Monkey bars, a game of tag and a DJ spinning live - it’s hard to believe this is actually a workout class. Then you realize: this is Recess.
Track star Jim Mahan opened Rival Fitness in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in January 2013. He filled the gym with innovative classes like Recess, which are all about mixing fun with fitness.
Mahan ran track for Meadowdale High School in Edmonds, and was the state champion and record holder for the 110m high hurdles. In fact, Mahan’s 1981 record was only recently broken. The supportive team environment from Mahan’s track and field days inspires drills and a little friendly competition in each of Rival’s classes.
“You’re working out, and you’re with people too, so there is this whole camaraderie thing that happens. It’s just a good time,” said Mahan.
Mahan’s mission is to create a place where people feel good about themselves, meet their fitness goals and, most importantly, have fun in the process.
“One of the hardest things is to get up to go to a gym, right? So if you have some reason that you’re excited about, then that’s half the battle. So making it fun for people is giving them half the battle,” he said.
And what could be more fun than recess? While Rival’s classes recaptures our days on the playground, they also utilize functional training. Mahan says this helps participants become stronger so they can enjoy their favorite activities outside the gym.
“If you remember recess, we had tag. In that game you were shifting from right to left, so there’s a lot of stuff in Recess that we will do that will have you shift right and left to get those hips moving. So it’s all about just making yourself stronger for the outside,” said Mahan.
Instead of relying on isolated moves like bicep curls or shoulder presses, Rival’s classes feature exercises that mimic how the body really moves. We don’t do chest presses in real life. Instead, we often find ourselves bending over to lift something up, pressing items over our heads or pushing heavy things out of the way.
Functional training fluidly and efficiently works multiple muscles groups at once, which increases strength, mobility and stability. Mahan says whether you want to climb Mt. Rainer or walk your dog, you will benefit from functional training.
Recess is filled with functional training exercises utilizing innovative equipment, like balancing on BOSU Balls, swinging across monkey bars and carrying sandbags. Every exercise ensures you have a good time while toning all the muscle in your bodies.
Each hour-long Recess class is different, and class is broken up into timed sections featuring games like tag, obstacle courses and relay races. Our class included a “Hunger Games” section, where we grabbed a piece of equipment from the center pile (or cornucopia, for all the Hunger Games fans out there), then balanced with each other on BOSU balls. The price for falling off the BOSU ball - five pushups for the entire class.
Teamwork adds that extra element of motivation during a class like Recess. As it turns out, not wanting to let your team down (and cost the class five pushups) is a great motivator to push yourself through the workout.
Mahan says the team oriented, supportive and fun environment makes Rival, and Recess, a great choice for every fitness level.
“We love beginners; that’s who I train most,” said Mahan. “Somebody who says how do I get started, what do I do, we’ve got a formula for you,”
Rival’s Group Fitness Director and Recess instructor Laura Bordeaux says this workout is also all about getting out of your comfort zone.
“We ask that you leave everything behind and just open up to new ideas and try to experience new things,” she said. “Recess puts you out of your comfort zone, but I mean that’s what life really is. It’s always about pushing yourself another level and whether it’s socially out of your comfort zone or with a piece of equipment that you’re not familiar with. We’re pushing the limits every time we come to class.”
Just like when we were kids, Recess is about making fitness fun. It was obvious that while everyone was definitely getting their sweat on, they also couldn’t stop smiling.
According to Mahan, that’s the point. “I think the biggest benefit is you forget you’re working out, and you’re just having fun.”
For more information about the Recess Workout, visit the Rival Fitness website.