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Melissa Levy, co-owner of The Rebel Workout. Photo courtesy of Melissa Levy

Shaped By COVID-19: The Rebel Workout’s At-Home Session

This upper body burner led by the Rebel Workout co-owner Melissa Levy will test your shoulders and back with a little cardio sprinkled in just for fun.

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Editor’s Note: “Shaped By COVID-19” is a weekly series designed to help you stay active while you’re homebound with workouts from some of Denver’s leading fitness and wellness professionals. Got a fitness tip or favorite studio? Email us at digital@5280.com.


The Gym: The Rebel Workout
Year Founded: 2015
The Trainer: Melissa Levy, co-owner
Favorite COVID-19-appropriate rest day activity: “Getting outside as much as possible. I go for a walk in the morning or at night. That’s been my rest day mantra: Put your headphones on or talk to a friend. You can never do too much walking.”

Finding fitness doesn’t have to mean long hours in the gym. That’s the philosophy at the Rebel Workout, which built its reputation for fun, fast-paced, and varied workouts focused on functional movements. “We’re about workouts that get you working super hard—max capacity—but super efficiently,” co-owner Melissa Levy says. Think 25- to 45-minute sessions that leave your muscles and your lungs burning from challenging intervals.

Levy’s work-hard-play-hard approach to fitness was founded five years ago, when she and her husband, Ryan, opened their space on South Broadway. The studio’s lineup was grounded in its strength and cardio combo sessions, but quickly grew to include things like Rebel Iron (weightlifting) and Rebel LIT (low-impact training that doesn’t require jumping but does require some serious cardio). A separate space in the back allowed for cycle and barre workouts. Rebel’s inclusive environment also made it attractive to a devoted clientele: Instructors don’t talk about weight loss and body shape here—just about getting fitter and healthier.

When COVID-19 shut Rebel’s brick and mortar down, many of those same clients continued paying for memberships they could no longer use just to support Rebel, which was quickly pivoting to an online platform. It wasn’t enough. When it’s safe for gyms to re-open, Rebel won’t be one of them. The cost of maintaining the business and the lease was too much, Levy says. “It’s heartbreaking,” she says. “To see people show up for your business and to still have to announce that even though you showed up, it’s just not enough.”

Levy isn’t sure what the long-term future holds for Rebel, but for now, she and her instructors are continuing to provide online workouts that stay true to the studio’s foundation: Most are between 20 and 45 minutes and require little more than a loop band and maybe some dumbbells if you have them. You can access the entire library for $20 a month, or “rent” individual classes for $5 a week. Between the bodyweight HIIT classes, to Tabata-style dumbbell sessions, and some serious core work (note: there’s always core work with Rebel), there is a workout for every schedule and fitness level. Pick yours.

Workout Type: Upper body burn
Muscle Focus: Shoulders/back
Duration: 35 minutes

The Workout: If your shoulders and back aren’t screaming by the end of this thing, you’re not doing it right. Levy works right along with you, so when you’re wondering if you’re the only one who’s dying on the last round of band-row jumping jacks, well, you’ll see you are not. My favorite part—besides when it’s over—is watching Levy’s pup wander in and curl up on the couch midway through the workout. It’s a trick you’ll see more than once if you choose to explore more of Rebel’s virtual sessions. Speaking of which, should you want to extend the burn to your belly, we suggest pairing the upper body workout with Levy’s short “Oh My Obliques!” session. By the end of both of those, you’ll be the one curled up on the floor.

The Stay Inside Guide to Denver

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