Dark Gyms For Winter Months When You're Feeling Fat AF

If you go facedown in the fondue and bottoms-up on the brandy at holiday parties, you’re not alone. Personally, if I began every winter with the goal to look as much like an obese snowman as possible come January, I’d have more faith in the goals I make for the new year. Our bodies are like clay that can be sculpted into stunning works of toned, chiseled art—but, during winter, they’re often more like blobs of shapeless, uncooked clay that still somehow weigh as much as a statue. The holiday culture encourages us to treat December like a month-long buffet and every meal like it’s our final feast on death row. When the sun finally does return, the closest we’ll come to a summer body might look like a swollen summer sausage, fat and sweating in the heat. 

Thankfully, in Seattle we have a few months left before anyone starts peeling back the layers of Patagonia and showing some skin. With the proper precautions, it’s possible to mitigate the damage of holiday binging and work toward some base level of fitness come springtime. 

The gym can be an intimidating place, and the bright fluorescent lights in some establishments might feel like an unwelcome spotlight before you’re ready for the show. It’s hard enough to muster the motivation to go to the gym at all, let alone to go if you know you’re going to feel like some show pig, trotting around on the equipment for everyone to see.  

The good news is that this isn’t the only option for winter workouts in Seattle. If you want to sweat it out away from the bright lights, there are ample options for dark gyms in Capitol Hill, including:

Rival Fitness

This boutique gym is conveniently located on Pine and Belmont Ave, in the heart of the hill. It specializes in TRX, circuit training, rowing, and enveloping its members in a shadowy cloak of anonymity while they sweat away their spiked eggnogs and squat off the Christmas cookies that someone keeps bringing to the office. 

While Rival is a favorite among many young professionals here, membership doesn’t come cheap, starting at over $100 a month after taxes. If you’ve already put all your money toward Christmas gifts and gorging yourself on festive, high-priced meals, you can swing by with a day pass for $16 or cash in a credit on ClassPass.

“It is SO DARK in there. Especially in the evening. I feel like the place was designed for vampires.”


Another convenience, in addition to free towel service and easy street access, is the fact that this gym is sandwiched between two delicious Mexican restaurants: Fogón Cocina Mexicana and Mezcaleria Oaxaca. Rival Fitness is like a church next to a casino. After an afternoon of mainlining tequila and chile con queso next door, sinners can come here to repent. 

Like any good confessional, it’s almost total darkness inside, leaving space to reflect on what you’ve done and how you might come-to-God sooner next time—or, at least, how next time you might pause before inhaling a burrito, two quesadillas, three “skinny” margaritas, and one ill-conceived shot of fireball. 

The Sweatbox

The aptly-named Sweatbox on 10th Ave is my favorite hot yoga studio in Seattle. While some newer studios in town boast natural light, moderate heat, and airy ventilation, The Sweatbox is a windowless hole-in-the-wall that blocks light and fresh air like a quarantine lockdown. 

Classes here are not for the faint of heart—though they might be filled with the faint.

“It’s dark and dank like a basement.”


The heat gets intense. But, for some people, that’s what they want out of hot yoga. When I come to class, if I don’t leave feeling like I’ve just had an uninterrupted 60-90 minute hot flash, I want my money back. 

Hot yoga is praised for helping the body purge toxins, and if, occasionally, that comes with purging your morning macchiato, then so be it.

          “My last class was in 2014. I threw up on the     sidewalk outside after.”


A strong urge to vomit or pass out can also pull classmates’ attention away from noticing the holiday heft spilling out over your yoga pants. Pick a spot in the back of class, and you can be sure to enjoy a sweat session under the radar.  

The Sweatbox offers new students two weeks of classes for $30—a tough price to beat for the location. I recommend taking advantage of that (I did), then swinging by with ClassPass or paying $20 for drop-ins. Monthly membership is priced at $110. 

Yoga fan and diehard Seattleite Carina W. raises another good point: “I mean, everyone’s supposed to close their eyes in yoga a bunch anyway. When your eyes are closed, you don’t see who’s looking at you. Also, I’m usually high as fuck when I go, so I never know what the hell’s going on.” No doubt. 

Most yoga studios should have (at least some) classes that are dark AF. And if they don’t, just take Carina’s advice and get super stoned before you go; at which point, you might feel less like working out and more like eating an entire gingerbread house, but hell, it’s the holidays! Live a little. 


Meili Cady