Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle on a mission to do three things:
- Discover some of the best places to work out
- Eat delicious food
- Explore the city.
How did this come about, you may wonder? You might recall that a couple of months ago, I shared some of my favourite spots to sweat in Vancouver on Expedia’s Fitness Breaks travel hub. I didn’t know it at the time, but part two of this project was to go to one of the cities profiled by another blogger and do some of the activities they recommended. I jumped at the chance, invited one of my besties along, and off we went on a 3-day adventure.
After picking up our rental car at the airport, Emma and I drove to the Pan Pacific Seattle, a stunning downtown hotel conveniently located right next to a Whole Foods. (I may or may not have chosen it for that reason. ?) It was perfectly situated near a bunch of the places we planned to visit that weekend, and the service was top-notch from the moment we walked in.
Our first order of business was lunch because we were starving and in need of some pre-run nourishment. I’m not sure what we enjoyed more – eating food from the Whole Foods salad bar, or exploring all the products they have in the US that we don’t have here in Canada!
My friend Emma who came with me on this trip is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, so if there’s anyone who enjoys roaming the aisles of grocery stores and making new discoveries as much as I do, it’s her. (She also happens to be the co-owner of a rocking biz, Pineapple Collective, a goal chaser, super talented athlete, and fabulous travel buddy with mad social media skillz – and those are just a few of her talents!)
Post-lunch, we did as was suggested in the Fitness Breaks recommendations and ran from our hotel to Volunteer Park. It was a really beautiful afternoon with stunning scenery along our route, including a conservatory full of very cool cactuses (or cacti?), and a water tower which we climbed to the top of. The sun was in an inconvenient place at the time for photos, but we saw great views of the city, including Seattle’s Space Needle.
Dinner that night came from Terra Plata, a farm to table restaurant located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighbourhood. The menu features dishes inspired by the seasons, and fresh ingredients straight from local farms and artisans. We ordered green garbanzos as our appetizer with cumin salt, labneh, preserved lemon and chermoula, as well as a beet salad with cara cara oranges and tahini vinaigrette. My main course was their Alaskan spot shrimp with roe and chimichurri, and Emma ordered whole rockfish which, once the bones were removed, was flaky and delicious! Unfortunately since it was dark outside and the restaurant was dimly lit, the photos I took absolutely did not do the food justice. Everything was great including the service, and I’d definitely go back.
After dinner we made one last stop across the street from Terra Plata at The Reserve. This is where Starbucks roasts unique, rare, small batches of coffee, and since Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, this was a not-to-be-missed stop on our tour! The Reserve is part storefront, part restaurant and part roastery, and everything about it looks and feels premium. I don’t even drink coffee, but I loved walking around and looking at the huge roasting machines responsible for churning out the coffee that the whole world knows so well.
Our workouts on Saturday consisted of a spin at SoulCycle Bellevue, followed by a class at Orangetheory‘s Lower Queen Anne location. I’d never been to either but my friends at work RAVE about SoulCycle so I was eager to check it out. (For all my Vancouver readers: rumour has it we’re getting one here in Vancouver very soon!)
SoulCycle Bellevue just opened a couple of weeks ago so when we walked in, I definitely felt the high energy of a brand new studio. The class was packed, and our instructor Jenna did a wicked job of leading the class. A lot of people have asked about my take on SoulCycle in comparison to Les Mills RPM (the class I used to teach), so here it is…
In Vancouver we have a ‘spin spectrum’ with the SoulCycle-esque studios on one end and the ones that tend to attract the road cyclists and triathletes on the other. I prefer the latter because it’s more like real road riding, and I’d say Les Mills RPM falls somewhere in the middle. Soul Cycle has a weighted portions at the end which is done with 1-2lb dumbells, and tends to have lower resistance, higher cadence riding. SoulCycle (in my opinion) was as much of an entertaining experience as a sweaty one and instructors are selected with that intention in mind.
As far as recommended technique and safety cues go, I think Les Mills and SoulCycle conflict a bit. For example, Les Mills would always recommend a resistance increase before standing, whereas SoulCycle does not and at least half of the workout is done out of the saddle. I undoubtedly get a better sweat from more road-like experiences, but SoulCycle is so different it can be hard to compare. If you like to be really entertained (possibly to distract them from the work ?), SoulCycle would be right up your alley. One thing was for sure though – the music in the class was absolutely awesome!
We drove straight from SoulCycle over to Orangetheory with just enough time for a quick outfit change in between. After being given an orientation from one of the coaches there, the class began. All of us wore a heart rate monitor and could watch our numbers on a monitor as we worked out. The class was divided in 2 groups, with half starting on treadmills and the other half with weights. I was in the treadmill group, and we rotated around from treadmills to weights to rowing machines, doing short intervals on each. Every day the workout is completely different, but I loved the short intervals and constant switching.
The thing I really enjoyed about Orangetheory was how they make heart rate training (and quantifiable results) approachable to everyone, no matter what your fitness level. In a nutshell, on the monitor we could see the amount of time we’d spent in different coloured zones. The goal in each workout is to spend a recommended number of minutes in each colour, and more time spent ‘in the red’ (ie highest intensity) doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fitter than anyone else in the class. Rather, you might start out as a new participant with a lot of time spent in the red zone, but as you get fitter that decreases – and that’s a good thing! Then it becomes about pushing yourself harder in order to hit the recommended red zone minutes. Of all the sweats we did, I think this was one of my faves.
After Orangetheory it was all about showers and lunch (Whole Foods again, surprise surprise), which we were more than ready for by this point! Our afternoon adventures took us out for a walk to…
Pike Place Market! If you’ve ever seen tourist photos of Seattle, I’m sure you’ve seen that sign. It was later in the day so some of vendors were closing down their stalls, but there was still plenty to see. We browsed aisles of fresh produce, natural skincare products, freshly caught seafood, and lots and lots of flowers!
Dinner that night was one I’d been looking forward to all day, and it was at Duke’s Chowder House on Lake Union. In my preliminary Seattle research I came across this award-winning restaurant and the menu had my mouth watering in seconds. They focus on wild, sustainably caught seafood and the foodie in me is totally on board with that!
We were joined for dinner by 2 of our mutual Seattle-based friends and had enjoyed a our feast along with some great conversation. I ordered Duke’s Un-Chopped Salad with scallops, shrimp, avocado, tomato and cashews, and I don’t think I wiped the smile off my face the entire time I ate it – it really was that good!
Also on the table were all sorts of Duke’s award-winning chowders, goat cheese + pesto quesadillas, Caesar and spinach salads.
Our flight out was at 3pm, which meant we had the morning to fit in two more sweats: FlyWheel and FlyBarre at Seattle’s South Lake Union location. If you haven’t heard of either, FlyWheel is a spin class quite similar to SoulCycle, and FlyBarre is a barre class offered upstairs in the same building. We opted for FlyBarre first, which proved to be a very wise choice because I don’t even want to think about how much more we would have been shaking had we been on the bikes first!
FlyBarre was quite similar to other barre classes I’ve taken, incorporating a mixture of mat work, balls, light dumbells, barre, stability and bands. Barre is always such a humbling class for me because I don’t do it as often as I probably should. If you don’t think 3lb weights can feel heavy, do one of these classes – you’ll soon be proven wrong!
After FlyBarre we collected our rental spin shoes, went into the studio and hopped on our bikes. Having never done a FlyWheel class before, the first thing I noticed was the monitor at the front of the class and the screen on my bike. While the style of class felt similar to SoulCycle, FlyWheel incorporates a quantifiable component with its TorqBoard – a combination of your resistance (what they call torq) and RPMs. Power is displayed on each bike’s meter, and as the class progresses, you accumulate a total score. At the front of the class on the TorqBoard, you can see how you rank overall against others in the class – and don’t worry, you can always opt out of having your stats on the board. If you’re the type that likes to keep track of the numbers, FlyWheel keeps records of your workout performance in their app, so you can check back at any time and monitor your progress.
And that, my friends, was it! After class we took quick showers and headed straight to the airport to catch our flight back home. It was such a great weekend, and if you ever happen to find yourself in Seattle with a day or two to explore, I’d definitely recommend hitting up some of these places!
Now I’d love to hear your suggestions: If I was coming to visit the city where you live, where’s the first place you’d recommend for a workout and post-workout eats?