Off Road DC Offers Fitness Classes Like No Other

Our reviewer shares the time she signed up for a cycle circuit class—and got a bit more than she bargained for.

Off Road DC on U Street offers one-of-a-kind cycling, boxing, TRX, and circuit-training classes. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

What happened to me at Off Road DC one recent morning may sound like the average gym-goer’s nightmare.

Allow me to explain. Ever since I visited the indoor cycling studio on U Street back in November, it had been a goal of mine to try out the one-of-a-kind classes, from boxing to TRX training to the two-hour cycling Sunday Sufferfest. In an attempt to stick with my New Year’s resolutions, earlier this month I finally made it to a cycle circuit class, which involved half cycling and half conditioning.

Or so the description on the website read.

With the morning light shining in from the studio’s floor-to-ceiling windows, I settled into my bike for a ride with Aesha, a French cycling instructor who radiated a whole lot of energy for a Sunday morning. I knew something was amiss when she walked in carrying jousting equipment and instructed us to rearrange the bikes into a U-shape so we’d all be facing each other.

“Today’s class is going to be a little different,” she said with a sly smile. While a typical class is split into cycling upstairs and conditioning downstairs, I just so happened to sign up for the day when the Off Road team was performing all-day metabolic testing in the downstairs studio. That meant the 15 of us were in for a bit of a surprise.

We warmed up on the bike to the tunes of international music and Imagine Dragon’s song “Top of the World.” Aesha then had us split into groups of two. When she called our names—she learned everyone’s in ten minutes—we had to jump off the bike and perform (long!) circuits of jumping rope, planks, and jousting while standing on Bosu balls. In front of everyone.

As I said, an average gym-goer’s nightmare.

Before I was called to the floor, my seasoned partner explained that the typical circuit class involved more basic bodyweight exercises performed in circuits downstairs. The whole have-the-entire-class-stare-at-you thing was definitely not the norm.

But if we had to suffer, we might as well suffer together. I watched with sympathy as one man’s legs shook like Jell-o as he tried to stand on the Bosu ball after cycling hard for 30 minutes. The class cheered on the girl who hadn’t jumped rope since the fourth grade. And together we sighed in collective relief an hour and 15 minutes later, when the final circuit of ab work ended.

It’s not exactly what should be expected at a typical Off Road DC class, but that’s what’s so great about the studio: Even if you don’t know what you’re in for, you can be sure you’ll get a great workout.