Seattle Culture

One-Of-A-Kind Workouts

We’ve rounded up our favorite, out-of-the-box local flex, stretch and sweat sessions to help build any body

By Elaina Friedman and Sarah Murphy February 16, 2017


This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Seattle magazine.

Mountain High
Those mountains aren’t just for summer hikes; there’s no reason to wait until the snow melts to take your workout outside. Local retailer REI offers a variety of classes to make sure your fitness goals don’t suffer during the snowy season. Snowshoeing courses range from an all-ages introductory class to a moonlight tour through the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. If you’re looking for a more aerobic workout with a view, sign up for REI’s cross-country skiing classes, which offer instruction in both the classic and skate skiing techniques. All courses are guided by REI Outdoor School instructors and include gear (apparel not included) and sometimes transportation. What wind chill? Cost for classes starts at $35 for REI members, $55 for nonmembers. Register at

Hit a Wall
There’s an obvious reason why bouldering paths are called “problems”—climbers have to puzzle out the best route to their end point, using a variety of holds and moves to “solve” the problem. Here in the Northwest, there are several climbing gyms where you can hone your problem-solving skills while developing those muscles, including the Seattle Bouldering Project (Atlantic, 900 Poplar Place S; 206.299.2300) and Vertical World (Interbay, 2330 W Commodore Way; 206.283.4497). Both gyms are filled with challenging walls—as high as 18 feet at Seattle Bouldering Project and up to 45 feet at Vertical World—dotted with colored plastic footholds, so beginners and veterans can choose an appropriate level of course difficulty. Climbing is a full-body workout that will improve your upper and lower body strength while increasing cardiovascular stamina, body awareness and range of motion. Like any workout, beginners should start slow, as well as learn to belay (climb using a rope) with a partner. Day passes for both gyms are $16–$17. Learn more at and

The (Not Just) November Project
This biweekly workout is free, gets you outside and introduces you to new people. All you have to do is show up at 6:29 a.m. (exactly!) every Wednesday and Friday. November Project leaders Casey Winkler and Brian Fisher challenge a group of from 40 to more than 100 people (depending on the day) with a full-body workout in various public locations throughout Seattle, including Gas Works Park, while creating a community centered around health, fitness and good vibes. Each hour-long workout starts with a hug, is filled with high fives (and running and burpees) and ends with a group photo. The project, which started in 2011 in Boston and has spread to 32 cities and seven countries, was launched by friends and cofounders Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric, who were holding each other accountable for their weekly workouts. The Seattle tribe celebrated its first anniversary last August with a workout that included more than 170 attendees, ranging from schoolteachers to CEOs, couch potatoes to marathon runners. For one hour, they all ran toward the same goal: a great workout. See the November Project calendar on Facebook, “November Project Seattle.”

Nama-Stained Glass
At Yoga Under Glass at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, bodies become the works of art during the 60-minute workout. Held in the gorgeously inspirational Glasshouse, this twice-monthly, multilevel class is focused on improving physical strength and peace of mind. Local instructors will walk you through each asana (pose) to reset your body and brain. After savasana, yogis are given access to tour the galleries and garden space to conclude their practice. One session is $22 plus tax. Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, 305 Harrison St.; 206.753.4940; 

Sleepless in Seattle
Last fall, Brooklyn-born dance movement Daybreaker made its Seattle debut at MoPop (formerly EMP) museum. More than 300 early risers showed up at 6 a.m. to participate in a guided yoga session, followed by a breaking-dawn dance party. Previously, the Seattle contingent, then known as The Wake, had started a movement similar to Daybreaker. Once The Wake started gaining national recognition, Daybreaker reps approached Wake organizers, and Seattle became another member of the Daybreaker family. Seattle’s Daybreaker team holds monthly events in different locations throughout the city, with local DJ sets and creative performances from emerging artists. Seattle Daybreaker producer Royce Yuen describes the movement’s particular significance to the Pacific Northwest. “Yoga is huge here, as is the concept of health and wellness,” he says. With its combo of yoga and dance, Daybreaker offers both—and fosters face-to-face interaction. “Seattleites are interested in looking for ways to connect with their community outside of social media,” says Yuen. Set your alarm. Tickets are $20–$35. For upcoming events and locations, visit  

Feel the Beat
You don’t have to be with the band to enjoy this megawatt workout, but you do have to be ready to work hard—really hard. Taught at the Elite Performance Center on Queen Anne, Pound is a drumming-inspired class designed to target both body and mind. Participants are given two Ripstix: lightweight drumsticks specially engineered to allow them to literally “hear” what their muscles are doing, which they hit against the floor to the beat of the music to enhance the cardio movements of the 45-minute workout. Pound instructor Torie Rynning says the choreography engages her mind so that she is not solely focused on the physical pain of the workout. Open to students of all experience levels. A 10-pack of Pound classes is $150; one drop-in class is $22. Queen Anne, Elite Performance Center, 315 First Ave. N; 206.623.5422; 

Image by Hayley Young
Beat it! At the Pound class at Queen Anne’s Elite Performance Center, students drum with Ripstix during the 45-minute cardio workout

Stop and Go
Originating in Japan in the 1990s, Tabata is a full-body, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout that follows a pattern of 20 seconds of aerobic activity followed by 10 seconds to recover. In 2012, when Autumn Skeel and Vicki Moen cofounded Total Body Tabata (TBT) at Queen Anne’s Seattle Gym, they altered the protocol of founder Izumi Tabata, M.D., by shifting from the practice’s usual stationary bikes to calisthenics. What they discovered was that practicing Tabata with calisthenics provided the same health and fitness benefits that it did when practiced with stationary biking. The program targets aerobic and anaerobic systems to build endurance, burn calories and reduce the risk of heart disease—with the added benefit of an inclusive group fitness experience. Drop-in class costs start at $19. The Seattle Gym, Queen Anne, 1530 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.283.2303; 

Find Your Soul Mate
The SoulCycle gods (that is, HQ in New York City) heard the Northwest’s call and have brought the celebrated cycling workout to Bellevue. The facility, which opened in January in the Lincoln Square expansion of The Bellevue Collection, is a 62-bike, 3,500-square-foot studio and the scene of this high-intensity cardio workout, distinguished by a highly choreographed routine and distinctive lighting. The dark studio is illuminated almost exclusively by candlelight, allowing cyclists to lose themselves in the class’s hip-hop soundtrack while riding to the beat alongside other participants. “We ride in the dark together, united as a single peloton,” says Gabby Cohen, senior vice president of brand strategy and public relations. “SoulCycle’s core philosophy is finding your joy in movement, and that’s what we hope each 45-minute class offers.”

To lead the pack, each SoulCycle instructor completes a 10-week training program in New York before being allowed to teach in the studio. While future Seattle locations may certainly be in the works, for now, you can find your “Soul” on the Eastside. Classes, $28 ($20 for first-timers, first class including shoe rental). Bellevue, 500 Bellevue Way; 425.786.0004;

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