My New Obsession: Unite Fitness

Last fall I signed up to do a cross-training run one evening with Philadelphia Runner, Be Well Philly, and Unite Fitness. A huge group of runners literally ran through the streets of Philadelphia stopping at different tourist attractions to do push-ups, squats, burpees, and walking lunges. It was fantastic. I sweat a ton, and made some fun local wellness and running connections.

Afterwards, I did my research on Unite, and their heart, muscle, mind fusion philosophy. I was intrigued, but in the middle of marathon training, it didn’t seem like the best idea. I also knew it would be pretty costly, and wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to it.

But as the marathon drew closer, and I started to think about my goals for 2014, I decided I needed to try it out, and use that to make my decision. So during my time off over Christmas, I signed up for a morning class (the first class is free) and unbeknownst to me, got incredibly lucky to have Anne Marie Everhart as my trainer for the trial. She is an amazing ball of positive energy, which meshes with my personality so well, it was a trial made in heaven. The other trainers don’t react when I sing along to the music 😉

To say Unite works you hard is an understatement, but not because anyone is yelling at you, or pressuring you to work until you die, but because it’s fun, and motivating. It doesn’t hurt that during cardio you’re staring at someone across the way, working hard, and if they’re looking at me, they’re questioning my sanity.

I’ve now gone to 4 classes, and an honestly say I’m completely obsessed. I am consistently sore, but in the best way possible. I know I’ve worked myself hard, and that the pain is making me stronger, and will help me get faster. Basically everyone I’ve gotten to know at Philly Runner goes there, and several said they PRd different distances last year without trying after putting in months at Unite. I like those odds.

So what do they do that’s so awesome?
– They have 4 basic classes that all have a combination of cardio, strength and stretching.
– The most common class has:

* 30 minutes of cardio. You choose spin bike, treadmill or rowing machine, and the trainer provides instruction to get you through speed intervals, hills, endurance, or some combo of all three.
* 30 minutes of strength. Each class and trainer has a different focus, but ranges from free weights and body weight for high reps to resistance bands or TRX. Sometimes you have a partner, sometimes you don’t. But regardless, it’s about what you can do, not what anyone else is doing. If you’re doing your 100% that’s all they ask.
* 15 minutes of yoga. It’s easy to forget to really stretch after you train, but having guided stretching with savasana to end each class is a great way to really focus on what you’ve changed with that class.

While it is more than you’d spend on a basic gym, you get so much more out of it, and they offer discounts for longer packages (similar to most other boutique studios). Every class only has 20 spots, so you’re really getting small group training, and a 75 minute workout. For me, its worth it.

I’m so excited to be part of this awesome community, and use it to help reach my big running goals this year, as well as to force me to cross-train. I can choose the bike or rowing (which still scares me, so probably not rowing) instead of running when I’m in class, and focus my runs for other days, or I can use that time for speed work or hill work.

So if you’re in the Philly area, check them out. Take a trial class, and let me know if you’ll be at the Center City location, tell them I sent you (I don’t think this gives either of us anything special, but hey, do it anyway). I’d love to take a class together!

How do you cross-train?
What’s your favorite strength training exercise?
Where can I get some awesome leg warmers to keep my legs warm when I walk to class in capris?

16 thoughts on “My New Obsession: Unite Fitness

  1. Pingback: Strength Training – It’s Not about Bulking Up | Run Stretch Go

  2. Pingback: 2014: My Year in Review | Run Stretch Go

  3. matt

    I’ve been a member for about 18 months and I am still obsessed. By far the best and most thorough workout anyone could imagine. I love that you just show up and no matter how motivated you are to workout that day, you will be pressed to your max. It is impossible to be a member and not be in the best shape of your life. Great write-up!

    PS: Extra props to Anne Marie for her musically themed classes

  4. kristenk

    Ooooh I am trying out all sorts of new cross training workouts lately and this one sounds like fun! I’ve got to admit something though…I’m reeeeeeally a wimp about working out in front of other people. This is why I enjoy spin – it’s dark and no one is facing you. But I like that the first class is free, so maybe I’ll check this out! What area of Philly is it in?

    1. I go to the one at 12th and chestnut but they have some outside Center City too.

      I’m not usually pumped about working out In front of people either, but you’re so busy not dying it makes it easier!

  5. I always find that cross training winds up being the first thing to go once marathon training begins, even though I know it will help me overall. My gym focuses on functional training and offers some great group classes that change up every week. It’s a good mix of cardio, strength and GPP. I also love spinning and am debating becoming certified to instruct it.
    I’m also on the look out for leg-warmers and was thinking about checking out Five Below. In a pinch, I found a pair of soccer socks that I wouldn’t wear otherwise and cut the feet off to make my own psuedo-legwarmers.

    1. Good call on cheap leg warmers. Maybe I’ll check H&M this weekend!

      And yes, cross training is so easy to push aside during training. My theory is that since I’m paying a ton for it, I will go. I also love the community, which helps.

  6. aetue

    Unite Fitness is an amazing facility and community. I am so happy I found them during my short time living in Philadelphia. At my new “high end” gym in DC, I need to do two classes to equal the same amount of work as one class with Unite (but yet I pay the same amount…). If they are in your area, they are worth every cent.

  7. Wow that sounds like an awesome class! I don’t think we have anything like that around here (in the sticks ha!). Like you, I’m also focusing on cross-training and strength training now that I’m off the marathon bandwagon for a little while. I can’t wait to get back to bootcamp and Tabata!

  8. BethC

    When I lived in Richmond, I did Seal Team PT for about 2 years and got some big PRs on 5k, 8k and 10k. It’s an hour-long outside class and involves lots of running and body weight exercises. I loved it and miss it now that I’ve moved away. (They now have classes in Richmond, Charlottesville, DC and Philly).

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