Last week, Sculpt asked me to come by and crash their new monthly class called the “Sculpt Lab.” If the name conjures memories of that dreaded high school course when you were partnered with the kid with sweaty hands, don’t fret. While there won’t be any chemical mixing or mitochondria modeling, the hour-long class is definitely a bit of a mad science experiment in the fields of stamina, calorie burning, and sweat.
So what exactly is Sculpt Lab? Each month, the studio chooses one of their instructors to piece together a Frankenstein workout based on participant requests. While Sculpt focuses on spin and yoga classes during the week, the Lab class are a wild combination of any and all workout options put on the table by the instructor. This month, Anita sent an email to everyone signed up for the Lab class soliciting votes on what we would like to do. We chose from the following: body weight exercises, yoga, pilates, kick boxing, spin, plyometrics. I’m not entirely sure there was any choosing or voting, because we ended up checking all of those things off the list in one crazy, calorie-burning hour.
We started Lab in the spin studio with 25 minutes of intense intervals. There were flashing lights. Standing climbs. Eye-closingly-intense seated sprints. And then there was “Dirty Pop” by NSYNC – which Anita swears is one of the most challenging spin songs of all time. I can’t say I disagree, but I was too busy signing and channeling my 14-year-old self to notice. This first part of class definitely was not a warm up – we cannonballed right into the deep end and never looked back. With shaky legs and sweat pouring everywhere, we moved on to the second part of class in the yoga room.
Don’t let the yoga mats and mood lighting fool you – this was not a cool down. Anita turned up the music and we began with plyometric moves (think lots of jumping). We transitioned into kickboxing, followed by a series of push ups and planks. I’m not going to lie, after the kickboxing part I was starting to really feel fatigued and pushed to my limit. This was tough. Think muscle confusion meets bootcamp meets a crazy and twisted decathlon.
We ended with a few signature Pilates moves focusing on abs (not the easy ones I was hoping for) and then, as if the giant Buddha head decided to show mercy on us, we cooled down with some yoga. Oh boy, Sculpt Lab, you crashed this crasher in the best way possible.
This was tough, fun, and totally unlike any other class I have taken before. If you go, remember to listen to your body and monitor your heart-rate’s roller-coaster ride. I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for the March Lab to see what kind of insane combination you piece together next. And for those of you who have never taken a class with Anita – do it. She teaches an enormous variety of things ranging from spin to breakdance yoga at gyms all over DC and is a total ball of energy.
One other thing to note: I haven’t been back to Sculpt since they did a bit of remodeling downstairs to help maximize the space. The landing on the ground floor is now much more open, with only one cubby cube and a bench. This helps reduce the claustrophobia of everyone standing on top of each other trying to get to their lockers at once.
The lockers now line the hallway wall leading from the changing area to the spin studio. This is such a big improvement in their use of space and general flow. I’m a fan.
I’m also digging this new piece of artwork hanging on the wall. Oh, it’s so true. If only all watches looked like this.
Sculpt Lab: eureka or scary?
I crashed a fusion spin and yoga class at Sculpt DC back in October. This was right after the studio had opened and things were still settling into place. Because there were a few elements about Sculpt that piqued my interest – including the sweat till you drop cycling workout – I was excited to go back and see how things were going. If you are interested in seeing more photos of their beautiful Chinatown/Metro Center space, check out my original post here.
For my second crash, Sculpt invited me to test out their first-ever double team spin class featuring their “dynamic duo” of instructors, Zac and Gregg. It was 75 minutes of spinning with intervals of weighted arm exercises mixed in. But more importantly, it was 75 minutes of spinning. To help prepare for the occasion, I decided to reach deep into the abyss of my spandex drawer to resurrect these beauties.
I haven’t worn padded bike shorts since my days on the Georgetown triathlon team. And let me tell you, that was ages ago. I’m astonished I held on to these shorts, but I guess somehow I knew I’d need to rely on them for the Gregg and Zach spin bonanza.
Zac led the first class I attended at Sculpt and I knew he was going to deliver a high-energy ride. I had also been hearing positive things about Gregg’s classes, so before I even stepped into the room my expectations were high for the next 75 minutes to be a challenge. Then again, with the crazy disco lights and trapped-in-a-soundsystem noise level, I was also expecting it to be a lot of fun.
Gregg and Zac alternated leading the group and switched off every song. They kept things interesting by incorporating on the bike pushups, freeweights, intervals, and standing climbs. We did something different every few minutes, which really kept me on my toes. If you’re looking for a challenge, this would be it.
As far as the music goes, I thought the playlist was really good, but I realize that’s entirely subjective. I must say, however, it’s hard to go wrong with One Direction remixes and throwbacks like No Scrubs. I was absolutely dripping in sweat, singing my heart out in the back row. Whatever your music taste, you won’t have a problem feeling motivated by the tempo. I was so entertained slash distracted, in fact, that I didn’t look at my watch until 60 minutes had passed.
While 75 minutes of sweaty spinning packed into a loud room with two instructors isn’t everyone’s ideal Friday night activity, I thought it was an awesomely good time. Thanks to Zac and Gregg for hosting the party. I suggest checking Sculpt’s schedule to see when the next double-trouble class will be and plan a girls or guys night out. There are so many bars and restaurants nearby, and they have two beautiful showers at the studio – so you don’t have any excuses for not making the most of it!
Being just a few blocks away, I walked over to 7th street to feast at the new health-food sensation, Protein Bar. Admittedly, I had already tried Protein Bar during a trip to Chicago over the summer, and was instantly smitten. When word started to spread that one would be opening in DC, I couldn’t wait to make my way over and welcome them to the neighborhood. Tonight seemed like the perfect opportunity – although my apologies to the Protein Bar staff for introducing myself in sweat-ridden spandex. Classy.
I was famished and ordered their greenberry juice, a pesto and spinach quinoa bowl, and grabbed some pumpkin walnut chocolate chip protein cookies to go. They were made with protein powder instead of flower – cool, right? They tasted a lot more like bread than cookies, but I’m not complaining. The entire meal was just what I needed to refuel after such a crazy workout. Needless to say, it also sent me straight into a food coma and I ended up “crashing” in bed by 10 p.m. The excitement never ends over at Fit Crasher HQ, my friends!
What would be your ideal Friday night workout?
Crash Course: The fusion class at Sculpt DC is 15 minutes of spin, 15 minutes of spin + upper body weights, 30 minutes of yoga. Offered at various times Monday – Sunday. Consider it the speed dating of workouts. You don’t have to feel fully committed to any of the three…spin, pump, stretch, and move on with no hard feelings. Spin instructor was Zac; great energy, good music. Click here for a full schedule.
where? Sculpt DC at 950 F Street NW, red line/Metro Center
bring? water bottle, spin shoes and yoga mat optional
perks? lockers, filtered water, fully stocked shower facilities
sweat score? 6 out of 10
wear? recommend spandex shorts/pants; no bike shoes required
how much? $25 drop in class. click here for full price list
Sculpt DC has been one of the District’s hotly anticipated fusion fitness boutiques, pairing the intensity of spinning with the serenity of yoga for an all-in-one body rocking experience. Their website boasts, “Sculpt DC where innovation in fitness meets luxury accommodations and unparalleled customer service.” A month after their launch, I wouldn’t say they’re living up to this just yet; but there is definitely potential and I’m excited to check back as they progress.
Fitness. I’m okay with smushing spinning, weights, and yoga into one class and calling it innovation. It is a new concept for DC and a fresh approach to spending an hour at the gym.
The spin class was the best part. Only 30 minutes long, it’s off to the races during the first bass-bumping song. No warm up, no nonsense. The session was heavy on interval training and packed a short but intense punch of cardio. In other words, you’re pouring buckets of sweat within 5 minutess. Zac alternated between instructing from a bike and walking around the class making adjustments and giving much-needed motivational quips. 15 minutes into the class we added upper body exercises with weights. You may think that doing bicep curls with 3 lbs. isn’t worth your time. Think again after the 100th rep.
crazy color lights. loud music. lots of sweat.
The yoga class was an awkward transition. Panting and sweating from the spin class/rave party, we took off shoes/socks and walked down the hall to the yoga studio. Mats/blocks/straps are provided. The music in the class was too loud and the genre was not what I’d classify as “calming,” but perhaps that’s just my personal taste. It was difficult to hear the instructor, who led us haltingly through a few very basic poses. If you’ve done yoga before, you can make the best of the suggested poses and take variations to up the ante if necessary. My advice is to treat it as a 30 minute cool down before heading home.
Accommodations: Not bad, not the best I’ve seen. The street level entrance looks a bit like a hotel lobby with dark wood furnishings, bright light fixtures, and fresh flowers. The studio space downstairs is dim. Think cold NY industrial loft meets Ikea. None of the doors are marked and there are no signs, so if you want to be sure you are walking into the yoga studio and not the shower room, ask someone. Plusses: free locker rental, filtered water fountain, beauty products and hair straightener in the bathroom, and free hair ties for those of us who perpetually leave home without them
fresh towels, filtered water, well-stocked shower space, lockers
The spin studio has white walls and is equipped with crazy floor lights that change color every few seconds. I appreciate the night-club party atmosphere, but the kaleidoscope of colors becomes distracting about 2 minutes into class. The music is really loud and matched the cadence of the workout. The bikes are brand new and have clips for bike shoes or cages if you just want to wear sneakers. In fact, for this particular class nobody was wearing clip in shoes. Towels and weights are provided on each bike.
The yoga studio has an enormous statue of buddha staring out into a stark room from a red enclave. The floors are dark laminate and the walls are white with red accents. There are lighted candles and rose pedals strategically strewn about. The bright lights stay on for the entire class. I give props for intention, but execution needs work. The feel is a bit cold and impersonal.
Customer Service: I booked my class online. When I arrived, I got a “hello” from the front desk. A tour of the space and a new-student welcome pitch would have helped set the tone better. Since nobody asked, I took a cue from the girls in front of me, initialed my name on the sign-in sheet, and headed downstairs. The spin instructor for this class helped to adjust the spin bikes. Both yoga and spin instructors provided variations for all fitness levels and abilities.
Bottom Line: I like what they’re trying to do and will go back to try another spin or fusion class. The studio is metro accessible and in an area of town where you can easily enjoy pre/post workout shopping or dining. I’m not sure the accommodations + fitness classes are stellar enough to pay $25 a pop on a regular basis- particularly when I can pay much less for a more comprehensive workout elsewhere. But the spin session piqued my interest and I will be back to try it again.