Class Action: Fitwalker at Superstar Gym

A workout on a human-powered treadmill is harder than it sounds.
(Photo: Superstar Gym)
(Photo: Superstar Gym)

Superstar Gym in Tribeca marches to the beat of its very own drum. Its logo, an homage to Ferrari sportscars, dots the walls. Weight machines are upholstered in sumptuous Italian leather. And a cluster of ten Fitwalkers, used here and nowhere else in Manhattan, add to the “not-quite-sure-where-you-are” feeling.

The Fitwalker, engineered by Joe DiAngelo, who runs the gym with Alejandro Ferrari, is a human-powered version of the treadmill. It features a steep incline and room for a wider range of movements. The angle and tension can be adjusted, but it’s powered by two large flywheels and the force of your steps (although you do a lot more than just stepping). The workout launched exclusively in the United States to Superstar Gym in July 2013, and it’s already popular in French, Spanish, Norwegian, and Italian gyms, says DiAngelo.

For the workout, which is offered six times per week at $30 per class, trainer Christian Castano started my class with a cardio segment, shuffling up, back, on, and off the Fitwalker to the beat—which gets you sweaty in no time. The legs segment included lunges off the side of the treadmill, followed by another cardio segment, and pushups and planks using the treadmill. It’s set to the tune of high-energy thump-thump techno. “Fitwalker is a total body workout,” DiAngelo says. “While there is a cardio element, it also works the arms, legs, glutes and core.”

While we definitely got a good workout (you’re moving yourself and the machine the whole time), we couldn’t help but focus on not falling off it the whole time as well. As to safety precautions, DiAngelo says, “the instructor is always watching the class and adjusting participants when necessary.” (Not that that keeps you from worrying.)

And as you can guess, we got more than a few double takes from pedestrians passing by while on our Fitwalkers. Kind of what being a superstar must feel like? —Jamie McKillop

Who’s it for: Thrill seekers, treadmill devotees looking to change it up, European fitness expats.

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