Equinox Class Review: Metcon 3

This post is part of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution to try every group fitness class offered at my gym, The Equinox in Chestnut Hill. See the full list of reviews here.

Progress: 33 Classes Down, Approximately 10 To Go (class offerings sometimes change)

I took the kids winter coat shopping yesterday and it was not a good time. So when Greg got out early for Columbus Day and was willing to feed them dinner and send me off to the gym to take Metcon3 and come home with Lebanese takeout, I was thrilled. 

Even more thrilled than when I figured out that METCON 3 is derived from “Metabolic Conditioning” after a glass of reserve Chardonnay. And I was pretty pleased with myself.

Class: Metcon 3 with Richard Guptill

Class length: 50 minutes

Description from the Equinox: This high-intensity metabolic conditioning workout taxes all three energy systems and acts like a fat-incinerator to ensure results that leave you fit and motivated for the demands of your life.*

*Highly recommend lining this up so the demands of your life are to go home and devour fool moudammas.

What Class Was Like

The heart of the class was 10 different exercises done for 1 minute each repeated 3 times. During the first set there was a necessary instructional break between exercises. The next two sets flowed from one exercise to the next using music with warning beeps and then a horn to indicate it was time to move onto the next exercise.

Wondering about the “three energy systems” listed in the description? ATP-PC, Glycolytic, and Oxidative. (Yup, I googled it for you.) This was one of the better articles I could find (based on author credentials, I couldn’t find a publication I’m familiar with) if you’re interested in reading more.

Sample Workout 

Cardio warm up (jogging in place, high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks)

Set of 10 exercises of 1 minute each repeated 3 Times:

  • dumbbell bench presses
  • dumbbell bicep curls
  • planks holding dumbbells with rows in plank position, 2x each side alternating
  • choice of jumping over the bench, jumping up onto the bench and then down, or stepping up onto the bench and then off
  • forward alternating lunges holding dumbbells
  • dumbbell extensions while lying on your back on the bench bringing the weight behind your head then back up over your chest
  • switch kicks
  • squats holding a large dumbbell like a goblet centered on the chest
  • low burpee from a sitting squat position holding dumbbells on the floor in between feet back into a plank with hands on the dumbbells
  • slow sit-ups making sure to finish with a straight back and upright head


Finished with some bonus work of 20 push-ups (no knees allowed, reduce the quantity or take a break instead) and then jumping a huge jump forward with the bench in between your legs and four small hops backward while holding a large dumbbell, then stretching.

You know it’s been a challenging class when you’re relieved to take child’s pose even though it puts your nose an inch from the floor you just sweat onto.

Beginner Friendly?

We did pick our own weights which makes the weight work easy to modify. Richard is also a fantastic instructor. He doesn’t just provide the occasional modification, he often provides multiple variations for each exercise so people can choose the exact right level for them. He also gives very clear instructions on form (for example making sure your knee isn’t extending beyond your ankle in a lunge, or exactly where weights should be positioned).

If the purpose of an instructor is to instruct, Richard nails it. Sometimes when you’re working really hard your brain can’t quite keep up with what’s next, and Richard was always talking us through it with a steady combination of encouragement and details on what we should be doing and tips on form.

That said, there are some prerequisite skills that would be handy. If you read through the sample exercises you should get a sense for which ones you can modify easily by choosing a lighter weight, and which parts are hard to modify without sacrificing the point of the exercise (ie, hold a plank, complete squats and lunges, do sit-ups for 60 seconds).

It’s the next morning as I write this and I feel slightly sore but good because I chose my weights really cautiously. I’m even planning to run today. I highly recommend choosing weights on the light side for the first time you take any class. (I did NOT feel good for several days after Pure Strength; trust me on this one.) If you’re not sure what to pick, get there in time to ask the instructor before class and grab a variety of weights so you can tweak your effort during class.

Why is it great?

Another class that hits that popular strength and cardio combination in a fast-paced format. It’s nice because while some of the exercises are really challenging, they’re all over in 60 seconds. Knowing it won’t be too long helps. The sequencing was also thoughtful; I may not have written it perfectly in order, but I often felt like once my arms were really tired we were moving onto the legs, and once my heart was racing from cardio, we were doing something stationary. It was a well-planned class.

Know before you go

Get there early; benches require set-up and you’ll want to be able to grab appropriate weights without rushing. (When in doubt, get an extra couple sets and put them off to the side; there are plenty of weights available.) I did use ear-plugs for class. Some people had gloves on to help protect their hands when lifting the weights and pushing on the bench.

Interesting Sidenote on Class Times

I talked with Richard for a bit after class and he told me that instructors sometimes tailor their classes to meet the demographics of participants, so a class mid-morning on a weekday that attracts retirees and stay-at-home parents might be at a slightly different difficulty level than a class in the early evening that attracts the after-work and college-aged crowd.

I’m terrified to think that Firestarter might be any harder than it was when I took it on a weekday morning! (I doubt it.)

I suspect you’ll get a great authentic class experience at any time of day, but it does make sense that if you’re attending a class when a higher percentage of people require modifications, it’ll have a different feel and may be more accessible. So if you love a class description it might be worth taking the class at different times of day and with different instructors to see the subtle differences class demographics and instructors make to the overall experience.




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