The gym area; Photo Courtesy of Elevate Interval Fitness

It is crazy to think it has been six months. What started as a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” feature piece in this newspaper has turned into part of my daily routine. When I first stepped into Elevate Interval Fitness in the new 301 M St., SW building, I did not know what I was signing up for. I had correctly assumed it would be high intensity interval training (HIIT), but besides the name I did not really know what that meant. What exactly were we elevating?

As I documented in the September 2018 story, knowing what is behind that window wrap at the corner of 3rd and M St., SW is almost the bigger hurdle than doing the class. So here is the insider look (or at least mine) of the space and process:

When you walk in the door you will be greeted with cheer by Laura at the reception desk. This small space is where most people drink water, stretch and chat with their workout friends before heading into the classes, which start at the top of the hour. Up the ramp from the waiting area are two individual bathrooms and two showers for people to change and shower before/after class, complete with free high-end gym lockers to store your gear.

Once changed, head back to the bullpen, grab a free gym towel and start stretching. A few minutes later, like the Nationals in summer, the coach will make a call to the bullpen and everyone enters the gym area. More times than not the previous class has slowly trickled past you muttering to themselves about their forthcoming soreness.

The gym space is not large, but it is well laid out. Going clockwise around the open space in the middle are: 5 airbikes, 10 water rowing machines, 10 Woodway treadmills, a wall of dumbbells and kettlebells, and finally TRX bands. If that list of gym accoutrements seems foreign, do not worry. The coaches ensure each new person gets a demonstration before the class starts. Personally, I recommend that if you do not know how to use something, mention it to the coach and they will ensure you do the movements correctly. I also recommend using lighter weights your first few classes (see my previous story if you do not believe me).

Now the class is set to begin. If there are more than 10 people for the class, one group will start on the cardio side (on the treadmills) and the other group will start on the strength side (on the floor). Each portion is about 25 minutes so you get to complete both sides. Some people prefer to do their strength training before running; I like to run and limber up before lifting weights. If the classes are 10 people or less the group will decide as a whole which side to start from.

Once class starts there is a limber up portion to each side. For the cardio side it is a light warmup jog. For the strength side, you are walked through a set of movements plus a “skill of the week” so your movements get better over time.

Once warmed up you will likely team up with another person and begin a partner workout. I am a big fan of partner workouts as they hold you accountable and you get to meet someone new. Usually there will be 3 to 5 “blocks” of workouts (sometimes as little as 3 minutes, others as much as 14 minutes). This is always a pain point for me as I do not know what is left in the class and I sometimes burnout too early. That said, reaching failure and then having to keep pushing through is how you breakthrough workout plateaus, so maybe this is a good thing. (Hey, maybe that is what “elevate” means!)

Once complete, everyone spaces out and the coach leads a stretching and cool down session. Those five minutes are some of the most rewarding you will get all day. You have just pushed your body to the limit for 50 minutes and you came out the other side. This is also when the aforementioned audible mumbling starts to come out. Thankfully it is quickly broken up by the coach’s high five and a “good job!” We’ll take it, we’ve earned it.

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By Shannon Vaughn

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