Low Impact, High Intensity Interval Training at Capitol Hill Fitness

Capitol Hill Fitness


Crash Course: Capitol Hill Fitness is a boutique circuit training studio smack-dab in the middle of Barracks Row on Capitol Hill. Just a short jaunt from the Eastern Market metro stop, the small space is packed with functional training equipment perfect for all sorts of sweaty endeavors. But don’t confuse this gym with just any old circuit circus. What sets Capitol Hill Fitness apart is its commitment to offering (a) low-impact HIIT training that goes easy on the knees, hips, and everything in-between (b) a drop-in-anytime policy and (c) competitive pricing. Check out more details on their Facebook page. [line] [left]where: 725 8th Street SE/Eastern Market Metro

bring: yourself

perks: no reservation/membership needed, joint-friendly, 30-minute workout

sweat score: 7 out of 10 [/left][right]wear: anything that’s comfy

instructor: Breelaun Marchai

cost: $10 for 30 minute circuit[/right] [line]


Enthusiasm. Encouragement. Ermagawd HIIT without hurting my knees. That’s what comes to mind when I think of my experience at Capitol Hill Fitness. In a fabulous twist of fate, Breelaun reached out to me about fit crashing his new studio just in the nick of time. I was getting back into the swing of things on ye olde blog and looking for something new and different to crash. His email taunted me with a few irresistible factoids: the oldest participant was 83, the youngest 10; the entire workout is low-impact and joint friendly; I’d experience a full-body butt kicking in just 30 minutes. Intrigued? Absolutely.

Capitol Hill Fitness studio

So on a brisk fall morning I hitched a ride to an uncharacteristically quiet Capitol Hill (ahem, furlough much?) to meet Breelaun and tackle his workout of the day. Walking into the studio, it quickly became apparent that the space is no bigger than a local Starbucks. Definitely puts the “boutique” in “boutique gym.” Every piece of equipment has its spot, and loose odds and ends like medicine balls, barbells, and yoga mats were meticulously tucked away. “You can do over 800 different exercises with the equipment here,” Breelaun enthusiastically explained. My eyes grazed the room, hungry to try each and every one, all the while imagining all the crazy ways one could burn calories with a Bosu Ball. Or a TRX. Could I do burpees on that rowing machine? 800 different exercises. Color me impressed.

Capitol Hill Fitness instructor Breelaun
Let’s take a moment to talk about Breelaun. A fitness class is nothing without a qualified, encouraging, helpful instructor. Or else, let’s face it, you may as well be doing max reps at your local Globo Gym. The minute I walked in the studio, Breelaun was a bopping bundle of energy. His excitement to get started was contagious.   I rested my coffee on the front desk, set down my backpack, and followed him around the room as he demonstrated the moves at each station. All with a smile. As if this was going to be party. Wait, I’m here for the as-advertised butt-kicking, right?

Capitol Hill Fitness
Ah yes, right. And so we began. Today’s circuit consisted of 16 different stations. One thing I noticed: there was no warm up. Diving-in cold turkey isn’t for everyone, so if you need a little extra kick-start, I suggest taking a few minutes to do some dynamic stretching or perhaps run around the block before hand.

Capitol Hill Fitness

Once you get started, it’s all business for the next 30 minutes. Don’t expect a water break or time to check your Instagram feed. Each station worked a different set of muscles and techniques. Some focused exclusively on mobility and balance, some on cardio, and others on strength. Breelaun had an eagle-eye on the clock the entire time, coaching us through the moves and providing modifications or corrections if needed. Most of the time, I just needed to know that the clock wasn’t broken and, yes, I had 30 more seconds left with the medicine ball.

Capitol Hill Fitness

So what did I think of a low-impact HIIT workout sans burpees, box jumps, or high knees? It was a surprising mix of muscle-shaking exhaustion and enjoyment all wrapped into one fascinating bundle. Just because we weren’t thrashing about the room didn’t mean we weren’t working hard. Stationary side leg raises were killer. V-ups with a yoga block between my feet were brutal. And two stints on the rowing machine? Don’t even get me started. *wipes sweat*

Capitol Hill Fitness

If you’re used to workouts that incorporate high-impact moves, Capitol Hill Fitness will definitely challenge your idea of what makes an exercise difficult. I finished the circuit in 30 minutes, fully satisfied I had received a thoroughly effective workout, without feeling like I had abused my body. It’s hard to explain, but I left feeling as though I had done a HIIT workout underwater. All the benefits without a lot of the extra pain and strain.

This is a great spot to check out for anyone looking for a time-effective, quality workout. 30 minutes in-and-out, no reservations or class times to schedule. Just show up sometime between 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Capitol Hill Fitness’s approach to interval training is particularly awesome for folks with mobility issues, joint injuries, or general distaste for unnecessary jumping around. As a runner, I loved the idea of completing a full-body cross training session without added strain on my ankles, hips, and knees. Thanks for the crash, Breelaun, and I hope to be back again soon!



  1. JD October 10, 2013 / 9:00 am

    You captured this place perfectly. I’ve been going for about 2 months now and it has made a huge difference. Another great thing about it is that all of his exercises can be modified in some way to cater to individual needs and fitness levels. Ultimately, I think it is Breelaun’s enthusiasm that really sets this place apart.

  2. DistrictSweats October 15, 2013 / 12:04 am

    Hey, welcome back! My old apartment was around the corner from this place, and I didn’t have a chance to check it out before moving. Thanks for scoping it out!

    • DC Fit Crasher October 15, 2013 / 10:17 pm

      sorry to hear you missed it but hopefully now you’ll have a fun new place to try out when you come back to visit the neighborhood! thanks for saying hello!

  3. Philippe Orlando December 21, 2013 / 4:44 pm

    They seem to be closed. Do you know what has happened to them?

    • DC Fit Crasher December 23, 2013 / 3:47 pm

      Hi Philippe – good eye! I contacted the owner, who noted that he is currently holding classes at 650 Pennsylvania Ave, Ste 220 and will be opening a new permanent location on 1451 Pennsylvania, one block from the Potomac Ave metro station, under the name Bmarchai Studios. Hope this helps!

    • Manaar April 21, 2014 / 7:01 pm

      He is now located on Pennsylvania Avenue. 1451 Penn Ave SE Wash DC 20003. phone numb 877657 0004

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