The Case of the Celebrity Hamster Ladder Class


This past year, I’ve been getting into this thing I heard was good for me called “exercise” – maybe you’ve heard of it? – and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

But this post isn’t about my letter of appreciation to exercise; I’ll save that for another time (or maybe never, since that sounds kinda like it would be boring). No… this post is about one of the most unusual workout classes I have ever experienced. And I just so happen to be obsessed with it.

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Meet my friend, the VersaClimber… or what I like to call “the Celebrity Hamster Ladder.”

The Climb at Rise Nation is a 30-minute class done completely on this torture device contraption called the VersaClimber, a machine that simulates climbing a wall, ladder, mountain, etc. and kind of resembles a giant pogo stick/ladder thing with pedals and handles. Seems strange, but trust me: climbing this thing at varying speeds/strides for thirty minutes translates to a half hour of getting your @$$ slowly handed to you, piece by piece… in a good way. To give you an idea of the intensity of this thing: it’s the machine responsible for whipping Bradley Cooper into shape for the movie American Sniper.

I tried my hand at this class a little less than a year ago and instantly became hooked. Not only was this the first workout that released enough endorphins for me to actually feel that post-workout “high” people talk about, but the glowing ceiling is next-level (think clubbing meets a real-life episode of Global Guts), the instructors are all super friendly, and this one time I saw Hilary Duff in my class and died just a little bit inside (I LOVE YOU, LIZZIE MCGUIRE. #HILARY4PRESIDENT #IMNOTCREEPY #PROMISE).

That said… I have a LOT of thoughts running through my mind when I’m in this class. In general, I sort of just feel like I’m a hamster frantically crawling up a ladder and towards the light(s) with the occasional celebrity hamster next to me. Here is a play-by-play of what goes on in the mind of Nina during a typical celebrity hamster ladder class.


The Climb (30 minutes)

7:13am – *Runs up the stairs* Almost a year has passed since I first set foot in this studio, and I still do not understand why there is a giant wall-length photo of a naked lady on a VersaClimber pasted in the stairwell. But really, how many Climbs will it take for me to get her bod?

7:16am – *Fills water bottle at water fountain* Really, Nina, was your goal to NOT get any water in your water bottle? Why are your hands wet? Oh… whoops… *casually backs away from the small puddle formed at the base of the water fountain*

7:20am – Hello, VersaClimber. We meet again. Wait, how the heck did the person before me climb 3900+ feet in 29 minutes? *Looks at VersaClimber handles to find that they are on the tallest setting* Oh. This must have been a walk in the park for this 5’7″+ individual. What is it like to be tall… *Changes handles to shortest setting* Wonder if I can match this person’s distance…

7:22am – Ahhh, let’s squeeze in a good stretch before this madness. *Extends into a full-range stretch like a spider monkey*

7:23am – Everyone in here is so beautiful and is so well put together. How… just, how…

7:30am – Class is starting; let’s do thissss. *M83’s “Midnight City”starts playing* Nice, I can dig this mix… wait, why do I hear a run by Chilli in this song… is that… WHAT IS “NO SCRUBS” DOING IN THIS SONG. Oh dear, this is a mashup. This is an M83-TLC mashup. This is really happening. I cannot decide if I’m upset or amused by this. Also… I may already be feeling the burn in the legs, but shh. Ignore the pain, Nina…

7:34am – Oh wow, the rips are starting early this morning. How’s my distance? 500 ft. and 4 minutes in… okay, I’m still on a good pace. *Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” starts playing* Hmm, alright… oh Lord, I hear Katy Perry. Oh dear… another mashup. I swear, how do people hear these things. Why do mashups even exist? Ow, my legs are still burning. *Ignore*

7:40am – Okay, long sprints are the devil. Really. The. DEVIL. How am I going to distract myself from the fact that I am getting completely winded already with just three songs in? *Pictures self as a spider crawling up a running faucet* Distance check: number of feet climbed is still greater than the number of minutes that have passed. #killinit

7:45am – This chair position combined with long strides hurts… ooh, the ceiling is a lovely shade of blue right no- just kidding, it just turned BRIGHT RED. This is intense. Maybe if I pretend it’s a Saturday night at the club, these long strides won’t hurt as much… hey, it’s working… now where’s my bottle service… ow, my legs. I am not in a club. Back to reality.

7:52am – Too-long, too-shorts: a very real, brutal, four-minute reminder that I am too short. Distance check: oh shoot, 2167 at 22:43 minutes in. I need to hustle!

7:56am – What the heck is this 8 counts middle-range/8 counts sprint business? Is this tabata? Curse you, Mr. Tabata

7:59am – This is the last minute of the sprint. I need to BOOK IT. Yes, finally, I have surged ahead in the distance-duration race.

8:00am – Fell behind again in the distance-duration race… ah well. Final distance check: 2937 feet in 30:06 minutes. Could be better, but considering I was sick as a dog last week, I am not mad at the result. In fact, I did some research – that’s the same distance as the length of ascent on the Adirondacks’ Algonquin Peak. (So, so random…) One day – maybe not today, but one day – I’ll make it to the #4000club… I hope. In any case, I feel great now, jelly legs and all. On to the rest of my day!




3 thoughts on “The Case of the Celebrity Hamster Ladder Class”

  1. Hmmm….I’ve always wanted to climb Mt. Everest. Maybe this is the way to do it, without all that nasty frostbite and altitude sickness. Thanks, Nina!


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