Crash Course: Capitol Hill Fitness is a boutique circuit training studio smack-dab in the middle of Barracks Row on Capitol Hill. Just a short jaunt from the Eastern Market metro stop, the small space is packed with functional training equipment perfect for all sorts of sweaty endeavors. But don’t confuse this gym with just any old circuit circus. What sets Capitol Hill Fitness apart is its commitment to offering (a) low-impact HIIT training that goes easy on the knees, hips, and everything in-between (b) a drop-in-anytime policy and (c) competitive pricing. Check out more details on their Facebook page.
where: 725 8th Street SE/Eastern Market Metro
perks: no reservation/membership needed, joint-friendly, 30-minute workout
sweat score: 7 out of 10
wear: anything that’s comfy
cost: $10 for 30 minute circuit
Enthusiasm. Encouragement. Ermagawd HIIT without hurting my knees. That’s what comes to mind when I think of my experience at Capitol Hill Fitness. In a fabulous twist of fate, Breelaun reached out to me about fit crashing his new studio just in the nick of time. I was getting back into the swing of things on ye olde blog and looking for something new and different to crash. His email taunted me with a few irresistible factoids: the oldest participant was 83, the youngest 10; the entire workout is low-impact and joint friendly; I’d experience a full-body butt kicking in just 30 minutes. Intrigued? Absolutely.
So on a brisk fall morning I hitched a ride to an uncharacteristically quiet Capitol Hill (ahem, furlough much?) to meet Breelaun and tackle his workout of the day. Walking into the studio, it quickly became apparent that the space is no bigger than a local Starbucks. Definitely puts the “boutique” in “boutique gym.” Every piece of equipment has its spot, and loose odds and ends like medicine balls, barbells, and yoga mats were meticulously tucked away. “You can do over 800 different exercises with the equipment here,” Breelaun enthusiastically explained. My eyes grazed the room, hungry to try each and every one, all the while imagining all the crazy ways one could burn calories with a Bosu Ball. Or a TRX. Could I do burpees on that rowing machine? 800 different exercises. Color me impressed.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Breelaun. A fitness class is nothing without a qualified, encouraging, helpful instructor. Or else, let’s face it, you may as well be doing max reps at your local Globo Gym. The minute I walked in the studio, Breelaun was a bopping bundle of energy. His excitement to get started was contagious. I rested my coffee on the front desk, set down my backpack, and followed him around the room as he demonstrated the moves at each station. All with a smile. As if this was going to be party. Wait, I’m here for the as-advertised butt-kicking, right?
Ah yes, right. And so we began. Today’s circuit consisted of 16 different stations. One thing I noticed: there was no warm up. Diving-in cold turkey isn’t for everyone, so if you need a little extra kick-start, I suggest taking a few minutes to do some dynamic stretching or perhaps run around the block before hand.
Once you get started, it’s all business for the next 30 minutes. Don’t expect a water break or time to check your Instagram feed. Each station worked a different set of muscles and techniques. Some focused exclusively on mobility and balance, some on cardio, and others on strength. Breelaun had an eagle-eye on the clock the entire time, coaching us through the moves and providing modifications or corrections if needed. Most of the time, I just needed to know that the clock wasn’t broken and, yes, I had 30 more seconds left with the medicine ball.
So what did I think of a low-impact HIIT workout sans burpees, box jumps, or high knees? It was a surprising mix of muscle-shaking exhaustion and enjoyment all wrapped into one fascinating bundle. Just because we weren’t thrashing about the room didn’t mean we weren’t working hard. Stationary side leg raises were killer. V-ups with a yoga block between my feet were brutal. And two stints on the rowing machine? Don’t even get me started. *wipes sweat*
If you’re used to workouts that incorporate high-impact moves, Capitol Hill Fitness will definitely challenge your idea of what makes an exercise difficult. I finished the circuit in 30 minutes, fully satisfied I had received a thoroughly effective workout, without feeling like I had abused my body. It’s hard to explain, but I left feeling as though I had done a HIIT workout underwater. All the benefits without a lot of the extra pain and strain.
This is a great spot to check out for anyone looking for a time-effective, quality workout. 30 minutes in-and-out, no reservations or class times to schedule. Just show up sometime between 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Capitol Hill Fitness’s approach to interval training is particularly awesome for folks with mobility issues, joint injuries, or general distaste for unnecessary jumping around. As a runner, I loved the idea of completing a full-body cross training session without added strain on my ankles, hips, and knees. Thanks for the crash, Breelaun, and I hope to be back again soon!