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Workout Tryout: Epic Hybrid Training

The Basics

If you’re reading this you most likely consider yourself a fit person. You do box jumps, swing kettlebells and have even thrown down a handstand or two. But occasionally a workout tests you, and Epic Hybrid Training—inspired by obstacle and adventure races and focused on agility, mobility, strength and power via high-intensity intervals—is one of them. Held in two bare-bones New York City facilities, Epic workouts pull from the likes of suspension training, yoga, gymnastics and running. The atmosphere, fueled by a large body of tight-knit regulars, is friendly and welcoming. Those regulars, we found out, are also loyal. Our class alone contained one new mom, at four-months post-baby, and one eight-months-pregnant mom-to-be.

The Experience

Our session consisted of four stations each containing three exercises. Counted off into groups of four (split into two “teams”), we did each trio of moves for the prescribed number of reps for ten minutes before rotating to the next stop. We did rope climbs, suspended push-ups and assisted pistol squats; box jumps, medicine ball slams and step-ups with sand bags; kettlebell side squats, kettlebell swings and a turn on the monkey bars. It’s tough stuff. We found ourselves hyper-focused on each exercise, trying our best to make, say, a hamstring curl on a power wheel a little more controlled or standing broad jumps with mini resistance bands around our ankles, well, broader. But there was no shortage of fun: Every time we finished a round of moves we threw a plastic ball into a bucket to try to win a point for our team. (Missing the shot calls for ten burpees.)

The Pregnancy Connection

“With the help of the trainers, I’ve been able to continue at Epic with some modifications,” says Alexandra Schmerge, the aforementioned mom-to-be, who has attended Epic for just over a year. She scaled down jumping moves to smaller jumping or stepping exercises (box step-ups instead of box jumps, alternating lunges instead of lunge jumps), lowered the weight of her kettlebells and, halfway through her second trimester, stopped doing the monkey bars and rings. And though supine core exercises became a no-no, there was no shortage of alternatives. “You’d be amazed at how many different plank varieties we come up with to keep my core strong,” she says. “Stacking cones with alternating hands while in plank position, rolling a medicine ball back and forth while in plank position—we get very creative!”

Instructor Intel

“We want clients to feel accomplished after completing something that many consider mentally and physically demanding,” says Julia Falamas, Epic program director and our instructor. “By overcoming obstacles and challenging exercises they develop a sense of pride and self-worth.” Falamas, an elite Spartan racer, knows a thing or two about physically demanding pursuits. Her top three exercises? The rope climb to work upper-body strength, core stability and coordination; box jumps to build lower-body strength and power without adding resistance; and a handstand: “My most favorite exercise!” she says. “It requires both shoulder strength and flexibility, tremendous core strength and total body awareness.”

The Verdict

You will definitely feel pushed outside your box here and it made us want more. The exercises are creative, challenging and always changing. But the instructors are willing to modify nearly anything, making it a great choice for new moms and moms-to-be wanting to keep up an existing high level of fitness. Spartan race, anyone? 230 East 53rd St.; 38 W. 38th St.; 646-450-2405;

Photo: Shaun Mader 

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