Crash Course: Tone House is an athletic-based sports conditioning class built around the principles of strength, speed, agility, and endurance. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or just want to train like one, this is the class for you. Prepare for a high-intensity workout that will challenge even the most seasoned fit crasher. Visit the Tone House website for a full schedule of classes.[line] [left]where: 20 East 17th Street | Flatiron
bring: your A game
perks: towels, bottled water, hardest workout ever
sweat score: 10 out of 10[/left][right]wear: clothes for full range of movement
instructor: Yusuf Jeffers
cost: first time $20 | $35 drop-in [/right][line]
Today I bring to you a recap of the hardest workout I’ve ever done in all my years of fit crashing.
Part of me wants to just show you the blurry, grainy photos I managed to take of this class and let your imagination fill in the rest. The other part of me wants to share every excruciating detail, walking you through the class minute by minute so you can feel the rippling intensity. Hopefully I’ll be able to strike a balance somewhere in between. But guys, seriously…the hardest workout I’ve ever crashed. Ever.
Let me set the scene. I showed up to Tone House on a Tuesday evening with Evann and was greeted by a sign that kindly requested that we leave our egos at the door. Check. Once inside, we found ourselves in a setting that felt more like a futuristic combat video game than into a boutique workout studio above a bright and shiny Liquiteria.
The room was dark – the kind of dark that sets you off a bit. Red lights hung ominously from tracks overhead. Straps, bands, pulleys, and pads seemed to glow in the dark along the walls. And heavy bass from a movie track similar to 500 was booming and rumbling through the speakers. *Gulp*
I signed in, received a complimentary bottle of water and towel, and hopped into the bathroom to change out of my work clothes. Non-workout space is at a premium so I recommend changing ahead of time if you can.
When I exited, I joined the other classmates (all men except for me, Evann, and another woman) in what could only be described as a pre-warm up warm up. What did these guys know that I didn’t? Wasn’t warm up part of the class? Everyone seemed silently in the zone with a foam roll, stretch, or some other dynamic move to get ready for the coming battle. Because that’s honestly what it felt like – preparing for an upcoming assault.
Yusuf started class by rounding everyone into a football huddle and leading the team in a loud pump-up chant. Because that’s what we were now: a team. He explained that we were responsible for working and acting like one, supporting each other, celebrating successes, and getting everyone through the practice ahead.
Up first: the warm up.
Here’s a hint: the pre-warm up warm up is essential because the actual warm up at Tone House is quite possibly the hardest portion of the class. It involved an unforgiving number of dynamic sprint circuits down the length of the studio and back. High knees, hops, lateral hops, up-downs, and all-out sprints. My slow twitch muscles were crying. Some of the guys in the class were so athletic that they caught up to those of us at the back of the line, creating an ever-present push to go even faster. My heart rate was off the charts and that primal flight or fight impulse was gnawing away at my stomach.
There was no easing into this class. It was full throttle and explosive from the get go. Yusuf was urging us on, the guys at the front of the line were nipping at my heels, the music was loud, and I seriously regretted the oat bar I had eaten an hour before class. So did the guy next to me, who made a bee-line for the bathroom to toss his. Yes, it was that challenging. And that was just the warm up.
After a quick water break, we lined up in front of the mirror for a series of agility drills. From what I could tell, this portion of class was very similar to what goes on in many college sports practices. But as a former triathlete and swimmer, I hadn’t had the opportunity to experience it yet. Until now.
Yusuf would yell out commands and we would do our best to follow them quickly and efficiently. Fast feet. Hit the deck. Jump. Jump higher. Lateral right. Lateral left. Crawl. Pushups. Oddly enough this felt like a bit of a respite after the all-out intensity of warm up. It forced me out of the panic that had set in and into the concentration needed to focus on Yusuf’s next instruction. Unfortunately for my tired legs, those next instructions were coming fast and furious and my agility was failing fast.
Then we ran more sprints. Relay-style this time.
The next portion of class was the most enjoyable, in a strange and twisted way. Not easy, but enjoyable because it included the use of a few unique pieces of equipment. Yusuf split the team into two groups and sent Evann and I over to a wall of body harnesses attached to enormous resistance bands. We strapped in and tested it out. If you don’t engage your core and stay low, the bands will snap you backward after you reach a certain distance (lesson learned) like a horizontal bungee jump. So be careful!
We ran, crawled, and crab walked in a series of resistance circuits, slowly inching our bodies forward against the increasing tension. This demanded a lot of determination and body control. At least as much as you could muster at this point in the workout.
After the bungee circuit our group moved to the other end of the studio for a round of TRX moves. See the crazy handstand pushup demonstrated above? Yeah, you get the idea. Wild to think that this was the lowest-intensity portion of the entire workout.
After the TRX our group moved back over to the bungee wall for a few battle rope circuits. Battle ropes are difficult enough, but these were bungee battle ropes. Not only were they heavy, but they also constantly wanted to pull you back toward the wall. Taming them demanded that every part of your body be engaged. Flailing them up and down, on the other hand, demanded sweat, raw grit, and a little bit of insanity.
At this point in the class, I thought we were somewhere on the road to finishing up. We had done the warm up, some crazy agility moves and sprints, and a whole series of exercises with the equipment. Sounds like a well-rounded workout to me.
Except we weren’t finished. Not even close.
We lined up for another series of suicide sprints. This time, to make things interesting, instead of normal running we were instructed to gallop. My ears perked up. Prancercise?! I wish. Galloping required that we get on the ground on all fours. Imagine a frog jump with forward momentum. Feet to hands in an all out sprint. I kid you not. I still have the turf burn on my hands to prove it. The team was exhausted. Bodies were strewn about on the floor between sets. Another guy ran for the bathroom. We were all cooked.
After one final set of team agility drills (honestly, at this point you could yell in my face all day long, I’m not doing those high knees any faster buddy), we reached the merciful end. High fives all around. My heart was racing and the world moved in slow motion. We huddled for another team chant. I think noise came out of my mouth. And just like that, it was time to wobble home.
The instructor assured me that the class was one of their “easy days” and welcomed be back for a real tush kicking in the Total Body class. Sure thing, guys, just as soon as I recover and work up the gumption to head back into the rumble arena.
Evann and I popped by the bright and happy Liquiteria downstairs for a post-workout treat. It felt like another world. One blissfully without bungee straps or astro turf. I opted for the Mean Green and carefully sipped the pineapple-goodness through a straw held by still-shaking hands. I was a sweaty, tired mess.
Hardest. Fit crash. Ever.
Tell me: what’s the hardest crash you’ve ever done in New York City?
Tone House provided this class free of charge in exchange for my honest review – all opinions in this post come directly from my very sweaty personal experience. Thanks for reading!