For about five minutes, Molly Maher works on a pyramid of sumo squats and renegade rows.
After eight squat repetitions, she moves into a push-up position with free weights and does eight reps of the renegade rows. Then, it’s back to the squats for 10 reps and 10 more rows. The pattern continues with 12 reps before dropping back down to 10 reps, then eight reps.
A chime in the up-tempo music indicates the sequence is over. But that’s only half of the first round. The other half requires another pyramid, this time with lunges, chest flies and small slams — all using ropes.
Then, it’s two more rounds of different exercises: box steps, side lunges, bicep curls, single-arm cleans, burpees, sprints, planks, crunches. After the 45-minute workout, Maher and the others are spent.
Welcome to Burntown.
Burntown is a high-intensity, high-energy, low-impact fitness studio in east Vancouver that combines cardio and strength exercises for a 45-minute workout.
Burntown Fitness Studio
•Where: 2004 S.E. 192nd Ave., Suite 103, Vancouver.
•When: Weekday classes from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays 7:30 to 10:45 a.m.
•Cost: $26 drop-in. Introductory packages for $52 (three classes) and $109 (one month unlimited). Other packages available.
“There’s no barbells. There’s no bumper plates. There’s no kettle bells,” said Kisar Dhillon, Burntown co-owner.
“It’s like a complete 180 of CrossFit,” he added.
Maher, of Portland, has been attending classes twice a week at Burntown, 2004 S.E. 192nd Ave., Suite 103, since Dhillon opened the doors last month.
“I have done circuit-type training before, but I always felt like they weren’t customized to my strength abilities,” Maher said. The result, she said, was injuries. At Burntown, Maher said she feels like she’s being safely guided through the routines.
Dhillon, who has worked as a personal trainer for more than 20 years, opened the fitness studio with his wife, Liz Dhillon, and business partner Ian Coyle. Kisar Dhillon also owns The Art of Personal Training in Portland.
With Burntown, Dhillon wanted to create the intimacy of a personal training session but with supportive group atmosphere. To do that, Dhillon emphasizes “touch points” between his instructors and clients.
After leading class participants through a brief warm up, the instructor walks around the room during the next two rounds. Instructors are interacting with clients, correcting form and offering encouragement. Then, during the final Burn Round, instructors are working out alongside clients.
“Here, the instructor is actually involved,” Dhillon said.
Burntown utilizes technology to make that possible. Televisions hanging on the wall show the exercise and number of reps for each round and include brief demos by instructors. That way, Dhillon said, clients can refer to the screen if they’re unsure what to do, rather than spend time flagging down an instructor.
Each class is broken into four rounds. First, the warmup. Then, Round 2 and 3, which are each 10 minutes long and broken into two sequences of exercises. Finally, the Burn Round, which is about 10 minutes of micro exercises with no rest.
“It’s quick. It’s efficient,” Dhillon said. “Our goal is just to get you guys to sweat. Get a good workout.”
Every class hits on five components — core, cardio, power, strength and stability — and works the entire body, Dhillon said. Each exercise can be modified, too, making it harder or easier.
Those modifications and personal interactions with instructors make Burntown stand out from other fitness classes, said Katie Tonkel of Vancouver.
“You feel like you’re getting more personalized training in a group setting,” she said.
Tonkel also appreciates that the class is doable for people of all fitness levels — whether they’re gym regulars or just getting back into a workout routine — and led by knowledgable instructors.
Dhillon hopes participants can use the professional coaching to learn how to move with purpose.
“I want people to really learn how to workout,” he said. “I feel like people don’t know their true potential.”