What We Tried: Tone House, a new athletic-based fitness studio in New York City
Where: The tricked-out studio is just steps from the Big Apple's Union Square
What We Did: After a team cheer (no joke), we took off into a 10- to 15-minute dynamic warm up consisting of running, jumping and side-stepping through an agility ladder. From there, things got wild. For a minute or two at a time, we did mountain climbers, pikes, bear crawls, bicycle crunches, rope work, planks, squats, jump squats, and more -- often while wearing a resistance harness attached to the wall. After a five- to 10-minute stretch and cool down, we finished with another team cheer.
For How Long: The class lasted about an hour and 15 minutes
How'd It Feel: Like I was training with my college teammates again. The team sport mindset is tough to replicate after we age out of high school and college athletics, but Tone House gets close. From the minute I stepped inside the space -- covered in turf, dimly lit, tons of mirrors -- I was offered nothing but support, in the form of high fives and even hugs. And I needed it. The classic plyometric moves I'm familiar with were transformed into grueling challenges thanks to added resistance and all the high-tech "toys" packed into the space, like Valslides and TRX Suspension systems and Rip Trainers.
The fast-paced transitions between movements kept me excited for what would come next, even as catching my breath in between movements became increasingly difficult. I definitely worked harder than I would have in most other group exercise classes so as not to let the "team" down.
What It Helps With: Whole-body strength and cardio endurance, but also a hefty dose of speed, agility and quickness training, which exercisers who might not consider themselves athletes might be tempted to skip out on.
What Fitness Level Is Required: Tone House creator Alonzo Wilson (below), who happens to be a former college and professional athlete and a current fitness model, no big deal, assured me that he sees people from all walks of life enter the studio. There was a range of abilities in the class I attended... but not a big one: These people walked the walk. Luckily, Wilson consistently offered modifications to make some of the more challenging moves slightly easier, and reassured us we didn't need to, say, do 100 reps, we just had to keep working to the best of our ability.
What It Costs: You can try out your first class for $20. After that, single classes are $35, with package deals available.
Would We Do It Again: Definitely. It's not cheap, so maybe not often, but it's worth it for the camaraderie and the extra push.
All photos by Simon McDermott-Johnson