Crash Course: The pilates tabata class at Fuel in Georgetown is a 45 minute zinger full of unexpected surprises and moves that will make you quake and shake. The class begins with a pilates warm up, then moves on to a series of four minute tabata intervals alternating between cardio and pilates exercises. Everything from burpees to teasers are fair game, so be prepared for anything. Check out Fuel’s schedule for class times and dates.
where: 3214 O Street NW // Georgetown
bring: water, sticky socks
perks: small class size
sweat score: 7 out of 10
wear: whatever you like, recommend socks
instructor: Robin Zahrt
cost: $22 drop-in
Fuel Pilates is a beautiful boutique studio tucked away on the quiet cobblestones of O Street in the heart of Georgetown. Owner Kelly Griffith also runs the trendy Xtend Barre studio in Shaw that offers the sweatiest cardio barre class I’ve ever taken. With that in mind, I was excited to come by and try her newest class concept at the original Fuel location: Pilates Tabata.
For better or worse, I know the streets and shops of Georgetown like the back of my hand.Great for giving directions to tourists, terrible for my wallet. But I had never noticed Fuel sitting quietly across from Wingos and next to late night favorites Kitchen No. 1 and Smith Point. Its lovely row house exterior blends into the neighborhood so well that it had escaped my detection for years – until now!
I arrived a few moments before class and checked in at the front desk, signing the appropriate waivers that promised I won’t die (or at least try my best not to) during class. I smooshed my backpack, shoes, purse, and coat into a cubby and proceeded through the sea of pilates equipment on the first floor to the staircase in the back of the studio.
The downstairs studio encompasses the entire lower level, with wall to wall mirrors and gleaming wood floors. There is a small bathroom in the corner in case you need it, and all of the equipment you’ll use in class is neatly displayed along the back wall. When I arrived, our mats, rubber balls, and bands were already set up and ready to go.
All of the spots in the back were already taken, so I tiptoed my way to the front left corner to set up shop. I sat down on my mat, rearranged the equipment a few times, and looked around at the other students. All women under the age of 35, some possibly Georgetown students, others definitely coming to class straight from the office like me. I noticed I was the only one not wearing sticky socks. I don’t remember seeing socks suggested anywhere on the Fuel website, and while I was told they aren’t essential or mandatory, I highly suggest bringing a pair. It’s always good to have options.
Class began with a light warm up of cat + cow stretches, gentle full body movements, and a pilates hundred. Then Robin demonstrated each of the exercises we would do during the tabata sets. I wish I had written each of the sets down, but I remember we did the following: burpees, lunges, jumping jacks, v-ups, planks/side planks, resistance band arm lifts/curls, and abs. There may be a few I missed, but you get the picture. It was a good mix of cardio and classic pilates.
We started with a burpee tabata, which I think threw everyone off a bit. Wait, wasn’t this pilates class? I didn’t sign up for boot camp! To be honest, while unexpected, the spurts of cardio intermixed with the less intense moves were the key to a well rounded, quick, sweaty workout. Once I figured out the method behind the madness, I was on board.
One thing that really perplexed me, however, was the music choice. This was supposed to be a 45-minute sweat fest full of strengthening, toning, full-body tabatas. We were doing jumping jacks and burpees, for goodness sakes! So why, then, was Norah Jones crooning calmly in the background? It set a strange mood and made me feel like I should be doing yoga instead of pulsing in a lunge. I now have a renewed appreciation for the power of a well thought-out playlist, because poor Norah made me want to curl up on my mat and take a nap.
Aside from the music issue (which was fixed during the last part of class, thankfully) Robin was a really wonderful instructor. She took the time to demonstrate each of the exercises and provided lots of variations for folks who wanted an extra challenge or a modification. She paced around the room with a tabata smartphone app and helped us keep time. I think there could have been slightly stronger cues for the tabata (there were a few instances where we were still burpee-ing after the round had ended), but understand that it’s a new class and instructors are still breaking it in.
Things I loved:
- Quick + effective
- Fun new concept I haven’t seen anywhere else
- I was sore the next day in all the right places
- Cute boutique studio around great shopping and restaurants
Things I would change:
- The music makes all the difference – pump up the jams!
- Opening a door or window downstairs would make a huge difference when things get sweaty
Thank you to Fuel for inviting me to come crash their new class. If you’ve crashed tabata pilates or any other Fuel class, leave a comment and let me know what you thought!