When it comes to fitness, I’ve been a seasoned long-distance runner and weekend warrior for the better part of a decade. I’ve logged the miles, sprinted my way through speed workouts and slogged through the sweltering heat and bone-chilling temperatures. I had heard how much of a monster Fly Feet Running’s classes were, but I was still confident I’d be the one calling the shots. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When the doors opened up for the beginning of the 60-minute workout, we were greeted by one of the coaches holding a box of chalk and sporting a friendly smile and hello. We were asked to each take a piece as we stepped into the room because this little powdered stick would act as our guide and pseudo-sponsor to keep everyone individually on track and accountable throughout the workout.
Photos courtesy of Fly Feet Running
Inside the dimly-lit room sat 20 treadmills side-by-side and nose-to-nose with a wall-length mirror under a thin strip of green lights, and in the corners sat mounds of dumbbells with booming speakers looming overhead. Behind the treadmills, a space for floor exercises separated them from another wall-length mirror with yellow TRX straps coiled around 20 pull-up bars like snakes set above it, giving the room a very jungle-esque feel.
Once everyone had entered, Aaron, the head “coach” tasked us with finding a treadmill and writing our names on the rubbery floor next to it. This little plot of floor space would be our personal central command for the hour. Next to our name was the spot where we would be writing down the amount of repetitions for each exercise we were able to muster.
As soon as I finished etching my name on the floor next to my treadmill, we quickly began the dynamic warm-up and education portion of the class. While slowly jogging on our machines, Aaron and the two other coaches, Heidi and Laura, made their rounds asking every participant for any injuries or specific needs they had so they could effectively tailor the class for them on an individual level.
When check-in wrapped up, we were instructed to carefully back off our treadmills and face the opposite wall. It was time to learn the proper techniques for pull-ups (modified or true), wall sits, dumbbell squats, burpees, and hollow holds, which we would perform between runs on the treadmill. The three coaches did a great job at buzzing around and correcting the forms of people who were just a tick off.
With the moves learned and our muscles warm, it was time to begin. We hopped back onto our treadmills and Aaron’s voice cut over the fast-paced music blasting from the speakers, “OK, I need you to raise your treadmill to a 10 percent incline, and then find a pace that you can sustain for only a minute. Don’t worry about anyone else. Just focus on you and what you can do for only a minute.”
I dialed in a pace that was challenging and gutted out the intense 60 seconds. The effects of the incline had gotten to me, but Aaron’s encouragement of, “come on, Kyle, keep that pace,” were enough to motivate me. Luckily, we had 90 seconds of rest after that minute before we dove headfirst into three rounds of circuit exercises with the movements we had just learned.
After the heavenly 90 seconds of respite, we executed as many pull-ups as our upper body could handle. I started strong, muscling out a quick 10, but soon had to resort to modified ones for the final seconds. As soon as the 60 seconds were up, I hopped down from my bar, grabbed my trusty chalk and marked down my number before we quickly transitioned to another 60 seconds of dumbbell squats, and then burpees.
Out of breath, I slogged my way to the floor and did my best to explode back up, but I was running on fumes. One of the few things that kept me going was knowing we had another 90 seconds of rest on deck as soon as the next minute was up.
“Rest,” Aaron yelled. We had only finished the first round, and already the workout had me on the ropes.
The second and third rounds had the same design, but the exercises after the treadmill had changed to a flurry of wall sits and hollow holds.
The last portion of the class was the much-needed cool down. We walked for a few minutes on the treadmill before giving our legs some TLC on foam rollers while Aaron recapped the class and spoke to the importance of active recovery after a high-intensity workout.
While the class didn’t have as much running as I had hoped, one of the class participants assured that each one is completely different. “The first class I took was almost all running on the treadmill, and in the second class there was a lot more hill work.” The differentiation of classes is one of the ways Fly Feet keeps their member’s muscles on their toes.
I walked out the door nursing a bruised ego and licking my imaginary wounds. The beast of Fly Feet Running didn’t just serve me a slice of its humble pie, it gave me the entire bakery. I was promised I’d be pushed to my edge, but I didn’t just find it, I swan dove off it. But don’t let that scare you away. The intensity of the workout is completely dependent upon you. If want to push yourself, great, but if you want to take it easier, you can do that, too. Fly Feet Running wants to meet you where you’re at on your fitness journey, and welcomes all shapes, sizes and abilities. I can’t wait for round two, and (hopefully) revenge.