Remember summer camp? Nothing in the adult world can quite capture the chaotic energy of a summer spent at sleep-away camp. Your counselors were the coolest young adults you had ever encountered, every day was filled with amazing and exhausting activities, and at night you slept so deeply that you forgot you where you were when you woke up.
Camp Tampa, a new gym in South Tampa, tries to recreate the magic for adults. Their camp theme is definitely campy…they call their studio the “Camp Grounds”, their fitness instructors “counselors”, and their class schedule “Activities”. You can shop for new workout clothes in the “general store”, and everyone seems to own at least one article of clothing declaring themselves a “Happy Camper”.
Here is how Camp describes themselves on their website: “Anyone who’s ever been to camp knows it’s more than just a place to play capture the flag and make macramé potholders. CAMP is freedom. CAMP is friendship. CAMP is exploration. And CAMP Tampa is meant to be that and more for adults. A place where you can try new things, push your boundaries, make new friends and connect with old ones. CAMP is so much more than a fitness studio. It’s an adventure.”
So what does Camp have to offer? This is not a traditional gym with a row a treadmills and a weight room. This is an instruction-based gym that offers classes in the three following categories: Cycle, Yoga, and Circuit. Three fitness styles that effectively offer you cardio, stretch, and strength training. The gym consists of three classrooms spread across two buildings. There are several styles available in each category, so you can customize your own fitness schedule.
Style #1: Cycle
Camp offers a spin class to end all spin classes. The cycle room is packed with tightly spaced bikes, and every camper is given special spin shoes so that they can actually clip into their stations. Every bike is laid out with a towel and free weights (in case your instructor chooses to use them), and camp staff is available to help you adjust your bike’s seat and handlebars. Once class actually starts the room is dimmed and music is pumped through loudspeakers. Your instructor explains the different hand positions, how to adjust the resistance on your bike, and that camp offers a beat-based ride, which means that the songs are pre-selected to offer you faster or slower rhythms. You may think that you are there to work your legs and your heart, but through free-weight use, on-bike crunches, and insane amounts of resistance that they call “climbing that hill”, you are actually in for a full-body workout. Throughout class, your instructor will shout out instructions along with bits of inspiration, and the lights will periodically change from dim front lighting, to complete darkness for sprints, to black light for a special vibe. When class is finally over and you unclip for a quick stretch, you will be drenched in sweat, walking on shaky legs, and feeling better than you ever have before.
There are four types of spin classes available:
Camp Cycle: The standard 45-minute rhythm ride. This is a great class to start with to get a vibe for how Camp handles spin.
Cycle/Yoga Blend: 25 minutes of spin followed by 25 minutes of yoga. You can get your heart pumping in spin, then head into the yoga room to stretch out your muscles while your entire body is warm. If you don’t have time for yoga, you can always take just the 30-minute cycle portion as an express class.
Cycle/Circuit Blend: 25 minutes of one, then 25 minutes of the other. It doesn’t matter where you start since the entire class switches rooms together. This is a great way to get in two types of workouts for the price and time allowance of one.
Cycle Sculpt: 45 minutes of full-body resistance training. Your bike will be harder to pedal, you will definitely use your free weights, and your instructor might even utilize resistance bands to work your muscles along with your cardiovascular health.
Style #2: Yoga
The yoga room at camp is actually housed in a separate building and has a calmer, more zen vibe than the building that hosts cycle and circuit. You can actually subscribe to camp for yoga only! Which is a great option for anyone looking for a challenging yoga studio with a variety of classes to offer. If you are a monthly subscriber, you will be given a yoga mat, a mat towel, and a hand towel to use in every class, which is great since most classes are heated. The actual yoga room is a beautifully designed space with large picture windows on three out of four of the walls. The windows look out onto lush landscaping of palmetto bushes and palm trees, giving yogis and the incredible feeling of being deep in nature even though in reality the parking lot is just a few feet away. When you walk in, you will be encouraged to stay quiet and meditative, and to find a place on the floor in one of the four available rows. Each row has helpful mat placement indicators, maximizing the space available. Cork blocks are available to everyone for modification, and once class begins your instructor will move throughout the room, occasionally offering pose demonstrations or hands-on adjustments. Every class has time for Shavasana built in, so you won’t have to sacrifice a rest if you have a busy schedule. There are several types of classes offered, but each one pretty much assumes prior yoga knowledge. This is not a great place to explore yoga for the first time, but if you are looking for a challenging, well-designed flow to expand your practice, this is a great place for you.
There are eight types of yoga classes available:
Root: This is the closes Camp comes to a beginners class. The room is heated to 95 degrees, and yogis are guided through static poses and mindful breathing.
Root Flow: A vinyasa flow class is a room that is heated to 95 degrees. Instructors will lead you through each salutation, but will not necessarily explain the positioning of each pose. Prior yoga experience is recommended.
Hip Hop Flow: A fast-paced vinyasa flow class in a room that is heated anywhere from 95 to 98 degrees. Popular hip-hop jams are played, so if you are sick of listening to Enya and want to rock out to some Kanye during your practice, then this is the flow for you. Prior yoga experience recommended.
Blend: The second half of the cycle/yoga class described above. This class assumes you are warm from cycling and takes you through a few vinyasa flows, but then calms you down and stretches you out in the second half. If you are subscribed to yoga only, you can take this as a 30-minute express class. The room is heated to 90 degrees.
Restore: A super-slow paced, deep stretch class. You will hold poses for a long time, and the room will be slightly cooler at only 85 degrees. The instructor will focus on mindful breathing, meditation, and opening the body’s energy channels. Every student is given a block and a bolster. All levels welcome.
Freestyle Flow: Looking to take your vinyasa flow to the next level? Take the class. The instructor will focus on inversions and arm balances, offering modified flow sequences and the occasional workshop to get you upside down. The room is heated to 90 degrees. Prior yoga experience pretty much necessary.
Power Flow & Chill: Camp is the master of blend classes. This 75-minute class offers 45 minutes of intense vinyasa flow, followed by 30 minutes of restorative poses. The room is heated 90 degrees. Listed as open level, but prior experience is helpful for the power flow portion of the class.
Hot Full Body: Not for the faint of heart, this is a 50 minutes high-intensity interval class that offers plyometric and isometric movements for toning and strength building. This isn’t even yoga. If you sign up for this class get ready to sweat your butt off in a fast-paced and incredibly challenging class that resembles aerobics more than anything else.
Style #3: Circuit
This style of workout, popularized by Orange Theory Fitness, involves high-intensity intervals. When you enter the circuit room, you will find a long row of self-propelled treadmills to the right and a row of weight stations to the left. You will have been assigned either a treadmill or a weight station to start out on, so you will be able to take your place quickly and efficiently. The treadmills take a minute to get used to. The running platform curves upwards, so that you can control the speed based on how high up on the curve you choose to place your treads. Since it is completely self-propelled, there is no way to set a pace ahead of time, so you will be forced to find your own rhythm. This is incredibly challenging for anyone used to electric treadmills, and the entire experience promises to help you burn up to 30% more calories in the same amount of time. Once you are acclimated with the room. The instructor will shout our exercises. A large clock on the back wall counts down the time you spend in each interval. The lights are turned low and the music is turned up, creating a pretty overwhelming sensory experience. The instructors will demonstrate the more difficult moves and will help correct your form if you are wrong, but at the end of day, the effort exerted is entirely up to you.
There are four types of circuit classes available:
Camp Circuit: 25 minutes of interval running on the treadmill, and 25 minutes focused on full body weight training on the weight stations. This is a great class to start with since you will get the chance to use all of the equipment in the room.
Camp Cycle/Circuit Blend: 25 minutes of circuit, 25 minutes of cycle. You can sign up to do either option first, just keep in mind that the first 25 minutes will definitely leave you tired for the second 25 minutes. You can also take the class as a 30-minute express Circuit workout.
Camp Stations: In this class, the instructor sets up different exercises around the room. Campers are broken up into small groups and asked to participate in exercises for 60-90 second intervals. When one station is complete, your entire group moves to the second station. This class can get a bit confusing, and should not be the first choice for any new camper.
Camp Ass & Abs/Arms & Abs: At the end of the day, most people want nice arms, abs, and glutes. These split resistance classes offer 30 minutes of ass followed by 30 minutes of abs, or 30 minutes of arms followed by 30 minutes of abs. If you are bent on improving a specific body party, then this is a great class for you.
Hours & Availability: This is a class-based gym, and the class schedule varies day to day. Overall, it is easy to find a class time that works for you, since classes can start as early as 5 am and go as late as 9:30 pm.
Facilities & Amenities: The facilities are absolutely beautiful. The buildings have been beautifully renovated, and the gym equipment is new and high-end. Each building has free lockers with built-in code locks. Bathrooms are stocked with lovely shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, spray deodorant, dry shampoo, and hair dryers, and offering free cycle shoe rentals & yoga mats/towels to subscribed campers is a nice tough. There is even a daycare area where you can safely leave your kids while you work out for a small additional charge. Ideally, there would be a few more showers and the water fountain water would be chilled rather than room temperature, but all in all, it is a beautiful gym.
Instructors: The camp staff is very knowledgeable, and seems genuinely excited to help their campers lead more active lives. Workout sequence does not vary drastically between instructor, which suggests managerial influence on workout design, but since the sequences do change regularly and always offer a full body workout there is not much to complain about there. It is a busy gym, but a bit more client recognition would be a nice touch.
Affordability: This gym is not cheap, but given the variety of classes offered, amenities available, and the quality of the instructors, it can be worth the money. The monthly unlimited package is the way to go if you are an avid gym goer. There are monthly unlimited packages for the entire gym, or just for yoga, and you can pause your membership at any time to push back your payment date. This is great if you are headed out of town and don’t want to be paying for a subscription you can’t use!
Customer Service: Fantastic. The staff is easy to reach, and they are always happy to help you out with questions either about the workout, or your membership.
Overall Vibe: Bougie, friendly, and fit. The staff and clientele are regularly decked out in designer workout brands, and everyone seems to already be in shape. That being said, everyone there has an upbeat, happy attitude, and it seems like everyone is doing their best to stay fit and trim. It is a gym you go to be seen at for sure, but the workouts are so good that you had better be willing to be seen as a sweaty mess!