Any time we try out a new workout, our goal is the same: to challenge ourselves and our bodies in a new way when the usual fitness routine has gotten a bit stale (or just way too easy). But as far as new fitness challenges go, there is perhaps no workout quite as intense as the one you get when you head to New York’s Tone House. The studio, which has been dubbed the home of New York City’s toughest workout, combines some of the most brutal moves in the game (think burpees, sprints, and sled pushes) with some signature – and not to mention, just plain cruel – moves (case in point: the gallop). Of course, the sheer grueling nature of the workout is no less than what can be expected when it’s the brainchild of a former pro footballer. Here, Tone House’s founder, Alonzo Wilson, sheds a little light on the concept behind the gym, and how everything comes together to make this one of the literal best sweats you will ever experience.
How did you get your start in fitness and athletics?
I lettered in football, basketball, and track in high school, and played collegiately as a defensive lineman for the two-time Division II National Championship-winning football team at GVSU, before moving on to the professional arena. I also hold a bachelor’s degree in Movement Science Education & Professional Instruction from Grand Valley State University, and I’m TRX Certified.
When did you come up with the concept for Tone House?
In high school, I was shocked that aside from the average physical education class that all students were required to attend, only 10 percent of my classmates were exposed to challenging conditioning workouts through team sports. I think everyone should have the opportunity to workout like an elite athlete and feel the motivation and inspiration that team sports provide, which is why I opened Tone House.
So it’s really all about that team sport mentality. Why do you think there’s a value in that?
We believe that every individual has the capacity to be like the athletes they admire, and to train like them. Whether you’re an elite athlete, or just want to train like one, Tone House’s goal is to bring sports conditioning workouts to the mainstream and help individuals improve their mental and physical health, and become better overall athletes and people.
Can you tell me a bit more about Tone House’s fitness programs?
Tone House is the first-ever extreme, athletic-based group fitness studio aimed at unleashing the inner athlete in everyone. Sessions are team-oriented, competitive, fun, and supportive, guaranteeing optimal fitness results.
I know a lot of what you guys do at the studio is built on the idea of movement training. Why is that, exactly?
The human body is designed to move as a whole and on multiple planes – similar to how athletes train to stay in peak condition. Remaining abnormally stationary or staying in one plane while training prevents our bodies from maximizing their full potential, both in workouts and in daily life. Movement training utilizes more muscle groups and expends more energy, resulting in highly effective and efficient training sessions. Tone House challenges individuals to elevate their workouts by consistently incorporating this programming philosophy into each session.
I know Tone House classes can be a bit tough. Is it hard for beginners to get started?
Nervous excitement and pre-game jitters are common feelings before your first class! We recommend TH 101 to anyone who is new to Tone House because it offers a great introduction to our workout and movement training philosophy, as well as focused instruction and demonstration on proper technique and strong form that you can carry into any Tone House session. Plus, you’ll get the benefit of joining the team with a group of athletes who are new to The House as well.
Tone House has gotten some buzz for the fitness “toys” that you guys use. Can you tell me a bit more about the kind equipment that people can expect to use in a class?
Signature pieces of equipment include resistance harnesses, velocity battling ropes and weighted sleds. Our Nomad location also features retractable stadium bleachers and recovery programs including Trigger Point classes, NormaTec boots and cold tubs.
How has your own time as an athlete really played into the vibe you look to have at every Tone House class?
When you talk to a former athlete, the thing they miss the most is that camaraderie, so I’ve tried to create a place where we’re all on a team. When you work out together, the amount of respect you have for the other people in the room is amazing.
What’s been the most exciting part about starting Tone House for you?
The most exciting part is to see people’s confidence change, and how that confidence helps them in not just their workout, but in all other aspects of there life. The team atmosphere is also contagious, so people treat others better off the turf and have more respect for others.
What is your vision for Tone House moving forward? How do you hope that the gym can continue to change how people think about, and approach, fitness?
My vision for Tone House has both short and long term objectives, but the commonality for both is to help people become the best version of themselves. I believe Tone House has definitely, and will continue to, change the landscape of fitness. We will do so by always being true to ourselves and always evolving to challenge our athletes and community. People think they know what Tone House is all about, but we’re just warming up!
This post was originally published on April 26, 2017. It has since been updated.