Crash Course: PushLab Fitness might be the tiniest gym I’ve ever seen. But what it lacks in size it totally makes up for in impact. The 45 minute, non stop, full body workouts are a creative mix of strength training, agility, and plyometrics. Expect to use kettlebells, hand weights, agility ladders, jungle gyms, resistance cords, bosu balls, and more. What else can you expect? Sweat. Lots of it. But that’s what you came here for, right?
class: total body
sweat score: 9 out of 10
where: 249 E 77th Street | New York, NY
wear: anything you want, but better if you can sweat in it
bring: water bottle
instructor: Ricky Lau
perks: small class size, towels
cost: $32 for a drop in, also available on FitReserve and Classpass
I stumbled across PushLab Fitness while walking through my neighborhood one day. From the outside, nothing about it screamed “come check me out!” other than the people I saw inside going through one hell of a workout. I made a mental note to check it out one day, and moved on.
It wasn’t until I was searching on FitReserve for a morning workout in that elusive sweet spot — sometime between not too early and not too late — that PushLab reappeared on my radar. They have a number of morning class times so there is something that works for most folks. I found myself drawn to the 7:30 a.m. class, which gave me time to grab a coffee or smoothie on the walk home before settling into my day.
Walking through the front door for the first time, I was a little skeptical. Okay, I take that back. I was a lot skeptical. The place is teeny tiny and there were six or seven of us students waiting for class to begin. How in the world were we going to workout without falling over each other?
We began class with a warm up that combined various drills on the agility ladder (high knees, hops, bear crawls) and shadowboxing with light weights. For all the times I laughed about using 2 lb. weights in a class, I take it back. Shadowboxing 30 seconds at a time while holding those tiny things really makes a difference – my arms, back, core, and shoulders were engaged and on fire by the time the buzzer went off.
With another go around on the agility ladder, the warm up had me breathing hard and sweating bullets. This wasn’t a light stretch to get the creeks out of your body after waking up – this was a workout in itself!
We moved on to using weights in combination with the jungle gym apparatus, which from what I can tell is very much like a TRX but just a different brand. Every move we did targeted multiple muscle groups: lunges with dumbell curls, planks with dumbell rows, hamstring curls with dumbmell press. I loved feeling like we were squeezing in as much efficient and effective work into the 45 minutes as possible.
After the weights we went back to the agility ladder to get our heart rate up again, followed by some push ups, plank holds, and mountain climbers.
We ended class with a tabata challenge involving everyone’s favorite exercise: the burpee. Each round, Ricky encouraged us to better our number by one. For example, if you did five burpees in the first 20 second burst, your goal was to do six in the next. He’d come around, ask you your score, and encourage you before heading into the next burst of activity. While tabatas are tough and burpees are horrible, I appreciated the fact that we weren’t left to do the series on our own. We were encouraged as a group and individually to get through it and get better.
I loved feeling like the priority at PushLab is to deliver a great workout – nothing more, nothing less. The instructors are all motivating, nice, and personable. But they are not there to be the stars of the show. And the space is tiny so there is no wiggle room to focus on providing amenities like showers, lockers, or a lounge area. In my opinion, all of this comes together and makes the workout itself the focus of the experience. And isn’t that what you’re coming to the gym for, anyway?
If you’re looking for an efficient, effective, no frills and welcoming environment that will make you work hard and challenge yourself – I can’t recommend enough adding this spot to your list. I’m just sorry I waited so long to stop in!