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    Photo by Mickie Winters

    Today’s routine at BareFit includes an empty beer keg, a stepladder, a rock-climbing hold dangling from the ceiling and hand weights attached by carabiners to chunks of two-by-fours. It’s a Tuesday afternoon, which means a “push” day — working all the front muscles (abs, chest, shoulders). “This week we’re doing grip and finger strength,” BareFit’s owner, Curtis Hall, tells me before we start.

    The gym, on Logan Street just south of Oak, opened about five years ago. Hall says he started BareFit after realizing there was no training regimen in the area for adventure sports like biking, hiking or rock climbing. In other words: “For me to train myself,” says Hall, who created an exercise regimen based on rock climbing while finishing his bachelor’s degree in exercise science at U of L. Hall doesn't just craft and manage class routines — he builds the props, too. Painted plywood obstacles clutter a corner. Ropes, rings and carabiners hang neatly on a back wall, behind weightlifting bars. A ladder mounted in a hole connects the first and second floors, like extreme monkey bars. An empty gas canister sits on the floor. “We attempt to train for real-world situations, and what better way to train than with real-world stuff that you might find outside or on your adventures?” Hall says.

    We do 30-second bursts, alternating with a partner before moving to the next station. For my first set, I switch between sitting on my butt and lifting my legs without letting them touch the ground, back and forth over the keg (which I’ve set on the short side, the easy side) and carrying a five-pound weight above my head and walking in a straight line parallel to large metal beams resting on wooden planks on the floor. The next station is leg lifts while suspended by climbing holds, and lifting wooden blocks with five-pound hand weights hanging from the bottom…by pinching the blocks between my fingers. While we’re sweating, Hall, bearded with a ponytail, keeps time and acts as a cheerleader. “Let’s switch it up,” he says at the end of each exercise, moving between stations, making gentle corrections (mostly to me) about posture and form.

    “One thing that we really want to aim for is being accessible to anyone who would want to work out,” Hall says. “We definitely have people that are in awesome shape, that came straight from college sports and just want to keep in shape, but we also have people who have never worked out before in their lives.”

    We move outside to the parking lot to hop and work on balance. My arms somehow feel simultaneously heavy and weightless, and my leg muscles pulse and bulge. It is at this point, jumping and twisting my way to the end of the lot, that I regret riding my bike here, even if it does have motor-assist. At least I can safely say I have earned pizza for dinner.

    This originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Jennifer Kiefer's picture

    About Jennifer Kiefer

    Germantown transplant. Louisville native.

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