Studio Review: Ascend Underground
Today we’re taking the studio reviews over to a new neighborhood - Del Ray, Alexandria! Ascend Cycle is a staple on the main street in the cute community, but what you might miss when you walk by is their hidden gem - Ascend Underground. Located underground (uh, duh) the studio, Ascend Underground offers total body workouts designed to push you and build your strength.
I took advantage of a recent special they had - two weeks of FREE underground classes for new clients - to test out a bunch of their classes and let you know what to expect. Spoiler alert, the classes are great (and parking in Del Ray is easy!).
Studio: Ascend Underground (offered by Ascend Cycle)
Location: Alexandria - Del Ray (the Underground entrance is through the Studio Body Logic door to the left of the Ascend Cycle studio and down the stairs. If you get lost, go into the Cycle studio and they’ll show you the way!)
Metro: One mile from Braddock Rd metro stop on Blue/Yellow lines
Bus: If you’re in the Arlington/Alexandria area, the 10B bus stops right in downtown Del Ray
Parking: I drove to classes and was nervous about parking but found it to be a breeze to find a nearby spot. The only time it took a few minutes was on a later Thursday night class when Del Ray was poppin’ with people going out to dinner. Just circle the neighborhood blocks and you’ll be able to find something within three blocks or so. (for free!)
Bikeshare: Yes! There is a dock one block away at E Del Ray Ave & Mount Vernon Ave
Class Taken + Class Length: Ascend Underground offers three main types of classes (Elevate, Strength, and Peak) and I was able to try all of them. They are all circuit-based training classes where you’re doing a set of exercises for a certain period of time and then rotating between stations. The classes differ on where to focus your muscle groups and how high and for how long you’re keeping your heart rate elevated.
I’ll also note that during the Peak and Elevate classes, you’re given the option to wear a heart rate monitor to see if you’re really keeping your heart rate in an elevated or peak zone. I did that for the first time during these classes and really liked it though it’s 100% optional to do (about half of the class members opted to wear the monitors in the classes that I took).
Ascend Peak is probably the most intense of the three class options as it pushes you to keep your heart rate high throughout each station within the circuit. Exercises we did during Peak included suicide runs, burpees, rapid weight lifting, etc. followed by longer rest periods. Though this class probably pushed me the most, I felt super strong and fit afterwards.
Ascend Strength classes are offered as lower body, upper body, or total body and focus on strength and cardio exercises targeted towards those areas. I took a lower body strength class and felt like a beast afterwards. Exercises we did during that class included jump squats, lunges, and TRX hamstring curls (so surprisingly hard!). The strength class doesn’t have your heart rate going as crazy but instead, has your target muscle groups shaking by the end of class.
Ascend Elevate basically combines Peak and Elevate. It varies high heart rate exercises with strength-based exercises. What I loved about Elevate was that they incorporate the studio’s spin bikes in the class! For one station, for example, I did a 2.5 minute hill climb followed by a 30 second sprint on the spin bike. Other exercises we did during the Elevate class I took included TRX pushups followed by high knees, medicine ball slams with a burpee, etc.
Good for beginners? Definitely! I love circuit based classes because you are able to tailor the exercise to what works best for you. If you’re new, I’d recommend starting with an Elevate class.
Sweat Level: Definitely plan to sweat — especially in a Peak class. Your instructor will come around with an ice cold towel at the end of class that is basically the best (and most needed) thing ever.
Sore After: Holy moly, yes. I took Peak first and was SO sore afterwards. Since Ascend Underground works so many different muscle groups, prepare to be sore if you haven’t been doing total body exercises for a while. All that said - don’t be scared. I took an Elevate class at the end of the week and was not nearly as sore after that class.
Vibe: Ascend Underground has a super cool vibe. It’s darkly lit with colored accent lights that really suits this kind of class. It’s dark enough where you don’t feel like everyone is looking at you and I think it brings out your inner badass.
Additionally, I’ve found Ascend Underground (and Cycle) to have a wonderful community-focused vibe. The instructors make it a point to know your name and cheer you on throughout class and I had a couple of classmates talk to me and say hi — something that you don’t get at most studios. What’s more, I’ve found that after class people always tend to chill outside the studio and chat — definitely a special vibe that completely suits the charming Del Ray location.
Amenities: That cold towel at the end of class is 100% the nicest touch of class. There’s also one bathroom downstairs with a shower, open lockers (no locks), towels for you during class (get one!), and a water filling station.
What To Wear: I’d recommend wearing whatever you’re comfortable sweating in for this class and sneakers! Most people were in a tank top or t-shirt and leggings or shorts. If you’re taking a class with a spin component, you’re welcome to bring spin shoes if you have them, but you don’t need to. (I just wore my sneakers and slipped in and it was totally fine for the 6 total minutes that I was on the bike.)
What To Bring To Class: Water bottle!
New Member Special: Buy one class, get one free for $22! (Can use for Underground and/or Cycle classes)
Drop-In Price: $22
On ClassPass?: Nope.
Try If You Like: If you like interval training classes like Orangetheory or Next Phase. If you’ve been intimidated to try a class like that, I think Ascend Underground is a great place to start because all of the instructors are so welcoming and helpful and the community there is much less intimidating for newcomers.
Sweat Smarter Summary: I totally recommend that everyone incorporate some type of total body interval workout in their routine and Ascend Underground is one of my newest favorites to include. If the Del Ray location is convenient for you, definitely check out the location and don’t be scared to try a Peak class!
Let me know if there’s a studio that you’d like to see reviewed or if you’re a studio and would like to have Sweat Smarter come out for a review!
Photo by Sarah Marcella