I'm going to be honest - I've always been a little bit skeptical of the Lotte Berk method and its derivatives. The more guys there are in a class, the more validated I feel, and let's just say... the ones who go to P57 etc aren't usually there to work out.... BUT I had a friend who told me that "Nalini would change my life" (direct quote), and I always like a life-changing event.
Rupa's name was familiar - she founded Nalini, profiled in Vogue, so I was intrigued. What I was not prepared for is that the girl is TINY. Like, smallest hands I have seen in my life. She is also adorable and was wearing some hammer-pant-type-outfit instead of the usual Lululemon. Sold. Rupa makes it a point to get to know your name right when you get in, writing it with a marker on the mirror above the Barre where you'll spend half the class. Class sizes are limited, and Rupa is attuned to the class, calling out people whose form is on target, adjusting people whose aren't. Rupa is very, very attentive.
She's also ruthless. On coming in, we were told to select one set of heavy weights, and one set of light weights. 3 and 5 lbs were suggested. We rolled eyes - everyone knows your purse weighs at least 6 lbs, so 5 and 8 sounded more ballpark, right? Wrong. While light weights, high reps are de riguer, this was crazy - I'm talking 50 - 75 per exercise, in different variations. About 15 minutes into the class, the 8 pounders were abandoned (except for glute work). The class is an hour long, and was spent 50/50 on the mats and barre. Isolated stretching after each exercise set. Lots of wall sits and variations, pilates-inspired ab work. The barre work had some variations that I hadn't seen before. The main differentiator was that at the end of every chirped 20 reps, the exercise would change - but only slightly. If you were doing bicep curls, they might switch to half and then full curls, or your arm angle might change. Kept it interesting and broke up monotony. Most of the mat work was similar to a Physique, maybe with a few more props than normal (and of course, reps).
Rupa's attention to detail and to the class goers is Nalini's differentiating factor. She noticed that I had to roll my shoulders a lot during a lateral lift, and silently came over to stretch them out. Was definitely owie, but not with the usual culprits - obliques, triceps, outer thighs had stabbing pains the next day. Hey, I'll take it.
Apparently each class is very different, so I'd be interested to go back. I'm not sure how it fits into my normal routine which is mostly comprised of spin and HIIT. If you like barre, it's worth a try.
A few other notes: Facility is in a dance studio. This is fine for classes, but the locker rooms felt like elementary school locker rooms for two reasons:
1) The smell. Wouldn't shower there.
2) Third grade ballerinas prancing in, necessitating rapidfire boob-coverage. Awkward. Studio definitely attracts a certain clientele.
It is pretty far west, away from the midtown crowd and has a childcare center. Class times are also not necessarily suited for office workers, and I wonder how that affects her clientele. VERY friendly staff. I was coming in for a free class, and they were more than helpful to book me 2 weeks in advance, and also allowed me to bring a friend. Rupa is also totally girlcrush worthy. I'm just saying.