A half-dozen people walked in to Roam Fitness for a recent class, and then they immediately went outside again.
They weren’t ditching the new gym, an intimate space in the basement of Glover Park’s Savoy Suites Hotel. They were embracing its motto: “Fitness without boundaries.” Although Roam has a physical space — along with cardio equipment, barbells, balls and mats — members are encouraged to spend as little time in there as possible.
“People want to do real stuff again,” says co-founder Graham King, who believes this whole city can serve as a gym. “You don’t have to imagine the hills. You can run the hills.”
And you certainly will during Roam’s signature class, OutRun, which is offered most mornings and weekday evenings. Developed by co-founder Chris Geier, it’s a group run for people who want to do more than just log mileage. About every quarter-mile to half-mile, Geier barks out a command to halt and perform a strength-training exercise.
It can be burpees, lunges and sit-ups in a patch of grass, toe raises on the edge of a curb, tricep dips on a stair railing or pull-ups on a playground set. Geier totes along resistance bands in his backpack for extra challenges, and sometimes another trainer shows up midway through the 3-to-5-mile route with goodies such as kettlebells or sandbags — and, thankfully, water.
“There’s always a little bit of the unknown. You don’t know what you’re going to get,” says Andrew Meehan, 31, who’s been coming back even though he doesn’t typically like to run.
Part of Geier’s sales pitch for the program is that you never need to go all that far at once, which makes the distance more doable for people who don’t think of themselves as runners. Still scared? He plans to offer intro OutRuns soon, as well as outings for advanced runners, dog owners and parents with strollers.
No matter who’s in each group, Geier says, the frequent stops help keep everyone together: “I don’t give them a chance to separate.”
Between chitchatting en route and the partner exercises, OutRun is a social experience, says 24-year-old Mariella Torres. That helps her push harder than she would if she were training solo. But the reason she’s “obsessed” with the program is that it’s introduced her to her own neighborhood.
“I’ve lived here for a year and a half, and there are trails we’ve been on that I didn’t know existed,” Torres says.
Geier’s hobby is tracking down interesting tunnels, gardens and greenery, and he strives to pick routes with a few surprises along the way. There are a bunch of gems around Glover Park and Georgetown, but he also has plans to take advantage of the hotel van — which can haul 20 people — to start OutRuns from different spots around the region. He’d like to get folks over to Fort Dupont Park in Southeast and into Virginia for a visit to the Mount Vernon Trail.
“I want them always seeing something new,” Geier says. And that includes a better view in the mirror.
Try classes at Roam Fitness for free through May 31. Membership options will be $50-$95, depending on the number of classes and personal training sessions included. All members receive 15 percent off at Twist (the hotel’s restaurant) and 10 percent off personal training. Drop-in classes will be $25, or available in 10-packs for $200. A free seven-day membership will also be available to newcomers. Get more information at Roamfitnessdc.com.
Out There: The gym offers four types of classes, all of which can be held outside, says co-founder Graham King. In addition to OutRun, the schedule features RowCon (think cycling class, but on rowing machines and with calisthenics added), Yoga + Mobility (poses blended with dynamic athletic drills, designed to get folks moving off the mat) and Barbell 5/3/1 (a structured strength-building program). These three are held outside only in nice weather, while OutRun isn’t dependent on the forecast. The only reason it’ll get canceled? Lightning.