This Is Not a Test: Trivia Training at the Washington Sports Clubs



“Don’t be a dumbbell,” yells Libby Linden Rubin, who’s part drill sergeant and part game show host as she leads Trivia Training. The Washington Sports Clubs‘ class makes your brain strain, too, making for a real total-body workout.

What it is: Rubin likes to describe the program as “boot camp meets ‘Jeopardy!’” But even though Watson the supercomputer probably knows who recorded “Riders on the Storm,” he probably couldn’t keep up with this series of sports conditioning drills. The idea is to make exhausting exercise more enjoyable by keeping you on your toes physically and mentally. “You’re always moving, so that hour goes by so quickly,” Rubin says. Plus, brain games help you bond with the other students.

How it works: During the warm-up, Rubin constantly shouts out statements and students jump their bodies to face either the “True” or “False” signs (taped up on opposite walls) while continuing with the exercise. There’s no penalty for getting a wrong answer — other than having to do another 180-degree leap. But that changes when Rubin splits the class into two teams to answer questions. The first team to get the correct answer decides whether to take the “power challenge” or just the “challenge,” while they force the losers to do what they didn’t want. In the lightning round, everyone runs around the room when Rubin says a true statement, but dashes into the center to perform an exercise when she says something false.


Moves: No one gets off easy in one of Rubin’s classes. When the power challenge is doing squat jumps, the challenge is staying deep in a squat and pulsing, so everyone’s still using the same muscles. For push-ups, students get a choice of doing them flat on a mat or with their feet elevated on a step. She has similar variations for burpees, V-sits, lunges and more.

Workout: You might think that the brainier team would decide to wimp out, but that hasn’t been the case. Winners often opt for the harder exercise — at least, at the beginning of class. “Sometimes you want the power challenge, but sometimes you just want to stick it to the other team,” says 34-year-old Eliza Moody. The person who has the toughest job, however, is Rubin, who needs to prepare not just her choreography but also her questions. “I spend three hours each week doing it because I want to make sure I have a variety,” she says.

Crowd: At a recent class, the question that got everyone most excited was about the president who refused to eat broccoli. One team wrote, “Bush.” The other wrote, “George H.W. Bush.” Some arguing ensued. So there are men and women, a variety of ages and fitness levels, but everyone is clearly a Washingtonian.

» Trivia Training is held Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. at Washington Sports ClubsChevy Chase location (5345 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-966-5051).

Photos by Teddy Wolff

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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