Review: NYC’s First Combo Boxing Gym-Bar Will Ruin You (in a Good Way)
GRT BXING features boxing, cardio and ... champagne?
Your correspondent would like to start by saying that it would be very easy to take the piss out of GRIT BXING.
The sign out front of the newly-opened fitness studio in Union Square features the slogan “SO MUCH F*CKIN FUN” and bills GRIT as “the latest craze from Europe” — my condolences to the Aperol Spritz.
Contained within, amid a haze of neon lighting, is a full liquor bar proffering everything from craft cocktails to hard seltzers to a $1,200 bottle of Dom. Shirts feature slogans such as “I punch, therefore I drink” and “Box. Train. Drink. Repeat.” Investors include Tony Robbins and … Pitbull?
In short, any jaded New Yorker wary of workout-cult gimmickry could be forgiven for reflexively thinking, “What fresh fitness hell is this?”
But to write off GRIT as just another obnoxious, SOUL Cycle-y exercise in cheese would be a mistake. Because just past the bar (and the appropriately toned influencer taking a selfie) is a workout that will, for lack of a more nuanced description, beat the everliving shit out of you. In the best possible way.
The studio itself is predictably dark and cavernous, and split into three sections: a collection of water-filled heavy bags, a cluster of benches with attendant dumbbells, and a long row of treadmills around the perimeter of the room. The 50-minute workout is divided into “rounds” split evenly amongst them.
Accordingly, to call GRIT a “boxing gym” would be a bit of a misnomer. Sure, boxing is part (see: a third) of the workout, and while the screens at the front of the studio depicting proper punch technique are certainly helpful, attempting to hone any true, bona fide sweet science to the tune of deafening EDM in a dark room without formal coaching would be a tricky proposition.
But while I don’t think you’d go to GRIT to truly “learn to box” any more than you would apply at Medieval Times to “become a knight,” I also don’t think that’s really the point. The point is to have fun (presumably “SO MUCH F*CKIN FUN,” if you’re doing it correctly) sweating it out, and in that regard, GRIT very much delivers.
My instructor was energetic, upbeat and did a great job of keeping the class motivated and on point as we moved between the bags (a series of punch combinations), the benches (think squats, lunges, curls, etc) and the treadmills (interval running at varying speed levels).
And the constant variation, both between the stations and within them, leads to a workout in which it’s hard to get miserable because there’s just no time — monotony is the true enemy of motivation, and by the time I started to flag on any one exercise, it was time to switch it up. When the instructor boomed, “Final round, guys!” my first thought was “Oh damn, we’re done already?”
Then I stopped moving and realized I was absolutely drenched in sweat and gassed out like I have not been in quite some time — hand to God from a person who works out with a fair degree of regularity, anyone who does this workout 2-3 times a week will soon find him/herself in their best shape in recent memory.
As for the post-sweat bar session? Perhaps there is a subset of lunatic one-percenter spandex monkey who finishes a workout and thinks, “Man, I could really go for a bottle of fine French Champagne.” If so, more power (not literally though) to them — whatever gets your ass into the gym. And in all fairness, there’s also a selection of green juice-y “mocktails” on offer as well should alcohol not be your preferred cool-down method.
I’ll definitely be back, but water works just fine for me.