Fitness Meets 'Fight Club' In Downtown Phoenix Competition

January 17, 2014

The first rule of Rush Club is, well, you are actually allowed to talk about Rush Club. In fact, a lot of people are talking about it. This competition in downtown Phoenix is described as functional fitness meets "Fight Club." AJ Richards started Rush Club with personal trainer Stacey Snyder last February.

"So we had this thought, what if we put functional fitness athletes head to head in an environment where it was all eyes on them, sort of like you would see in an MMA fight," said Richards.

Unlike in the movie Fight Club, competitors, both men and women, go head to head by working out. Two participants complete exercises on a stage surrounded by spectators, for the chance to win cash prizes and become “king of the roost.”

"It is not a contact sport, it’s very friendly. The winner generally will turn around and cheer on the person who’s behind them, and then when they’re done, it’s a high five or a hug, because there is no conflict between me or my opponent," said Richards. "We’re both out to accomplish that same task."

The eighth competition is Saturday, called the Final Rush. It will celebrate nearly a full year of Rush Club. The winners of the previous competitions will return to compete in this event, including a few champions from California. The rematch of sorts is expected to have over 500 spectators.

Richards owns Rush R-X Cross-Fit gym in Mesa where he coaches people to do the same functional movements displayed in the Rush Club competitions. The gym is mostly empty, no treadmills, no stationary bikes, no protein smoothie bar.

Functional movements, said Richards, emulate everyday movements. A power clean, for instance, is sort of like picking up an object and putting it on a high shelf, except in this gym, the object is a barbell that you haul from the ground up to your shoulders, and then drop. Richards said anyone can work up to a competitive level of fitness, and Rush Club is still evolving to accommodate different people.

"We’re transitioning what we do into a weight division sport which has never been done in the functional fitness community, and some of the top athletes and coaches in the community have been waiting for something like this," Richards said.

In these competitions, winners will be challenged by newcomers for their title. A little "Iron Chef" meets Fight Club.