Swinging Kettlebells at Studio f3 in Dupont

studiof3-logo

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Crash Course: Studio f3 offers kettlebell classes from a small space tucked away in the basement of a Dupont Circle apartment building. This is a no frills spot with one mission: to deliver effective workouts in a fun, supportive environment. How effective? According to the American Council on Exercise, you’ll burn nearly twice the number of calories as during a normal weight lifting session. For those who have never done kettlebells, allow me to channel my inner DC wonk and put it this way. It is the Leviathan of workouts: nasty, brutish, and short. I was sweating within seconds, spent within minutes, and the entire thing was over before I could figure out why in the world I was swinging a cannonball between my legs. For more information about class times, check out the Studio f3 website.

[line] [left]where: 1727 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite C-10

bring: gloves or tape for hands, water bottle

perks: small group

sweat score: 8 out of 10 [/left][right]wear: anything comfortable

instructor: Glenn

cost: drop in rate is $18*[/right] [line]

studiof3-kettlebells

I have swung a kettlebell before. I can’t exactly peg where or when, but I have vague memories of working with these somewhere at some point during my life. That said, I had never taken a formal class, so an offer to test out Studo f3 was enough to get this crasher to leave work early, drive through downtown rush hour traffic, and park in a questionably legal spot behind a backhoe (true story).

studiof3-building

This is the building to look for if you’re headed to class. It’s on an extremely busy portion of Massachusetts Avenue, just south of Dupont Circle. I recommend metroing, walking, or bike-sharing if possible. If not, street parking opens up at 6:30 p.m., just in time to make you (and me) a few minutes late for class. Don’t worry, you won’t get the door shut in your face – things are very casual and f3 is apparently used to folks trickling in a few minutes late.

studiof3-intercom

To access the building, look for the card of instructions on the intercom machine. You’ll need to walk through the lobby to a set of art-deco elevators on the right. Press “B” for basement – the studio will be just to the right when you hit the ground floor.

studiof3-door

When I said the spot was no frills, I meant it. You’re not here to primp or be seen – you’re here to work out. The lobby is extremely sparse and there is no changing room. If you need to change when you get there, head to the studio’s one bathroom all the way in the back. It’s tight in there, even by fit crasher standards, but it’s doable.

studiof3-lobby

The workout space is very small, with an area to hold the kettle bells, a few white boards, and your standard Ikea expedite bookcase for storing bags and belongings. The class size is small, too. At the session I went to, we had a total of seven students. There’s no possible way you will get lost in the shuffle and the class is a very personalized experience from start to finish.

studiof3-class2

I attended a level 1.5 session, which means everyone in the room had a baseline understanding of kettlebell movements like the swing, press, and snatch. Glenn took the time to go through the workout at the beginning of class, demonstrating each move and answering questions. He carefully watched each of us throughout the entire workout, giving corrective advice to make sure we didn’t hurt ourselves. I appreciated that – considering how potentially dangerous pretending to be a human wrecking ball could be.

studiof3-workout-board

The “warm-up” left me out of breath, sweating, doubled over, and with a heart rate going through the roof. It didn’t seem like much, and to be honest, it probably didn’t look like much. But something about putting a weight on a handle makes is crazy hard to work with. The entire kettlebell section of the workout was maybe a total of 20 minutes. It really was over before I knew it, but I was okay with that. When we finished, I could hardly bring myself to lift the thing over to the storage rack – we’ll just say it was enough time to  develop an intense love-hate relationship. We ended with stretching and a few yoga moves.

studiof3-class

Who attends kettlebell class? To be honest, a huge variety of folks. Considering the workout consists of swinging, grunting, and heaving boulders with handles, I expected this class to attract a certain…how shall I say…type of male clientele. But boy, was I wrong. The background of the students was really all over the board, and that’s what made it so great. These classes are accessible, fun, and an all-around butt kicking for anyone at any level.

studiof3-hand

A piece of advice: you’ll want to bring lifting gloves or athletic tape. My hands were burning with callouses after the first few swings. OUCH.

studiof3-me

Things I liked:

– small group feel with personalized attention
– quick, effective, full-body workout that scorches calories
– more fun than standard weight lifting

Things I didn’t like: 

– i developed a bit of kettlebell add. despite the various moves you can do, I found it to be a bit monotonous; kettlebells would be great if thrown in with other exercises
the studio had no windows, the room got hot (and extra sweaty), and there was no dedicated changing room

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Would you rather lift weights or swing kettlebells?

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* Studio f3 generously waived my drop-in fee. This post is not an endorsement and all opinions are my own.

6 Comments

  1. Sara @ Magia e Pasta February 5, 2013 / 11:16 am

    I’ve been super curious about kettlebell workouts, ever since I tried them out a boot camp class at my gym. Thanks for the informative breakdown 🙂

    • DC Fit Crasher February 5, 2013 / 6:39 pm

      You bet! If you try out kettlebells somewhere else, let me know, I’d love to try it again!

  2. Dana February 5, 2013 / 5:40 pm

    Great blog, but it hasn’t updated on FeedBurner since your January 28th post! Any way to fix this? I like getting it via Google Reader. Thanks!

  3. jenster8dc February 6, 2013 / 10:32 am

    This is a great review! I’ve been a client at Studio F3 for just over a year now, and I’m a total addict and evangelist for the place. It’s by far the best workout I’ve ever done. I’m much stronger and leaner than I was a year ago, and for a woman who’s getting a bit long in the tooth, shall we say, that’s very important to me.

    I did want to let you and your readers know that the workouts at F3 aren’t always all kettlebells. The trainers throw in a lot of body weight stuff and floor work as well–things like mountain climbers, bear crawls, squats, and the dreaded burpees. You never know what you’re going to get when you walk into class, and I think that’s a big plus — keeps you on your toes! 🙂

    • DC Fit Crasher February 6, 2013 / 11:04 pm

      I’m so glad you posted this info because I didn’t know that workouts could include other exercises as well – I love it! Definitely ups the ante in my book. Keep up the great work!

  4. Antonio February 6, 2013 / 11:32 pm

    Hello there, thanks again for the great u review and we are so happy to hear you had a good time. As one of our clients mentioned, kettlebells are not the end-all of our workouts. We understand the importance of building a strong core, so we tailor a workout for core. Just to give you an example. I highly recommend to your avid readers to come by, and enjoy a class.

    As the head trainer of Studio f3, I am always coming up with new ways to make you stronger and have fun!

    Antonio from Studio f3

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