Philadelphia’s New Gym Wants to Get You in Shape in Just 30 Minutes a Day

HIIT workout Fit Tribe has landed in downtown Philly.

Photograph courtesy Fit Tribe.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned in my days test driving lots and lots of workouts: Just because a workout is short, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. In fact, it’s often the short workouts that test my limits the most, as they tend to cram an hour’s worth of intensity into a shorter time period.

So it wasn’t without nerves that I stepped into Fit Tribe Center City for the first time for their 30-minute workout. The gym, which has six locations in Pennsylvania and landed in downtown Philly at the end of last year, is a petite second-story studio. The main workout room has turf flooring, mirrored walls, and equipment spread out in stations around the room — from weight benches to TRX straps to kettlebells to boxes. On one end of the room, there’s a white board with the day’s workout, hung next to a clock, which is used to count down every interval.

Let me preface the following experience with this: If you prefer to spend your workouts at the back of a dark room where no one can see you sweating away, Fit Tribe may not be the place for you. It’s way, way more personal than your typical boutique workout. Really, it’s more of a personal training session in a group setting than it is a group workout.

And, boy, do we mean personal. The second after I’d dropped my coat and bag, the trainer ordered me onto the scale in the lobby to take my weight. After that, she had me grab a handheld body fat percentage machine, which reads your body composition by sending an electric signal through you. As someone who isn’t big on weighing herself, being asked to jump on a scale right off the bat was a little jarring, to say the least.

Next, we herded into the studio to begin the class. The workouts alternate daily between a cardio focus (which they call conditioning) and a strength training focus. While every single Fit Tribe workout is different, the one consistency is that they’re all done in intervals as a circuit, though the length of the intervals may vary from day to day.

I was there on conditioning night when the intervals were 20 seconds long, with a five second break between each. I started off doing bench hops. With my hands firmly planted on a weight bench, I hopped my legs over the bench, back and forth as quickly as I could for 20 seconds. After five seconds to catch my breath, I switched to V-up crunches for 20 seconds. Five seconds after that, it was back to bench hops. Then it was off to the next station, where I did another three rounds of exercises. There were five stations total — and we all went around the room three full times.

Photograph courtesy Fit Tribe.

Here’s where the personal training side comes back into play: because the class sizes are small — there were only three other women in my session — you’re guaranteed to score a lot of the instructor’s attention. This means that you’re going to get your form corrected on just about every move; it also means that there’s zero chance of you slacking off without the instructor noticing.

By the end of my last circuit I was wiped. But, I thought gleefully, there’s no chance of the instructor springing “one last set” on us! Since the workout was timed, I assumed that when the clock ran out, we were done. This was not the case. For the final two minutes of class, we did two more intervals — a fast-paced exercise, followed by a hold. It took three paper towels to mop the sweat off of me by the time we were done — as in, really done.

So, when it was all said and done, should you give Fit Tribe a try? Like I said, if you want to coast at the back of the room, Fit Tribe might not be for you.

If you need help getting into shape, however, Fit Tribe’s group training is great for those who want to hire a personal trainer but can’t afford to pay for one-on-one sessions (memberships start at $97 a month). If you’re looking for accountability, you’ll find it in spades here. Rather than paying per class, clients pay for periods of time — a week, a month, six months — and are expected to show up three to five days a week. The instructor told me her clients have her cell, and she’s not afraid to text them if they miss a session. Plus, like a personal trainer, the Fit Tribe team will track your body metrics like hawks — weighing you and measuring your body composition at consistent intervals to track your progress.

Conclusion? If you just really need a kick in the pants to get that weekly workout routine started, you’ll get that at Fit Tribe.

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