How Suffer Club Works

If you’ve been coming here and seeing these workouts for months and not quite getting what’s going on, since it’s basically fitness-for-the-sake-of-fitness stuff, which is pretty obviously not my jam, except that, with Suffer Club, it is my jam. Here’s why…

First, what is Suffer Club?

Suffer Club is, in its simplest form, an outdoor workout group. We meet at 6am on Tuesdays and Thursdays (weather permitting), year round. After 15 minute mobility warm-up, we do 40 minutes of intense exercise, ending with 5 minutes of gentle stretching. Somedays the workout is a soul crusher. Somedays it’s more manageable, but if you show up regularly, it’ll get you fit in a fairly rounded way, muscle tone, cardio health, mobility, etc.

Why does someone who loves to run, ride, hike, etc. bother with a “fitness class?”

My wife started Suffer Club a year or two before I started attending. I was busy. I had my own shit to do, and I had a hard time staying interested in fitness for the sake of fitness. Then I hurt myself and couldn’t do the things I normally do. B suggested I come to her “boot camp” (this was before we started calling it Suffer Club) and just do what I could, in an effort to keep from losing my mind.

What I discovered is that the functional fitness I got helped me feel a lot better when I was doing all the other stuff I love to do. I also got to know the people, and once you turn that exercise group into a social group, you feel like you need to show up or you’re somehow letting the group down. That sounds slightly negative, but I tend to think whatever you can use to motivate yourself to do things, you fucking use it.

Eventually, I started planning workouts, too, and then you show up because you’re the stupid “coach,” and people are waiting for you to tell them what to do. I would have slept in approximately one million times without this obligation.

How is it different than any class you might take at a gym?

Well, it’s outside, for one. That makes it about 100% better than the same thing inside. We meet in a park that overlooks Boston. We get steady sunrises over the Atlantic. It’s goddamned beautiful really. And the park is full of stuff we can use.

Every workout is different. We change locations. We change formats. Some days are cardio heavy. Some days we do more muscle burn stuff. Sometimes it’s all body weight exercises. Sometimes we incorporate kettlebells, medicine balls, slam balls, jump rope, agility ladder, resistance bands, weights, etc., etc. We use geography as much as possible. We run hills and stairs. We use playground equipment. We zig-zag through schools and neighborhoods and ball fields, and we utilize everything we find, benches, rocks, trees, telephone polls.

So the variety is much greater really than what you would get at a gym.

We also only charge $10 per session, which is cheaper than a lot of gym classes. BUT…and this is where Suffer Club really becomes a lot more than an exercise class…we give all the money away. If you are a regular at Suffer Club, you can suggest a charity that appeals to you, and as we pool money from each session, we channel it to the causes that our “members” care about.

We donated $1600 to pandemic relief in India today, for example.

B and I are fortunate not to need a side-hustle. She’s a certified group fitness instructor, because she’s always been a fitness nut and she likes to tell people what to do. I am a willing foot soldier. What we settled on eventually was that not only did we not need the $100 or so that came in from each session, but that we could use that money for good causes that would further motivate the crew to show up.

Our benefit from the whole thing is excellent fitness, relentless motivation, good friends, and a tax write-off.

Why are you telling us this?

I’m laying out the blueprint here, because the Suffer Club model works so well, it seems like you could probably do this wherever you are and receive all the benefits we get. I’m not saying it’s easy. You still have to show up ALL. THE. GODDAMN. TIME. but it’s worth it. It’s worth it for you, for the people who workout with you, and for the causes who need the help.

Why do you call it Suffer Club?

The assumption, I think, is that this is some sort of tough guy pose. The thing is, we’re all middle-aged people. We’re not that tough, except in the sense that we keep going, relentlessly, like a bunch of burpeeing zombies. The joke is that we’re suffering real hard, and that it’s a club for hardcore athletes. The background meaning, though, is that by suffering a little, we can help people who are really suffering, suffer a little less.

Awwww!!! Puppies, kittens, rainbows.