The Washington Post

Start! Hammer time

Instructor Libby Linden Rubin, left, demonstrates how to lift a hammer like a god. (Christopher anderson/For Express) Instructor Libby Linden Rubin, left, demonstrates how to lift a hammer like a god. (Christopher Anderson/For Express)

Thor needed to prove he was a worthy warrior before he could lift his famous hammer. Students taking Washington Sports Clubs’ “Thor’s Thunder Workout” class don’t have to work quite so hard to pick up a similar weapon — they each get a foam replica as soon as they walk into the room. The tough part comes next.

What it is: There are several stunning visuals in Marvel’s “Thor” movies. But the most impressive is actor Chris Hemsworth’s physique, says instructor Libby Linden Rubin. That’s the inspiration for this 45-minute class designed to chisel every muscle in the body. The kickboxing and mixed martial arts movements aren’t just for “fighting enemies and wrongdoers,” Rubin says: They’ll also help vanquish calories.

Moves: If hearing a movie’s theme music makes you want to take a seat, you’re in luck. The warm-up goes heavy on squats. Because this is a Thor-themed class, students don’t just pulse up and down — they take their hammers in both hands and smack them on the ground and then lift them above their heads. Students have to get comfortable with that prop. Soon, they’re doing speed skater jumps and switching the hand holding it with each side-to-side leap. (“Good thing the hammer is light,” said Linda Laurienzo, 49, of Damascus, Md., after dropping hers at last week’s class.)

(Christopher Anderson/For Express) (Christopher Anderson/For Express)

When it’s time for the punching segments, students aren’t just jabbing and hooking with a fist. They’re slicing the air with their hammers. That helps prepare them for Rubin’s favorite part: Like in the movies, Thor needs to partner up to succeed. So one person cranks out pushups while another jumps over his or her arms. In another exercise, they get back-to-back and lunge. They hit the floor with their hammers, then rotate as they stand back up so they can clap the two hammers together.

And the class wouldn’t be complete without Thor core. Try sitting on the ground, but leaning far back and keeping the legs up. Then add taps with the hammer on either side to target the obliques.

Workout: “Now I have a huge amount of respect for all demigods,” said Jamell Swan, 32, of North Bethesda, who predicted he would feel sore everywhere. The hammers aren’t heavy — not even Rubin’s specialty one that makes thunder sound effects — but the routine doesn’t require much weight to test endurance, strength and balance.

It had the power to make Nancy Cohen, 58, feel superhuman. “This got out my aggressive tendencies,” the Bethesda resident said. “I’ve never done that many pushups.”

Details: Thursdays (except Nov. 28) through Dec. 5 at 8 a.m. at WSC North Bethesda (10400 Old Georgetown Road; It’s free for members and nonmembers.

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



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Vicky Hallett · November 19, 2013