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I Channeled ’80s Workout Video Energy at Grit Fitness’ Step Class

The 45-minute offering is basically a mix of aerobics, HIIT, and Dance Dance Revolution.
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Grit Fitness in the Design District. Catherine Wendlandt

While talking to my coworker about my Shape Up series, I mentioned I wanted to take a dance class. She swore by Grit Fitness’ step aerobics class, so I signed up for an evening session. I was pumped. I’ve always secretly wanted to experience a real-life 80s workout video class. Give me the big hair and the sweat bands and leg warmers and—the holy grail—unitards. 

But, alas, I don’t own a unitard. So, I rolled up to the Design District Grit Fitness location in a T-shirt and biker shorts. The women at reception checked me in and gave me a quick tour of the studio. The whole space has a mid-century industrial feel, with lots of pink tones and murals. There are multiple studios, bathrooms, showers, and a waiting area with seating and power outlets. 

The step class was in your classic dance studio: wood floors and big wall of mirrors. Mats and weights lived near the walls, waiting for other classes. When I walked in, the step platforms were already laid out. All the platforms had plastic risers underneath them. We could add more risers or remove them to adjust the height as needed. I removed the risers, so I’d only have to step up a couple of inches. My board was missing two rubber stoppers, so it was a little slippery, but I think it was just a bad luck of the draw—no one else had that issue. 

Right before class started, the instructor asked the new folks their names. I thought that was nice, but I was surprised she didn’t ask about injuries. As a disabled person, that made me a bit nervous. However, throughout the class, she offered modifications for various moves. We could lunge with both feet on the ground instead of with one on the board. And if we couldn’t do a move, or got lost, we could just return to a simple step.

The simple step—up and down on the board—was the core move of this class, which felt like a cross between aerobics, HIIT, and Dance Dance Revolution. The rest of the moves were exactly what you’d expect them to be in a step aerobics class. We’d step up then pump a knee up or punch an arm. There were some moves, though, that I didn’t expect, like when we did 180-degree pivots over the board and then toe touches.

We’d always start with the right foot, then after a few combinations, we’d repeat everything on the left side. The instructor would call out “left” or “right” as well as what move to do next (again, like DDR). I was shocked with how quickly we learned combinations and how many combinations we did in a row—we’d learn four eight-counts in one go then immediately do them full throttle. There wasn’t time to learn or memorize the moves. The instructor did write the combos on the mirror, which would have been helpful had it not been in white marker.

It was a high-energy, fast-paced class. Throughout the 45-minute session, I always felt like I was at least one or two beats behind. But a quick scan of the packed room told me I wasn’t the only one. I had a lot of fun, though. There was loud music blasting, and everyone got really into it. The instructor would shout out encouragement exactly like the ’80s workout videos. Some people would also shout “woo!” during some of the punchier moves—I never thought I’d become a “woo” girl, but it could happen after a few more of these classes. 

Near the end of class, the instructor called out: “you’ll feel it in 48 hours.” I felt it in less than 12. I wasn’t sore per-se, but I was taken aback by how exhausted I was that night and into the next day. Nevertheless, I was left planning my next session.  

Final Thoughts

Aesthetics

The studio had a cool mid-century industrial design and plenty of murals and spots to Instagram. But you’ll be too busy dancing along to the high-energy music to be on your phone. 

Difficulty 

In theory, there wasn’t anything in this class that I couldn’t do. But the speed is grueling. By the time I’d start to get the hang of a combination, we’re on to the next one. You need to pace yourself—do too many jumping jacks in the first set, and you won’t have enough gas in the tank to do the next set. 

Accessibility 

This was the first studio I’ve visited where the instructor didn’t ask about injuries/disabilities. That threw me off at first, but as we got into the class, I realized I could just do what I was able to in the back without fear of being called out. I did like that I could adjust the height of my board to my abilities. And the instructor did offer modifications for some of the moves, which I appreciated. All that said, if you have joint issues in your knees and ankles, this class might be too much for you. 

The Cost of It All

A single, drop-in class costs $28. Grit Fitness also offers a variety of class packs and membership packages, depending on how often you want to visit. Monthly in-studio memberships start at $79 and virtual memberships are from $49. If you have free time coming up, then the intro offer is worth it: Pay $40 and get unlimited classes for three weeks. Just make sure you’re on time to class—Grit charges a $15 fee if you’re late/miss class. 

Would I Go Again?

Yes, as soon as I procure a unitard and sweat band. 

Author

Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

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