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Pulse House of Fitness

To prepare for an upcoming hiking trip, I popped into Pulse House of Fitness to try their VersaClimber class and to see if my legs were ready for my pending mountain climb.

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Pulse is located on busy 14th St and New York Avenue with an electric pink sign guiding fitness enthusiasts down to the basement-level studio. Upon check-in, studio attendants are there to give a tour and direct you to your digital locker. The lobby is stocked with a free Compass Coffee station, and the locker rooms are supplied with all the essentials from shampoo and conditioner to hair dryers, bobby pins, and makeup wipes.

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Pulse bills itself as DC’s first body confident studio and has space for everyone to come as they are and “rise together as a community.” Studio founder Shafer Minnick embodies this spirit and brings a positive vibe to the studio he founded back in 2018. I was curious about this studio given Shafer was one of my favorite spin instructors at Reformation Fitness. While our schedules did not align, I will have to return to try his take on the VersaClimber.

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Pulse offers two types of classes, “CLIMB” and “LAB.” CLIMB classes are centered on a VersaClimber: a tall machine with handholds and footholds for climbing. Classes are just thirty minutes long since they are so difficult. LAB classes are essentially a circuit and resistance training class using body and free weights. I opted to try to the hip-hop climb class with Jorge.

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The climb studio is set up like a spin studio with the instructor positioned on a podium at the front of the room to lead by example. The VersaClimbers are in rows of three and contain two screens to track your stroke length, heart rate, effort, and distance climbed. The VersaClimber has velcro straps for your feet and handholds that should be adjusted based on height.

Jorge led us through an incredibly high-energy class to the beat of some great hip-hop tracks. There is a knob similar to a spin bike to increase and decrease resistance. I kept my knob dialed down to pretty much zero for the entire class because of the difficulty.

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Photo Courtesy of Pulse House of Fitness

Throughout class, Jorge called out target stroke lengths, speed, and percent efforts to help us make sure we were hitting our targets. We did a variety of movements on the climber from long strokes held for a few beats to super fast “sprint” climbing. The overall result was leg numbing. Throughout class, Jorge came around to encourage longer strokes or increased effort, which – while well-intentioned – pushed me past my legs capabilities. I took a look at my neighbor’s screens (I know I’m terrible and one of “those” people) and saw that I was climbing a lot slower than my fitness friends.

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Midway through class, I was dripping in sweat and wondering how something that looks like a piece of ‘80s “as seen on tv” workout equipment could be so difficult. Right when I thought my legs would collapse, we began our final song. After pushing along to the beats of Kanye, we were rewarded with a cold towel and some cool down stretches. While this workout is designed to target the entire body, there is a heavy focus on thighs that can at times be painful if you struggle with knee pain.

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Photo Courtesy of Pulse House of Fitness

Overall, Pulse is a conveniently located studio that offers a unique workout. The CLIMB class was a fun and short exercise, but failed to give that endorphin hit or feel-good vibe like after a spin or yoga class.

Pulse offers a one week unlimited new member pass for $59. Other class packages can be booked in five ($165), 10 ($300) or 20 ($560) packs. Recurring memberships are also available for a reduced price. Currently, there is not an option to buy a single class, but Pulse is available through ClassPass.

The Bitches Say: Three Sweat Drops

Pulse offers fitness enthusiasts a unique workout with a great “body confidence” message.

Kaitlyn Sheehy

DC Fitness & Lifestyle Editor

Catch her bopping to a themed spin ride, sipping a cocktail at the newest bar or searching for the next flight to somewhere exotic. Kaitlyn spends her weekdays working in the PR world and battles office chair fatigue by looking for the hottest new fitness studios from barre to boxing.

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