Gone are the days when daunting big-box gyms, with their seas of crowded treadmills and intimidating racks of bulky weights, are the only option for exercise. Boutique fitness studios offering expert instruction in exclusive concepts — from virtual cycling and boxing to heart-rate-monitored training and equipment Pilates — continue to trend as the fitness-minded seek individualized formats.
Here are five disciplines to try, along with the latest and greatest places that offer them in more intimate settings than round-the-clock gyms. Grab your water bottle and get ready to get fit in ’15.
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Pilates, a system of exercises named for its late German inventor, Joseph Pilates, is commonly mistaken as only stretching and ab work performed on a mat. But there is another realm to the practice that incorporates spring-loaded machines that use pulleys, straps and bars to provide for hundreds of customizable exercises geared toward building core strength and balance, improving flexibility and mobility, and promoting symmetry in the body.
“I think a lot of people still don’t know what it is,” says Stephanie Daulton Perry, owner of D Method, her brand name of progressive fitness concepts that encompass equipment Pilates, barre and trampoline-based classes. “People think of Pilates and only think of mat work.”
After teaching several formats around Fort Worth for nearly 13 years, Perry opened her own studio in November near West Magnolia Avenue. The 4,800-square-foot space feels like a modern art gallery with crisp white walls, floor-to-ceiling glass doors and a mix of natural and artistic lighting. Perry considers equipment Pilates work to be “moving art,” and her intention in designing the space was to showcase the challenging yet upbeat format as such.
“Pilates is great for flexibility and for toning,” says Perry. “If someone doesn’t want to do traditional weight lifting, they can get all of the weight-bearing exercises they need from Pilates, which helps with bone density, preventing osteoporosis and so much more.”
While most participants will break a small sweat on the Pilates equipment, those looking for a bigger calorie burn can find it with Perry’s version of barre, called D Barre, which provides one hour of bun-lifting, arm-toning moves mixed with cardio work and ab exercises using bands, balls and small weights. There’s also D Bounce, Perry’s trampoline classes, which use sleek bellicon rebounders to burn fat and even detoxify and energize the lymphatic system and improve circulation through light jumping. No workout is ever the same, and all are set to beat-thumping music.
“Don’t expect classical music,” says Perry. “You’ve got to have fun when you’re working out. And if you work out in a beautiful place, it makes you want to keep coming.”
Classes start at $20, and packages begin at $300 for 20 sessions. D Method also offers nutritional services, including meal planning.
— 1289 Hemphill St., Fort Worth, 817-810-9850, www.dmethod.com
The SanctuaryYoga Room
Located on the sprawling Edwards Ranch development in a building encased in copper is seasoned yoga instructor Rebecca Butler’s new studio, The Sanctuary Yoga Room, which opened in November and radiates with natural light gleaming off sleek hardwood floors.
“‘The Sanctuary’ wasn’t a name that was ever in my mind,” says Butler, who built a large yogi following while managing Indigo Yoga and later Karmany Yoga. “When I walked into this space, the name ‘The Sanctuary’ was reverberating off the walls. It was like a choir of angels was singing.”
Butler is trained in two main yoga styles: Baptiste, an endurance-based version for those who wish to gain strength while incorporating flexibility, and Forrest, what Butler calls “a healing art form” that focuses on deep breathing and meditation, along with balance work and even inversion poses. Butler blends the two and offers a wide variety of classes, like “Flow,” which moves quickly with great rhythm, leaving participants sweaty and rejuvenated, and “Slow,” which focuses on alignment, lengthening and deep core work while holding longer poses.
“Restore” is taught once on Sundays and is intended to help participants renew and heal the body to prepare for the week ahead, Butler says. “You need to take a break every now and then. It improves your health.”
And on Fridays, Butler teaches “Fly.”
“It’s when I stand on my head more than I stand on my feet,” she says.
Other fairly self-explanatory, one-word titled classes include “Rise,” held before sun-up, “Glow,” often set to soft candlelight, and “New,” which is “purely for people terrified of setting foot in a studio,” Butler says. “It can be intimidating. It’s nice to have a class that’s just for beginners to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of at all.”
Other than the enormous stress-relieving benefits, yoga provides balance, Butler says.
“Strength without flexibility is weakness. You’re at risk for injury if you’re really strong but have no flexibility. The vice versa is also true. You need both,” she says. “That’s where yoga comes into play.”
Classes are $17, and packages start at $150 for 10 sessions.
— 5808 Edwards Ranch Road, Fort Worth, 817-727-8510, www.thesanctuaryyogaroom.com.
Heart Rate-Monitored Cardio
A stylish new fitness craze has exercise enthusiasts going orange.
Orangetheory Fitness, based out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., offers 60-minute total-body workout classes that incorporate strength and conditioning along with heart rate-based interval training to stimulate metabolism for hours and even days after completion. Tarrant County’s first location opened in Colleyville last spring, and a Keller Town Center location will open by March.
Equipment used includes TRX suspension workout trainers, Bosu balls, free weights, treadmills and rowing machines. But what pushes participants into the “orange zone,” or the specific heart-rate zone where they can really boost metabolism, are the heart-rate monitors they wear. That’s because large TV screens display each participant’s name and his or her heart-rate level, serving as the ultimate motivator.
“Your heart rate gives it away,” says Kris Elwood, Colleyville Orangetheory studio manager, who will also manage the Keller location. “It’s so much more motivating than doing an individual session with a personal trainer or working out on your own.”
But coaches want participants to stay in the orange zone for only 12 to 20 minutes cumulatively for the entire class. If they do, “they’re going to burn 300-500 calories over the next 24 to 36 hours,” says Elwood. “And that’s on top of how much they already burned in class.”
Classes range from $7 to $18 depending on the membership option selected.
— 4709 Colleyville Blvd., Suite 500, Colleyville, 817-840-3400 and 101 Town Center Lane, Keller (scheduled for March opening); www.orangetheoryfitness.com.
Pedals Cycling Studio
Even in the dead of winter, cyclists can ride through the picturesque terrain of Colorado, Lake Tahoe and even Ethiopia at Pedals Cycling Studio, new in Keller from owner Marlissa Kraft, who fell in love with indoor cycling while living in frigid Wisconsin. But the studio’s 3-D visual system and spacious, stadium-style layout aren’t the only features that set it apart from other spin venues.
“We have power meters on our bikes that are connected to computers,” says Kraft, who lost 90 pounds by way of indoor cycling. “You can see your progress. Our system allows you to store and track that information. Instead of guessing your progress based on how you feel, you actually see numbers. Maybe you started at 90 watts of power and now you’re at 120 watts.”
Kraft’s SpinPower Blade ION bikes inspire riders to push a little harder based on wattage required to climb a hill or race to the finish. Speaking of hills, Kraft’s virtual ride program allows her to add those on a whim, if she desires.
“I can manually add a hill and you’ll see the hill coming up,” she says. “Every time you ride, it’s not the same. And if everybody looks like they’re dying, I can exit quickly.”
Class types range from intro sessions for beginners to 90-minute endurance rides, and start at $17. There are monthly and yearly packages available starting at $99, and the first ride is free.
— 201 Town Center Lane, Keller, 817-710-4179, www.pedalscyclingstudio.com.
At South Carolina-based 9Round boxing clubs, which recently opened locations in Fort Worth and Arlington — one in Keller is in the works — participants can jab, hook, kick and uppercut their way to total-body fitness in only 30 minutes.
“It’s fast-paced. You’re in and out in 30 minutes,” says Fort Worth 9Round owner David Luffey, who holds a black belt in tae kwon do. “And you can come and go on your schedule because we don’t have any class times.”
And that’s one of 9Round’s biggest selling points. Members can come jump right in to start round one without waiting for a class to begin. Participants work through nine three-minute rounds led by a trainer, spending rounds one through three focusing on cardio and strength, rounds four through seven punching and kicking a heavy bag, round eight working on a speed bag, and round nine doing abdominal exercises.
Trainers provide active recovery exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups or push-ups for the last 30 seconds of each round while explaining what’s coming for the next round.
“There are always one or two trainers in there. They motivate you and show you what to work on,” Luffey says. “It’s detail-oriented, and the workout changes every day. You don’t get tired of the same old routine. We like to get people’s heart rates up, burn a lot of calories and work up a good sweat. At the end of it, they’ve gotten in their convenient workout for the day.”
Memberships begin at $39.99 a month for unlimited workouts. Gloves and hand wraps purchase required. New participants can try their first class free.
— 3049 Greene Ave., Fort Worth, 817-921-0502 and 5801 Interstate 20 W., Arlington, 817-483-9500; www.9round.com.