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AirFit - the toughest gym in the world?

MyZone closeup
MyZone closeup
Photo by Jim Evans

Everyone has an opinion about what is the toughest workout – Spinning, rowing, running, lifting, climbing, jumping, CrossFit, circuit training – you name it. But the toughest workout of them all may be found at AirFit. What is AirFit ?

The entrance to hell
Photo by Jim Evans

Imagine doing your favorite “toughest workout” in a 1,100 sf room – actually a large chamber - where the oxygen level can be controlled to simulate altitudes from mile-high up to 22,000 feet. AirFit users do not have to wear individual altitude masks attached to a machine because the room itself is atmospherically regulated by a large compressor and air tank located in a separate room.

AirFit is a high-altitude training center that works on the premise that users can improve their fitness level by working out more efficiently in an oxygen-deprived environment that requires less time (50 minutes of high-altitude training is equivalent to 90 minutes at sea level) while, at the same time, reducing stress on bones and joints. Other benefits include increased red blood cell count (which can increase energy production and improve athletic performance), VO2max, and strength output. Simply put, hypoxic training makes the body work harder to do the same amount of physical activity.

Located in San Francisco's East Bay community of Pleasanton, CA, AirFit is a virtual gym within a gym. It is part of a unique facility known as The Quad Fit Mall joining three other distinctive fitness studios under one roof offering classes in Crossfit NST (Never Stop Training), Absolute Barre, and Undisputed Boxing (boxing, kickboxing, and TRX), all in a separate non-descript 25,000 sf building in a quiet industrial business park. The four studios are complemented by a small but well-equipped fitness center with expanded functional space for dynamic exercises and stretching. The walls in each individual studio are embellished with colorful motivational messages to subtly inspire members during their workouts.

Leisure Sports, Inc is better known for its large, upscale fitness resorts recognized as ClubSport with three locations in San Francisco’s East Bay and two locations in Nevada and Oregon respectively. For more than 30 years these outstanding full-service clubs have been providing a variety of facilities, programs, and services to satisfy the fitness and social demands of “people of all ages, interest, and fitness levels who are seeking a healthy lifestyle.”

The Quad Fit Mall was the brainchild of the Leisure Sports executive team in response to the proliferation of independent studios in Crossfit, Boxing, and Barre. They observed that many of their own Club Sport members were attracted to these studios for their specificity despite the abundance of programs available at Club Sport. Acknowledging the popularity of what these independent studios were offering, they opted to create a separate and independent brand combining all of these programs under one venue.

The traditional Leisure Sports quality is evident from the beautifully-stained concrete floors to the immaculately-clean and well-appointed locker rooms. There are also comfortable sitting areas, attractive wall adornments, spacious childcare facilities, chiropractic services, and a small pro shop offering logo wear and fitness accessories. In other words, it looks good, it smells good, and it covers all the bases.

But, it is AirFit that makes the entire facility truly unique. Why? Because there is simply nothing else like it. Well, almost. A prototype of AirFit – The Summit Training Studio, a 400 sf altitude training studio – was introduced at the ClubSport in Tigard, OR, in 2011, in cooperation with Hypoxico Altitude Training Systems, the company known for its high altitude tents, sleep masks, generators, and altitude exercise training products.

AirFit is currently the largest altitude training studio in North America, but “It is not just a room built for hypoxic training,” says Dennis Dumas, Wellness Director for Leisure Sports. “It’s built for high intensity, functional training,” he explains.

AirFit can accommodate up to 27 people at one time and typically offers 50-minute group classes with a mix of cardio and functional strength training for both beginners and advanced athletes offering a variety of training options such as the Mile High Circuit, combining three unique stations—the Concept2® rower, the FreeMotion® bike, and functional training for a complete strength and cardio workout. Or, the Mile High Relay where teams of three tackle three zones — the Concept2® rower, the FreeMotion® bike, and functional training —in two different 15-minute rounds, with a two-minute transition time between stations.

One-on-one training is also available. Coaches carefully monitor the heart rates of participants throughout each training session

Even high-energy Power Vinyasa Yoga (a derivative of Ashtanga) classes are performed in the AirFit Studio where, performed at a quickened pace at an altitude of at least one mile is even more effective than traditional power yoga.

AirFit Director Carlo Maravilla is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) for corrective exercise and performance enhancement and has years of experience coaching people one-on-one, teaching large-format group fitness classes such as TRX™ Suspension Training, Spin, MMA Fight Fit and boot camp, and triathlon training. He has used Hypoxico Systems to fortify his triathlon training as well as to assist in one-day summit attempts on Mt. Whitney.

As someone who trains regularly at AirFit, he says, “If you’re working smart and efficiently, you can work as hard as you want, and you’ll never lose traction.”

At AirFit, even your toughest workout is more challenging.

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