At 5:30am, my alarm rang for Atletica. While most classes at Equinox’s midtown locations begin at 7:15, this one starts at 7. Although the subway ride is only an estimate 25 minutes from my apartment to Rockafeller Center, I like to allow extra time when it’s my first time attending a class. I’m happy that I did – it took me ten minutes to find the gym once I arrived at Rockafeller Center.
My own unfortunate sense of direction aside, I was almost dreading Atletica this morning. While the class sounded up my alley, it was also so early in the morning (for me). The options in Midtown also happen to be great, with Whipped at Bryant Park and Tabata at Equinox E. 53rd as highlights. But I was already up — and, in hindsight, I’m very happy that I had set that alarm.
My grading system is from 1-10, with 1 being either the worst and 10 being either the best. For difficulty level, my assessment is subjective. For class size, small is less than 10 students, medium is 10-25, and large is more than 25.
QUALITY OF atletica WORKOUT: 9.5
Do you know that feeling in a fitness class when you suddenly become certain that you’re going to be sore the next day? It only took a few minutes for me to feel that in Atletica. This class alternates between weighted and plyometric movements, using (relatively) heavy weights. The routine was divided into four segments after the warm-up:
- Picking up heavy weights and putting them down, with a hip thrust. If you’re using the correct weights for your body, this will be hard.
- Switch kick lunges.
- Dumbbell swings. I went a bit heavy on these, using 20 lb weights. That was hard.
- Plyometric sumo squats.
- Alternating bicep curls.
- Plyometric plie squats.
segment 2: the heart of the workout
We repeated the below routine ten times, five on each side. A few hours later, I feel muscles that I hadn’t felt in a while.
- 10 one-handed cleans and presses. I used a 20 lb dumbbell. For me, this was heavy.
- 5 squat thrusts
- 5 side planks, with the option to use a weight. I was delinquent and only did this for one round on each side. It was still very challenging
We just repeated Segment 1. I decreased my weights, because everything hurt (in a good way!) at this point.
This was our final push. We did 5 push-ups and increased the number of push-ups by 5 until we got up to 20. This brought our total number of push-ups in class to an even 100.
Every muscle group was engaged during this class. There are no real breaks – you will need to determine for yourself when you need to stop. This class was relatively evenly split between men and women, which is unusual in a fitness class and (I believe) testament to the substantial strength component.
I really loved that the moves alternated between plyometric and strength. Unlike some other circuit training or boot camp classes, my grip didn’t hurt from just holdings weights for thirty minutes straight. I also wasn’t bored for a second and didn’t look at the clock once.
SIZE OF CLASS: medium
Granted, it’s the Friday of Labor Day Weekend, but this class wasn’t super full — 15 people max. Not that I minded — plenty of room to move around.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTOR (stephen bel davies): 9
Stephen Bel Davies is a highly capable and motivating fitness instructor. Atletica is a genuinely difficult class, but he had us smiling throughout, even on our seventh rep of clean presses. He demonstrated the moves as frequently as we needed and corrected my form several times (which is what I want! I need to know if I’m going to throw my back out!). Stephen seemed aware of the diverse levels that he’s teaching, and I felt that the moves were modifiable. I also appreciate that he comes across as a genuinely nice and caring person.
My only marks off for Stephen were that he didn’t ask about injuries or pregnancies. I can imagine that’s easy to forget every once in a while, especially when most of your students are regulars, but it’s still important!
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: hard
This was the second hardest class I’ve taken recently, next to Tone House. We lifted heavy things many times and with few breaks. Even though it’s possible to make modifications, I can’t imagine that this class would be super comfortable for someone who isn’t in shape. Also, it’s designed to be hard and for you to push yourself. For this class, if you’re not sore by the end, then you’re doing something wrong.
studio quality: 7
This Equinox location gets a lot of hate, and I’m not quite sure why. Apart from it being impossible to find, it was clean and fully-stocked, like all Equinox locations. It even has extra gym clothing for when you’ve forgotten your own! I didn’t love the locker situation — the locks came with the lockers but were slightly harder to use than some of the ones at other Equinox locations.
One thing I didn’t love about here, though? It’s a maze! Even though the gym only actually occupies two floors, the way that the machines are laid out makes it easy to become somewhat disoriented.
- While it’s tempting, don’t go too heavy your first time. You will be doing plenty of reps. Trust me.
- Take breaks when you need to, since none are built in.