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I Tried the Celeb-Favorite Workout Class That Burns 800 Calories in 30 Minutes

You’re guaranteed to walk out drenched in sweat.

“Your feet might go numb, but that’s perfectly normal,” was the first thing my instructor said to me at my first-ever Rise Nation class at the NoHo studio in New York City. Yes, I was about to participate in a 30-minute workout session where losing some sensation in my extremities was par for the course. But I was curious to experience the class about which celebrities and models have been raving. Here’s what I learned.


Rise Nation was founded by personal trainer Jason Walsh, the man who has toned the bodies of everyone from Emma Stone to 2011 SI Swimsuit cover model Irina Shayk. And after his years working in strength training, conditioning and human physiology, he determined that climbing was one of the most efficient exercises. Why? Well, it engages all major muscle groups and simultaneously gives you a cardio workout. In fact, it’s said you can burn up to 800 calories in just 30 minutes.

Walsh then created studios throughout the country filled with VersaClimbers. Basically, your arms and legs move up and down in a climbing motion for 30 minutes straight. You can add resistance to make it harder and extend your limbs further to increase intensity. But even if you keep it in the “easier” mid-range, your heart is pumping, and the constant quasi-squat position has your legs burning.

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I opted for the Level 1 class (obviously) for my introductory session and, within a matter of a couple of minutes, was already breaking a sweat. As someone who works out five days a week, I still wasn’t prepared for the cardio intensity. Fifteen minutes in, I was drenched, and I started to get that numbing sensation the instructor warned me about. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it through the remaining 15 minutes.


The beauty of how the class is set up is that the climbing is set to the beat of the music. So, you can get into a rhythm and zone out for a bit. Plus, the instructor keeps the session varied with sections focused on sprints, slow climbs with lots of resistance (it feels like holding a squat for a couple of minutes), and changing the hand grips. Then, when you think you can’t finish the task, it switches to something else. And having Beyonce blasting in the background certainly helps, too.

While there are no water breaks scheduled, you can hop off quickly and grab a sip. I certainly did several times to make it through the entire session.

By the end, I had climbed thousands of feet and was drenched in sweat. There were times when I felt like it was one of the physically demanding things I’ve done…and I’ve given birth. While I don’t know exactly how many calories I burned in the end, I do know I got an incredible workout. My heart was pumping and my legs were appropriately sore. I could see why time-strapped celebrities and models love it, given how you get all of those fitness benefits in a short period of time.

So, will I go back? Absolutely. I just need a few days off to recover right now. 

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