Iobella: The Myth, The Legend, The Workout

I had the chance to check out a super-new, super-boutique fitness trend today – and it totally broke my generally skeptical stance against super-new, super-boutique fitness trends.

The place is called Iobella, and it’s an Argentinian import now located smack in the middle of Santa Monica (5th and Wilshire).  The basic concept is this: you get in a pod (they call it a thermal heat capsule), the pod is heated to 98 degrees (think body temperature, so it’s really not that hot), and you complete a 30-minute workout in the pod.  Sounds like some sort of dystopian future thing, right?  The Soylent Green of workouts?

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But I assure you – this is no gimmick.

I arrived at Iobella and was immediately struck by the vibe of the place – there’s a parking lot (no stress, no hassle – hard to find in L.A.!), the front lobby feels like an exclusive spa, and you get your own locker and sandals (hygenic!) before heading into the pod room.

Once there, you work personally with a trainer – either one-on-one (most common, that’s what I did) or two-on-one (if you need the moral support) – but never more than that.  There are straps inside the pod that are connected to 3-pound weights; the weight never changes, but the rep count and difficulty of movements do modify with practice (you do the same workout for 6 sessions, then they change it up).

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The workout begins with core, moves into legs (focusing on the most-often-heard trouble zones for women – inner/outer thighs and upper/side butt) and finishes with arms (again, targeting he problem areas – triceps and upper back).  The movements are definitely Pilates-inspired (think about a heavy focus on core engagement and alignment) but are hard as hell with even the minimal resistance – because guys, once you’re hitting 40-rep sets of ANYTHING on a single leg or arm in a 98-degree pod, that sh*t is going to get real.

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Besides the workout being surprisingly challenging, it was also surprisingly relaxing – the micromovements and focus on deep core muscles force you to concentrate on deep breathing, and the heat makes your muscle pain and tension melt away as you move.  The more time you spend in the pod, the more time you want to be there – an exercise-induced Stockholm syndrome.

But wait – there’s more.  A lot more.  Remember I told you Iobella felt like a spa?

Well, that’s because it is a spa.  Like, really.  They call it a spa, decidedly not a studio, because for the 30 minutes you spend sweating in a pod, you get back 30 delicious minutes of pampering: 15 spent cleansing under a rainshower with charcoal wash (a toxin-eliminating, skin-softening ritual) and fluffy robes, and 15 spentphoto 3 (3) in the most relaxing place on Earth – an oxygen rejuvenation pod.

In this second pod (in a separate, barely-lit relaxation room), alternating warm and cold blasts of purified air massage your body while you lie motionless with cucumbers on your eyes, a soft mask on your face, and headphones playing soothing music, which lulls you into a weirdly invigorating state of bliss.

Are you ready to try it yet?

I walked out of Iobella with the same calm, peaceful feeling I get from an hour-long massage but with the renewed, accomplished feeling I get from a sweaty Bikram yoga session – a winning combination, in my personal and professional opinionphoto 4 (1).  I can see how Iobella could become an addiction (albeit a very expensive one – check the site for more info on pricing, although they DO run deals every now and then), and as an athlete, I can also see how the movements practiced in the session, along with the personalized guidance of a trainer, can eliminate the potential for injury and strengthen the oft-overlooked connective tissues – no small feat for a 30-minute workout.

If you’re in the mood to splurge, tired of your current workout, and looking to try something high-end that will leave you feeling like a million bucks – Iobella is it.  I know that today’s first go-round is far from being my last.

Have you ever tried a “fitness trend” (SoulCycle, Zumba, etc.)?  What spa/studio have you always wanted to try but haven’t yet?

Double Vision

It’s been a while since I posted a workout for you guys, and I’ve been experimenting with this one with some of my stronger clients and it’s a killer – so I figured I could share with you fine readers.

The basic idea is this:  you take two exercises – one focusing on strength, and one focusing on cardio – and you do the strength for 10 reps and the cardio for 20.  At the end of the set, after a short interval (either jump rope, running, or kettlebell swings), you reverse the set and hit the strength movements for 20 reps (adjusting weight if necessary) and the cardio for 10.

Say what?  Let me illustrate with the set list below:


2 minutes jump rope, 3 minute jog, or 1 minute kettlebell swings


10 squat-shoulder press / 20 squat jumps

10 lunge- biceps curl / 20 lunge jumps

10 plank-row / 20 mountain climbers

1 minute jump rope / kettlebell swings or 2 minute sprint, then:

20 squat-press / 10 squat jumps

20 lunge-curl / 10 lunge jumps

20 plank-row / 10 mountain climbers


10 decline push-ups / 20 bench jumps

10 step-ups per leg / 20 step plyos

10 deadlift-rows / 20 burpees

1 minute jump rope / kettlebell swings or 2 minute sprint, then:

20 decline push-ups / 10 bench jumps

20 step-ups per leg / 10 step plyos

20 deadlift-rows / 10 burpees


Stretch and breathe deeply – you’re done!

At the end of the month, I’ll be giving a talk at the Fox Studios about exercise intensity – and this is one example of how high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help you “up the ante” on stale workouts using familiar exercises and easy patterns.

I’d love to know if you give my Double Vision workout a try – leave me feedback after you sweat it out!

HIIT Me Baby…Three More Times

Unless you’re living under a relatively large rock, you’ve heard all the buzz about interval training – or its catchy acronym, HIIT (which stands for high-intensity interval training).  It’s a simple enough concept – you alternate periods of high intensity with periods of low intensity or rest, and you get stronger and fitter doing so.  But does it work?


Besides my anecdotal evidence (I train clients using HIIT intervals every single day), there is a great deal of scientific evidence to support the fact that interval training burns more fat than steady-state training – which, by the way, is what you’re doing if you’re hopping on the elliptical for 45 minutes, or sitting down on a stationary bike to read a magazine, or strolling down the treadmill belt at a consistent 3.0 speed.

Performance-wise, interval training also supersedes steady-state training in cardiovascular benefits.  Main point: you will get fitter faster if you do intervals – which take less time than steady-state anyway, so it’s truly a win-win.

Even if I’ve convinced you that HIIT is the way, you might be wondering what exactly a HIIT workout looks like in “real life.” Well worry not, readers – I’ve got THREE ideas for you (one with weights/equipment, one without, one on the treadmill) so you can take these HIIT workouts to the bank – and watch the fat loss follow!


Start with 1 minute jump rope to warm up, then:

  • 30 seconds push-ups / 30 seconds bench press / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds triceps dips / 30 seconds headbangers / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds Smith squats / 30 seconds weighted squats / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds Smith lunges / 30 seconds step-ups w/weights / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds bicycle crunches / 30 seconds plank / 30 seconds rest

Jump rope 1 minute to “close out” the set, then repeat 2X, ending with one last jump rope minute.


Start with 1 minute jumping jacks to warm up, then:

Jumping jacks 30 seconds to “close out” the set, then repeat 2X, ending with one last full minute jumping jacks.


Start with 2 minutes walking at 3.0mph, 0% incline, then:

  • 1 minute 4.0mph / 30 seconds 6.0mph – repeat 3X
  • 1 minute 3.5mph / 45 seconds 6.5mph – repeat 2X
  • 1 minute 3.0mph / 1 minute 7.0mph – complete once, then:
  • 2 minutes 3.0mph @ 9% incline / 1 minute 3.0mph @ 1% incline
  • 1.5 minutes 3.5mph @ 7% incline / 45 seconds 3.5mph @ 1% incline
  • 1 minute 4.0mph @ 5% incline / 30 seconds 4.0mph @ 1% incline
  • 1 minute MAX RUN (your choice!) / 1 minute 3.0mph @ 0% incline
  • 1 minute MAX HILL (your choice!) @ 3.5mph / 2 minutes cooldown @ 2.5mph, 0% incline

Let me know if you try these workouts – and what you thought!

Fully Flexin’

So apparently I need to get hip to the blogger/Instagrammer trends – and #FlexFriday is one of them.  

Coming the day after #ThrowbackThursday, it appears that Flex Friday is a day to flex your muscles in the mirror, take a selfie, and post it up with pride.  I’m cool with that.  Unlike a lot of the hipsters that love to complain about selfies, I actually find them really interesting.  It’s a completely self-determined way of creating your image exactly as you want it – you get to be subject and object – and I am always curious about how and why a person presents herself on social media.

But, I digress.  Flex Friday.  Back to that.

I am thinking what I might do here on ThisFitBlonde is make Flex Friday a day to share workouts – what I’ve been doing in the gym, what I’ve been seeing in the gym, and ideas for how to change up even your regular “routine” to something more effective.

Today’s idea?  Pyramid training.

Pyramid sets are a training variation where you build reps up to a peak, then back it down with the same rep counts.  The challenge is to use the same weight even as you move up in reps – work through the challenge.  My favorite pyramids are those that work the same muscle group into fatigue using three different exercises, then kick in the intensity with a “finishing” move – such as the ones I’ll give you here:


4X pushups / 4X bench press / 4X flye – 8X of all – 16X of all – 8X of all – 4X of all to finish; then 1 minute plank


4X deep squats / 4X deadlifts / 4X lunges per leg – 8X of all – 16X of all – 8X of all – 4X to finish, then 1 minute jump squats


4X hollow rocks / 4X V-ups / 4X Russian twists per side – 8X of all – 16X of all – 8X of all – 4X to finish, then 1 minute bicycles

Have you ever tried a pyramid set?  What three exercises would you like to put together in a pyramid?

Gym Sins & Other Bitching

Somebody told me today was National No Complaints Day, which of course inspired in me the deep need to complain about my workplace.

Working at a gym, you see the odd (and often unseemly) side of otherwise normal people.  People who typically have decent hygiene sweating all over machines without wiping it up.  People who have the wherewithal to use indoor voices in their daily lives somehow turn into the loudest grunters at the squat rack.  It’s like people leave their normal selves at the gym door and turn into some alternative being once they’re faced with iron and treadmills.

But beyond my general complaints about smell/sounds/oddities, there are certain things in the gym that make me shudder and cringe – and sometimes fill with rage.  They are so profoundly offensive  that I have time and again considered asking my boss if we can “police” them to the extent that we withhold memberships from repeat offenders (she said no, BTW).

Dropping weights.  If you are strong enough to lift them, you should be strong enough to place them gently back on the floor or rack.  Otherwise you’re not a tough guy, you’re a lazy douche.  

Leaving weight plates racked on machines.  Similar to the above – I’m glad you’re awesome enough to squat 280 pounds on the Smith machine.  That should also translate into being awesome enough to unrack your weights so that the little old lady who wants to squat the empty bar can get under it without being crushed.  Yeah, thanks.

Using the elliptical.  This machine is so pointless it enrages me to see people try to use it for exercise.  If you have a knee replacement, struggle to balance on your own two feet without falling over, or don’t care about actually gaining any cardiovascular fitness from your exercise, by all means – elliptical away.  But for the able-bodied and calorie-counting among us, find some actual way to work out (my recommendation?  Rowing machine.)

Trying to “save” machines with a towel or water bottle.  You know what happens when someone leaves a machine “marked” with a sweaty towel?  I slip on a latex glove, toss that towel in the bin, and go about working on the machine I need to use – now.  If you want to set up a fancy circuit, use free weights – and corral yourself a little space.  Otherwise, the machine is up for grabs if your butt isn’t sitting in it.

Checking your phone during a class.  If you want to waste your precious workout time checking your phone while sitting on a bench, go ahead – not my problem.  But  when you’re in my Spin class, taking up a bike that someone on the waiting list would’ve loved to use, and enjoying a program that I designed specifically for your workout enjoyment, you better damn well listen up.

And finally, talking to someone who is clearly trying to work out.  The gym is not social hour.  The gym is not a place to pick up ladies (or gents), nor is it a place to conduct formal business.  If the person in question has earbuds in, is lifting a dumbbell, is running at high speeds, or is otherwise engaged in actual exercise, it’s probably not time to launch into the discussion about your weird toe growth or your kid’s school class or some other inane topic of distraction.  Zip your lip so I don’t slip my grip, ok?

What drives you crazy in the gym?