Do you have any race or fitness event that you really look forward to participating in every year?
I’m so happy to FINALLY be able to recap the City Fit Girls FitRetreat that took place on August 20 in Philly. City Fit Girls is an incredible group that is all about motivating and encouraging women on their fitness journeys and never leaving anyone behind, and I can’t wait to tell you all about this year’s FitRetreat!
I’m linking up with Julie for the Best of the Blogs linkup, Annmarie, Nicole, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Susie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner! I’m also linking up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia for the Friday 5 – the theme this week is fitness!Check out my recap of this year's @cityfitgirls Fit Retreat! #fitretreatphl #cityfitgirls Click To Tweet
FitRetreat is one of my favorite events of the year, and it doesn’t hurt that it always takes place around my birthday! Check out my recaps of FitRetreat 2014 and FitRetreat 2015. Both times, I had some great workouts, met cool people, and really enjoyed myself, all at an affordable price. Which is why I keep coming back! Unfortunately, my sister did not attend this year, so for the most part, I was riding solo in 2016. This year, the event took place in a workspace on 990 Spring Garden Street.
Once again, City Fit Girls held a pre-registration party on the night before the big event. This year, it was hosted at Philadelphia Runner in University City. There was plenty of City Fit Girls para for sale, and they didn’t last long! There was free beer, sangria and snacks and ladies were able to shop in the store and mingle with old friends. It was nice to see a lot of the women that I used to run with at the Wednesday Group Runs. I still feel guilty that I don’t run with them very often, but it’s even harder to get into Center City since I moved.
I was super excited though because I finally got to meet Mar from Mar On the Run! She is one of my favorite bloggers and lives in DC. I think the event started to transition to a dance party, but I’m old and don’t know what the kids listen to these days, haha! I was able to pick up my T-shirt and not worry about signing in first thing on Saturday morning.
Every year, the event kicks off with a big pep talk by Kiera, the Co-founder of City Fit Girls. She always has amazing energy. We did a few squats to get ready for the day. Everyone was decked out in various City Fit Girls attire. Last year I was VIP, but this year I had regular admission, so I didn’t get a fancy T-shirt. I will say that the red tank tops are WAY nicer than the gray ones that were given to us regular folk. But I also say that because gray isn’t my color!
The schedule had a wide variety of workouts, really something for everyone. There were certain events that had limited registration and those sold out almost immediately upon being announced, so I decided to keep things simple. I had already done yoga earlier in the week so I decided not to do it this time. I also didn’t bring a yoga mat, which would make things awkward for me later.
I was really excited to learn more about speed work and learn some drills that I could implement in my routine. We had this session outside in the parking lot and it was BLAZING HOT. We had a pretty slow start as Genevieve explained her running background and asked if we had questions. She talked about the importance of taking the time to warm up with active vs. passive stretching before doing speed work. More than anything, I wanted to get on the lot and learn some new moves! We did some butt kicks, high knees, and leg swings, but it was nothing that I haven’t done before. She was going to demonstrate cariocas but thought it would be too complicated to teach.
To be honest, this session didn’t meet my expectations. There were some good questions about the different types of speed work, how to do speed work on the treadmill, and how often you should do speed work when training, but I thought things would be more organized and active. This was more of a Speed Work 101.
I was a little bummed that FitRetreat had begun and I still hadn’t broke a sweat, but this class was SO intense that it made up for that very quickly! Jessica really put us to work! We did lots of mountain climbers, planks, and Pilates-inspired moves. I thought the class would be more focused on arm strength, but we did so much work on our glutes and hamstrings that would leave me sore for SEVERAL days. Using a mat was optional, but since I didn’t bring mine, I had to do all my exercises on the floor. I was slipping the entire time and trying not to kick the people behind me…so frustrating! But I will say that thanks to my regular 1-minute planks, that part of the workout was a lot easier!
I used to take cardio kickboxing at work during lunch for a few years, so I decided to “play it safe” with this workout since the upper body work was so intense! I needed a “break”.
Well, unsurprisingly, this class wasn’t all that easy, but it was fun! I enjoyed the choreography minus a couple of times when I messed up or had to make sure I wasn’t too close to the person in front of me. We would have these surges of high intensity and then take a brief break before getting back into it. I really enjoyed the music and the time went by really fast. It continued to get increasingly challenging so I had a great time.
After cardio kickboxing, it was time for lunch before transitioning to the “retreat” portion of the day. Lunch was provided by sweetgreen and I had a chicken Caesar salad, just like last year. When we headed to lunch, I was in the back, so the mimosas quickly disappeared by the time I arrived. I was able to grab the last one, but there wasn’t much in the glass. Lunch was pretty chaotic since we didn’t really know what the options were to eat and some women had to wait a long time to get food. Fortunately, by the end of it, everyone was fed!
I was really looking forward to learning about meditation in this setting. Unfortunately, this was another moment when I wish I brought my yoga mat since we were sitting and would eventually lie on the floor. The woman behind me was kind enough to let me rest my head on her mat…much appreciated!
I’ve learned a little bit about meditation in the past and have taken plenty of yoga classes, but the breathing aspect is always a challenge for me. I tried my best to breathe in the ways that Rachel subscribed, focusing on one area at a time. While I was sitting, I had some tightness in my hips and I tried to direct my breath to that area…it didn’t work. But meditation, like yoga, is a practice. I heard there are some apps that help with learning to meditate, so I may look into it. You know I could always use a way to get rid of stress!
This was a fabulous session! There were several first-time marathoners in the room, and everyone asked really great questions. One topic that came up was electrolytes, and Marcy recommended taking salt capsules, which I had never considered. One piece of advice I really liked was to print out the course map and for each hydration station write down what fuel you’ll take at each one. Having the right race strategy is so important! I asked if there were any types of exercises you should avoid while marathon training and I was surprised to hear that the answer was no. You just have to make sure you have a good balance with everything that you’re doing. Another piece of advice she shared was to not neglect your mid-week runs!
I was really encouraged by this discussion and learned a lot – I wish we could have kept talking but it was the last session of the day.
Before I knew it, we were all gathering together for the conclusion of the event. What a full day!
FitRetreat is a great opportunity for women to get together, get their sweat on, and form and strengthen friendships. City Fit Girls continues to grow and it’s been exciting to be a part of this group. I’m glad I was able to go to FitRetreat this year and meet Safari and Mar for the first time, plus connect a little bit with some of my run club friends that I rarely get to see anymore. Thanks again to Takia, Kiera, and all of the volunteers and sponsors for another successful event! I’m sure I’ll be back again next year, but I may need to get back to that VIP life!
Have you heard of City Fit Girls? Would you ever attend an all-day fitness event?