Climbing ropes? Check. Traverse wall? Check. Spears, targets, and hay bales? Check.
While it sounds like the set-up list for an obstacle race, it’s actually a list of things you’ll find on one Midtown rooftop, just blocks from Bryant Park, where Epic Hybrid Training just opened its new location.
The small fitness studio opened quietly on the Upper East Side two years ago, and founder Alex Nicholas, a Spartan Sponsored Athlete, infused his passion for the obstacle race into the business model. When classes were packed with long waitlists, he decided he needed more space, and the second studio, conveniently equipped with rooftop access, had its grand opening on August 1.
“We’re trying to find an alternative for people that want to work hard and play hard, something a little bit different from CrossFit where you’re not doing super heavy lifts for, in my opinion, no real reason,” he says. “You get your heart rate up, you’re working your ass off.”
Like, really working your ass off. Epic’s classes have a different focus each day of the week (i.e. upper half, core, etc.) and the workouts in each class change each month. No matter which class you take, you’ll be tackling seriously challenging movements and working at maximum intensity.
I took SGX: Spartan, the class specifically designed to prep attendees for participation in the race, and it was the toughest class I’ve experienced in a long time. Working in teams, we did circuits involving farmer’s walks (I carried 80 pounds!), ring traverses (or knee tucks), kettlebell swings, jump squats with a 25-pound sand bag on our backs, and more. (Alas, heading to the roof for spear throwing into hay bales was not on the menu that day.)
Here’s the catch: After each circuit, you have to shoot a ball into a bucket. If you miss, that’s 10 burpees. Let’s just say I’ve never done so many burpees in my life. (They also have an all burpee class on the schedule.)
It was enough to leave me feeling slightly shaky afterward and is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it was a lot of fun, and you really could feel a sense of community in the room. “We all work as a team,” Nicholas says—and not just metaphorically. At a recent Spartan Race, Epic’s team competed with 75 members.
And don’t worry: even if you’re not interested in competing in the mud, you’ll feel like you’ve crossed a finish line after class. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit www.epichybridtraining.com