My friend, Carly, is a member at Hotbox Fitness and is constantly raving about their group strength classes. While I’d always been intrigued by their heated kickboxing classes, I had no idea they even offered strength classes. They also offer yoga classes and access to an open gym for members. I’m not much of a kick-boxer, so it wasn’t on the top of my list, but when she invited me to their‘Ass + Abs’ class, I couldn’t say no.

When you walk in, the first thing you notice is that everyone knows each other. The second thing? That this is a ‘no frills’ gym, and they mean business. After getting situated and heading upstairs to where the strength classes take place, I met the instructor, James, and was ready to get started. The normal strength circuit consists of 2 rounds x 4 stations x 4 minutes each. On Wednesday, there were only 3 stations:

  • incline sprints + kettlebell windmills
  • barbell deadlifts (completed twice)
  • goblet squats and TRX hanging leg raises (OW!)

Hearing the breakdown, I didn’t feel too nervous. It sounded easy enough…until it wasn’t. Each station was 10 minutes long. For the first and third station, we switched back and forth between the two exercises every minute so the sprinting, squats and ab work went by quickly. For the second and fourth station, the goal was to complete 3 heavy, controlled deadlift reps with long recoveries in between.

I wouldn’t call myself a beginner when it comes to strength training. I have a good idea of proper form and rarely find myself totally lost in a class. When we got to the second station, there were three barbells. Carly, who is about half my size (and apparently a total bad ass), went to the middle bar, so I did too. I had no idea how heavy it would be. When I got it off the ground, I knew it didn’t feel like it should. After a few corrections to my form and a few more tries, James suggested moving to the lighter bar… Within seconds, so many negative thoughts filled my head. ‘I’m in shape…I write about working out…I’m supposed to be able to do this… I. look. like. an. idiot.’ Note to self (and everyone): You gotta shut that ISH down. I was mortified, and to be honest, wanted to sneak off to the bathroom and never come back.

After recovering from embarrassment, giving myself a little pep talk, and taking his advice, I finished the round using lighter weight. I definitely got in a better (and safer) workout. Attention to form by instructors is so important, but I feel like it can fall to the wayside in a busy class. I was thankful that James was paying enough attention to me, and even the veterans in the class, to make these essential corrections.

Like most people who are passionate about fitness, I thrive on pushing myself. Running faster, lifting heavier, but it’s important to listen to your trainer and your body even if that means your pride takes a hit. Better than your bod. It’s easy to forget that we all start out feeling that way when we first dive into the world of fitness. Fitness is not about getting so good that you forget that feeling, it’s about pursuing that challenge and discomfort so you continue to grow. This class was a great reminder of that.

Your first class is free, and you can sign up for a membership/ buy a package for access to strength classes, open gym, and heated B classes. If you’re looking for a tight-knit community that will totally challenge your idea of a difficult workout, I recommend Hotbox…just be sure to leave your pride at the door.

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