The Muscle-Burning Class You Need to Add to Your Workout Bucket List 

Jot this down on your to-do list: Roots Athletics' F.I.T. class.

Roots Athletics | Photo via Facebook

Roots Athletics | Photo via Facebook

I am not a coordinated human. When assigning spirit animals in happy hour conversation, my friends have labeled me a flying squirrel. Because I am the opposite of coordinated — I am a Kirk from Gilmore Girls-level spastic creature who gets compared to a flying squirrel WAY too often. (Yes, once is too often.)

So yesterday, when I was in the warm-up for the F.I.T. class at Fairmount’s Roots Athletics, a martial arts gym on the corner of Brandywine and 21st that’s been open for about nine months, and owner and instructor Levi LaLonde demonstrated a hopping handstand-like move that involved a mid-air foot switch, my mind basically shut down. I proceeded to try my best. It was not something I would’ve wanted any video evidence of.

The F.I.T. (short for functional interval training) class is a workout class designed to supplement Jiu-Jitsu training, but anyone can join in on the action. As long as you’re willing to sweat. Like, sweat buckets. Because it’s designed to supplement Jiu-Jitsu training, the dynamic warm-up portion of the class involves moves you wouldn’t find in a typical boot camp class (at least not any that I’ve taken). Cue: The hopping leg-switching handstand-like moves.

After a 15-minute warm-up that feels more like a workout, it’s on to the true workout: a 32-minute circuit-training session where you do one minute of exercise, get 20 seconds of rest, then move on to the next station. The circuits are always changing from class to class, but yesterday’s featured box step-ups, single-leg kettlebell toe-touches, planks with battleropes (doing this made me want to call my mother crying), jump rope and more. The somewhat-subtle focus of yesterday’s class was the core. And it was subtle in that not all of the exercises (like jump rope) were obviously core related, but not so subtle in that, man, you could feel it.

After 32 minutes of moving just about non-stop (okay, OKAY, so I bent back into child’s pose a few times — what do you want from me?!?), I was about ready to collapse onto the matted floor and spend the night. But I couldn’t. Because a big chunk of the students from the F.I.T. class were staying for the following Jiu-Jitsu class, a session that lasts 90 minutes on average. What the whaaaaat?

While the F.I.T. class is designed to supplement Jiu-Jitsu, which is why you probably haven’t heard about it if you aren’t someone who considers themselves an MMA type of human (more on that in a second), it is open to anyone. And for the weaklings like myself, it’s super accommodating: For each circuit station where weights are required, there are a variety of weights to choose from. And, while Levi may give you a well-meaning dose of stink-eye if you stop moving, the class is accessible to all levels in that you are able to move at your own pace. And trust: You will feel like a badass afterward.

And about the whole not-being-a-martial-arts kind-of-person thing: After leaving the F.I.T. class, I hung out and watched the following Jiu-Jitsu class for a few minutes. Levi explained that most of the people in the class were just “regular, everyday people” who’ve discovered they enjoy Jiu-Jitsu, for both its physical and mental benefits. And while us ladies might be a little bit concerned about the male-to-female ratio in a class like that, the split at Roots is about 50/50. I, a person who never saw myself tying a white belt around my waist, wished I had the physical energy to join in.

I first heard about Roots from CoreFitness trainer Gina Mancuso, who said the gym had worked her out in a way she’d never experienced before (quite the praise from someone who works people out for a living). I back her up in this statement. The class was awesome and different and intense and not like anything I’d done before. So, put it on your bucket list, people. Chances are, you’ll want to take a stab at the more martial arts-related offerings of the gym once you get a taste. Oh, and also: The gym is really pretty. Like, so pretty that its apparently a photo-shoot favorite for folks like Lululemon and Free People. So there’s that.

You can find more info on Roots and their offerings here. And if you plan on getting in on the martial arts action, make sure to read these tips from the pros (including LaLonde) before you head to the gym.

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