and pass her advice and findings to others, Stakelin decided to blog about her experiences. The Fit Crasher was born.
Five years later, Stakelin, now based in NYC, has transformed The Fit Crasher from a memoir of her group fitness adventures into one of the most expansive workout class review resources for DC and NYC residents. In her reviews, Stakelin provides honest, useful information to readers, like what to bring and wear and how much the class costs. She includes photos and gives each class a “sweat score” to give readers an idea of the difficulty level of the class. Stakelin provides as much detail and feedback about studios as possible, making you feel like you know exactly what to expect before stepping into a certain studio. Stakelin also includes reviews submitted by writers living in other cities so fitness lovers around the world can get spot-on advice before checking out a local class.
We caught up with Stakelin earlier this summer to ask her more about her life as The Fit Crasher. Here’s a look at what she had to say:
Talk to me about a typical workout for you. What’s your go-to thing to do at the gym?
“You’re catching me at a really interesting period because I am currently transitioning from full-time triathlon trainmen and I just completed my race this past weekend. I’m in this weird spot where I’m wondering what to do next as my go-to workout. Before, it was swim, bike, run. I had three options, and it was pretty easy to pick one of those three. Now, like a lot of men and women out there, I’m trying to find what might be the next thing that works for me. So I’m looking at different workout programs, different classes, and I haven’t really picked anything yet.”
Interesting. I think because of the nature of The Fit Crasher and the blogging that you do, your fitness routines are probably a bit more varied because you have to go to the class before you blog about it. That’s kind of a workout in and of itself. […] Of all the classes that you’ve tried, what class keeps you coming back?
“Oh, there are so many. Any hot vinyasa yoga class is something that I go into really excited about, go through absolutely hating and I leave just absolutely wondering when can I go back. It keeps me continually challenged, and I love it. But I’m not going to lie, it’s a terrible experience when you’re in that sweaty classroom and you just want to die. It feels so humid and those poses feel so hard! Even before The Fit Crasher came into existence I had been doing hot vinyasa-style power yoga for almost ten years, so it just keeps coming back. And of course, running. It’s one of the easiest and most freeing things I’ve ever experienced. You just slip on your shoes, you don’t need any equipment, and you can do it anywhere. It’s something I bring with me and into my schedule no matter where I am or what I’m doing.”
When you’re doing reviews, you do a lot of group fitness classes. It sounds like you incorporate those into your overall workout routine. What do you think is a huge advantage and what do you like so much about group fitness?
“There’s a lot. It’s such a fun experience to show up at a place where everyone is there for the same reason, which is to have a fun. Right? You’re not at the office anymore. You’re not doing work. You’re there to have a good time. You’re there to get yourself healthier and to feel better. There just something that’s so addictive about that and it’s refreshing and fun. I think that’s one of the best things about group fitness: you show up and no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s CrossFit, Pilates, spin, you name it, everyone there is there for the same reasons. You have a sense of camaraderie, and that’s really what attracted me to it. Classes come in all different shapes and sizes and flavors, but I’ve found that at the end of the day, when you walk into a studio and have that sense of community and awesomeness — and feel very supported in your act to try to make yourself and your life a little bit healthier —everyone can appreciate that and everyone needs that from time to time.”
Do you ever find that you’re not sick of going to the gym, but you’re in a workout rut?
“All the time!”
Where it’s hard to put on your shoes and you just want to watch Netflix?
“Oh my gosh, all the time! I think that that is completely normal and okay. It’s a conversation that I’ve had with other fitness bloggers. You know, we see a lot of blog posts or things on Instagram that say, “No off day!” and “Don’t quit ever,” and “If you’re reading this you should be working out.” I totally understand where those are coming from — they’re coming from a place of motivation — but we all need a day off.”
How you do combat that fatigue while maintaining excitement about working out?
“To be completely honest, it isn’t a full-time job for me. I look at it as something that I really enjoy doing and that excites and fulfills me, especially the community that is built around any sort of fitness platform. Anyone who has been following along in the past year or two years can see that I’ve kind of ebbed and flowed in my frequency of posting. I think that’s a luxury I have, because it’s not my full-time job or my main source of income. When I’m really passionate about something and I really want to share, you’re going to see all of that through my writing. If I’m a little bit fatigued, I try to take a break and just re-access and think, “What am I wanting? What really gets me going in terms of fitness?” Maybe the group fitness thing right now is getting boring. I’ve done all of that. Maybe I want to try something else. I think that’s where I am right now. I’m always looking for something new to try. That’s the whole spirit behind The Fit Crasher. Sometimes it just takes more time than usual to find out what that is. I’m always A-okay with taking little breaks and stepping back and trying to find that inspiration again.”
So what’s your favorite thing to do on an off day?
“I love going on long walks. Sometimes when you’re running outside, yes, you’re outdoors doing an activity, but you can see so much when walking. And I’ve hit my one-year mark in New York City — it’s actually coming up this weekend — but I still feel like there’s so much of the city I haven’t explored yet. I always tend to throw on my running shoes or comfy sandals and just head out and try to explore more of the city that I don’t get to see.”
Interesting. Now, to transition into my favorite thing, food—
Food! Your job is being active and blogging about it and keeping fit in general. Food is so much more. It’s fuel. Talk to me about a typical day of eating for you.
“This is very fitting. I’m just sitting down to my lunch; I made it right before you called! A typical day of eating is: Usually in the morning I put together an enormous green smoothie, and I don’t skimp on it. I put in some almond butter and a lot of different fruits. Some leafy greens. A little bit of oatmeal. Usually, that gets me going and keeps me satiated through lunch. For lunch, I normally have an enormous salad with protein, or I have a sandwich. I’m typically working [at my full-time day job] through my lunch, something most people can relate to when they have a really busy job. So I try to find something quick and easy that will keep me away from snacking my face off. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t! I would usually say around three or four o’clock, nine times out of ten, you can find me with some sort of popcorn or salty snack, which is a habit I’m trying to kick. But that’s just reality. Also, I love to cook, so I try to make dinner as much as possible at home. It usually looks like a piece of salmon and veggies.”
What’s your favorite indulgence?
“Pad thai. Pad thai all the way. One of my best friends—a running buddy and a teammate in college—and I, after a big race or a big event, would go treat ourselves to a heaping plate of pad thai. It’s a tradition that I continue—and I’m sure she does too—to this day. So pad thai for me is just something that I know I should not be eating all the time but, you know, life’s too short. It’s delicious and I’m going to eat it.”
What is your overall approach to the way you eat? For example, what is your mantra or philosophy of how you fuel your body?
“I think there might be two. I absolutely believe in “everything in moderation.” I know that’s been said over and over, and it’s a tired phrase. But I don’t limit myself in terms of dessert, in terms of snacks. I love a good glass of wine. I’ve tried to do paleo. I’ve tried to do one hundred percent vegetarian. I’ve tried all sorts of trends just to see how they work for my body type, but I’ve found what’s best for me is to do everything in moderation. I personally don’t eat red meat or most animals, but that’s because I had a waitressing job in high school at a steak restaurant that scarred me for life. I would say my philosophy is to be very conscious of what you eat, but be gentle on yourself. There’s so much stress in your life and in the world as it is, so I think making sure you’re getting the nutrients you need and being good to your body is number one.”
Last question: What words of encouragement would you say to someone who’s trying to find the workout that works for them?
“I think the first thing is: we’ve all been there and it’s a completely normal feeling. And there’s no reason to feel down on yourself about not having that motivation right now. Second, I do think healthy habits start small, and they start from doing a little bit every day. There’s no way that you’re going to run before you walk or do that marathon before you accomplish your first mile. The best advice I can give is to get into a community that really inspires and encourages you in what you’re doing.”