I learned a valuable lesson last week. If you enthusiastically reply “Yes!” when a personal trainer asks you during your warm-up if you like working out, the subsequent look of amusement on his face means he’s plotting a sadistic routine that will kick your ass.
It was my second visit to Club Mo Fitness, a fitness center in the IX complex that offers one-on-one sessions, group classes, and at-home training. And despite the fact that I could barely lift my pen to take notes after trying my hand at boxing and suspension pushups with trainer Trent Anderson a few days earlier, I was rested and pumped for an interval training session.
Coach, trainer, and co-founder of Club Mo, Mahogany Smith hand-tailored a 30-minute workout for me based on my health, body type, and athletic history. He sized me up at a glance, accurately identifying me as a former competitive swimmer with experience in weight training. I started out with a quick jog back and forth in front of the IX building while Smith finished up with another client, who, by the time I returned to the door, was leaning helplessly against a pole, mopping sweat from his brow. With a twinkle in his eye, Smith patted the poor guy on the back and led me into the studio to get started on an intense round of cardio and weight intervals.
Club Mo hit Charlottesville’s exercise scene early this year as a mobile fitness club. The tricked out silver van—equipped with everything from boxing gloves, hand weights, and kettlebells to stability balls, yoga mats, and suspension straps—will roll up to your doorstep for a personalized workout in your own living room.
“It’s good for people who are landlocked, trapped in their homes,” like stay-at-home moms, Smith said.
Smith said the mobile component of the gym has been successful thus far, and corporate wellness packages are available for businesses that want to push group fitness with employees. But as Club Mo gains popularity through word of mouth, the in-house studio is what seems to be expanding the most. Kickboxing and yoga instructors recently joined the ranks, and Smith said he hopes to incorporate both a nutritionist and massage therapist as “new arms of the business.”
“We want to be an octopus at one point,” Smith said.
I quickly learned that the guys at Club Mo show no mercy when it comes to counting. If you don’t squat low enough, it doesn’t count. If you don’t kick hard enough, it doesn’t count.
By the time I was facing the mirror in a wall squat position, passing a kettlebell under my knees from one hand to the other before thrusting it over my head 20 times on each side, I was wishing I hadn’t eaten lunch earlier. Smith laughed and told me that he knows it’s been a good workout if one of his clients throws up. I couldn’t tell if he was kidding. But now I know that there’s no room for coddling during Smith’s training sessions.
“I’m compassionate, and I’m passionate, but I’m not sensitive,” he said. When I ask how he responds when clients complain, he laughs and rolls his eyes. “I tell them to shut the hell up.”
We wrapped up the workout with one last running exercise outside, and true to form, he showed no mercy when I sprinted across the finish line three seconds over the 12-second limit he gave me. He unapologetically had me back up three sidewalk blocks—one for each second I added—drop to my hands and feet, and cross the finish line again, this time with a set of walking push-ups.
By the numbers
With about 20 years of coaching and training under his belt, Mahogany Smith said one of the most common struggles he sees over and over is an obsession with the scale.
“Everybody’s hell bent on that number,” he said.
But Smith said he’s seen clients lose as little as one pound while at the same time shedding six or seven inches from their waists, so he encourages his clients to resist the urge to focus solely on numbers on the scale.
- One-on-one session in studio: $45
- Drop-in group class: $15
- Five-class punch card: $60
- 11-class punch card: $100
- For promotional rates on individual and group sessions at home, call the studio at 242-9969, or e-mail email@example.com.