Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Welcome to Workout Wednesday: every hump-day, we'll be rounding up some of the city's hottest fitness trends and studios.
"There are no fucking breaks in this class." Welcome to Signature X.
This advanced class debuted last week at City Row, the rowing studio with gorgeous views of Union Square from its 15th-floor office suite space that opened in January. Meant to attract both clientele who have been regularly attending classes and athletes who are looking to kick their workouts up a notch, program director Annie Mulgrew told Racked that, at the studio "we lovingly refer to as our signature class on crack."
Indeed, its format is reminiscent of a Barry's Bootcamp class, with alternating sessions between the rowers and floor work. Oh, so it'll be easier because I'll be on my ass half the time, you're thinking now. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
Those who have been to City Row's regular classes before will see a familiarity in the session structure, but everything's at a breakneck pace (see above quote from the instructor). "We kick all of our sprints up a notch, and we don't have as long of recovery in between the sprints," Mulgrew explained. "It's an opportunity to get really specific about using the machine, the way in which a crew team would use it in the offseason for cross training purposes."
Expect to do four sessions on the rower, interspersed with three floor workouts, for about six to eight minutes each. While each exercise is intense—timed metered sprints followed by power pulls, lather, rinse, repeat—most intervals don't last longer than 45 seconds. Translation? By the time you think you're about to collapse doing one move, you're already on to the next one.
Because of these high demands, newbies can't just walk into the class—City Row recommends that you've been to at least three of their regular Signature Row classes before attempting X. "You need to be very familiar with correct form on the rowing machine," Mulgrew said—that's their legs-core-arms mantra. "We need to know that you know what we're talking about so that you can keep up with the rhythm of the class."
A recent Signature X class. Photo: City Row/Facebook
And that doesn't just apply to the rowers—the class description reads that participants "must not even think about picking up 3- or 5-pound weights." Plus, Floor workouts consist of more than your standard push-ups and squats. Some even incorporate the rower, like a single-legged mountain climber with one foot sliding back and forth on the rower seat while the other hovers in the air (good luck with that).
As long as it's clear you're pushing yourself to your limits here, no one's going to scream in your face for doing modified push-ups. "If that means you have to drop to your knees a little during sculpting, so be it. We're not here to break you down by any means, we're here to build you up and see what you can accomplish," Mulgrew said.
Because of Signature X's athletic, competitive nature—"You're not racing against anybody [in the class], you're racing against yourself," Mulgrew stipulated—she noticed that it's been attracting a lot of men, who are typically in the minority in boutique fitness classes. Indeed, the guys outnumbered the girls in a recent class—not something you'd find at your average barre or cycling classes.
But regardless of gender, City Row regulars are digging the intense workouts. "If I'm going to be paying for these classes, I might as well be taking the hardest one," a female student rationalized on the elevator ride up to the studio.
Interested in giving Signature X a go? The class is held Tuesdays at 7:30pm—and it might be best not to book a workout for the next day.