Not So Fly Mile High Run Club Review

For over a month, I have been beyond excited to try a class at the new fitness studio Mile High Run Club. A boutique fitness studio in NOHO (28 East 4th Street to be exact), Mile High Run Club is neither conveniently located or cost-effective - but I was determined to experience a class that attempts to turn the typically solitary and boring act of treadmill running into a black-light, music-blasting group fitness-fest. Unfortunately, MHRC didn't live up to the hype. 

A group of us decided to go on a Thursday night after work, using a code for a free class that we got from the wonderful  blog Ali on the Run

We showed up at around 6:15 for our 6:30 p.m. class - the lobby was nice, and the receptionist let me know which treadmill I had signed up for before giving us a little tour - there's locker rooms, showers, and a wall of lockers outside of the studio. They're the complicated lockers with the built in programmable locks that I somehow always manage to screw up -  but I guess it's for the best since I recently lost my real lock (which I've had since freshman year of high school - so I'm really sad it's gone!) The lockers were like Mary Poppins' bag. They looked so teeny, yet somehow fit my giant ass bag. 

We stood outside the studio waiting to be let inside, and it was a little cramped and crowded but not too horrible. This is the part where I should have scoped out the locker rooms and bathrooms/showers so I could write a little something about them but, I didn't, so sorry 'bout it. From others' accounts the locker room had very few lockers which were all taken and the bathroom had two showers. There, now you know everything! (Spring Awakening reference, anyone, anyone? Probably not.) 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when classes don't start on time. We still hadn't been allowed in the room when the clock struck 6:30, which was a big no-no for me. They let us in around then, but obviously, there was no way we were actually starting the workout at 6:30. The part that was frustrating was that no one was in the studio before us, so I'm not sure why we couldn't have been in there filling up our water bottles and getting settled a few minutes earlier. 

The studio itself is what you would expect, a big room with lots of treadmills. The room is dark and black-lit, so pro-tip - if you plan on taking pictures (for Instagram, obviously) then wear neon! 

(Rebecca got the neon memo, apparently!)

There's a spot in the back to fill up your water bottles and each treadmill has a towel waiting at it. (As I mentioned earlier, when you sign up online you pick a treadmill and that's your assigned spot for the class). 

Another pro-tip (since I am obviously a pro after just 1 class) - treadmills 4, 9, 17 and 21 have giant columns in front of them, so you a) won't see the instructor and b) won't be able to yourself in the mirrors. Seeing the instructor isn't all that important, but I'd imagine staring straight at a blank wall for a half hour could get kind of annoying. That's just me. Maybe it would help you get in the zone. Do you. 

I was treadmill 20 - but if I were to take another class, I would probably pick something in the back row. My reason is such an asshole reason, but I'm going to be honest about it because I'm sure there's more than a few people out there who would be the same way. If I had been in the back row,  I would have been able to see a lot more people's treadmill screens and have been able to see how fast they were going throughout the class.  No, I would not have used this information to judge the people going slower than me, but I sure as hell would have used it to push myself to try to get on some of the speedier people's levels. 

Mile High Run Club offers 3 different classes at the studio:
The Distance: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 60 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners.
Ultra: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 90 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners. 
Dash 28: This 45-minute class provides a foundation for runners of all levels with about 28 minutes of structured intervals followed by 10 minutes of strength plus power training with kettle bells.

We took a Dash 28 class with Debora Warner, the founder and program director of Mile High Run Club. Once we had all settled in, we stood besides our treadmills for a warm up of squats, high knees, butt kicks, etc.  

Each treadmill comes with a pace card, giving suggestions for the speeds you should hit during each interval as a beginner ("joggers") or a more advanced runner ("racers"). The treadmill portion of the class went a little something like this: 

4 minutes warm-up pace
1 minute level 2 pace
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 3.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace 

2 minutes warm-up pace

1 minute level 2 pace
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 5.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace 

Thoughts on the interval portion of class:
-I was a fan of the actual intervals. Nothing was too long - you could always tell yourself, "Only 90 seconds left, Only 45 seconds left, etc." 

-Debora's counting was horrendous. Each time she counted down from 5 was completely different - but not once was 5 seconds actually 5 seconds. There was even a digital clock in the middle of the room for her to use, so I'm not really sure what the issue was.

-5.0 incline is no joke and I totally had to decrease it before the 2 minutes were up.  Pittsburgh Marathon, City of I come? Gulp. 

-It would have been a lot more motivational had the instructor been on a treadmill too. It's like going to a spin class and having an instructor who walks around the whole time. Or even worse, just sits on their bike not spinning. 

-It was a little difficult to understand Debora - the mic was fuzzy and the music was loud and her prompts weren't always clear. I'm pretty sure I was on that 5.0 hill earlier than I was supposed to be because her counts and directions were so hard to understand. And it's not like it was anything too difficult to understand! 

-The playlist - so meh. 

-Apparently these are state of the art treadmills used at Mile High Run Club, and it was nice that you don't run into the front of it, although I'm still not sold on the ribbed belt ever since I tripped on one at New York Sports Club. I did a little research, and MHRC uses Woodway treadmills which feature "slat belt" technology and are supposed to feel like you're running outside. Yada yada. They felt nice. 

(This is the Woodway 4Front treadmill - there's 30 of them in the MHRC Studio. I'm assuming they cost a lot of money.)

-IT WAS SO HOT AND SWEATY IN THERE! Finally with 5 minutes left of class Debora was like, "Oh, does anyone need a fan?" Uhm, yes dear lord, please. There were sweat puddles in my sneakers. And I'm not someone who sweats a ton! 

After some light jogging/walking it was time to get to the power/strength portion of the class. Everyone grabbed some kettlebells in various weights and brought them back to their treadmills. 

I actually really liked the combination of exercises we did during this part of the Dash 28 class and I thought it was great. However, the instructor did such a poor job of explaining what exactly we were supposed to be doing. And I've been to a lot of classes, I'm usually pretty quick at picking things up. Nothing we had to do was that complicated, but she just didn't explain them very well. Or would demonstrate them in a way that wasn't how she actually wanted US to do them, which just makes no sense. 


We started by alternating for 30 seconds between kettlebell squat and presses and kettlebell curls (2 rounds of each exercise). 

Next were step ups onto the treadmill (finally a good song! Shots is my new favorite song for step-ups). 

We also did lunges, pushups, squats onto the belt followed by a hop up, and hip dips with our feet on the treadmill and our elbows on the ground (those burned). 

I was a sweaty mess by the end of class, which is usually all I need in order to be satisfied with a class, but this time I just felt so meh about what I'd just done. 

I ended up running about 3.1 miles or so. 

Worst part - we end class and Debora DOESN'T HAVE US STRETCH. I swear, it's like she just wanted to be out of there. She basically said, "If you want to stretch go ahead." Ok. 

After class, the locker area that felt just slightly crowded earlier felt catastrophically crowded as our class came out and the 7:30 class went in. Double the people plus all the sweat = ugh. 

I can definitely see how MHRC could be a great class - but unfortunately, the unenthusiastic instructor really ruined it for me. I would still be interested in trying one of the longer classes with more running, but at $34 per class, I'm not sure that's in the cards. 

I also think that what makes spin classes and even indoor group rowing classes work is the fact that at times, everyone in the room is doing the same thing. With indoor treadmilling (yes, that's a word now) there's no point where everyone's at the same pace or doing the same "choreography" (sometime's jumps in spinning remind me of dancing, OK? And everyone rowing in sync looks pretty!) There's also no real way to push yourself against others at MHRC, and obviously you can always compete against yourself, but when your instructor isn't saying things that encourage that mindset, it's hard to get into it.  

Not to mention you can go on Pinterest and get endless treadmill interval routines and save yourself a whole lot of money. You'll still be next to people who are also running and you can listen to a playlist of your own creation.

So, in conclusion, Mile High Run Club isn't really for me. HOWEVER, I do think it's great that it's seeing so much success and getting more and more people into a fitness class that includes RUNNING! It's usually such an intimidating concept to people, and I think MHRC is changing that perception for some people which is wonderful!