Clients pumping iron at the 1612 U St. NW space.

SweatBox Brings A Nightclub Feel to Fitness

sweatboxDon’t call SweatBox just another trendy cycling studio. While small and compact, the boutique fitness concept is packed with equipment–think suspension straps, weights, and, of course, bikes–to burn calories fast.

The dark and rectangular-shaped space, wedged next to its owner VIDA Fitness on U Street, comes alive with energy-inducing music and colorful LED lighting once the 50-minute class takes off and pedals start pushing. With a futuristic and fun vibe, you’d swear you’re sweating at Flash a few blocks away on U Street. But look straight ahead and you’ll lock eyes with someone also on a bike, not a dance floor.

At a recent class hosted by “Bitches Who Brunch,” the instructor Alexx Griffin doubled as DJ, spinning tracks while shouting spinning commands. His picks, pumping out of concert-worthy speakers, included a Lady Gaga remix of “On the Edge” and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake”. The room illuminates a different color based on the class’s cohesive cycling speed. Push it to the max and all you’ll see is red.

Co-founder Isiah Munoz says VIDA decided to adopt a HIIT studio into its fitness family because the D.C. area is lacking such concepts. I’ll admit the multi-format class was foreign to me, and I had to Google what HIIT even stands for (it’s High Intensity Interval Training). But I was sold right away on SweatBox; I sweated up a storm (the name walked the talk), got to really work a range of muscle groups, and left the class feeling euphoric and not even sore. Well, not until the next day at least.

“We wanted our classes to stem from science proven techniques that we know will yield results–there is no guess work here,” says Munoz, who teaches seven classes a week. Classes are tailored differently for each client, since SweatBox utilizes the person’s individual heart rate and Beats Per Minute (BPM) targets. That means it’s “technically” personal training–even with 20 others in a class. Two tools used to quantify efforts and track performance metrics are the Myzone heart rate monitors and Matrix IC7 Coach color bikes. No other studio in the D.C. area carries them, claims Munoz. (I liken access to this exclusive workout equipment to hearing a hot EDM track before anyone else.)

The bikes are unique because users can enter their specific “power number” at the start of each bike segment. This “power number” is what sets the color training zones that instructors uses to coach clients through the challenging bike segments of the workout (which are three to six minutes long). The first class, which is free, includes a fitness assessment to identify your “power number”.

Then there are the XT Trainer suspension straps, dangling from the ceiling with the potential to produce a full-body workout. That’s because they use a percentage of a person’s body weight as resistance during various strength training exercises: bicep curls, chest press, back rows, lunges, etc.

“One of the best benefits of these straps is they can challenge a seasoned fitness enthusiast and they accommodate someone who is just starting on their fitness journey,” he says. Dumbbells are used for various exercise; pick your poison, ranging from 7.5 lbs. to 50 lbs.

Alexx’s “Full Throttle” class combined all components (including pairing off and planking while a partner slams down a heavy sandbag, then vice versa). The “Triple A” focuses on ass, abs, and arms, and there’s also “Push & Pull”; each costs $34.

More D.C. residents will soon get a chance to sweat in a box; Munoz says plans are in the works for a second SweatBox.

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