Hopping mad: Franchise gym MADabolic uses interval training to appeal to all fitness levels


The coaches at MADabolic Inc. are not afraid to kick your butt. The boutique gym features intense interval workouts through group classes and one-on-one sessions whether you’re a body builder or new to the fitness world. Photo: Elli Williams The coaches at MADabolic Inc. are not afraid to kick your butt. The boutique gym features intense interval workouts through group classes and one-on-one sessions whether you’re a body builder or new to the fitness world. Photo: Elli Williams

Three minutes is nothing. I can do anything for 180 seconds, right?

I found myself eating those words last week at MADabolic Inc. as I dropped an 18-pound kettlebell back onto the floor and made my way to the next station, a row of exercise steps. With two and a half rotations of the five-station interval workout already behind me, no more water breaks, and sweat pouring down my face, I gritted my teeth and began hopping on and off my step. One foot on, one foot off, lunge down, spring up, switch. Repeat at a steady pace for three minutes.

MADabolic is a franchise gym that offers intense interval workouts through exercise classes and one-on-one sessions. Personal trainer and lifelong athlete Dar Malecki was living and working in Charlotte, North Carolina when she attended one of MADabolic’s first preview week sessions in 2011, and she couldn’t get enough of it.

“Once I’d done that workout I was hooked,” Malecki said. “There’s a very predetermined method behind the programming, and I knew this was the real deal.”

Shortly thereafter she moved to Charlottesville, and reached out to the MADabolic owners about opening a Central Virginia location. By April 2013, the company had franchising approval and MADabolic Charlottesville, in the IX building at 943 Second St. SE, was ready to open for business.

Interval workout classes, featuring short periods of high-intensity exercises followed by rest, have been popping up all over the place. But what makes MADabolic different, according to Malecki, are the intentionally and meticulously planned routines.

“When you do a group exercise class at a local gym, they’re not always delivering a focus or intention. It’s just balls to the wall,” Malecki said. “They’re not really guiding you, or telling you why. There’s not a purpose behind it.”

At last Monday’s evening session, instructor Kirsten Lorenger directed our attention toward the whiteboard at the front of the room, which featured the five exercises that would kick our butts for the next 35 minutes. They involved free weights, kettlebells, punching bags, sprints, and, my favorite, the spring lunges with the step. She described the routine as a “climb,” which meant we’d spend one minute doing each exercise the first time around, then two minutes, then by the time we were nice and sore, we’d finish strong with three long minutes at each station.

“Today’s workout probably won’t make you feel like your heart’s pounding out of your chest like some of the other ones,” Lorenger said to the group before class. “But by the end of it, you should have nothing left.”

At the start of the first set, I took off from behind the orange cone at the word “go,” sprinted across the room, squatted down to tap the weight color-coded for my level, and jogged backwards to my cone, glancing over my shoulder to avoid slamming into the row of steps nearby. Tap, sprint down, tap, jog backwards, tap. As a naturally competitive person, I couldn’t help but keep tabs on the two guys in my group who were clearly MADabolic regulars. I lengthened my stride and quickened my squats to keep up, despite the fact that 30 seconds into the first set I was already winded, and still I had 34 and a half minutes ahead of me. According to Malecki, the group dynamic of the class is designed to foster motivation without pushing competitiveness on anyone who doesn’t thrive on it.

“We’re not counting reps against another person, so that takes out some of the competitiveness,” Malecki said. “But when everyone’s starting and ending at the same time, anyone who’s been a competitive athlete is going to innately feel that.”

It was an intense and challenging class, and I definitely felt it the next day. But because each interval lended itself to modifications and different weights, I would encourage fitness newbies to give it a try. A word to the wise: Fight the urge to check the clock when you think your three-minute interval is almost over. It’s not.

Method behind the madness

Each MADabolic class is designed around one of three types of inter-
vals, each of which target different results. And according to Dar Malecki, you’ll never experience a repeat class.

Momentum: Movements feed off one another for a “natural-born athletic chaos.” Intervals involve non-stop action, consistent intensity, and a lot of sweat.

Anaerobic: With a focus on controlled maximum effort, movements are explosive and dynamic, and matched with cardiovascular outputs to push you to your limit.

Durability: Strength, stability, and consistent form and posture are the focus. Movements patterns are less traditional, and the intervals are often longer and more grueling.

Getting started

MADabolic is currently offering two new client specials. Pay $10 for ten days,
or try a month of unlimited classes for $100. For more information check out www.madabolic.com/charlottesville-va.

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