A true fitness mecca, New York City is home to hundreds of studios and gyms. City dwellers have a plethora of amazing options to get in a workout, and train with some of the best coaches in the world. We had the opportunity to sit down with Alex Nicolas, Owner and Founder of EPIC Hybrid Training, Lymber’s first New York City partner.
EPIC Hybrid Training is a high intensity circuit training program incorporating functional fitness, as well as mobility drills to recover and restore your body. The workouts are challenging, fun, and ideal for Obstacles Course Race (OCR) enthusiasts. Best of all, the program has progressive levels, so anyone can feel comfortable jumping into class. Alex is an experienced trainer, mentor, Guinness World Record holder, and TV star–he appeared on Spike TV’s, Sweat Inc. with Jillian Michaels.
Hi Alex. Thanks for taking the time to chat. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into industry?
I spent time in the hospitality industry before I switched over to fitness full time. There are a lot of similarities between the two. For me, fitness is a passion and I’ve always loved it. I was a trainer at Crunch Fitness 13 years ago, but at that time in my life, it was mainly for supplemental income.
In high school I played more traditional sports–football, track, that sort of thing. In college, I was on the football team at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. But, after spending all that time on the field, I made a switch over martial arts. I loved the training and conditioning side of martial arts. It was very different from the training I had done previously. As I progressed further in my training career I partnered with a martial arts instructor, and we shared a training space. That’s when I started my brand, EPIC Hybrid Training in 2012. At that time demand for the class became so high that after 18 months I opened a second location, with the primary focus being group training.
Our first location was on 53rd street, but we’ve since moved to 54th street, and have a second location on 30th.
Any more in the works?
Yes. Demand has been so high that about 14 months ago we began franchising. We just didn’t have the manpower to open up more locations ourselves. I’m actually in Miami right now helping out the team here. We have locations in Providence, Westchester, Miami, and two coming soon–San Francisco and Norwalk, CT. We also are in talks for some other locations.
That’s great! Can’t wait to see the growth of the EPIC brand. You mentioned EPIC’s training is great for OCR enthusiasts. Can you tell us a bit more about OCR, and the programming?
OCR stands for Obstacle Course Racing. Think Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and other outdoor runs. We offer a variety of classes that will prepare you for your next race. A lot of clients get excited about obstacle racing. We have several staff members who race quite a bit, have sponsorships, and know a lot about the sport.
When you come to EPIC you’re going to get a great workout. It’s HIIT, circuit training, and mobility work. All classes have 5-8 circuit stations that utilize specific movements. We reprogram every 4 weeks, which is very different than other gyms. We also have matted floors, and a space that allows for barefoot classes, and exercises like plyo box jumps, without worry you’ll skin your knees or injure yourself.
When you come to EPIC you’re always going to try something new. There is a different workout everyday, with a different focus. Every month we start fresh, with 4-5 different movements. Throughout the month those movements are integrated into the workouts so people have a lot of time to work on them. Something like a handstand for example. We break it up into different steps and throughout the month you can progress. People get excited every month for a new program. They get to try something new. We are constantly reinventing.
We have a lot of regulars here, and they come six, maybe seven days a week. On Sundays we offer a Versaflex class, which focuses on stretching and mobility work. It helps everyone recover and get ready for the next week of training.
How would you describe your typical EPIC Hybrid athlete?
We get people from all walks of life, from professional athletes to people just getting back into fitness. You don’t have to be an OCR enthusiast or competitive athlete to join in and get in a great workout. There is a level for everyone. With all of our classes everyone finishes together, like a team. It’s not like CrossFit where everyone finishes at different times.
When people leave a workout they feel empowered. They do things they never pictured themselves trying, or haven’t done since they were a kid.
Do you take classes at EPIC as well?
Yes, we all do. It’s really important to train alongside the members. You don’t always see that at other studios. All the coaches train here, as well as the front desk staff. It’s a team, and we are all on the same page about fitness. We want to set an example for the members too. Our head coach competes in Spartan races, is sponsored by Reebok, and has competed in bodybuilding competitions. She’s the real deal.
What would you say is your personal philosophy? Anything you tell your members regularly?
Mind over matter. Our mind typically breaks down before our body. We are capable of so much more than we think we are. People may be intimidated to come in here, but EPIC is really for everyone. You’ve just got to give yourself that chance. Once people believe they can do it, they can really accomplish anything.
What would you say is your favorite healthy food?
Almond butter definitely. You can eat it with anything. It’s great for sugar cravings. You might find me have a scoop here and there.
What do you think of Lymber?
I like the concept. So far the customer service has been excellent from the team. I’m interested to see how things go in New York City and I want to see it work. I’m all for a free market economy and bringing value.
Anything you’d like to add?
Yea, a few things you can add in there. You can say I’m kind of like a comedic boot camp drill instructor. We like to have some fun in here, but we’re also maximizing gains. I’m making you work hard. But, people have a short attention span. You have to add some fun in there to keep them focused, and on their toes.
I’m also a Guinness World Record holder for the most kettlebell swings in a 24 hour period. It’s definitely something a bit different.
You can check out Alex, and the EPIC Hybrid Training team on the Lymber app in New York City!