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It’s Fifty Shades of the Workout World – that whole love/hate, pleasure/pain, finding your threshold kind of thing. It’s hot and it’s intense. Similar to CrossFit programs, this workout will have you pleading for mercy while begging for more. And yes, there is an afterglow…

Around here, Iron Tribe Fitness seems to be generating just about the same amount of buzz that Fifty Shades of Grey generated earlier this year. I had been hearing so many people talk about Iron Tribe and the great results they were getting, that when I was invited to Bring a Friend Day, I took the leap. I must admit, what most intrigued me was the short intense workout (emphasis on short), as I had heard that although every day would be a different set of exercises, the average workout was only 20 minutes long. I thought to myself, now that sounds doable.

Well, I have been going to these classes for seven weeks now and “doable” is not exactly the word I would use to describe these high intensity, functional movement, time-based workouts. Difficult, yes, but not utterly unbearable. And as for results, my legs are nicely toned and I’m starting to see some definition in my arms. The scale is pretty much the same, but my skinny jeans definitely fit better.

Much like Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain, the ceiling and walls of Iron Tribe are lined with all sorts of implements, instruments and hardware, the likes of which instill a sense of fear, excitement and anticipation.

The rings are used for muscle ups and ring dips.


These clips are used to secure weights on barbells.




Bands come in varying thicknesses, offering differing degrees of assistance with exercises using the pull-up bar.


Kettlebells are used in such exercises as the KB Swing, KB Clean, KB Press & Thruster and the KB Snatch.

I’ll admit I’ve always been intimidated by that area of the gym with all the free weights, barbells and squat machines where you actually load the weight plates on each side – you know, where the beefy guys are all oozing testosterone and grunting ever so loudly.  Well the other day at Iron Tribe, during a rather intense sumo dead lift high pull, to my utter surprise, I uttered my first irrepressible grunt, and I have to say, it was rather liberating.

So if your curiosity is aroused and you think you might consider joining the Tribe here‘s what you need to know going in:

  • Prices vary, depending on your level of commitment. And you can earn free months by getting friends to sign up. You are not penalized for being unable to attend, rather you are given credits that you can use as you see fit.  You just have to sign up for classes ahead of time through their website. Easy peasy.
  • WOD stands for Workout of the Day.  These are posted on the whiteboard, along with everyone’s name where your time will be listed so you can compare and/or compete.
  • RX – this is the prescribed weight (i.e. the recommended weight that a male or female should use during a specific exercise).  I’m told getting an RX next to your name on the whiteboard tastes oh so sweet! One very buff guy told me he got his first RX in his 7th month of training there.
  • Tribe 101 – once you sign up, you will begin the 101 classes, a series of 12 classes over the course of a month that will teach you the proper form for the various workouts.  Think dead lifts, push presses, squats, overhead squats, box jumps (yeah, you heard that right – they want you to jump up onto a box landing with both feet on the top, then push back, land on the ground and repeat), push ups, pull ups, jumping rope, climbing rope and all kinds of combinations of these movements, like the sumo dead lift high pull.
  • Tribe on 1: “3, 2, 1, TRIBE!” That’s the breakdown at the end of every class. Tribers huddle up and put one hand in the middle, then one person is chosen to break it down and everyone yells TRIBE after the count. As they say, it’s not just a gym, but a tribe of athletes.
  • The workouts are relatively SHORT in duration, but the INTENSITY is like no other.  So in a super intense, 15 minute timed workout, you are pushing yourself to the MAX and burning calories at a high rate with a continued aftereffect of an elevated metabolism. I personally think that’s a gain that’s worth the pain.
  • You WILL be sore. I suggest putting your massage therapist on speed dial before embarking on the Iron Tribe journey.
  • You will have a HUGE sense of accomplishment as you rekindle your inner goddess who oozes with CONFIDENCE.
Workout of the Day posted on the whiteboard.

Overall, I have to say this is by far the hardest workout program I have ever embarked on, and I’ve done most everything that’s ever been out there. Somehow the sweet overpowers the sour, the gain over rides the pain, the dread is dwarfed by the anticipation. Like I said, it’s the Fifty Shades of the workout world and like Anastasia, I’ve found fulfillment and maybe even a life long relationship.

Iron Tribe Fitness has 4 locations in and around Birmingham and offers free consultations. It also is opening up in Nashville (for those locations, click here):

ITF Homewood

2809 Central Ave

Homewood, AL 35209 205.874.6300

email: [email protected]


ITF 280

5029 Highway 280

Birmingham, AL 35242 205.873.2135

email: [email protected]


ITF Downtown

300 27th Street South

Birmingham, AL 35233 205.254.6121

email: [email protected]


ITF Mountain Brook

15 Dexter Avenue

Mountain Brook, AL 35213 205.802.1775

email: [email protected]


For more information, visit their website:

If you decide to check it out, please tell them I sent you. Oh, and btw, it appears Hollywood’s search for Christian Grey is over. Looks to me like Matt Bomer has been working out Iron Tribe style, too!

Matt Bomer is rumored to be starring as Christian Grey in the upcoming film, Fifty Shades of Grey. Good call, Hollywood!




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About the Author
Catherine Romero