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Rise Nation: Pledge allegiance to the first VersaClimber studio


(Photo: Rise Nation)
Social climber: Rise Nation is the first boutique fitness studio to base a workout on VersaClimbers. The ceiling is an art installation, conceived by founder Jason Walsh and designer Lucas Werthein. (Photo: Rise Nation)

If you’re a regular hiker or stair runner, you know the toning power of a long ascent on your behind. With Rise Nation, founder-celeb trainer Jason Walsh is capitalizing on this type of training, debuting Los Angeles’ first-of-its kind boutique studio that uses fitness-climbing machines called VersaClimbers.

Rise Nation opened in January (at La Cienega and Melrose, in the same West Hollywood wellness complex as Cycle House and a soon-to-open location of superfood café Beaming). Like spin, it takes a machine meant to simulate outdoor activities, in this case climbing and hiking, to new heights.

“I wanted to bring something that I thought was amazing, something I use, something based around proper movement, and something new to the boutique cardio industry,” says Walsh, who’s gotten celebs ready for movies using this machine. “We are the first in the Verticle sector.”

Classes are an intense 30-minute classes that fly by. The room is dark, the music is loud—it’s a tempo-based workout, so it helps if you can keep a beat—and you adjust the climber to a challenging resistance, during high-intensity intervals.

“We are working with intervals, so the metabolism revs up,” says Walsh, who has actually—not just virtually—summited Kilimanjaro. “The greatest thing about it is that your burn rate is increased for 24 hours after a class.”

A big part of the virtual climbing experience at Rise is the contralateral cross-crawl motions. This is an “innate movement that we use as a baby to crawl, progressing into walk, into run, into climb. We are supposed to move this way. We are reinforcing proper movement patterns,” says Walsh. “Sitting on a [fitness] machine is not good for us. We reinforce bad habits that usually lead to aches and pains.” (Though all the climbing might be tricky for those with formerly blown out knees like mine.)

Rise Nation fitness studio is filled with VersaClimbers
Rise Nation’s industrial-chic space has two floors, a check in and a second-floor studio packed with VersaClimbers, the Rise Nation torture chamber of choice. (Photo: Rise Nation)

The full-body workout encourages some friendly sweaty competition (which Walsh eggs on from his perch on a small, elevated stage at the front of the room) to see who can climb “the highest.” The champion in the class I took finished the half-hour having conquered 4,000 feet. (For context, the Chrysler Building is a little more than 1,000 feet.)

After class, you can do your post-summit stretches on an outdoor deck while sipping a Paleta recovery smoothie. “There is no momentum—you’re fighting gravity, and it has zero impact,” says Walsh of the benefits of fitness climbing.

“You go so damn hard you’re out of breath, then we slow down so you catch your breath, and then we go again. Right when you think you can’t do it anymore, it’s over.” Talk about rising to the occasion. —Sari Anne Tuschman

Rise Nation, $26, 613 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, Los Angeles, 90069, 424-343-0082, www.rise-nation.com