Tone House | Find Out Why You Should Try It

class reviews

Known as one of the hardest workouts in the city, Tone House has made a name for itself in the last few years. If you follow them on Instagram, you’ll have probably noticed that all of their students seem to be (literal) models. This might be because the studio provides an integrated approach to wellness, offering food and recovery programs in addition to their workouts.  While the Summer Swap series attracted a slightly different crowd than their usual (it being free and all), the workout was still extremely challenging. While expensive, the studio makes the experience worth your while.


quality of tone house workout: 7

Tone House was an interesting choice for my first workout after my wisdom tooth extraction. After about a week of almost complete inactivity, I couldn’t resist the opportunity after being taken off the waitlist for one of their Saturday Summer Swap Series, a free intro (Tone House 101) class. K

the tone house workout

After the instructor asked about our injuries and led us in a cheer, we started off the class with a warm-up. The word “warm-up” is a bit of a misnomer. We did a ~10-min follow-the-leader consisting of various running and jumping exercises over hurdles, including burpees and shuffles. I’m pretty sure we were all breathless by the end of it.

Afterwards came the relay portion, the longest and probably my least favorite part of the class. We were split into four groups of two or three and waited while one group would perform the activity. In between these relays, there would be exercises that the entire “team” would do.

  • Sprint relays – Two sprints across the room. Each team did this twice.
    • An exercise where we put our feet on gliders and our hands on dumbbells. Then, we would tuck our knees in, walk our arms forward with the dumbbells, and get into plank. We did this up and down the length of the room.
  • Core relays – This one was intense. The active team put the gliders under their hands and ran up and down the length of the room twice. Then they did a galloping motion across the room (hands on the ground, feet jumping towards hands) up and down the length of the room once. This was deceptively hard.
    • In between each team’s individual work, we would all do “alligator walks,” in which our feet were on the gliders and we used our hands to move up and down the length of the room. Again, hard, and many of us (including me) were definitely cheating at the end.

When we finally finished with that, we divided into two groups. One group split into teams where one person pulled (while lying down) and pushed a sled (with the full set of weights on top, weighing over 100 lb) while the other group did a tandem exercise that was basically a get-up with resistance. Both groups completed rounds of both of those exercises.

The final drill was a Simon Says game. We started in fast feet and the instructor called out various exercises that we would interrupt the fast feet to do, such as burpees or push-ups (similar to the final round that I mentioned in my review  The Cut). We did a yoga-inspired cooldown and stretches after that and finished off with a team cheer.

This Tone House class ended up taking well over an hour.  My major complaint is that much of this time was dead time, where we were waiting for one team to finish an activity. I’m not sure how much this is attributed to it being a free intro class. The class is certainly hard and focuses on general athleticism, and I’m sure that it moves faster when everyone is certain that they’re an athlete. However, I think that the time would’ve been better utilized if the class had been more of a circuit and less of a relay.

I would also be interested in seeing if the classes designed for regulars use more equipment. The room was filled with all of these fun tools, like TRX machines and ropes, and I would’ve loved to have a chance to play around.

size of class: small

The Tone house class was 11 people, which was pretty much perfect – small enough to get individualized attention, but large enough to feel a sense of community with the other students.

quality of instructor (keith Lawrence): 8

Keith was a great first instructor to have for this class. He was extremely attentive and provided modifications for everyone who needed. He also cheered us on individually when he could see it was getting hard, and he knew when to apply more difficulty when necessary. One thing that he did that I found interesting was that he ranked the students at the beginning of class, seemingly putting us in a line-up for the warm-up depending on our ability. At some point, I wondered if he should’ve waited until after the warm-up so he would’ve had more data points to gauge our abilities. The reason this is relevant is because of the relay portion — if we’d been accurately grouped together based on speed and ability, then this section may have moved along a bit more quickly.

difficulty level: hard

Although there are seemingly modifications available for every move, this class has a high threshold. Even a year ago, I think that I would’ve had a hard time completing a workout in this class, and I can already feel the soreness in my legs. I’m sure that the regulars here are on fire.

studio quality: 8

Tone house class photo

The red room depicted above is what greets you when you finally find the studio (it shares a floor with Cyc). The music while you wait is pretty epic — it sounds like the score from the climax of a historic action movie. The vibe is set immediately — this workout is hardcore. There were definitely enough lockers and showers, although I can’t speak for peak hours. Everything also definitely seemed clean. The studio could be a bit hard to find, though — as I mentioned before, it shares space with Cyc, but also with NYSC’s BFX.

  • Definitely don’t try to get through this class without bringing water. That room got hot. 
  • Maybe skip this one if you’re not sure if you aren’t prepared for a very difficult workout. But I know I’ll be back!
  • Tone House 101 workouts are available on ClassPass! If you’re up for an intense, sweaty hour, definitely come here.



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