DC Fit Crasher, Reporting for Duty: Joining the Troops at Soldierfit

soldierfit-wide-shot

In all of my fit crashing days, I have never seen anything like Soldierfit. If I could describe it in a nutshell, it would be this: an indoor boot camp turned role play where you have been recruited into an ultra fit special forces unit with a mission to shape up or ship out. You will be called “troop.” You will be required to wear a uniform. There will be military paraphernalia all over the place. You will work hard and then be asked to work harder. You will shout in unison and stand in formation. Over the top? Totally. Effective? You better believe it.

soldierfit-group-talk

Soldierfit is a functional fitness boot camp with a laser-like focus on teamwork and confidence building. Each hour-long session combines calisthenics, body weight exercises, and endurance training. There’s also built in time for warm up, warm down, and a post-workout pep talk. Many of the instructors are former military – and it shows. Even down to the way they count flutter kicks…with that distinct guttural, frog-like honk straight out of GI Jane. When you walk through those doors – you’re in the Army now, kid.

soldierfit-instructions-ball

When I first heard about Soldierfit, I was immediately intrigued. I love boot camp style workouts that stress creativity and good old fashioned hard work, and this seemed to be the grand pumba of them all. When I heard the closest location was in Frederick, Maryland…I had to do a double take (and break out the Google map). An hour from DC? Really? On a Sunday morning? But as soon as I arrived and stepped up to the cut off Jeep-desk to fill out my paperwork, I knew this was going to be one heck of a ride.

soldierfit-front-desk

The facility is in an enormous warehouse structure outfitted with astroturf flooring and a heaping dose of military hooyah. The amount of decorative detail put into every element of the space was staggering – even the ladies bathroom had a shower curtain emblazoned with dog tags and a bench that said “Fort Frederick.” As I put my belongings into a cubby in the front area, I heard clipped barking coming from behind the door. Yeah, this door.

soldierfit-door-burpees

The cautious look on my face must have been easy to read, because the Soldierfit employee at the front desk said, “Oh, that’s Antoine, he really gets fired up in the morning. You’ll love it.” Fired up? That’s one way to put it. All I could hear was heavy metal and the staccatoed yelling of a drill sergeant. I walked into the cavernous arena that makes up the main workout space to find the troops warming up.

soldierfit-warmup

After a warmup of basic calisthenics, the workout itself was one big circuit. The group broke into six “companies” that rotated through all of the exercise stations about four times. Antoine took his time explaining each exercise, making sure everyone knew exactly how to perform it correctly and safely. Then the music turned up and it was time to get moving.

soldierfit-tire-pull-close

The stations included:

1. tire pulls
2. burpees
3. tricep dips on monster truck tires followed by super man pushups
4. high jumps followed by mountain climbers
5. single arm rows with free weights
6. medicine ball throws

soldierfit-jump

The “troops” at this particular workout ranged in age, experience, and level of fitness. There were military types, moms, and everything in between. But there was a palpable camaraderie and the clients were there for one singular reason: to get their tush kicked and to feel good doing it. As a new person (and one who stood out like a sore thumb without a uniform shirt on), I felt instantly welcomed and shown the ropes by a few of the regulars. To the folks in my “company” who showed me what the heck to do with those tires, a big thank you goes out to you!

soldierfit-ball-throw

The instructors walk around during the workout and offer encouragement, support, correction if needed, and a heaping dose of motivation. There was no in-your-face screaming or degrading language. But they definitely play the drill sergeant role in their military-contractor style outfits straight out of central casting: khaki tactical cargos, desert combat boots, black polo tucked in, ball cap with American flag. Again, the entire operation is a well oiled machine to project a very specific image. And they do a heck of a job delivering, from the sandbags stacked in the corner, the military branch flags hanging from the ceiling, or the gurney-turned-bench resting in the corner.

soldierfit-warmdown

While the idea of a military boot camp seems intimidating and miserable, the atmosphere at Soldierfit was actually fun, inspiring, and approachable. It does not look that way at first glance. Heck, walking into a room full of people wearing a uniform and doing all the same moves can be intimidating even for the most seasoned fit crasher. But I was instantly reassured (and surprised) to realize how welcoming everyone was and that the entire purpose of the company is to build people up and make them feel part of the whole. Oh, and did I mention the workout was enormously challenging as well? I left there with sore muscles everywhere, and loved it. Where do I enlist?

soldierfit-group-team

Soldierfit offers a first-time-free trial workout, after which you will need to sign up for a membership. There are no a la carte options. Click here for a full list of locations (none of which are close to DC, but if you have a car or live out in VA or MD, this is definitely worth checking out). Some of the facilities also offer a functional training gym space with TRX, monkey bars, boxes, rowing machines – you name it – for members to use on their own schedule.

Thanks for the great crash Soldierfit!

14 Comments

  1. Meaghan Moynahan March 7, 2013 / 12:49 pm

    Just found your blog thru the recent Washingtonian article, congrats btw 🙂 LOVE the spelling of your name 🙂 & can totally sympathize with you from going to two-a-days in college to not knowing wtf to do when I graduated. Trying to find a happy medium has been killer – currently trying paleo to get back in to the swing of things. Love following your journey – keep it up!

    Meaghan
    districtsparkle.com

    • DC Fit Crasher March 7, 2013 / 2:06 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Meaghan! How are you liking the Paleo challenge? I’m intrigued…

  2. Lindsay March 7, 2013 / 2:04 pm

    Why didn’t you try the Rockville or Gaithersburg locations? They are MUCH closer to the District!

    And what happened to your basic info block about the classes, like the sweat score? I miss that! (Even though admittedly, it was pretty arbitrary–how you don’t go 10 out of 10 for a spin class is beyond me!)

    • DC Fit Crasher March 7, 2013 / 2:08 pm

      I was invited out to the Frederick location – but that is good to know! I will be bringing the block back, thank you for the feedback. I typically use it for studios where folks can drop in on a regular basis so they know what to bring. Since Soldierfit is a membership program, didn’t know if it’d be as helpful. But I so appreciate your feedback – next crash review the block will be there! Thanks for reading!

      • Lindsay March 8, 2013 / 10:14 am

        Oh that makes sense! But in that case, you should be more explicit about which classes are comped and which aren’t. As much as you think you’re being objective in your writing, I thin kit makes a difference in how much cred I would give your review. Keep up the great crashing! And thanks for bringing back the block! 🙂

        • DC Fit Crasher March 8, 2013 / 11:05 am

          Thanks Lindsay – I always make a note in the post when classes have been comped or the fees waived. Because Soldierfit has a “first class free” policy I didn’t think it was necessary. But I will keep that in mind. Appreciate your feedback!

  3. DANIEL HOLMES March 7, 2013 / 2:11 pm

    Wow!!! This is an incredibly well written article that really captures the essence of SOLDIERFIT. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this up and checking us out… wayyy out in Frederick!
    HOOAH!

    • DC Fit Crasher March 7, 2013 / 9:58 pm

      You’re welcome Daniel – thanks for hosting! Keep up the awesome work!

  4. Matthew Bauer March 7, 2013 / 2:18 pm

    I have been a SoldierFit member for over a year and everything you wrote about is true. I have lost 75lbs, gained a bunch of muscle, and made SO MANY new friends since I became a troop and yellow hat. This company is legit. The best part is that it’s not one person’s company. This is OUR COMPANY! HOOAH!!!

    • DC Fit Crasher March 7, 2013 / 9:59 pm

      Awesome story Matthew, I’m so happy to hear you’ve had such success at Soldierfit. It’s really a unique place and there’s nothing quite like it that I’ve seen out there.

  5. Danielle March 8, 2013 / 7:45 am

    Fantastic review and so true! this is the most encouraging environment, where the only person you are there to prove anything to is yourself (there are now show offs just people working hard)..and you will want to challenge yourself! As a very fit woman in my early 40s..running and lifting weights with the same routine wasn’t cutting it anymore. Soldierfit got my metabolism going strong again and awakens muscles you haven’t even been introduced to in standard workouts! IT IS AMAZING!!

  6. Ash June 10, 2013 / 7:40 pm

    Cannot wait to try this Boot Camp one Saturday. The space looks incredible.

  7. Rachel July 21, 2014 / 2:24 am

    Best outfit in the business! Lost 25 lbs in my first year…convenient classes and as a single mom, very affordable and great quality for the buck! It’s like personal training only you get to have fun while you get fit! #soldierfit4life #getfit

    • DC Fit Crasher July 21, 2014 / 9:55 am

      Thanks for the fantastic review, Rachel. So happy to hear you’ve found an amazing place to fit crash!

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