Metabolic Strength at Complete Physique, 1501 Lee Hill Road, Unit 11,Boulder, completephysiqueboulder.com
Instructor: Kathleen Tormey has been a fitness instructor for 29 years and has owned numerous fitness studios in Boulder. She is a certified personal trainer and has an exercise science degree from the University of Massachusetts.
Tormey's main focus is personal training. In Boulder, it's easy to think of personal training as a service geared toward athletes. Tormey's approach is the opposite. She works with everyone except professional athletes, from people trying to build an exercise routine in their life to people with Parkinson's disease.
What is the workout? It's like a bootcamp, but without all the confused flailing that's common with circuit exercises. What do I mean by confused flailing? It's when an instructor demonstrates a series of exercises and expects everyone in the class to remember the sequence and perform the workout independently. What follows is people looking at their neighbor for help instead of the instructor.
Tormey's classes are small and she is not in a rush. She shows the sequence of exercises each time, then walks around to help the students. There's no running to the next station and there's no timed workouts. Exercises are methodical and uncomplicated.
The class is structured into blocks of strength training and cardio for a full-body workout. For the strength training, Tormey uses dumbbells, resistance bands, medicine balls, kettle bells and body weight exercises.
Bootcamp classes have a sense of urgency heightened with loud, fast-tempo music. In this class, there was a notable absence of pop music, only classic rock by student demand.
What's different? "I find, in Boulder, there is either an elite athlete in the household or someone who struggles with working out," said Tormey. "I get the strugglers. As a struggler myself, it's good to know you're not alone."
The group training class works on the same philosophy as Tormey's personal training. Classes are small and Tormey knows everyone. Her classes are built around functional gains in strength and weight loss. There are no gimmicks, just a solid workout. The exercises are challenging, but not done quickly. It's not a race.
"There is a sense of community here," said Tormey. "People really like coming because of the community, not just because of the workouts. It attracts people who don't typically do well in a bigger gym."
Cost: A 10-class punch card is $150; a monthly pass, that includes access to the gym,is $120.
Level: All levels. Students pick their own weights and can switch out between exercises. Tormey knows the small group so well, she anticipates their limitations.
Everyone in class was older than 40, but that didn't have any bearing on the class difficulty. It was challenging, but still approachable.
When: 7 a.m. Thursdays, with a similar strength and cardio class at 7 a.m. Tuesdays.
What to prepare: Workout clothes, athletic shoes and water.
Muscles worked: All the muscles. My glutes, thighs, arms and back were sore the next day.
What I loved: The absence of self-criticism. I never felt inadequate, nor did I feel competitive. I didn't worry about whether my butt looked too big in my yoga pants. Their open demeanor was disarming. It was like working out with friends.
Tormey isn't the average, overly serious personal trainer who doesn't joke about fitness. She was funny and she interacted with her students like they were family. (They even went to her daughter's graduation.)
What I didn't like: Can an instructor be too kind? Is that backhanded criticism?
A few more class times would be nice, but with a small, dedicated client base, they call the shots.
How I felt after the class: Awesome. I usually feel a bit anxious after a high-pressure workout. Being an anxious person by nature, these classes tend to push my worry odometer into uncomfortable territory. Not today. Instead, I felt energized without the anxiety hangover.