Crash Course: Atlas Fitness offers a bootcamp class that is unlike any other I’ve been to before. First, the equipment and facility are enough to make any hardcore fitness junkie drool. Monster tires. Atlas stones. Bike trainers. Weighted sleds. Heavy ropes. Sandbags. Kettlebells. Boxing bags. TRX. All immaculately curated and displayed in this Capitol Hill shrine to sweat. Considering how much I love creating my own workouts with any equipment I can get my hands on, I felt as though I had died and gone to fit crasher heaven. The second reason why this bootcamp stands out is the workout itself. It’s creative (read: more than the usual burpees)–which makes it more fun, in my book–and challenging for any fitness ability. Check out the schedule for bootcamp and other classes at Atlas Fitness here.
where: 920 11th Street SE/Capitol Hill
perks: fitness toy heaven, small group training
sweat score: 9 out of 10
wear: whatever you like
cost: $20 drop in rate
I feel like Capitol Hill is having a bit of a fitness moment. Or maybe it’s always been a workout hot spot, but word is just now reaching me on the other side of town. Either way, more often than not, I’m finding myself traveling to the Hill for a crash. Last weekend boxing training at DCBFit. A few months ago at Capitol Hill Fitness. This spring on the Anacostia River at Capitol Rowing Club. And just last year I was crashing the newly-opened Biker Barre. So many great options!
Now, I’m adding Atlas Fitness to the list. Hidden just behind Barracks Row, this workout gem is a full service sweat factory for anyone who appreciates no-fuss fitness. Options include metabolic conditioning class, power flow yoga, strength training for endurance athletes, boxing, and boot camp.
Atlas is the brainchild of trainer Tim Bruffy, who wanted to make sure,
anyone can get the same innovative techniques and tools used to train the world’s top athletes. The program I’ve created addresses all five components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular strength, flexibility and body composition.
In an interview with The Hill is Home, Tim explained his vision of exercise as preventative medicine “prescribed by trainers/coaches that really understand it.” Expert trainers helping you get (and stay) healthy? Music to my ears.
Walking into the gym, I immediately got the sense of being in a top-notch college weight room or professional sports training center. See what I mean?
The variety and quality of equipment alone is enough to make your head spin. Anything you wanted to use in your workout, they had. I felt like a kid in a candy store and had to restrain myself from asking if I could move in. Don’t mind me, I won’t take up too much space. I’ll just be over here by the atlas stones, taking a snooze in the monster truck tire until the next workout.
There are two floors full of equipment to play with. Upstairs is where the majority of the action takes place, and downstairs is set up with boxing equipment, a squat rack, a bike trainer, and a few other surprises. For example, Tim and his team customized one of the walls with rubber coating to be used specifically for medicine ball throws. Cool, right?
So now that you’ve taken the tour, let’s talk about the workout. Our instructor on Saturday morning was Durrell, who started us off with a dynamic warm-up full of hops, skips, hip openers, coordination drills, and runs around the block. It was really well done and a lot of care was put into making sure we got the entire body ready to take on the workout ahead of us.
Next, Durrell walked us through the different stations involved in that day’s session. There were five total, with two exercises at each. The entire workout revolves around timed intervals, so we would do one exercise for 45 seconds, take a 15 second rest, and then move right into the second exercise at that station, and back and forth.
For example, the workout looked something like this:
- Station one: rowing machine, sandbag snatches
- Station two: push/pull weighted sled, box jumps
- Station three: monster tire flip, try rows
- Station four: pull ups, TRX dynamic pushups
- Station five: heavy ropes on Bosu ball, weighted lunges
45 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest for each exercise. A total of six minutes at each station. After those six minutes, we all hit the floor for 45 seconds of ab work. And then we’d move on to the next station.
I thought that I would get lost in trying to keep track of all the timing and numbers, but the gym has a built-in interval timing system that alerts you to rest and work periods. In case you need a visual, the clock is displayed on a big screen TV hanging on the front wall (see above). Durrell was also on top of everything, letting us know when to switch and helping us get a handle on each station as we transitioned from one to the next.
For all of the activity going on, the workout was extremely well orchestrated. But logistics aside, it was also a total tush kicking. I started at the station involving intervals on the rowing machine and doing sandbag snatches. Easy, I thought. A great place to warm up before some of the more challenging stations (I’m looking at you, monster tire). But rowing as hard as you can for 45 seconds is not (NOT!) easy. And follow that up immediately with 45 seconds of squating and hurling a heavy sand bag over your head…you get the idea.
I finished the workout at station four: heavy ropes while balancing on a Bosu, followed by weighted lunges. Guys…I was totally cooked at this point. Sweating everywhere. Audibly grunting. Watching the clock tick down. Trying my best to concentrate on one breath at a time. Totally amazed that we had only been there for one hour and had completed so many crazy, challenging things. As the beep went off to signal the end, I had to lay down on the floor in a pile of my own sweat, eyes closed, breathing out through my mouth just to collect myself. Nevermind that I had just met everyone there; l made myself at home on the floor and needed a moment to soak it all in.
My oh my, was that a workout.
After a few cool down stretches, I changed into dry clothes and spent some quality time with the pup pictured above. That’s Atlas, the gym mascot. He’s about 100 lbs of pure muscle and ridiculously friendly. There’s nothing like a little puppy love to help you bounce back after a tough workout. Right Atlas?
So, in closing, a huge thanks to the crew at Atlas Fitness for helping me (a) get my weekly dog fix and (b) introducing me to their awesome operation. Can’t wait to come back and crash again!