Crash Course: Re-live the fun and games of recess with Throwback Fitness, a unique workout designed around your favorite school yard pastimes. This small group class focuses on camaraderie, teamwork, and good old-fashioned competitive spirit to power through 45 minutes of high intensity training. Expect to play dodgeball and do burpees at the same time. Or maybe a relay race on the erg while your teammates jump rope or shoot hoops. Whatever the workout du jour, you can bet it will be enormously entertaining and a fitness experience like none other you’ve had in the city. For more information about class times, check out Throwback’s schedule.[left]where: 303 Fifth Avenue, Suite 207
bring: water bottle
sweat score: 8 out of 10[/left][right]wear: sweatbands and umbros
cost: first class $19 | drop-in $32 [/right][line]
“What’s your favorite animated television show?”
Standing in a circle with my classmates at Throwback Fitness earlier this week, I wracked my brain for something from my childhood that would be fun to share. There were so many choices, each of them nerdier than the next: Pinky and the Brain, Doug, Rugrats, Magic School Bus. When it came time for me to introduce myself with an answer, I blurted out the coolest cartoon that came to mind: “The Ninja Turtles.”
A total lie. But I was feeling some serious cartoon peer pressure and wanted to be sure the other kids knew that I took my Captain Planet with a side of street savvy, pizza wielding reptiles.
And thus began my experience at Throwback, the fitness studio where your childhood days on the playground come back with a vengeance, shake you out of your business casual, and demand you do ten more burpees.
When you walk into the space, you’ll realize that it’s set up to facilitate two things. The first being a nostalgic trip down memory lane. There are Karate Kid and Top Gun posters lovingly enshrined on the wall, nurf balls and super soakers waiting to be used in the corner, and a playlist dedicated entirely to early 90s hits cooing in the background. Even Ryan the instructor is wearing a uniform reminiscent of gym class days: polyester gym teacher shorts, sweat band, and a whistle.
The second thing the gym is set up to do is deliver a legitimately tough, full-body workout. If you used your recess time to play patty cake, fold paper fortune tellers, or knot friendship bracelets, this isn’t the throwback you’re thinking of. An entire row of ergs lies in wait in the back. Free weights, medicine balls, battle ropes, chains, and jump ropes hang out in the front. And between the two is an enormous room just begging for a round of capture the flag.
Every workout is divided into four periods: warmup, phys-ed, recess, and stretching. Everything is done together as a group or as a team competition. The coaching staff usually consists of both Ryan and his polyester-clad partner in crime Brian, who orchestrate and lead the workout in classic gym teacher style. There’s a lot of cheering, encouragement, demonstrations of good form and technique, and of course, a heaping dose of friendly competitive spirit.
This evening’s line up was a doozy. For warmup, we played hot medicine ball. Think hot potato meets musical chairs. If you’re caught with the medicine ball when the music stops, your punishment includes 200 meters on the rowing machine.
Up next: the portion of class called “phys-ed.” Now, I don’t know about you, but my days of grade-school phys-ed were not ones I would like to re-live. Terrible shuttle runs. Embarrassing pull up competitions. And the endless, endless squat thrusts. Luckily, none of those were on the agenda this evening, but this was definitely the period of class where the focus was on working hard. Really hard. We partnered up into teams of two, switching off continuously between the rowing machine and a series of weighted exercises for a period of 16 minutes. The team who rowed the furthest during the allotted time was the winner.
My partner was fellow NYC fitness blogger Evann Clingan (hi there Evann!), who gave me the sage advice of not going too hard on the rowing machine at the beginning. This isn’t her first Throwback rodeo. “Sixteen minutes is a long time.”
Sixteen minutes is a long time, and I was slowly losing steam. Ryan was always just a step away, cheering everyone on while keeping the group abreast of the rankings. This was a competition, after all! And if you’re motivated by a bit of friendly rivalry, nothing sparks a fire under your stationary rower than being told you’re just 60 meters behind the first-placed team. Go, go, go!
The buzzer marked the end of phys-ed and I found myself lying down on the floor, staring at a Wayne’s World poster on the ceiling, listening to Bone Thugs ‘n Harmony. Despite being physically exhausted (and not winning the competition), I was happy. How could you not be? That was ridiculously fun. Little did I know, however, that the real fun was up next. Time for recess!
The group split into two for a friendly game of dodgeball. Ironically enough, the nurf balls we used were Ninja Turtle characters. That’s right. I was about to be pelted with a bunch of Ninja Turtles. What poetic justice. That’s what I get from telling a little white cartoon lie.
In order to earn an opportunity to throw a ball at the opposing team, we had to cycle through ten pushups, ten sit ups, and ten air squats. If you got hit by a ball, you had to do five burpees to get back into the game. If you caught a ball, the thrower had to do five. You get the picture. I lost track of time (and the number of burpees I had to do) because, truth be told, I was having a grand old time. Dodgeball and recess are fantastic endeavors and should be incorporated into adult life more often. Thank you, Throwback, for making it happen.
The workout ended and we huddled around for the cool down. I remember this portion vividly because I was signing along to K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life” while doing quad stretches. Those 90s hits, man. Classics.
Evann and I grabbed our gym bags, guzzled some water, and headed out into the New York City evening on a high from the hilarious trip down memory lane. The studio is located right next to the Empire State Building, which makes for some impressive scenery on your walk home. Looking at this photo now I realize it was lit up with green lights. One last karmic tribute to the Ninja Turtles. Well played, New York. Well played.
A special shout-out to the kind folks at ClassPass for providing me with a free month so I can get a head start on my long list of NYC fit crashes – thank you!