Urban Athletic Club: An Individualized Approach to Fitness

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Graham King owns Shaw’s Urban Athletic Club. Photo: Adra Williams, Courtesy Shaw Main Streets.

On the north facade of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the bright, expansive Urban Athletic Club awaits at 804 N Street. NW. The gym offers an individualized approach to training and wellness that assists members in achieving their goals.

Founder and owner Graham King previously worked as a personal trainer at Washington Sports Clubs. He soon noticed that at many larger gyms and in group fitness classes, individuals “go to a class and hope for the best.” King wanted to help clients take a more calculated path toward their goals.

In 2003, he founded the Washington-based Balance Gym to offer individualized fitness. In 2013, King further refined this approach with Urban Athletic Club, first in Glover Park, and in Shaw in 2017.

The Urban Athletic Club difference starts on day one. All new clients at the club undergo a series of 15 assessments with a trainer to establish their fitness level. Then, they begin taking classes or working with a trainer. This baseline fitness analysis takes the guesswork out of fitness.

“If someone says “I’m fit,” what does that really mean?” King asked. “Are you fit because you’re strong or flexible or are you in good cardiovascular health?”

The gym offers group and personal training, semi-private training, nutrition coaching and open gym access. The gym assigns color fitness level markers to help athletes keep track of their current fitness level, especially in the group fitness setting. Unlike other venues, each class is accessible for every fitness level.

“When athletes walk in, the coach knows which athletes are white, yellow, orange…and they can coach them appropriately and give each person the exact scale to where they need to be,” King explained.

The gym also features drop-in options for individuals traveling or not wanting to make a longer commitment. The options include a flexible pass. Each month, the club also hosts a free community class that is open for neighbors to try out the facilities and their approach to fitness.

While the gym is results driven, community and fun remain the focus. “We really believe that if you’re having fun, you’ll come back the next day,” King stated.

Urban Athletic Club is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays; and on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit urbanathletic.club for more information.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com