Disclaimer- My arms (and entire body) are still noodles from this workout, so if this post ends in the middle of a sentence, I’ve probably just passed out. In case this happens, please contact Steven, or my mom. Thank you.
As you know, I love trying out new fitness experiences ESPECIALLY ones that pop up in my home city of DC. Naturally, I was so excited when I got an Instagram message from @sweatboxDC to try a demo of the class before it’s grand opening on May 4th. After a few back and forth messages (thanks for being flexible with my schedule, Elise) I was set to get my sweat on Friday after work.
My demo being on Friday meant I had an entire week of seeing photos/videos pop up on @sweatboxdc Instagram to totally pump me up… and scare the bejesus out of me. I’m a weak lady in the strength training field, so after seeing all of the Instagrams of very fit people doing lots of pushups, I was petrified*.
*After strength training my entire college career for lacrosse, I was happy when I graduated to never look at a weight again (5 years later, and I am STILL enjoying never going to the weight room and just enjoying a lot of cardio). Because of this, I knew SweatBox was going to be hard.
Pushups? Oh crap.
MORE PUSHUPS? Dead.
Regardless, I love a new challenge and know I should start gaining some muscle back so I was eager and ready when Friday rolled around.
So what is SweatBox? As per usual, they say it better than I can:
“SweatBox alternates between powerful blasts of cardio and strength exercises with periods of active recovery to obtain a targeted percentage of your maximum heart rate (generally ranging from 60-95%). It is this foundation that allows your body to build muscle while burning calories and increasing aerobic capacity. While every workout is different, you will have your own dedicated station of dumbbells, an XT Trainer, and the revolutionary Matrix IC7 Coach by Color indoor cycle. We limit our class size so each participant receives the individual instruction you need for a technically superior workout, while maximizing gains and minimizing risk of injury.”
Nicely said, SweatBox. So let’s get into my experience.
The studio is located on U-Street through the Vida Fitness center. As soon as I walked in, I asked the nice gentleman at the Vida desk where I could find Sweat Box. He then proceeded to point to a very, very, dark corner of the building.
“Oh boy” I thought to myself.
I was greeted in the very sleek looking lobby by a really friendly SweatBox employee who promptly showed me how to work the lockers. Currently, the locker rooms are being installed, so if you want or need to change, you’ll need to use the Vida locker rooms which are on the second floor. They are prettttyyyy swanky, so I didn’t mind this one bit!
A few minutes later, and we were being led into the SweatBox. The studio is really bad ass:
There is some intense lighting, bumpin’ tunes and each person is given their own little workout station that is equipped with a Matrix IC7 Coach by Color indoor cycle, a XT trainer and dumbbells. We had a short tutorial on how to use the equipment before we started which was great because everything except the dumbbells was brand new to me.
I know what you’re thinking– “What? You’ve never been on a indoor cycling bike?”
The answer to that is, yes, yes I have been on an indoor cycling bike. But I have never been on a bike quite like this one…and I had a real love/loathe relationship with it.
THE BIKES: Like most good indoor bikes, you can adjust it to fit your body size. This one actually was a bit cooler than most: the adjusting worked on a hydraulic system so there are no little pre-set holes you have to click into (thats what she said). Instead, the bike can be micro-adjusted so you really do get the perfect fit. The bikes are also not clip ins but this is good since you have to do some interval strength training work which I can only imagine would truly suck in clip-ins.
The other little tid-bit of these bikes, is that they are total tattle tales. Aside from knowing your weight, how often you do cardio, your gender (don’t worry, you program this…so it isn’t that creepy) it also keeps track of your watt and heart rate in 5 different colored zones. This is indicated not only by the console display that YOU see, but by a light at the front of the bike that changes color based on what zone you are in. This light, everyone else can see. SO, if you aren’t pumping hard enough, there is no hiding it. Talk about accountability (or a bike who really wants to call you out!)
THE XT TRAINER: The XT trainer are straps suspended from the ceiling that are used for body weight resistance work and can be used by holding on the handles or by hooking on to your feet. These trainers are TOUGH but are also great because it is easy to modify the workout to be harder (or easier in my case) when you need it to be based on your body position.
THE DUMBBELLS: There is a set of dumbbells with 3 different weights that are to be used during the workout. A word of caution: the lightest weights I saw were 12.5. Using these, for someone like me who rarely strength trains, was like trying to move a super drunk friend from the cab to their apartment at 2AM after their 21st birthday… really freakin’ hard. Luckily, the studio has ordered a lighter set of 7.5 pound dumbbells to solve this problem.
Side note: SweatBox also uses MYZONE heart rate monitors that pair with your bike and are used to show your progress on monitors in the studio, but these need to be purchased separately. I did the workout without one and still sweated, a lot.
THE CLASS: The class started with a warm up: including lunges, push-ups with a runner pose pause (LOVED this) and a few other exercises to get our heart rates up. At this point, I was already sweating like a kid who has been in a bounce house for 45 minutes.
Then, it was onto the bike.
Not going to lie, I loved/loathed the bike. Loved, because I do really enjoy cycling. Loathed, because there were just no excuses: you were either going at the rate you should have been, or you weren’t. I was AMAZED at how hard it was to keep in a certain watt zone but it also really helped with self discipline. There is nothing like looking up and seeing everyone else’s’ lights on green (where we were supposed to be at one instance) and realizing yours is still on white (which it is before you even get on the bike). It was a really incredible experience in that you are really racing against you, but are totally inspired by everyone to make that light turn to the correct color. My bike was probably on the correct color 5% of the time.
At this point, I was dripping sweat everywhere and apparently very noticeably because I was immediately given a towel.
After ~5 minutes of heart pumping cycling, we were back on solid ground doing 4 different exercises (for 2 rounds each) including planking with extensions, bicep curls, backward lunges, jumping lunges, pushups with the XT trainers, chest flys with weights (and more)…that is more than 4 exercises but they are all meshing together right now since I think i might have blacked out during the workout. It was TOUGH and my muscles were totally wiped after each one.
Again, things are bit foggy of what was happening but I do remember thinking my body was actually running out of sweat.
One of the aspects I loved was that even though I paused (almost every exercise) our Sweat Bosses (aka our instructors…who REALLY were badass bosses) would come over, offer encouragement, show me how to ACTUALLY do the exercise (and make it hurt so much more) and would also just inspire me to go just a little farther. I knew they were here to make me a better me (cue tiny violins) and I really loved it.
Then it was back on the bike for another ~5 minutes.
Once again, our Sweat Boss told us what zone to get in (for example, yellow), the room would change a corresponding color (yellow) and my bike would stay blue (the “easiest” level). I cringed every time it did, but tried my hardest to push to get that light to turn. The corresponding room light changing was just another really nice studio addition by the creator, Alex (@alexxdcfit)!
There was a puddle of sweat underneath my bike at this point (sorry Sweat Box staff!).
The workout continued as such (~5 minutes of strength training (4 different exercises) and ~5 of biking) for 50 minutes and after we finished our final cycle…I was figuratively dead. My arms were shaking, my legs felt like jello but all I could say was “holy butt…I loved that…and my butt hurts”.
I definitely stopped at times, caught my breath, laughed, grimaced, cursed… but it was certainly the BEST full body workout I have gotten since I graduated college. Like I said, I took the class on Friday, and I still can’t sit down without yelling or put my own hair in pony tail without crying…but I loved it.
After the workout was done, I was given a cold towel to help cool off. As I wiped the remaining sweat on my head off, I truly embraced the reasoning behind the name of the studio.
I asked Elise, the social media director, what are the the top 3 things she wants you to know about Sweat Box. Here is what she said:
- SweatBox is unique in that we provide all of the equipment you need for a challenging, full body workout with equal parts strength and cardio in one station. You don’t have to run across the studio changing out equipment or switching from one exercise to the next. You have everything you need within arms reach in your station!
- The nature of the exercises are also totally modifiable for any fitness level, as you can choose the weights you use and control the difficulty of the XT trainer moves by adjusting your body position.
- We’re also the first in the industry to pair the technology of the MYZONE heart rate monitors with the Matrix IC7 coach by color bikes – both of which give quantifiable results to your workout and take out the guess work of how hard you really pushed yourself during class.”
Sweat Box DC was an amazing experience and has inspired me to start doing some sit ups…pushups…any “ups” really. It was hard, but that isn’t a bad thing. I strongly believe we grow from being challenged and lord, I was seriously challenged in this class. I definitely encourage you all to take advantage of their “first class free” promotion and check it out as soon as it opens May 4th! Let me know what you think below!
Location: 1612 U Street, NW, Washington DC 20009
Tips: Bring water and sweat wicking clothing! Make sure to “pause” your bike when switching to the weights section to avoid reprogramming your bike each time. Take time to stretch after the workout; there are just a few quick stretches after the actual workout. I found I needed a little more