An Hour in the Zen Den

Margate, NJ is nothing like the Hampton’s in terms of the exercise situation. Like there is no Soul Cycle, Fly Wheel, Barry’s Boot Camp, Exhale, etc. BUT there are a variety of yoga studios and boot camp classes, some that are even offered on the beach. I decided to take an early 8am class at the Zen Den called “KAPOWER HOUR“. This is the description:

Where strong is the new skinny and navasana is the new child’s pose. This class is a full body workout. It will test the limits of your dynamic, static and cardiovascular strength. By far the best way to build strength using your own body weight, develop core and body control as well as shoulder stability. After just a few of these classes, you will develop muscles you never though you had and will be stronger than you ever were before.

It looked scary as I am certainly no yogi,  but I was like how hard could it really be?

HA! If only someone had warned me.

Most yoga studios (that I have been in anyway) the teacher is in the first row and everyone else lines up in rows behind her/him. In Ari’s KAPOWER HOUR class, Ari is in the middle of the first row and people line up next to her, behind her, all around her. There is no “front”.

I sandwiched my mat between a man and woman in the 2nd row. Everyone seemed to know each other. It was like a little Zen Den Tribe. Nobody was stretching or laying down on their mat like the usual sight I see when I walk into Power Flow at 6am. People were talking, laughing and sausaging themselves between each other. Not bad just different from I was used to. I figured I would catch up on my Instagram Feed before class started because I did not know a soul.

Ari walked in, set up and everybody found their mats and geared up. We were instructed to start with cat/camel as Ari gave a sweet sermon about allowing yourself to let go and not hold back. It was poignant and true. And then a rendition of Ain’t No Sunshine began to play and we were told to go straight into plank. Shit. Starting yoga in plank could mean 2 things. This was her way of warming up the core or I may have to fake death in 20 minutes so I can escape.

Plank, leg up, curl in, do a push up. DO A WHAT? A fucking push up. Wait. I am supposed to do a plank, touch knee to nose, push leg back out, bring knee to elbow and do a push up? Yes, several times. EVERY SINGLE PERSON was following in unison. I was laughing. like really laughing (okay inside). But I was like this woman is psychotic. One legged side push ups to a Kanye song that I am blanking on the name of. It did not stop there. Crescent lunge to tornado to plank to side plank to flip your dog.

And then the sweat began. The man next to me took of his shirt and beads of sweat were rolling off him onto the floor, onto me, onto my mat. Everyone was sweating, I was DRENCHED. You couldn’t put your hand on the floor or you would slide into your neighbors lap.

As much as I was completely grossed out I was so into the playlist, the dedication of everyone in the room and Ari. She was AMAZING to watch. Her push up sequences were astonishing. I stopped several times to catch my breath, wipe the sweat from my forehead, and stare in awe at the strength she had.  I have been to a zillion yoga classes and this was a whole new experience.  After 40 minutes I thought I was going to die but I wasn’t quitting. The man next to me was floating and I could barely stand in a hand stand. There was no crow pose, it was crow with some varied push up. There were mountain climbers and dolphin with a twist. She somehow got us in a position to do a side plank tree pose and then told us to take our leg, tap the other foot, go back into side tree pose and repeat. There was no bridge into wheel. There was bridge into leg tuck into boat pose, hold for and repeat. I know it is hard to understand what the hell I am talking about unless you have actually taken her class but let’s just say I would put this class on the DIFFICULT level. However, as I say that,  I have to also say you  MUST MUST MUST take this class if you are in Margate or even visit Margate one weekend. For one thing I survived. There was no shivasana at the end and if there was I certainly don’t remember it. I only remember I was in boat pose several minutes at the end.  I think I burned over 800 calories, sweat a bucket of water AND got maybe an itsy bitsy teeny-weeny stronger in one class. I have to believe if I took this class from June to August I would be ripped. LIKE maybe, just maybe, a possible abdominal muscle showing.

I am even crazy enough to tell you that I am going to take her 9am class tomorrow.

I should add although I have not yet launched the Shore Hot List,  KAPOWER HOUR would be listed as the best workout at the beach. Hands down.

Here is a peak into Ari, her strength and the studio:

The Zen Den
101 N. Washington Avenue
Suite 2A
Margate City, NJ 08402

Share Your Thoughts

  1. Anonymous

    I wish I had read this before I went last week. My only workouts were running on the boardwalk.

    August 22, 2015 • 9:08 pm •
  2. i have known Ari for sometime now and she never ceases to amaze me. Her physicality alone is like nothing I have ever seen, but that’s the least of it. As crazy as it can be in the summer, finding space for everyone, maneuvering matts, handing out blocks, water or whatever the class may need, she stil takes the time to introduce herself to any new face she may see, spending time with them to insure their comfort, all with a smile and open heart and hand.
    The comes the lesson, listening to Ari’s inspiration, before and during class is life changing, I mostly feel she’s speaking to just me, and have heard many others say the same. This has truly changed my life, she gives you the courage to do the things you never thought you could do, the world is your oyster!
    But what what I am impressed with the most is how giving, caring, compassionate she is to everyone, never forgetting a name, complimenting you during class, taking the time after class to speak to anyone who requires her time, meanwhile delivering one kick-ass, class!!
    I am so grateful to have her and the Zen Den in my life!!!

    August 23, 2015 • 3:06 pm •
  3. Harriet bleiman

    I am Ari’s mother- thank you for your glowing compliments about
    Her class- I am extremely proud of Ari and the following she has acquired through her yoga practice. You nailed it when you called her students a “tribe”- they are a dedicated group of women and men whose lives and bodies are stronger since practicing at the Zen Den

    August 24, 2015 • 8:46 am •