Train Like a Tribute With Washington Sports Club's "Hunger Games" Workout

This eight-week program brings the popular book series to life with a grueling one-hour workout.

Washington Sports Club in Chevy Chase is offering an eight-week long workout series based off the book and movie "Hunger Games." Photograph courtesy of the Hunger Games Facebook page.

The release of the Hunger Games movie at midnight tonight has tweens and twentysomethings alike in a tizzy. It even has Washington Sports Clubs and their counterparts up the coast hosting themed workouts. I’ve read all the books (more than once, embarrassingly enough), and when I heard about the Hunger Games-themed workout series, I immediately knew I had to try it.

So when the “train like a tribute” series–which will run for the next eight weeks at Washington Sports Clubs’ Chevy Chase location–began this Tuesday, I was there, ready to win. Classes are free for members and nonmembers and run for about an hour. They’re meant to be a fun, competitive introduction to the club’s new group personal training series, UXF.

The class mimics the Hunger Games, calling participants “tributes” and asking them to compete against one another for the bulk of the hour until a winner is crowned. Instructor Libby Linden Rubin acts as a Gamemaker and says she likes the concept because “it’s a game . . . and when it’s fun, you’re more likely to work hard without realizing it.”

This was certainly true for Tuesday’s winner, Eliza Moody, 35, of Bethesda, who said that while she generally doesn’t think of herself as competitive, she became dedicated to winning as soon as she learned only one person could.

The session targeted shoulders, abs, and legs with such exercises as “Katniss killers,” which use a bow and arrow, “Peeta presses,” which combine a squat with a push press, and “jabberjay jacks,” a twist on the standard jumping jack. These moves were interspersed with other exercises and laps around the room, and left everyone sweating and breathing heavily.

While the soundtrack was tongue-in-cheek and funny–it included songs like “Hopeless Place” by Rihanna, “Battlefield” by Jordin Sparks, and “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” by R.E.M.–the Hunger Games theme was laid on a little thick at times, even for a fan like me.

One participant, when told he was being chased by mutant dogs and could get away by completing a set of exercises, responded that he was a dog whisperer and stopped moving entirely. Others sat still on their mats rather than participating at times, because the workout was long, the breaks were nonexistent, and the concept seemed just a little too kitschy to buy into completely.

The verdict: a cute idea, but sometimes cute isn’t all we should look for in a killer workout.

Classes are free for members and nonmembers. 5345 Wisconsin Avenue, NW; 202-966-5051;