By Brian Gallagher
Throwback Fitness is a super fun, heart-pumping workout, in the Flatiron neighborhood of NYC, that combines rowing and circuit training — all under the guise of old-school games we loved while growing up. Imagine a game of dodgeball where you are required to finish a circuit before getting your chance to lob Nerf balls at the other team. The workout is all about teamwork, interactive and welcoming, and students almost forget they are getting in a serious workout. Here, co-founder Brian Gallagher tells us how he and partner Ryan Wilke came up with this novel idea.
Long before Throwback Fitness was even a spark of an idea, co-founder Ryan Wilke and I both started our careers off in finance, and then made the jump into the fitness world. We were exercising together on our off hours from work, and noticed how much more fun working out can be when you incorporate friendly competition and teamwork. We searched the group fitness scene for an experience that combined both of these elements with a kickass workout, but didn't find what we had in mind. Nothing quite hit the mark on the fun part, so we decided to create our own experience.
The Throwback Idea
After hosting a series of beta classes for family and friends, we were able to hone our concept and discover that people craved the competitive element. It forced them to push themselves harder than working in a solo setting. We saw that even in group classes — despite working out with anywhere from 15-40 other people in the room — the workouts are still very much individualized. We had to find a way to incorporate competition, interaction, and fun into every workout.
Our name, Throwback Fitness, which was initially chosen because it included the word “row” (we originally set out to be a rowing-only studio), lent itself well to nostalgia. What better way to bring that feeling to the forefront of the workouts, than to loosely base our workouts on games we played on the playground or in the dorm room? We brainstormed game ideas for workouts, everything from dodgeball, to basketball, and flip cup. We tried them out in class, and adjusted the rules to work in a group setting.
The games provide the fun, competitive element, serving as a distraction from the fact that you are working so hard — a perfect combination — and in order to participate in the games, you must first complete rowing and strength reps to play. Who wouldn't complete a circuit of 30 reps as fast as they could, so they could peg someone on the other team with a Nerf ball?!
A Seriously Fun Workout
The Throwback workouts are enjoyable but also challenging. We have been termed by others as “murderously fun,” which we think is the perfect description. Each class consists of two periods: “Phys Ed” is a very demanding, individual or partner workout; while “Recess” is a more light-hearted team workout modeled after one of these nostalgic games.
Part of the Team
In the end, we created a fun, team-oriented, competitive environment that brings you back to the carefree days of gym class and recess, when physical activity was thoughtless and filled with laughter. The non-intimidating team atmosphere, for people of all ages and fitness levels, allows everyone to contribute up to their own abilities, without being singled out. The camaraderie and laid-back setting puts people at ease, and makes it a great spot to meet and interact with others. (We've had friendships form through people meeting in class, and even a romance or two!)
Our classes are often loaded with team huddles and high fives, allowing everyone to feel like part of the team. The ultimate goal? To have every person leave our class after a workout covered in sweat, with a smile on their face! You up for the challenge?
Brian Gallagher is a co-founder of Throwback Fitness, and has been a fitness enthusiast since the age of 13 when he began working out to increase strength for his first season of wrestling. His passion for fitness continues to this day. Brian found the rowing machine to be an excellent full-body, low impact way to achieve great results, and knew he could create a fun, effective way to train. To stay in shape now, Brian constantly varies his exercise methods and includes a healthy mix of boot camp-style workouts, bodyweight circuit training, kettlebell circuits, and yoga. Brian participates in races as often as possible, most recently competing in the Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Tough Mudder, and Civilian Military Combine.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Throwback Fitness co-founder Ryan Wilke spent the next 5 years in the finance industry. Not much of a fitness buff prior to moving to New York, he discovered that the high intensity interval workouts he created with a rowing machine were not only a great way to relieve the stresses of a banking analyst, but also a more effective way to train for a marathon than running 50 miles per week. His enthusiasm for fitness eventually took over his enthusiasm for his desk job. Ryan also enjoys long distance road races, obstacle courses, rock climbing, and military-style workouts at East River Park.