Crash Course: Lifting boulders, bench pressing tree trunks, flipping monster truck tires, and carrying beams of steel. Sound like the workout for you? Then I recommend checking out The Edge 2.0, the only strongman training facility in the DC area. Co-located with CrossFit South Arlington, the warehouse-turned-gym is a pain junkies’ playground with plenty of options for full body conditioning. Owned and operated by veteran strongman competitor Barry Von Perkins, the gym prides itself making the sport accessible to everyone. Click here to visit their website for scheduling information.
where? 607 South Ball Street, Arlington VA
bring? water, sturdy gym shoes, athletic tape, snack
perks? where else can you dead lift a tree trunk?
sweat score? 6 out of 10
wear? nothing you don’t mind getting dirty, ripped, or sweaty
how much? drop in rate is $35
instructor? Barry Perkins
If you like to workout in gyms that offer freshly rolled clean towels and have juice bars, don’t come to The Edge. When you’re here, “you don’t workout,” says Perkins. “You train.” And you train hard.
I had a sneaking suspicion that this fit crash was going to be unlike any I had done before. Or, quite possibly, any I would do in the future. Where else would I channel my inner Hulk while hurling giant spheres of cement? Exactly. I couldn’t come up with an answer either.
The Edge 2.0 uses the same warehouse facility as CrossFit South Arlington. It’s a no-frills spot with one bathroom, one water fountain, and no locker rooms. Basically, an enormous concrete temple to the gods of cross fit and lifting heavy things.
The strongman section of the gym occupies the entire back end of the structure. Sling your belongings wherever you find a free spot; there are no cubbies or lockers. Every inch of space is dedicated to the equipment.
CrossFit South Arlington in the front
The Edge 2.0 in the back
According to the equipment list on The Edge’s website, the gym has all the necessary devices used to train for strongman competitions. Here’s an assortment of what you’ll find:
sled, hand tack, yoke, atlas stone, 375 lb. frame carry
Have you ever watched a strongman competition on late night television and wondered, “how the heck do they do that?” Well young grasshopper, you are about to learn. Be prepared to put your concepts of personal strength aside and get ready for some surprises. Strongman is about being strong, sure; but I was amazed at how much technique, form, and mental fortitude come into play when lifting double one’s body weight.
After warming up with jumprope and stretching, we started the session with a series of tire flips. You are not allowed to know how much they weigh until after you successfully upend one. Let the mind games begin.
Then we moved on to farmer’s walk, which involved picking heavy beams off of the ground and walking from one end of the warehouse to the other. Add weight. Do it again. Think of it as the grocery-bag-carry from hell.
Next we worked on the overhead press. My weight was relatively light compared to what the other strongmans were hoisting, but after flipping tires and carrying steel beams…it was heavy enough. While all of this weight lifting was new to me, I at no time felt overworked, pushed beyond my limits, or pressured to do more than I could. We took long breaks in between events–sometimes up to 10 minutes–and I was coached through the technique every step of the way.
The session closed out with a lesson in lifting atlas stones, which are really just big blobs of cement. The gym has different sizes and weights. I worked with the smallest one. The technique includes lifting it onto your lap, bear hugging it like your life depends on it, and then thrusting your body upward (and with it, ideally, the atlas stone). I was successful once. It’s harder than it looks!
At this point, my body was a tired, sore, beat-up hot mess. I was sweaty, hungry, and had the uncontrollable urge to take a nap. This workout, despite requiring only one or two reps at each station, is no joke.
Barry doesn’t baby you. If you come to his gym, ladies, get ready to work like one of the guys. He is passionate about making strongman training accessible to everyone, and wants you to leave feeling a sense of accomplishment. The focus rests heavily on pushing you past your expectations, encouraging you to give it your all, and celebrating your successes when they happen.
It was obvious from the 2.5 hours I spent at The Edge that Barry is a motivational figure for all of his students. The folks I met were a tight knit group and had a lot of respect for each other, for Barry, and the community at The Edge.
Also, a big “thank you!” to my training partner Lauren. She showed me the ropes and made me feel right at home.
All in all – it was an awesome experience and one that I’d definitely recommend. Especially for those who are in a workout rut and want to change things up and try something completely new. Or, really, for anyone who wants to spend a few hours feeling like Hulk.
What do you think…would you try strongman training?