The “prison yard” at The Fitness Compound is a great location for fitness boot camps and a total body workout.
LARGO – Group workout classes are no longer limited to jazzercise and aerobics. More and more people are realizing the importance of fitting regular exercise back into their schedules, and there are as many fitness options out there as there are personalities.
Jeff Jordan, president and owner of Bandit Fitness Equipment in Largo, bought Bandit in 1990, understands the importance of staying fit and healthy. He has sold fitness equipment through his company for all these years, but now he has expanded to a 23,000-square-foot building at 1990 S. Belcher Road and has turned it into two separate companies – Bandit is in the front where he still sells fitness equipment, and The Fitness Compound is in the back, which provides several unique workout spaces for trainers to hold group classes and personal training sessions.
“It’s a new concept in a workout facility,” Jordan said. “The idea is that trainers can set up their own classes and rent the facility out, or we can set up the classes and we hire the trainers for that. We have 15 spin cycles, personal training suite, and a guy who teaches boxing classes. We have a very unique outdoor training facility called the prison yard. It’s awesome. It’s more like a boot camp environment, but it’s permanent.”
Jordan is uncomfortable with the typical gym structure where people must join to attend and that their money is continuously collected, even if they no longer are actively using the facility.
“I feel the opposite,” Jordan said. “I feel like the person should be obligated to train or we’re not taking their money. We want successful people. They become viral. They are success stories. Our spin class and other classes are not a contract type thing. … It’s designed for people who like to train, and we give them all the help we can to be successful.”
There are options for people from all different fitness levels. People new to fitness might be guided toward a beginner spin class for a few weeks to try it out. As people get into better shape, they can move up in classes and intensity level.
There are several rooms available in The Fitness Compound. One is filled with traditional, high-end workout equipment and machines that is the personal training suite. Certified trainers can bring their own clients in and train them either in a personal training setting or with small groups. The room is private, so Jordan said it is an ideal location for clients who may be self-conscious or for those who would prefer to keep a lower profile while working out.
There is also another indoor training room that includes the spin machines and an open space for anything such as Zumba, kickboxing, boxing, and indoor boot camp. One trainer wanted battle ropes, so they mounted those in that room as well.
Outside is the “prison yard,” which is perfect for outdoor boot camps.
“My boot camp instructor has about 60 or 70 exercises, and when you get here, you don’t know which they are going to use,” Jordan said. “So you can’t anticipate it or say, oh, I don’t like it. It might be a sledgehammer and tractor tire one day. It might be body weight drills, and we have an agility course set up here. It could be prison yard basketball. He does a lot of different things, and then he’ll tailor it to the group – how large the group is, what their demographics are, what their condition is.”
The schedule is fluid, depending on the trainers, but some of the most popular classes are spin, boxing and boot camp.
Who should come? Beginners are welcome to attend the 30-minute intro to spin classes. It is open to all fitness levels and is a good way to become familiar with this popular form of exercise. The more advanced one-hour class is geared toward people in good physical shape.
“Spin class is typically enjoyed by people with experience,” Jordan said. “It doesn’t seem to be a beginner type class. It seems to be people who like to cycle. They are very enthused about it. Spin people spin. There’s no other way to do that. And the instructor is everything because you’re basically following the instructor the entire time.”
How many people are in each class? There are 15 spin cycle machines available, so there is room for 14 students plus the instructor in each class. Typically the classes have between five and 12 students, Jordan said.
What are the class demographics? The classes tend to be predominately female, though everyone is welcome. The intro class tends to draw people in age between 35 to 70, with the regular class drawing some younger people as well.
I’m new. What should I expect? “You can expect training on how to safely spin, how to monitor your own workouts so it becomes and stays tolerable,” Jordan said. “You will learn basic commands in the intro class. The advanced class, I think, varies dramatically based on the group. There are extreme cyclists out there, and I would be unconscious within just a few minutes (keeping up with them.)”
What should I bring to class? A towel and plenty of water.
What areas of the body does this work? Cardiovascular endurance is the biggest area spin focuses on, in addition to the legs and core.
Who should come? People of all levels of ability are welcome to try this out. If you’re new to fitness, do what you can and don’t get discouraged. With practice, you’ll be amazed by how much more you will soon be able to do. Experienced fitness buffs also will find plenty to challenge themselves in these fun, varied courses. This is also a good option for people who like variety and get bored doing the same type of workout week after week.
What should I expect? “They would expect an enormous variety of exercises,” Jordan said. “No two workouts are the same. It keeps you off-balance and constantly challenged, mixing your upper and lower body, body weight exercises, agility and drills.”
What is some of the equipment we’ll use? There are many tools to choose from, which include TRX stations, power sledgehammers, tractor tires, monkey bars, a basketball hoop, as well as exercise bands, body weight exercises and weights.
What is the biggest benefit from this type of class? Overall conditioning, functional strength and endurance, cardiovascular health.
What should I bring to class? A towel and water.
Who should come? The demographics vary widely, but there is something for almost everyone in these classes.
How many people are in each class? The class is limited to about 10 people, so make reservations to ensure a spot.
What will I get out of a class? “Fitness boxing teaches balance, coordination, muscle endurance and is great for general conditioning and confidence,” Jordan said. “… There’s something that’s relaxing about hitting something. It’s a release of energy and can help you deal with other stresses.”
What should I bring to class? A towel and water.
Other things to know
How much do these classes cost? Introductory classes are $5. Regular classes cost $10 per drop-in class or $80 for 10-class card.
All of these classes help cardiovascular health. Why is this important? Cardiovascular endurance is crucial, Jordan said, and it adds so much to one’s life. “The zest for living,” Jordan said. “The benefit is everything. Life enjoyment. Life length. Endurance. Confidence. Everything.”
Where is this located? 1970 S. Belcher Road, Largo behind Bandit Fitness.
I’m a trainer. Can I train clients here? Jordan is currently seeking certified trainers both to host group classes and to rent the space for personal training sessions.