If I'm going to go to a group fitness class - I want to be challenged. I want to be a sweaty mess afterwards. I want to feel like a strong, bad-ass boss lady. So for my 5 for $20 ClassPass trial, I've been searching out the most down and dirty classes in New York City.
Many of the popular studios, known as the "hardest" in Manhattan, are nearly impossible to get spots in via ClassPass unless you're setting an alarm for the minute they open up a week in advance. Personally, I'm not a fan of that. During my trial I was unable to try Tone House, Barry's Bootcamp, KORE, Con Body, or the Fhitting Room. But I did attend a class I read about on Best In Class that was conveniently located on the Upper East Side.
CrossFit Concrete Jungle is a CrossFit box that also offers boot-camp style classes. Laura described it on her blog as,
The top 5 most torturous classes I've taken on ClassPass
which is all it took for me to sign myself up.
Located inside a random building on a side street in the Upper East Side, CrossFit Concrete Jungle is a gritty, let's get down to business kind of gym. There's no bells and whistles but there is a ton of equipment - all organized and set up perfectly.
I filled out a waiver (gulp) and class started when owner Sean Wright told us to do a warm-up on the stairs. Down 5 flights and back up 'em, we were ready to get started.
Class was split into a few main sections which kept things from getting boring.
We started the workout with a killer 10 minute circuit. We had 60 seconds to complete the following exercises:
- 8 14kg medicine ball slams (that's over 30 pounds)
- 6 sit ups
- 4 burpees
If you finished in :45 seconds, that meant you had a :15 rest. We started a new round on the minute for 10 minutes straight.
Let me tell you - had Sean told us we were done after those 10 minutes, I still would have felt like I got a killer workout in. That circuit was no joke and I'm looking forward to incorporating that style into my personal workouts.
Next, we split into two teams and headed to the ski machine - or SkiERG.
The what? Yeah, that's what I said too. It looks like an upright rowing machine, and you use your arms and legs to make a cross-country skiing movement. Reaching up, pulling down hard, bracing your core, bending your legs, pulling through - exploding back up to repeat the process.
The two teams were competing to reach 2,000 meters first. Each person got 10 pulls during their turn and then had to complete 10 push-ups before jumping back in line for their next turn at the SkiERG.
It was during this competition/team work piece of the class that I really started to get into the vibe at CrossFit Concrete Jungle. I found myself encouraging my teammates and cheering them on as we got closer and closer to our goal.
Sean was great at giving me pointers for the ski machine which I had very clearly never used before. By the time we reached 2000 meters as a team, I was feeling much more comfortable with it.
The team competition continued as we moved on to the Assault AirBike - the first team to burn 200 calories would be the winners.
The Assault AirBike is a cross between a stationary bike and an elliptical - air acts as resistance and you use both your legs and arms to power through. It looks like an easy enough piece of equipment, but after each :30 second shift on that thing - I was spent.
Like the push-ups at the SkiERG station, each 30 seconds of biking was followed by a strength move, this time kettlebell swings.
Sean gave me a lot of tips here - I was squatting too much instead of bending at the hips.
200 calories sounded like no big thang but it took us awhile and we ended up dropping the goal down to 150 so we wouldn't be stuck there for the rest of class.
Next, we each got an ab wheel with foot straps and did :30 of hamstring curls followed by :30 of ab roll-ins.
I assumed we would take a few seconds rest after each minute of work but nope - we just cycled through each exercise 3 times before finishing with 60 seconds of each exercise.
I definitely had to drop to my knees a few times - I was feeeeeling the burn that's for sure!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
We had about 5 minutes left and Sean had no plans of letting us off the hook early - we grabbed 20 pound dumbbells and did walking lunges to the other side of the gym, 10 Renegade Rows, and walking lunges back.
Sean greeted us all with high fives and "Good Jobs!" and we all looked ready for a nap.
WHAT I LIKED:
- This was hard, and I was challenged by each portion of the class.
- Sean was an enthusiastic and encouraging leader who pushed us throughout the hour session.
- The class was full of people who are clearly "regulars" at CrossFit Concrete Jungle and I got a really awesome community feeling from the hour that I spent there. Many people knew each other, Sean knew many of his students by first name, and there was another class taking place in another part of the gym during our boot camp. The feeling I got at CrossFit Concrete Jungle was one that made me want to go back and be a part of it.
- I loved that this class incorporated competition and team work - something that I thought would have improved the B|X class I took at Brick.
- The different sections of the class made it go by quickly - I was never bored. Though I was wondering, "Oh God, what is he going to have us do next?"
- I LOVED that even with 4 minutes to go, Sean was coming up with something for us to do.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
- I will be honest - not having the option to shower after class was a bummer.
- For a beginner, this class might have been a little bit overwhelming. Everyone was super fit, and had experience using some of the more "CrossFitty" equipment.
*Based on a scale of 1-10
The Studio - 8
The space was plenty large for the amount of people and there was a ton of unique equipment. I was impressed with how organized and tidy it was given the huge amount of "stuff" they have.
Class Size - Small
There were only 9 people in my class which meant lots of individual attention.
Sweat-Scale - 9.5
SO SWEATY which made me feel bad on the rush-hour subway commute - sorry, peeps.
Fun-Factor - 8
The competition aspect gave it a little bit more of a "fun" feel than the typical boot camp/circuit class. Plus, Sean's personality and interaction with the class made it so I cracked a few smiles throughout (I'm usually pretty heavy on the RBF while I'm working out).
Amenities - 5
There's a bathroom and a room with cubbies for your things - that's about it.
Cost - $$$
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$)
This class is the first time I've seriously considered wanting to be a part of a CrossFit box. Sean was an incredible instructor (read more about how legit he is here) and the community vibe at Concrete Jungle was palpable.
Since I'm currently not running or training for anything specific, pushing myself to do more reps, lift heavier things, complete a WOD in a faster time, etc. all sounds very appealing. The space was covered with white boards where people can track their personal bests and one instructor was being congratulated all morning for hitting a new mark. I love that stuff.
But until I can afford CrossFit, I'm glad there are classes like Concrete Jungle's Bootcamp to make me feel fierce (and totally exhausted).
I highly recommend checking CFCJ out - they offer new students their first class for free! And they offer a variety of classes in addition to CrossFit and Bootcamp - including boxing, rowing, and kettlebells.