Photo from my Instagram
I woke up dreading Tone House. The first time I went was at 7AM on a Monday morning, bleary-eyed and stumbling my way through Union Square – not really ready for life or the homeless man yelling at me “OOO IT’S A JAPANESE GIRL – SHE BUILT LIKE A BLACK SISTER”, let alone an hour of what would be one of the toughest workouts I’ve gone through. I figured that if a workout had taken me hostage and made me giddy with fear, I should definitely go back – and so I rescheduled on Classpass.
But as the day went by, and the clock inched closer and closer to my 7.30PM class, my anxiety grew. Walking through the door and waiting for the class to start is an experience all on its own – the Midtown studio greets you with “CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR. IT’S GAME TIME”, the room is tinged red and barely has any light, and something akin to the Inception soundtrack is humming in the background – casting a very Hunger Games esque vibe to the whole experience.
Photo from Tone House NYC
After glancing around at the insanely high amount of fit people per square metre in the room, it was time to warm up. Fifteen minutes of hurdle drills, facing each way, and then burpees between each hurdle, multiple times. This is not cross country warm-up at your Primary School. The warm-up ALONE grabs you by the neck and grunts in your ear that you are not ready, and you are not worthy.
I’ve trained with Alonzo, the founder of ToneHouse NYC and also Yusuf, the head coach. Both had an unwavering disposition of ex-athletes who are UNBELIEVABLY BUFF, and each have their own styles. Both were tough – Yusuf yelled more.
After regrouping from mini workout #1 (the warm-up), everyone gets into a circle and jumps and yells and puts their hands in the middle. What then follows is a blur of harness sprints, normal sprints, and circuits of exercises dependent on what body parts they’re targeting – I’ve been to both lower body and upper body days, and both have a variety of exercises that are half fun and half (mostly) excruciating, including jumping on an ab dolly and scooting around the room using your legs, box jumps, TRX rows and bicep curls and a lot of harness sprinting. The hour goes by quickly though, and each circuit or stage is split up with high fives all around.
One of the stages that was particularly fun/terrifying was circle drills – essentially standing in a circle and reacting as quickly as you can to the instructions of the trainer – whether that be to drop to the ground and do a burpee, hold a squat, jump high in the air, jump around or squat-press with a sandbag. When someone is yelling at you to do something before you’ve finished the previous movement, shit gets real.
Another portion I had never come across was wearing a harness attached to a long stringy bungee rope, that applies resistance when you run beyond the length of the rope – we were told to sprint, do bear crawls and get on a table top position and walk like a crab. My lack of coordination proved to be too strong, and I was dragged back by the rope multiple times. Another star example of my lack of coordination is during a sprint drill, when a portion was running backwards – I decided to run backwards at a completely random time, confusing everyone and myself in the process.
Tone House is challenging. And if you are ever in the situation where you can work out to cinematic theme music, have war cries and incredibly confused muscles, it probably works and you should definitely go back.

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