Squats, bicep curls and pushups. You’ve probably done countless reps in your fitness routine, but have you ever tried them while hanging from a wall one foot off the ground?
Enter FitWall, where strength-training exercises are done on a vertical steel apparatus while your arms and feet hold you up on its eight rungs. It looks like a tall metal bookcase with narrow ledges, and has notches for attachments such as steps, bars, bands and straps that are incorporated into the workout.
I attended my first class curious to see how long I could hold on to the wall. Just eight walls in the studio means the class environment is small and the instructor can correct your form and posture throughout the exercises.
FitWall was born in Colorado, and the flagship Canadian studio opened in Vaughan in April. Its Vertical Training technique is said to activate more than 600 muscles in the body, boasting calorie burning and strength, balance and endurance building all in a 30-minute workout. Single class rates start at $15, and packages start at $150. Sessions are also available for kids on the four child-size FitWall units at the studio.
We started with several moves on the wall (leg extensions, squats and core work), starting off slowly and then repeating faster at 30-second intervals. 10 minutes in and my heart was beating louder than the house music blaring from the speakers as my forearms burned and I gripped on to the rung above my head for dear life.
The instructor, Chauntelle, encouraged me to stay on the wall as long as I could and complete the reps at my own pace. With every set I pushed myself to stay off the ground, reading the FitWall tag line sticker, “You are the machine!” mounted on the rung in front of me. We then moved into arm and leg exercises using the FitWall’s pulleys with various levels of resistance depending on your strength level, and then a series of stair climbing-like reps moving our feet up and down the rungs as quick as possible.
When the half-hour was up my hands were cramped from gripping the rung so tight, and I could already feel the burning sensation in my thighs and forearms. I knew the next day was going to be a sore one, and the day after too! I really felt like I got a full body workout on the FitWall even though I had to come down from the wall to catch my breath several times during the session. I could see that after getting over the initial fear of falling off the wall that I would be able to focus on challenging myself to keep up with all the movements and build strength.
The 30-minute session enough to get your heart rate going and muscles working, and is convenient for those of us who are discouraged from spending upwards of an hour at the gym or in an exercise class. Keep an eye out for a second studio to be opening in the city spring 2013.
6175 Highway 7 in Vaughan
-Daniela DiStefano is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @ddeestefano or check out her blog, Making it to the Masthead