Ready to scale your own workout wall?

Fitwall, which uses "walls" that look like tricked-out ladders for a killer workout, is quickly climbing the fitness scene cool-o-meter.
Fitwall is the latest boutique workout concept that will have you climbing the fitness ladder. (Photo: Fitwall)


You’ll hit a wall right away at this innovative new workout studio—but this one will kickstart your workout, not end it.

Fitwall, a 40-minute workout concept using “walls” that look like tricked-out ladders, opened its first studio in San Diego in June 2013 and is quickly garnering a lot of buzz on the national fitness scene. It’s already expanded to two locations, and the company has big plans.

The team is “currently negotiating leases” in the Bay Area and Orange County, CA, and scouting spaces in Los Angeles. This will be “followed by a 2015 expansion into New York City, DC, Chicago, and the Twin Cities,” says Cliff Harski, Fitwall’s director of training and national head coach. So you could be climbing the fitness ladder this time next year.

Fitwall was created by an engineer and martial artist-rock climber, who spent 7 years on its design, and the brand brought on exercise physiologists to perfect the workout’s effectiveness and efficiency. (Photo: Fitwall)

The concept

Fitwall’s slats do not move. (We’d originally pictured a Jacob’s Ladder scenario.) But that doesn’t make it any easier.

The 40-minute classes combine heart-rate-spiking “sprints” and variations of 14 resistance training exercises it calls “fundamentals,” like pull-ups, squats, and leg extensions.

“Our programs primarily use body-weight movements in an interval training template,” Harski explains. “Each workout improves cardio, strength, and flexibility.” (And we really noticed the muscle required for this.)

The workout experience

In addition to Fitwall’s “steps,” each one also has a pull-up bar and resistance bands with handles. Part of class time is spent on the Fitwall, doing moves like squats in which your knees splay out to the sides or calf raises with your body hanging off the wall in a chair position.

No matter what you’re doing on the wall, your entire body is working, since you’re holding yourself up with a whole host of coordinated muscle groups. It’s not a piece of cake.

The cardio-heavy “sprint” sections may be on or off the wall. Think speed skaters and jump squats on the floor, for instance, or running your feet up and down a step as quickly as possible on the wall.

High-tech details and data

You’ll also notice that tech amenities abound at Fitwall. Everyone wears a heart rate monitor and each wall is equipped with an iPad, where you (and the instructor) can keep an eye on your heart rate and watch videos of the movements you should be doing.

Even the playlists are perfectly synced to the class, with the music getting faster and (much) louder during sprints. It makes it fun and motivating and helps you keep climbing when you’re breathless and your hands feel like they can’t possibly hold on any longer. Which is to say, you won’t have to worry about hitting your metaphorical wall, at all. —Lisa Elaine Held

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