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The DuffleBuff class at Method + Crew

Want to get out and explore the natural world, but don't know where to start? Want to begin strength training but find kettlebell and barbell classes too intimidating? Want to start a regular workout regime but work and travel make your schedule unpredictable?

A new gym in the Brooke Smith neighborhood, just east of the Heights, aims to solve all those challenges and more with a simple ingredient that there's a whole lot of on the Gulf Coast: sand.

The signature workout at Method+Crew Fitness is called DuffleBuff — basically, using your muscles and body to move a duffle bag full of sand around.

Method+Crew, which celebrated its soft opening during White Linen Nights, was founded by Aaron Holmes, a commercial helicopter pilot and personal trainer who saw the need for more versatility and a lower barrier of entry for people just getting started in their fitness journey.

As a trainer, he'd started hearing stories about people whose physical limitations were keeping them from doing things they wanted to do. One person told him they visited Peru but didn't go to Machu Picchu because they knew they wouldn't be able to climb the steps. Another told him they wished they could play with their kids more. These people wanted to get healthy but didn't know how.

"I'd been hearing people say, 'I wanted to work out, but I went to a traditional gym and I had no idea what to do,'" he said. "I had such a desire to help people do these kinds of things that make life worth living."

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Enter the sand.

Bodyweight workouts are great for getting in shape, but they're hard to scale. It's a big leap from a push-up on your knees to a strict military push-up. Kettlebells and weights are expensive and take up a lot of space, especially when you need different sizes of them for different exercises. With sand, you can measure out precise amounts, or weights, into different sleeves, and make adjustments as needed. And you can do almost any exercise with a small duffle bag that you can with a barbell or kettlebell. What's more, you can buy different-sized bladders for travel, fill them up with water in your hotel sink, and do the same workout when traveling.

The result is a take-anywhere, infinitely-scalable high-intensity interval training workout that also incorporates strength training.

"I want this to be something that is simplified," Holmes said. "It's inexpensive, super effective and super versatile."

Since Method + Crew's motto is "Training for the Next Adventure," part of the gym's programming is also to offer beginner workshops for various outdoor adventures. Upcoming workshops include topics like camping hacks, fire building and gourmet campfire cooking, bike maintenance and canoe and kayaking basics. The gym also offers yoga and kickboxing classes and has plans to sponsor gym members who participate in charity events like races.

"It's all about laying obstacles low for people," he said.

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