My dad used to have one of those old bumper sticker poster thingies up in his office. “You don’t have to be crazy to work here,” it said, “but it helps.” (Give the old guy a break: that stuff was funny in the 80s.) Pops was an accountant, but we could have a similar slogan in journalism: “You don’t have to be a hardened, world-weary, cynical old hack… but it helps.” Journalists are just like that: we don’t believe a word of what we hear, even less of what we write, and we love to call shenanigans when companies make bold (and unsubstantiated) claims about their products or services.

I was ready to do the same about RIPT. I really was. Even the name (“Ripped”? C’mon.) is like catnip for a cynical soul like me. But then I put them to the test. And it’s hard for me to be a hater when I  agree with everything the SSISA are saying…

Here are four claims they make on their website – along with my (hopefully snark-free) assessment of what that means for the customer.

“All instructors are biokineticists”
So what? So… that’s a huge plus. The SSISA staff rotate the RIPT classes, so it’s not the same guy running every class. You’ll get Chad one day, and some other dude on another day. It helps to keep the workouts fresh, and it helps to vary the intensity. But while the Trainer of the Day may change, the expertise doesn’t. And with them being biokineticists, you’re assured that they’re qualified to show you the correct form for the big lifts, and that they know what they’re talking about when they do the warm-ups and cool-downs. Bottom line: your trainer is educated to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

“Structured and varied environment to allow for safe high intensity group interval type training in a group”
Yes, it’s structured. (Here’s something I wrote about a typical RIPT class.) And yes, it’s varied. And yes, that’s a good thing. When I walk into a gym on my own, I have the same problem I’d imagine a lot of people have: I look around, pick a machine that nobody else is using, and muck around with that machine for 20 minutes. Then I klap a protein shake and go home, wondering why I’m not seeing the results, and wondering why I’m sore after my amazing workout. At RIPT, the structure makes sure you get a proper workout. The variety makes sure you work your whole body. The intensity makes sure you actually get results. And the group work gives you someone else to measure yourself by. (It’s also a lot less lonely and a lot more sociable when you have other human beings doing the same workout as you!)

“Suitable for both men and women (minimum age 15)”
Again, true. And again, that’s a good thing. CrossFit is similar, in that – and here’s a word they love to use – it’s scaleable. My RIPT class this past Monday had 8 people in it: 2 men, 6 women. It was one of the toughest workouts I’ve had since I joined the programme.

“Classes are set up to cater for varying levels of fitness and technical ability”
Yes. The structure/format of the RIPT classes are the same today as they were four weeks ago when I started. But although I’m undeniably stronger now than when I started, and my technical form is better now than on Day One, I’m still getting the same sense of satisfaction out of my classes. Yes, they have minimum requirements, and yes, you have to do an assessment before they let you join. But when you see my first test results (and you will, at the end of the #MHStaffChallenge) you’ll see that I was pretty shamefully unfit when I started out.

Like I said: it’s tough to be a cynic when I agree with everything the SSISA are saying.