What makes SSP so different?

“I could go on about how I’ve nearly doubled in weights for every lift or how much better of a runner I am now, but most importantly, my time at SSP has taught me that I am capable of so much more!” 

This is one of my favorite reviews from our member, Madi. She gave this review over a year ago and she’s still with us today! 

I remember when Madi first came in, she had been working out at a group fitness gym and was looking for something different to help her continue to make progress towards her goals. 

We talk about our community a lot (which we love and we know our members love!) but we also get questions about why SSP is different than, say, an Orange Theory or an F45 or a big box gym. So, we thought we’d dedicate an email to talk about what we do in the gym and how our service and offering is different… particularly the exercise stuff. 🙂 

In terms of gyms, we know there are lots of options out there. Trying to choose the right one for you can feel overwhelming. There’s big box gyms, like LA Fitness or Anytime Fitness, where the model is to have an accessible open gym for you to program and workout largely on your own. There are CrossFit gyms which (typically) have a high intensity group class focus with CrossFit specific programming. There are group training circuit style gyms like an F45 or Orange Theory which specialize in larger group workouts where you are moving quickly between stations. Or, you can also hire a personal trainer for 1:1 training. Then there’s us. 🙂 Where does SSP sit amid all of this? 

Well, we are unique, and I’m not just saying that. I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying the market and different offerings out there as well as consulting and coaching gyms all across the world and country on a regular basis. I can say, in Seattle, I don’t know of any other gym that does it quite like us. 

Here’s why…

We are incredibly intentional about getting to know and learn about our members. This includes your injuries and other considerations for programming. This is why every single person that comes into SSP starts with a 1:1 assessment so we can spend time with you to inform your personal training programming and class experience. This creates a higher barrier to entry to SSP than most other gyms who might offer a free class or session as a low barrier offer, but we maintain this because we believe it provides the best experience for members as they come into the gym. 

Our personal training program is built off of the principles of progressive overload. Meaning, you will see and make strength gains over time because we are intentionally manipulating your weights, repetitions, sets, tempo, and exercise variation to create adaptations over time (Plotkin et al.). Our team keeps a careful record of the weights, reps, and sets you did in each personal training session, and aims to increase at least one of these factors the next time you train. In other group fitness class environments, the coach is not responsible for ensuring you are adjusting these variables over time, which is often why people feel like they “plateau” in group fitness because your body becomes really good at adapting and becoming efficient at processing the stimulus you are providing it. 

The reverse of #2 is, while we know when and how to push you to drive strength gains, our coaches also know how and when to scale back. We understand other variables affect your ability to perform in the gym. Some days you may need to do some light movement or mobility instead of pushing hard. In fact, scientifically, we know it’s much better for you to scale back on days where your stress level is higher overall because exercise IS stress. The more stress we place on top of stress, the longer (and harder) your recovery period is. 

We focus on improving your strength and abilities in everyday activities. You train your full body every time you come in, meaning you’ll push, pull, squat, and hinge every time, and in doing so, we’re also challenging your core and your ability to move through different planes of motion (e.g. side to side and rotationally). In addition, we train for power using lightweight and quick movements while also training for maximum strength through heavy weights. All of this translates to real life – moving faster to pick up your kids because you can change direction and pivot better, carrying your heavy suitcases up stairs to your AirBnBs on trips, tackling those big hikes easier because of greater glute and hamstring strength, and being faster than all your friends playing recreational sports on the weekends. 😉 

We’re not saying group training, big box, etc. are bad. There is always a positive physiological and community benefit to having movement in your life consistently, regardless of what that may be. We also do small group classes at SSP, and we know working out with your peers has been shown to encourage consistency, decrease stress, and foster a sense of community, which you know we’re all about here at SSP (Yorks et al.). 

That said, we know that the way we train at SSP leads to faster gains in general stability, mobility, and definitely strength than most other group classes environments just by the nature of how we program, track progress for each individual, and coach. 

Happy training! 

Coach Chris & Team SSP

P.S. Sign up for your 1:1 assessment to get started!


Plotkin D, Coleman M, Van Every D, Maldonado J, Oberlin D, Israetel M, Feather J, Alto A, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ. 2022. Progressive overload without progressing load? The effects of load or repetition progression on muscular adaptations. PeerJ 10:e14142 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.14142

Yorks, Dayna M., Frothingham, Christopher A. and Schuenke, Mark D.. “Effects of Group Fitness Classes on Stress and Quality of Life of Medical Students” Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, vol. 117, no. 11, 2017, pp. e17-e25. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2017.140