Walking into Mansion Fitness, a private boutique gym located in the heart of West Hollywood, with its flocked black wallpaper, mock fireplace, and Swarovski crystal chandeliers (to “ensure you always look your best” when you catch your refection in the profusion of Louis XIV-style mirrors), it would be easy to conclude that The Phoenix Effect is just about putting the camp in boot camp.
But first impressions can be deceptive. The group workout studio where the class takes place (no membership required) is a lot more gritty, with thick rubber aerobic flooring, an Astroturf track, and a profusion of dumbbells, kettlebells, weighted body bars, heavy boxing bags, Bosu balls, and TRX straps—and a more accurate indication of what’s in store.
The 60-minute circuit training class is led by Beth Bishop, the gym’s co-owner, master trainer, and a United States Weightlifting Level 1 Olympic Lifting Coach, who’s completed 11 marathons and an Ironman triathlon. Oh, and she was also a Fulbright scholar.
Class with Bishop started with some stretches using a body bar while she explained each station (eight to ten depending on the size of the class).
We paired up and spent the next 45 minutes doing a series of HIIT exercises that included underhand bodyweight rows, TRX flying squirrels, kettlebell high pulls, box step-ups, and sandbag flips for two-minute intervals, completing two full circuits, with only 15 seconds rest between each. Around halfway through the second circuit, with sweat pouring down my face, I began to appreciate the value of the studio’s ambient lighting.
While I initially hated the idea of the buddy system (I’m not a fan of getting touchy-feely with sweaty strangers), working out in pairs proved to be great motivation as it brought out my competitive streak. And Bishop was generous with corrections and high-fives.
The dance remix soundtrack (peppered liberally with Britney) kept the class energy levels up and elicited a few impromptu dance moves and singalongs from participants—about 70 percent male (and mostly couples). Class finished with a series of planks and a group photo of the collective Phoenices for posterity. —Rachel Marlowe
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a fun, challenging, HIIT metabolic conditioning class with just a bit of camp to boot.
The Phoenix Effect, $24, 7914 Santa Monica Blvd., WeHo, www.phoenixeffectbootcamp.com