I’m a simple man. I make my political decisions based on the most compelling Facebook meme. I still find the gratuitous wrapping of things in bacon to be titillating. And no matter how insane and complicated this world becomes, I can always find intellectual bedrock in knowing that beer makes you fat. At least, it used to.
A bizarre trend is afoot. Over the last couple of years, health-conscious individuals have rejected pairing beer with carne asada fries and sloth as God intended in favor of merging it with physical activities. I know, it sickens me too.
If you’re the sort that likewise discards the natural order of things, this city is lousy with beery fitness options. Most every brewery with enough square footage to accommodate an unfurled yoga mat will have classes for the same. The Hike for Beer team (Instagram: @hikeforbeersd) boldly explore the more rustic and picturesque corners of San Diego with the promise that everyone who isn’t picked off by a bobcat will enjoy brews together afterward. Sadly, this is an emergent culture that a beer writer should understand better.
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What an awesome crew we had this morning for “switchbacks with a view!” . Cheers to new and old friends, perfect hiking weather and to the amazing staff at @thornbeer for hosting us afterwards! You all rock…stay tuned for the October schedule of adventures!🤗⛰🍻 . #hikeforbeer #hoppytrails #explore #adventure #hikesandiego #hikecalifornia #drinklocal #trailsandales #thornstreetbrewery #sandiegohikes #sdhikes #sdbeer #mothermiguel #sundayfunday
If I’m going to subject myself to this sort of lunacy, I need to find activities that likewise buck fitness orthodoxy. Luckily I can always count on San Diego to get weird.
As much as I’d prefer to remain an incorporeal voice, this column details physical endeavors that only make sense relative to a level of fitness. I want whatever (likely inevitable) struggles I encounter to provide a context to a reader’s potential experience. Accordingly, I think the fairest way to describe my build would be “guy who was probably in shape once.” I run, but don’t race. I lift, but seldom grunt. I’ve probably accrued as many injuries from stretching as I’ve avoided in this life. My body is the perfect inflection point between becoming an unsettlingly vascular old man or a shuffling monument to entropic inevitability. I hope that helps!
BrewFit is an exercise regimen that lives at the intersection between CrossFit (a varied fitness routine executing functional movements at high intensity) and brewing (a repetitive and inadvertent fitness routine rooted in dragging heavy crap about). Basically, keep the instructor hounding you and swap kettlebells for sixtels and you’re 85% of the way there.
I originally assumed BrewFit was a brilliant ruse by the owners of Council Brewing to surreptitiously crowdsource some brewery labor (while also getting those same schnooks to pay for the privilege), but that didn’t appear to be the case when I arrived. The parking lot adjoining their Kearny Mesa location was organized into multiple stations, each stocked with specific brewery paraphernalia. Still, if there turns out to be a BrewFit station for filing purchase orders I’ll know what’s up.
The BrewFit class is helmed by Joe Craig, a demon spewed from the bowels of hell that can only nourish itself by feeding off the piteous wails from mortal quadriceps. He is more commonly known as a CrossFit instructor, but I feel that title is largely redundant. His hour-long class includes warm-ups, multiple exercise circuits, and a celebratory Council Brewing beer afterward. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the event, but if you prefer to pre-pay for your dry-heaves they are also available online.
The circuit included activities like keg-based farmer carries and pony keg presses, but my favorite was the grain sack relays. For two minutes you hurriedly lug those unwieldy bags between a pair of pallets, loading and unloading them as quickly as you can. It’s just enough time for your team to migrate the whole stack one full revolution, which means the net work completed was exactly zero. It may seem futile, but remember that all the perspiration that soaks into those bags will someday make for a mighty tasty gose, so it’s totally worth it.
As much fun as I’m having comparing BrewFit to one of the circles of Dante’s Inferno, it is only fair to strip back the hyperbole for a moment and share that this workout is actually pretty novel and “fun.” The implied air quotes there don’t suggest facetiousness – I actually did enjoy myself. I just can’t bring myself to declare any activity that knowingly incorporates burpees as fun without some manner of qualification. Most importantly, the workout was totally scalable to whatever level of intensity one felt comfortable with, but the impetus to challenge yourself still remained.
There are kombuchas available post-workout for those that don’t favor beer, but I opted for their East County Ale. I hadn’t had it before, but I figured if it was capable of slaking the thirst of a sun-baked East County-an, it would be precisely what I needed. The verdict: I won’t be swapping East County Ale for Gatorade anytime soon, but its bright pineapple and lemon notes and semi-dry pine finish was a fitting reward for my efforts.
San Diego Metal Yoga
The symbiosis of breweries and yoga is a well-documented phenomenon. For that very same reason I was planning to seek my sweat elsewhere. I don’t have anything against yoga per se – I just wanted a more unconventional option and happened to like my chakras right where they are. Regardless, while browsing for upcoming fitness events, serendipity introduced me to a brand of yoga just peculiar enough to include here: San Diego Metal Yoga.
San Diego Metal Yoga does classes monthly at a variety of locations, but the most recent iteration was hosted at Societe Brewing Company. A ticket for this event included about an hour of yoga-ing and one full pour of your choice afterwards. The event page advised attendees to bring their ID, a yoga mat, some water, and “whatever else you need to vinyasa.” Unsurprisingly, I had no idea what vinyasa was. For all I knew, I’d spent an entire adulthood in desperate need of a big ol’ slice of vinyasa and it didn’t know it, which was kind of exciting in itself.
Usually gathering workout clothes is a pretty mindless task, but I wasn’t confident on what this situation called for. What, indeed, would Danzig wear to yoga? I settled for the blackest, most brutal activewear I could find. I also stuffed a leather codpiece and some pentagrams in my gym bag just in case.
When the morning of the event arrived I decided to cast uncertainty aside and embrace the seeming duality of mingling chaotic black metal with the calm, mindful intentions of yoga. I made myself a quick breakfast of black coffee and organic, cage-free hummus, assembled a Spotify mix of Tibetan singing bowls and Slayer tracks, and drove over. I was ready to win at yoga.
I arrived early, eager to take inventory of the crowd this would draw. By all accounts they were disappointingly normal, though I don’t know exactly what else I expected. Maybe more druids? The most evil thing I saw was a dude wearing black socks with his Birkenstocks, which honestly still makes me tremble a bit to recall.
We began supine on our mats. The instructor didn’t tell us to lay like a corpse, but it was implied. As I relaxed a bit I noted the music beginning to swell. It was a sludgy and brooding mid-tempo guitar instrumental that certainly wasn’t soothing, but was oddly meditative in its own way.
It’s hard to encapsulate the remainder of the event. One minute the instructor said I was a cow, the next a downward-facing dog. All I knew in the moment was that the entirety of the animal kingdom was evidently far more flexible than myself because posing like them was a real bitch. On a related note, if you’ve never had a chance to take stock of what all the different parts of your body smell like, the contortions of yoga will prove to be as informative to you as they were for me.
That said, as unfamiliar as all of this was, it was totally feasible for the amateur yogi. Sure, a few of the stretches felt like long-form interrogation using my hamstrings as leverage, but it was all manageable.
When the time arrived to reward my efforts, I sought the only beer blacker than my post-Metal Yoga soul: Volcanist American Stout. It was so good I almost reached for a second one, but my third eye was already starting to see double and I still had to drive home.