Spring’s trendiest version of recommended torture is definitely treadmill workouts. In the same way that Pure Barre uses dance training and SoulCycle uses cycling, TheRun — well, you can guess.
A little background on my history as a runner: In the few months I was a part of the Track Pack in high school, I spent every long distance run “going my own route,” which really meant walking home to eat chips and salsa while watching “Maury.” One jar of salsa and two “You are the father!”s later, I’d run back to the pack covered in “sweat” (just water I had splashed on myself), pretending I had gotten a really good run in.
So, not exactly marathon material.
Back to TheRun. The studio, which just opened in the Flatiron District, is a cleaner and better-designed reality of my dream sex dungeon. Nearly every surface was covered in mirrors, and the door was made of glass for all to see our session. These empty appeals to my egomaniacal and voyeuristic nature lulled me into a false sense of security.
Between the mirrors were tube lights that ran the entire length and height of the room. I couldn't tell where the room ended and eternity began — it felt very "2001: A Space Odyssey.”
TheRun’s treadmills aren’t like your treadmill at home. (First of all, we actually used ours.) These treadmills of the future have gigantic touchscreens and levers on either side to control incline and speed. You can even log into Facebook. (I’m not sure why you would do that, but hey, to each his own). In short: The treadmills felt like spaceships. Spaceships upon which you can run like a terrified Ellen Ripley for about 45 minutes.
The class itself consisted of the instructor drilling us as music blared at club-level decibels as we, a pack of Forrest Gumps, ran for about 2.5 miles with interval segments. (You begin the class with a humbling exercise: telling the treadmill what your mile time is to calibrate the speed, so there’s no chance of pratfalls off a speeding conveyor belt.) Ever the competitive gentleman, I tried to match the runner in front of me, despite him obviously being in better shape. I felt like a tortoise on Ambien trying to keep up with a very fit gazelle — and the heartrate monitors tracking the whole class on our treadmill screens showed it.
The killer part of the class, called Shaper, was the bodyweight portion, which turned out to be my personal hell. This consisted of mountain climbers, planks, squats and sprinting in place.
Look, folks — this class kicked my butt. Have you ever sweated so much you thought that maybe you had actually wet yourself? I hadn’t until now. My every pore and orifice were unloading sweat by the gallon. I was bathing in my own fluids. All I could think was, “Where does the sweat end and I begin? Are we one in the same now? Am I a being of pure sweat?”
The bottom line: What makes TheRun great is that instead of trying to keep up with your marathoner friends or waiting to be lapped so you can chat with them again, you can run in a group class at your own pace (which can be saved at each session, so you can track your progress). You get the community aspect, but no one can outrun you — and you can’t get distracted by a Wafles & Dinges cart halfway through. And it all happens under the supervision of an instructor who will later torture you with a series of body weight exercises, rounding out the cardio with a super intense, makes-you-beg-to-die strength-training session.
Would I do it again? With one class running for $34 and packages of 20 classes priced at $600, I’m not sure my 24-year-old, lower-middle class budget has room for it. Especially when you consider that you can run for free anywhere.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.