Gabrielle “Gabby” Reece – mom, world-class athlete, fitness icon and author – continues to bring HIGHX excitement to 24 Hour Fitness locations across the country, and just led master classes in two of our New York City locations. She took the time to tell us how the group exercise class you take has potential to be much more – in fact, she calls it “sweat church.”

24Life: HIGHX has its roots in your response to a need expressed by your neighbors/friends. At the time that you started getting people in the neighborhood together to exercise, were you simply answering a need for the benefits of fitness? Or did you see it as something more?

Gabrielle Reece: The initial intent on working out with my neighbors and friends was simply that. They closed the gym, and I thought I could offer at least a safe but solid workout. After three years of doing the class, I started thinking the format was scalable and could be used by other communities and train-ers.

24Life: Of course, your neighbors are part of your community, and most of us think of our community of “parents of your kids’ friends,” or “the family that hosts the block barbeque,” or “the neighbor who loves to garden.” As your informal “class” grew, did your ideas about what community is change?

GR: Since the HIGHX class was not only open to my friends but to one and all, it was a real opportunity for me to have contact with various people that I normally might not have connected with. The class has such a diverse group of participants that we all could bring something unique to the room.

24Life: And what kept class participants coming back?

GR: The TEAM is what keeps the participants showing up. On the days they can’t do it for themselves they will do it for their teammates. Not to mention the workouts are challenging, and I do believe people start to see and feel the benefits of the training. When all else fails, there is always the loud music to get you through it.

In the early days, my class began to feel like a sweat church. No gossip, no judging, no BS. We would all just come together and leave everything at the door except our willingness to work, support one an-other and sweat. I still see people create friendships on teams, help each other out during hard times, celebrate each other victories and use one another for resources to get it done day to day. The cherry on top is that we are all helping one another do something positive for ourselves and our health.

24Life: So does that experience of community in the class make its way to the rest of life, outside the studio?

GR: People created friendships from their time together in HIGHX, which existed outside of the class-room. Not to mention if a participant had a need, someone in the class had the answer. So we are able to affect one another in a far-reaching capacity that may or may not have anything to do with training. It’s what a community really should be: helpful, supportive and a place to get answers and inspired.

24Life: What have you learned about yourself since creating and launching HIGHX from the ground up?

GR: I have learned that I get great satisfaction participating in creating an environment that is positive and supportive. Oh, and that I can be a lot meaner then I realized! Maybe mean isn’t the word – let’s just say “directive.” All joking aside, I have discovered how truly passionate I am about health, community and seeing if we can all come together to make an impact.