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Fitwall: A tech-inspired fitness craze in the making (pictures)

A new type of studio brings cutting-edge fitness to consumers and promises better results than generic big-box gyms.

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Jennifer Van Grove

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Welcome to Fitwall

The first Fitwall studio is now open, in La Jolla, Calif. CEO Josh Weinstein shows me around the unusual space and explains that members check in via iPad when they arrive, which obviates the need for a standard reception desk.
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The store in the studio

Instead of a reception area, the studio features an inviting lounge area with Fitwall-branded merchandise available for purchase.
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This is the 'gym'

Just Fitwalls and nothing more.
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Alternative fitness equipment

The Fitwall studio features 16 Fitwalls, aka vertical training modalities, with attached iPads. Athletes wear a heart rate monitor that communicates via Bluetooth with the iPad. The iPad displays the athlete's heart rate and a workload number, which is an algorithmic calculation of how much work you've accomplished during the course of the workout.
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Weinstein on the wall

Weinstein invited me to join an intense group session with co-founder Ethan Penner and coach Amy Heidbreder. Most sessions are 40 minutes long and involve a mix of 14 foundational wall movements and some off-the-wall band work as well. Most exercises are performed for 30 seconds or 1 minute and are followed by a short rest period.
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Starting in frog position

The Fitwall frog position. On the wall, pictured from left to right: CEO Josh Weinstein, CNET reporter Jennifer Van Grove (me), co-founder Ethan Penner, and coach Amy Heidbreder. Coach Clif Harski acts as choreographer.
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Working from my frog position

Most of the movements on the wall start from either frog position or chair position. When you're on the wall, all of your muscles are activated, which should make for a more efficient workout.
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Just like sitting in a chair -- OK, not really

For this exercise, coach Clif instructed us to hold chair position. He then called out random commands to either raise an arm or move a leg off the wall.
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Now for some calf raises

The calf raise is a simple movement made more difficult when on the wall.
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Going off the wall

Not all movements are done on the wall. The Fitwall stations have a variety of attached bands that athletes can use to train on the ground.
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More band work

Coach Clif instructed our group to row with the blue band.
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From vertical to horizontal

Coach Clif had the group do a few floor exercises. Though we weren't on the wall, our heart rate monitors were still communicating with the iPads on the Fitwalls so we could still monitor our workload.
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And we're done!

Each 40-minute Fitwall session is finished off with a shot of coconut water and a chilled lavender and mint-infused towel.

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