Sanctuary: A Down-Home HIIT

Published : Friday, February 15, 2019 | 5:37 AM

While it is a HIIT, a popular training technique also tends to come with a corporate branding that Sanctuary Fitness plans to avoid.

Pasadena’s newest group fitness studio offers HIIT, for High Intensity Interval Training, classes taught by personal trainers.

To those that aren’t familiar, HIIT is an exercise concept where one moves from station-to-station at timed intervals. Each station is a different exercise.

The HIIT landscape is characterized by chain outfits such as Barry’s Bootcamp or Orange Theory Fitness.

Zach Golden founded Sanctuary Fitness with an eye to establishing an alternative to the corporate workout space. Golden is cultivating a mom-and-pop, small business approach and corresponding clientele with just one other location besides Pasadena.

Sanctuary is a strength-focused HIIT class as opposed to one focused on the cardiovascular.

“You do have cardio, you just don’t realize it,” said Golden, who explained how the technique uses bodyweight fitness exercises to accelerate heart rate at a much lower-impact alternative.

Each day of the week a different class focuses on a different muscle group.

Mondays are foundation: a core strengthening workout. Tuesdays are anchor: a lower body workout that’ll leave your thighs screaming. The schedule gives your muscles time to rest, theoretically allowing you the ability to attend a class every day without burning out.

Sanctuary imposes a theme onto each month of workouts, too. “January was strength, February was power, March will be endurance,” says Golden.

The number of reps, amount of weight, and interval of time taken between each station are the factors that determine these themes.

For example, let’s say a station is a bicep curl. “Power is going to be a little bit faster, a little bit lighter weight, and you’re probably going to be doing something with that curl where you’re in a different position, where you’re not isolating.

“And then endurance. You’re going to go lightweight, but you’re going to go for time. We’re going to do 30 seconds worth of curls, as many as you can get. So it works the muscle in very different ways,” explained Golden.

The intended result: You’ll never take the same class twice. “Your body is guessing constantly as far as what movements you’re doing so you will not plateau,” said Golden.

Sanctuary’s model is structured around two principles: the first being kaizen; a Japanese lean manufacturing philosophy that stresses the importance of small, daily, continuous improvements.

The workouts become progressively tougher and more complex as the month progresses.

That’s not to say you can’t walk in on the fourth week of the month and have a go. “We coach you, we teach you what to do and it’s all just kind of hidden in the layers of our programming,” said Golden.

Zach tells his instructors: “The focus is not on you, the instructor or the studio or our brand. The focus is on people coming in and meeting their goals and feeling like they have a sanctuary.”

Sanctuary encourages the staff to learn each member’s name and take an active interest in their fitness goals.

Sanctuary’s second guiding principle is balance. First and foremost, the workout itself balances strength training with a high-paced, cardio workout.

Perhaps more importantly, Sanctuary balances tough, physical exertion with monthly social outings and charity work for the community.

The gym features free towel service, free lockers, showers, and Pharmacopia body care amenities. Sanctuary isn’t just an in-and-out yoga studio—it’s where you work out and shower before work, or where you break a sweat before a big night out.

Sanctuary is currently offering a free week of classes to new Pasadena members. for more info.

Sanctuary Fitness is located at 182 South Raymond Ave. Visit or call (626) 345-5162.

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