First-class fitness: Zoom and Athleta make you feel and look good—but you’ll have to work for it

Jojo McDuffie holds the awesome title head of strength at Zoom Performance Training. Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith Jojo McDuffie holds the awesome title head of strength at Zoom Performance Training. Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith

By Cam Edson

Forty-five minutes on a bike at Zoom Indoor Cycling, a locally owned fitness boutique in the Barracks Road Shopping Center, can feel more like 45 minutes out on the dance floor at your favorite club on a Friday night. With the blasting music, pulsing rainbow lights, and rhythmic pedaling, you might forget you’re working out—until the burning in your legs sets in.

And a session at Zoom Performance Training, the strength-and-conditioning studio that launched next door in April, is like a preseason workout with tight-knit teammates. Together, the studios bring state-of-the-art fitness to Charlottesville.

At the performance studio just before 6:30am on a Monday, instructor Jojo McDuffie calls seven of us over to a whiteboard where he maps out the grueling 55 minutes to come.

The class starts off with a simple warm-up: band walking squares and wall sits in 30-second intervals. Note that I say “simple,” not “easy.” My glutes and quads are on fire.

McDuffie says the warm-up for each class is designed to prepare clients for the more difficult strength and conditioning training that follows. “I want to teach you how to move well first, and then we can progress from there, whether you use heavier weights or increase the intensity of your movement,” McDuffie says.

Intense only begins to describe what happens next. Working both inside the studio and out, McDuffie guides us through 90-degree squat holds and walks along the sidewalk holding a kettlebell overhead. He frequently steps up to individuals to provide one-on-one coaching.

He says he designed his program to fit Charlottesville’s fitness profile. “It’s running, and it’s cycling—this city has a very cardio-intensive community,” he says. “If you’re a cyclist, you’re on a fixed platform. So the question becomes, how can I get you moving better in space and in different patterns?”

Finally, the class dives into McDuffie’s killer conditioning—a literally breathtaking rotation of jumping rope, deadlifts, rowing machines, jump-lunges, push-ups, and punching a heavy bag.

And what would motivate you to get up at the crack of dawn for a non-stop sweat session? How about the soft touch of a brand-new, sweat-wicking Speedlight Tank ($44) or bright hues of the Velocity Laser Cut Capri leggings ($98) from Athleta, a premium fitness and lifestyle brand for women and girls?

Along with the Zoom studios, Athleta completes the workout trifecta at Barracks Road. It opened in May, offering a wide array of athletic wear, much of which is made of recycled materials. Purpose-driven sections in the brightly lit shop—train, studio, travel, water, explore, girls—make it easy to find what you need. The merchandise is beautifully made and costly—but several customers, mostly young women, told me they feel the investment is worthwhile, because the gear makes them feel more confident while working out.

Top-notch studio training and outfitting in Charlottesville—all in the same shopping center, no less. Who’da thunk it?

Posted In:     2019 Best of C-VILLE Editor’s Pick

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