Try to imagine—REALLY imagine—if Cut Seven was your first workout. Ever. No involvement in high school sports, no intramural kickball team on the Mall. Your first exposure to fitness was banded sprints, slider pushes, and the infamous Cut Seven warm-up.
The person who never worked out before Cut Seven is the same person who has done MORE Cut Seven workouts than anyone—minus the owners.
Aaron Reuter was the first Cut Seven G.O.A.T, one of the original 6AM crazies, and one of the first athletes at the pop-up studio on 14th Street. And if you ever thought you needed to be in top shape to attend this workout (which we all seem to think after a week-long vacation), know that one of our longest-standing athletes never once worked out or was part of a team sport before he entered this studio.
Is it true you never once worked out before Cut Seven?
The idea of going to a gym and being surrounded by people was [once] my personal nightmare. I never played sports, never did a team activity. When I was four, my mom tried to get me to join a T-ball team and I refused to get out of the car.
I schemed my way out of gym class my entire middle school and high school career. I did art and played the trumpet, never doing anything physical. I was a quiet, introverted nerd. I was so scared of interacting with people the concept of being on a team was terrifying to me.
So you chose Cut Seven—a place where we constantly cheer and high-five each other—as your gym of choice??
There’s something about being social—without having to talk—that is so great for someone who is shy and introverted. There’s this camaraderie you can feel and be a part of, without having to say anything.
The first time I ever participated in a team competition was this year. We held a kickball game at work, and I outran a guy who was a professional rugby player. This workout is the reason I could do that.
Right. The workout. So you never went to a single gym before Cut Seven. How did you not….?
…Die? I did. The first workout I went to, I thought I was going to pass out.
But it was motivating to me. I knew there were changes I wanted to make, and doing yoga or hitting a treadmill wasn’t going to get me there. I had to do something serious because my goals were serious.
I get bored out of my mind on treadmills. I tried a spin class one time and will never go back. This is both physically and mentally challenging, but somehow strangely meditative. The music is blasting, the room is dark, and someone is screaming at you, telling you what to do. You can mentally check-out. It works well for my personality.
When you say you had, “big changes you wanted to make,” what were they?
I was very skinny my entire life—I got away with not working out because I didn’t have to. Over the course of seven years, I put on a ton of weight. I went from 135 in undergrad to a chunky 190 my last year of law school.
When I moved to DC, I lived in Holm (the resident apartments above the studio). I kept harassing the developer about which business would go in the retail space downstairs. When they told me it was “some gym thing,” I thought, I have to get in shape. I couldn’t keep getting heavier and heavier, eating badly and not working out.
When they put the wrap around the building, I emailed Chris and Alex. I was there for Cut Seven’s first workout in the pop-up studio, and I’ve gone six days a week, every week since. I lost 30 pounds, then put on 15 pounds of muscle.
What motivated you to make such a dramatic life change?
I came out in undergrad, and by 19 I got into a relationship that lasted ten years. We lived in New Orleans, becoming part of each other’s families and sharing the same tight knit group of friends. My boyfriend ended up leaving me for one of my best friends.
The year afterward was pretty dark. I stayed in Louisiana, and by year two I knew I needed to make a change and leave behind the sadness and complacency. It spurred me to find a job, move here, and start over. It really changed my perspective on life.
What was it like, moving here not really knowing anyone then finding the Cut Seven community?
It was a little awkward at first. But the non-verbal high fives were so much easier for me than engaging in small talk. I could engage with people without really saying anything.
As I got more comfortable, I came out of my shell—and I’ve made great friends because of it. Christine, Jillian, Darcie, Kelsey, Amit and I are this little morning crew bonded together. We push each other to a different level, keeping each other in check if one of us is feeling lazy.
It’s a weird thing—I’m not a religious person, but there’s something uplifting about this communal activity. Seeing my workout friends is what gets me out of bed in the morning. We group-text each day, breaking down the workout and which stations we hated, or screenshotting Facebook threads to Darcie because she’s not on social media.
It’s so funny how you were so terrified of joining a team, and now seeing teammates is the best part of your day.
Ten- or twenty-year old me wouldn’t recognize me today. The physical changes in me are obvious, but it’s changed me emotionally and mentally as well.
[This workout] made me more empathetic and compassionate. When you see people working as hard as you are, with everyone trying to accomplish the same thing, it creates a great connection.
It’s easier for me to interact at a gym because there’s a purpose behind it. Crowded bars will never be my strong suit and I absolutely hate mingling. But at Cut, it’s this safe environment where you have a reason to go say hi to someone and introduce yourself.
No matter how introverted you might be, you can get out of Cut Seven what you need from it. If you put in the effort, you will get that energy back ten-fold from the people around you. There’s no expectations on how you need to behave, you can just take from it what you want.
You came around to the idea of having a team, how do you feel about having a coach?
I love it. Although it does crack me up when a coach tells us there’s no cardio. Like…have you done this workout before? My heart is pounding whether or not it’s Heart Day.
I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have a coach. The late cancel policy is what gets me out of bed in the morning, but the coaches are the ones who make me “show up” and do work. There’s no way I’d be where I am without them.
I’ve always been observant and seriously pay attention, so it was easy enough for me to pick up on form corrections [even though I never worked out before]. But the coaches know how to push us to another level. Katie knows our 6AM group well, and if any of us slack, she’s on us immediately.
Does Katie ever try to separate your 6AM group?
She tries, but she has not succeeded. We just stand and stare at her.
Are there any teammates you want to give a shoutout to?
I feel bad singling anyone out because everyone at 6AM is so amazing. I have to say Amit, because we partner-up every workout.
And I have to give a shoutout to Judy. She’s literally the nicest person I ever met. Her energy in the studio is amazing; she’s amazing. Her energy is so positive and genuine, I honestly love seeing her each morning. She’s everyone’s number one fan—the Cut Seven official cheerleader.
Has this workout changed you in other areas of your life?
I’m much more confident than I used to be. I think I’m a better leader than I used to be. I learned how to communicate and be vulnerable—before, I never would have been able to tell Judy to her face that seeing her makes my morning.
I just started a new job a year ago and just got promoted. I attribute a lot of that drive and ability to collaborate with this gym. I’m not afraid to walk into a meeting full of executives. What is there to be afraid of?
To me, the Cut Seven vibe is fun and motivational, without any artificial pretense. It’s about going in, doing work, and seeing what your body can do. At the end of the day, it’s just you in a dark room with music blasting, seeing what you can do.