A Mario Bros. mural covers the walls, instructors wear polos and whistles around their necks, and students store their belongings in cubbies. All signs point to middle school gym as you remember it in the 80s and 90s – but the workout you get at Throwback Fitness is much more intense than a game of middle school pickleball – and even more fun.
Throwback is a small studio within an office building. It’s lacking a proper locker room and showers if morning workouts before the office are you jam - I had to make my way over to New York Sports Club before going to the office.
That being said, the studio itself is spacious enough and jam packed with equipment like rowers, medicine balls, kettlebells and dumbbells.
Throwback offers two main classes - Strength/Power and Endurance/Speed. I've now taken both - and they are pretty much as their names imply. Leaving Strength/Power I felt strong and leaving Endurance/Speed I felt like I had gotten in a good cardio workout. Regardless of the particular class you pick, the workout is split into four sections – a warmup, Phys Ed, homework and recess, keeping with the theme of the studio. A little kitschy? Sure - but it works.
I've now taken three classes at Throwback Fitness and each time, class started by introducing ourselves and answering a quick question about ourselves - favorite game show (Figure It Out), Favorite Famous Animal (any monkey) and Favorite Cereal (Peanut Butter Puffins). After intros, the warm-up always incorporates exercises into some kind of game.
In Throwback Fitness Questions you had to perform 8 shoulder taps followed by 8 alternating lunges before you could ask a yes or no question to our instructor, Java, to figure out which celebrity he was thinking of.
We did this for three minutes, successfully guess Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, and Steve Harvey while continuously completing our shoulder tap and lunge reps.
In another warm-up we performed a series of exercises before being allowed to fire a foam ball at the little army men lining the top of the ceiling beam (harder than it looked).
And in my last class, we played "Musical Medicine Ball" - traveling around the room performing high knees, butt kicks, etc. until the music stopped. The people left without a medicine ball were sent to the rowers for 100 meter row penalty before joining back into the game.
In Strength/Power, "Phys Ed" was the main strength portion of the class. We split into two groups and completed the following sets of exercises for 3.5 minutes, 4 times for a total of 14 minutes.
14 American KB Swings
14 Spiderman Push-Ups
14 Bent Rows
14 Megatrons (One handed snatch + lunge)
7 Squat Thrusts
In Endurance/Speed, the "Phys Ed" section is where you use the rower. I'm frustrated every time I row because I look over and see people rowing at a 2:15 pace and I'm struggling to hit 2:45. But it certainly provides a challenge and raises the heart rate!
In both Endurance/Speed classes I took, the rowing portion was down with a partner. While you row, your partner completes a circuit of exercises (10 cannonball push-ups, 16 kneeling up/down squats, 20 bicycle flutterkicks). Either you row until your partner finishes the circuit or your partner repeats the circuit until you've hit a predetermined distance on the rower.
At the end of Phys Ed, based on the number of meters rowed, a first, second and third place team is announced.
This section is a 3-4 minute core-interlude. For example:
:30 Left Side Plank/:30 Left V-Ups
:30 Right Side Plank/:30 Right V-Ups
:30 Hollow Hold/:30 Tuck Ups
Another class, we did a 3 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of:
12 Medicine ball sit-ups
12 Medicine ball roll-outs
12 Medicine ball Russian twists
The last part of class, recess, is where the group is split into two teams for a competition. In my first class, Recess was a relay race. Each time had 4 people lined up in a row, doing a different exercise. As one person finished 6 laps of a bear crawl, the group shifted to the next exercise. Each time you finished 20 reps, you grabbed a flag. The team with the most flags at the end of the 5 minutes was the winner.
1 Arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat – I couldn’t do this for my LIFE. I’m determined to work on these!
Reverse Lunge to High Knee
6 Bear Crawl Laps – These kill me every time! Why is bear crawling so hard?
Another time we played corn hole! Every time you completed 7 push-up jacks, 9 tuck ups and 11 frog jumps, you got to throw the beanbag. Let me tell you - something about starting your day with corn hole really just sets you up for success.
Class always finished with both teams lining up and high-fiving and "good game"-ing and my first class, we also made a group Boomerang.
After my first class I wasn't 100% sold on Throwback, but by the end of my 3 classes there, I found myself really enjoying it.
I took a class with each of the three main instructors - Java, Brian and Ryan and can honestly say that they were equally wonderful instructors. They were thorough but quick in their explanations of some complex exercises/games and super motivating and positive throughout class. Java may win for best class playlist though!
WHAT I LIKED
I liked that Throwback used a number of complex exercises in their classes. Instead of sticking to isolation exercises, there were tons of compound moves that targeted multiple body parts at once to make Throwback a true total body workout.
The option to choose between a class geared more towards cardio or strength is something that I think more studios should implement.
The community vibe at Throwback is great - the instructors call almost everyone by name, and as the newbie, they were very encouraging and made an effort to learn my name as well. I also loved that during the rowing portion of class, they would continually walk around the room and let you know how many meters you needed to catch up to the front of pack - it definitely kept me from phoning it in when I got tired.
The class manages to be just the right amount of competitive. The games motivate you, but don't get so intense that anyone would feel "bad" about their performance.
Another aspect I like is that there are challenges that go beyond the people you're in class with - there is a Throwback Fitness-wide system for earning gold stars and completing different challenges that regulars get really in to!
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
In my first class, my opinion of the "games" was that they were too gimmicky - but by the end of three classes I figured out that they're designed so that you can make them as intense or as laid back as you want.
My one complaint was that the studio was SO HOT AND SWEATY. That, coupled with the lack of showers, made me feel pretty bad for the people around me on the subway to work.
THE STUDIO - 6
The studio itself is fun to look around, with all the 80s posters and paraphernalia. Plus, as I mentioned, there's a ton of equipment packed into the space and a lot is possible.
Lacking however are the additional amenities offered at many other boutique fitness studios.
CLASS SIZE - SMALL
There's been about 10-12 people in each class I attended, which was a perfect amount. It never seemed too crowded, though 3 or 4 more people and it might have started to feel a little cramped.
SWEAT SCALE - 7
Both Power/Strength and Endurance/Speed were pretty damn sweaty! The way these workouts are set-up, you can push it to the limit and get a killer workout, or if you're having a meh day, take it a bit slower.
FUN FACTOR - 9
Throwback is a great time, and that's it's appeal. Not only are you getting in a great workout, but you're doing it in a fun atmosphere - led by the great instructors at Throwback.
AMENITIES - 4
This is where Throwback falls short.
COST - $$$
A single class at Throwback will cost you $32, which seems a little high for what it offers. I had bought a 3 for $30 package on Black Friday, and they also offer 2 classes for $19 for first-timers, which I highly recommend checking out!
THE BOTTOM LINE
You could go to a class like Tone House or Barry's and get a KILLER workout. You could go to Mile High Run Club or Swerve and kill it at cardio. But Throwback is the option for the days you just want an all around good workout - to not kill yourself, and to thoroughly enjoy your workout!
I'd add this to my list of "You Should Try It!" (I should actually make this list at some point...)