- KegFit Co., Dirk Manley
Men’s Fitness calls keg training "a scientifically solid method widely used by college athletes and strongmen to build strength and conditioning with a fun, unconventional workout.” The benefits of lifting and throwing beer kegs have also been lauded by Bodybuilding.com, Muscle & Fitness and The Art of Manliness in recent years, but in Boise, two locals stumbled upon the trend by accident.
Dirk Manley, one of the original founders of KegFit, the Boise version of keg training, gave BW a rundown on its humble beginnings—before there were any kegs involved.
“We started on the capitol steps in August of 2014 with a boombox, a tape and a desire to work out someplace outside,” said Manley. “And then the next week some friends came, and then more friends came, and someone brought watermelon for a snack, and it kind of grew from there.”
- KegFit Co., Dirk Manley
- The KegFit crew poses with its signature boombox.
When winter hit, the group had to look for a new spot to meet. A friend who worked at Woodland Empire Ale Craft volunteered its brewing space, which was full of empty kegs. Because of convenience, the KegFit method was born.
“We lift [the empty kegs], we use them for ab workouts, for push-ups, for cardio...all sorts of stuff,” Manley explained.
During the workout, participants do three rounds of a specific exercise at four different stations, which change between each round. Participants spend 45 seconds at each station, with a 15-20 second “speed round” to cap off each rotation; factoring in breaks, the whole workout lasts about 30 minutes.
“It’s kind of neat because, who gets to go in the back room of a brewery?” said Manly. “Not very many people. And sometimes they’re still brewing beer. One of our guys always comes early so he can talk to the guys making the beer—talk about nerdy beer stuff.”
For Manley, it seems, those kinds of connections are even more important than the workout itself. People come to KegFit to stay in shape, but also to find friends and have a good time.
“I’ve found that there are a lot of people from out of state who’ve moved to Boise and they’re trying to do something active, you know, meet new people,” Manley said. “And it’s kind of weird—especially for a guy—to go up to someone in a bar and be like ‘Hey dude, want to be my friend?’ [But] at KegFit there are a lot of people who are new to town. It’s a really easy way to meet people.”
Each class costs $8, and the drop-in fee includes a beer token for whichever brewery the group is partnering with. The gang will often stop by the bar after KegFit for a “recovery beer” and to spend time shooting the breeze. In the summer, when workouts on the capitol steps are added back into their repertoire, everyone takes a walk through the farmer’s market afterward for Killer Whey protein ice cream, fresh fruit and nitro cold brew from Neckar Coffee. At each stop, they know the sellers by name.
KegFit workouts have been on the schedule at Woodland Empire on Tuesdays since October 2014. For a while, the group also met on Wednesdays at Powderhaus Brewing Company, but those meetings have been shelved in favor of Sunday classes at UpCycle Boise on Eighth Street, which will kick off Nov. 12.
“On Sunday, we’ll be back at UpCycle, right downtown,” Manley said. “We do 30 minutes of a spin class, and then we do two rounds of KegFit, and then we’ll walk to White Dog [Brewing Company] for a beer after.”
For those looking to explore the Boise brew scene while warding off the matching beer gut, KegFit might be the perfect local fix.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to remove all references to BoomboxBody following new information from Dirk Manley that he is no longer legally allowed to use that company name.