Crash Course: Exceed Physical Culture offers a signature group fitness class involving a full body, high intensity strength and cardio workout. Each class uses a combination of tools such as TRX, kettlebells, medicine balls, bosu balls, jump ropes, rowing machines, tabata, HIIT, and bodyweight training. Exceed promises that no two 50-minute classes are ever the same and can be modified to fit any and all fitness levels. Click here for a full schedule of upcoming class times.
[line] [left]where: 1477 3rd Avenue | Upper East Side
perks: showers, towels, stocked locker rooms, personal training space
sweat score: 7 out of 10
[/left][right]wear: regular gym clothes
cost: drop-in $32 [/right][line]
Exceed Physical Culture is a functional training gym that hosts both small group fitness classes and personal training in Tribeca and on the Upper East Side. In addition to their signature class, both locations also offer sessions focusing on strength, rowing, yoga, kettlebell, and cardio boxing. Basically, if you’re into functional movement of every shape and size, they’ve got you covered.
My blogging buddy Meaghan is currently an ambassador for Exceed Tribeca and I’ve been following along with all of the intense workouts she goes to each week. No two are the same and from the looks of her photos, everyone is a wiped-out sweaty mess at the end. So when Exceed reached out with an invitation to come join the fun, I said yes knowing that I was probably getting myself into one heck of a hard-core workout.
I arrived at the Upper East Side location on a freezing cold Sunday evening, eager to get out of the wind and start sweating. These winter months are sometimes so demotivating – particularly when you have to walk quite a ways to get to the gym. But I always try to remind myself of the fact that it’s worth the arctic trek, because once you arrive you’re guaranteed to warm up in a jiffy. We’ll see how this reasoning stands in January, but I’m sticking to it for now!
I signed the standard waivers (can someone please invent a universal waiver so we don’t have to keep signing our lives away at each new workout location?) and headed downstairs to the locker room to stash my coat and bag. The space was bright and a little tight on space, but having access to showers wins major points in my book. They were clean and well-stocked with everything you would need to get ready.
Just outside of the locker rooms is a large area dedicated to personal training. Now this is my kind of playground. I was really impressed with the different types equipment stacked inside – they had all of the functional training favorites including a sled, battle ropes, TRX, and boxing equipment. I could seriously spend all day playing around down here and be perfectly content. I guess that’s a sign of a serious fitness nerd, but c’mon, look at this place! It’s a veritable cornucopia of functional fun!
Tonight’s class was held upstairs in the group training space, a small glassed-off area toward the back of the gym. I thought it was interesting that most of the real estate on both floors was dedicated to personal training, not group classes. I’ll have to check out the Tribeca location to see if it’s the same case down there. The space we were in didn’t seem too small, but it was definitely tight at times. Particularly when we got to swinging ropes and kettle bells.
As predicted, Michael kicked-off class and had us warmed up in no time. We started with some traditional functional movements like squats and a few stretches to get us ready for the workout ahead. I looked around and noticed the room held a serious mix of ages and genders – something you don’t always see at some studios. I’d say the ratio of guys to girls was fairly even and there were students in their 20s all the way to their 50s or even higher. I loved being in a group that diverse.
The first section of the workout included a ladder drill building periods of activity on periods of rest. We began with 30 seconds of burpees, 10 seconds of rest. The second round involved 30 seconds of burpees right into 30 seconds of slow mountain climbers, and then 10 seconds of rest. The third: burpees, mountain climbers, kettlebell swings, rest. And so on until we reached a peak of 7 minutes of continuous movement.
This was challenging (to say the least) but Michael did a great job spacing out the really hard activities (ahem, burpees) with slower, more methodical ones so our heart rate had a chance to stabilize a bit. I was breathing heavily and had started to work up a sweat, but I wouldn’t say I was totally wiped out. Of course, as with any workout, the harder you physically push yourself the more challenging it will be.
We moved on to a segment focused on core strength and stability. Using a big squishy medicine ball, we worked through a circuit of plank exercises that played around with our center of gravity. Three legged planks, planks with a leg out to the side, planks while rolling the ball underneath us, planks rolling the ball in front of us with one hand. You get the picture. This required quite a bit of focus, but was definitely the portion of the class where I was able to catch my breath. Phew.
Michael capped things off with alternating intervals between the rowing machine and a weighted jumprope. This was definitely designed to be the final burn – and it was. Rowing machines require so much effort, and then to hop off and convince your arms and legs to make it through a minute of weighted jump rope…let’s just say I found myself closing my eyes and singing along to the amazing 90s playlist bumping though the sound system. There’s nothing like a good dose of nostalgia hosted by my friends Blackstreet and the Backstreet Boys to help you dig deep and carry you to the finish line. The world could use more 90s playlists. Thank you Michael for making it happen.
A note about Michael’s teaching style: he was motivating and helpful, but not overpoweringly so. He demonstrated each of the moves before we did them but there wasn’t a lot of time dedicated to teaching form or function. It seemed most of the people in the class were able to master whatever he threw at us, but I wonder if someone who had never swung a kettlebell before would feel a bit lost.
Fit crasher tip: make sure to always raise a hand or approach an instructor to let them know if you have questions about how to do an exercise. It’s better to get it right than to risk injury!
Overall the class was a great mix of cardio, strength, and stability. Was it super-duper hard? Not this time. Was it a solid full body workout that left me feeling accomplished? Yes, definitely. But, aside from the fun playlist, I think the class could benefit from an infusion of more personality to help up the ante and energy level. I didn’t leave feeling like I had an Exceed “experience” – just a really good workout. Maybe I’m jaded from so many studios having bigger than life personalities. But remember: I’ve only been this one time (on a Sunday evening) so this might be my own fluky experience. If you’ve been to a class, I’d love to hear about yours.
I bundled up and braved the wind for my walk home – but not before darting across the street for some post workout greens at Juice Generation. The block across from Exceed has both a Juice Generation and a Juice Press store (seriously, only in New York), so no matter what kind of juice, smoothie, or healthy snack you’re in the mood for, I’m sure you can find it. Although I think my decision to get a smoothie for the frigid walk home was not the smartest. Delicious, yes. But my fingers froze into a death grip on the cup by the time I reached my apartment and I had to run them under warm water just to get the feeling back. Oops. Should probably try gloves or a smoothie koozie next time. If that doesn’t exist yet, it should.