Get to Know: Press Fitness Club


When you walk through the glass door into Press Fitness Club in La Jolla, you forget you’re in a gym for a moment. You won’t see waist trainers, or any other gimmicks. The large expanse of exposed brick wall is to your right, sky-high black ceilings, and funky modern chandeliers evoke the feeling of a hipster bar scene rather than a place I come to get a good sweat. I stride in and find myself wondering where the booze is at.

Over to my left on a wall of green turf, a smattering of gold-horned sheep skull statues stare me down. Through another glass door, the workout awaits. It’s game time.

Hipster bar no more – this place is a recipe for a good butt-whooping. All the equipment you will ever need to get in a good strength training session surrounds a large, spacious floor, and Skrillex bumps through a quality sound system and starts to pump me up immediately.

Between pull-up bars riddled with TRX bands, racks of dumbbells, rows of plyo boxes and a whole slew of barbell equipment, there is a challenge for everyone and every muscle. Press Fitness is all about the well-rounded strength train session, incorporating a variety of equipment and body weight to build strong, lean bodies.

Founded and run by what may possibly be the fittest couple in San Diego, Nick and Shawn Donohoe opened Press Fitness Club at the beginning of the year. Longtime fitness enthusiasts, the two decided to leave their corporate jobs and move to San Diego to launch their dream studio together.

“It was one of those life-changing moments where I asked myself, am I enjoying what I do everyday? And we really weren’t,” says Shawn. “So we decided to make a job out of what we loved to do and made a switch. We moved here in September to open the studio.”

If I were to categorize it, I would say Press falls into a space somewhere between cardio and CrossFit. They bring the energy, intensity, and full-body strength training grit while complimenting with bursts of plyometric cardio for a well-rounded, bust-your-ass, hour-long session.

Nick and Shawn are alongside you each step of the way, patiently explaining each exercise and challenging you to keep going. They offer the encouragement and coaching without the yelling and the intimidation this industry can sometimes bring.

“We wanted to take a high-end personal training experience and bring it to a fun, exciting group fitness environment,” adds Nick.

And bring it, they do. Press Fitness offers two main class styles now on their schedule, Barbell X and Torch + Tone. I’ve tried (and now love) both.

Barbell X classes work through the Olympic lift progressions, concentrating heavily on form.

“There is a wide variety of academic evidence supporting the fact compound structural training is extremely beneficial, offering hormone release, total body fat reduction, strength and toning,” Nick says.

Both certified weight lifting coaches, Nick and Shawn focus heavily on proper form when instructing on the different lifts. “There is something special about taking something heavy, loading it up with weights, and doing the compound movements. It is something no other exercise can completely mimic.”

I’ll admit I was hesitant to thrust a heavily weighted bar over my head, especially as I suffer from previous shoulder injuries. But through their gentle coaching, I found the clean and jerk quite beautiful, and powerful, too.

The other class style, Torch + Tone, is an intense, athletic style training class combining plyometrics, core strengthening, body weight movements, and more to build a well-rounded physique.

The class is comprised of a variety of exercises in timed rounds, interspersed with plenty of ab work. We do everything from pull ups, to triceps dips on the parallette bars, to push-ups and squats with weights. My personal favorite is anything TRX. I love the total body burn they provide as your core, legs, and arms all work together, engaging for stability.

According to Shawn, “You can’t escape the abs! Everyone needs more core. I know I’ve done my job if your abs are sore the next day.”

I believe her. I’ve been to Press about once a week now for a couple of months, and I still cannot leave without feeling the deep belly ache when I chuckle or cough or even simply move the next day. Plateaus? Consider them blasted.

“We want this to be a treat for people. It’s what you’re going to look forward to with your girlfriends or your husband, or a place he meets the guys. Press becomes your spot, and something you’re excited to show up to,” Shawn laughs. “Because it’s hard! But it is fun, too.”

By doing a combination of both of the classes weekly, clients are expected to see results in their build, strength, and overall health.

Never picked up a hand weight? Think barbells are for meatheads? Never fear. Nick and Shawn offer plenty of modifications suited for fitness enthusiasts of all levels, for newbies and experts alike.

“This is not a scary place at all! We want this to be your home-base, a place you can feel comfortable coming to regardless of what level you’re at.”

Go visit Nick and Shawn at Press Fitness Club in the heart of La Jolla and give a class a try. I promise you’ll leave sore, happy, and dang PROUD of yourself.

Want to give it a go? Try your a class for free by signing up with the code AVERY. Drop by to view the schedule and book your space.

See ya at Press!

7655 Girard Ave, La Jolla


Glimpse of Healthy | Avery Johnson – @averykjohnson

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