Fitness Friday: Platoon Fitness
By LNapolitanoPsyD on March 31, 2014
Platoon Fitness has been a fixture in the local fitness community for over 20 years. The backbone of their program is an outdoor fitness class that runs rain or shine. They also offer an indoor fitness class called Evolution, and extensive personal training. Platoon is well known for it’s rigorous, no-nonsense approach to fitness. They approach fitness from a functional standpoint and aim to use movements that best mimic how bodies were originally meant to move. To that end, many of the cardio and warm up movements in the Platoon workout have animal names: bear crawl, duck walk, caterpillar, etc. Platoon Fitness has locations in Bryn Mawr, Center City and, most recently, Devon.
Platoon is offering an amazing promotion for readers of my fitness blog:
For a mere $25 donation to Bryn Mawr Hospital, you can receive:
- A one hour personal training session
- A week of outdoor classes
- One indoor ‘Evolution’ class
- One Martial Arts class like Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing, boxing or Muay Thai.
Just mention that you read about this promotion in this article. This would make a great Holiday gift for someone who might be curious to check out Platoon Fitness.
My Introduction to Platoon Fitness
Class 1: Outdoor Class with Mike Smaltz and Jason Feairheller
I was petrified of the outdoor class. I must have called Todd Scott, the owner of Platoon Fitness, at least 10 times for reassurance. The idea of meeting a bunch of strangers in a parking lot seemed unnerving to me. I signed up for a Saturday outdoor class solely because it was at 7am, rather than the weekday 6am class.
I was greeted by instructors Mike and Jason, who immediately cracked jokes and made me feel comfortable. We ran laps and performed various warm up exercises in the parking lot. We then walked up to the top of a relatively steep hill and started the ‘real work.’ We sprinted up the hill, did push ups, ran back down the hill, did bear crawls up the hill, then burpees, then sit ups.
The whole time I kept hearing ‘good job, new girl!’ ‘Way to keep up, new girl!’ The workout was intense but I will say that the dynamic of the group was the key. The class participants encouraged one another and heckled the instructors. It was very similar to sports practices that I’d attended in high school. Camaraderie was very high and the humor was twisted and fun.
I will say that I wore the wrong sneakers. It was pretty muddy the day that I took the outdoor class and my cute little blue sneakers were brown by the end of the class. Rookie mistake.
Class 2: Personal Training with Dave Ruhl
This was my first time in the Bryn Mawr Platoon studio. It was tough looking, masculine in appearance, and spartan. I went upstairs and met Dave. He was kind and warm. He did a thorough injury and fitness assessment. The personal training workout that followed was unlike any other training session I’ve ever had. Rather than using dumbbells or nautilus machines, Dave utilized very few props. He had me run on the treadmill to warm up, then he showed me how to do various animal-named movements (bear crawls, caterpillar, duck walk). I sprinted up the stairwell and did lunges, then we did burpess and sit ups. It was incredible how comprehensive the workout was with minimal equipment. My favorite moment in the training session, however, was when Dave let me use the Jacob’s Ladder. In all of my years, I’ve never had the chance to use this machine. It’s like a ladder treadmill so that the more you climb, the more the ladder continues to grow. It’s a very unique machine and definitely gives a full-body workout.
The training session ended at 5pm on Friday. Dave joked that I probably should not have signed up for the Evolution class the following morning. As my quads were shaking from the workout, I thought ‘yup, I’m sure that he’s right about that.’
Class 3: Evolution with Jason Feairheller
I woke up a little sore from personal training on Friday but excited to try Evolution. In the class, there were 3 other participants besides me. They were significantly more experienced than me but they were really warm and encouraging.
The Workout of the Day was called ‘Fight Gone Bad.’ We did box jumps, dead lifts (I used a light bar with no weights because I was still learning the proper technique), the rowing machine, wall ball, and kettlebell swings. Jason spent a significant amount of time ensuring that I was using proper form and helped me to modify certain exercises that were too advanced for me.
Like the outdoor Platoon class, the Evolution class involved high camaraderie between participants and the instructor. Everyone high fived one another at the end of class. In contrast to a stereotypical ‘gym workout,’ this felt more like an off-season sports team workout.
Curious to Check it Out? Here’s What You Need to Know:
- For the outdoor class in Rosemont, I recommend driving to the Rosemont College parking lot the day before the first class so that you know where it is. I got a tad turned around in the campus when I drove to the class.
Typical person at this studio:
- The Evolution and outdoor class on Saturday was 50/50 with men and women. Most people were ages 35-65.
- The interesting thing about Platoon is that it has this very austere, almost intimidating image but I actually saw plenty of women that I knew socially at Platoon that I never would have guessed would be attracted to this brand of fitness.
What You Should Wear:
- Bring gloves to the outdoor class. You may be crawling on your hands in a parking lot, which can hurt a little bit without gloves. Some of the other members had padded gardening gloves on.
- If you’re heading to the outdoor class, wear clothing that you don’t mind getting muddy. Don’t plan to attend a high-end luncheon directly after Platoon outdoor class. You’re going to need to take a shower.
- For the indoor class or personal training, wear something functional for movement.
Anything Else You Should Know:
- There is ample parking at the building.
- Platoon Evolution/personal training supplies towels for mopping up sweat.
About Platoon Fitness (Bryn Mawr)
899 Penn Street
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D.
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