VIA Well & Good
At this point, the rate of boutique fitness studio openings across the country rivals that of juice shops—and they’re getting increasingly creative.
Over the past year, we’ve been seeing a few trends: first of all, the rise of the Megaformer, the master of efficiency that makes your body tremble quicker than a 50 burpee set; meditation seeping into exercise, leading to an all-in-one mind-body experience; hybrid workouts galore that are mashing up exercises you’d never expect to do—hello, barre-HIIT-Pilates combos—in one sweat sesh; fitness studios as hangouts with chic lounge areas and juice bars; and community-driven spaces that encourage inclusivity and sweat-driven bonds—because who else can really understand that series of circuits your body just accomplished?
And they’re everywhere—from Atlanta to Vancouver—solidifying the national scope of wellness as a way of life.
Whether you’re into Pilates on crack or a second (sweaty) home, these are the most notable studio openings in North America from the past year—put on your yoga pants and book the classes closest to you to try the coolest workouts out there.
DogPound, New York City
Ever since this no-frills, all-black gym opened in Tribeca about a year ago, it hasn’t stopped buzzing. Known as a spot where supermodels go to perfect their jabs and hooks, DogPound offers both small group boxing classes and private sessions (including its signature “The Machine Gun” workout, which incorporates aspects of every exercise under the moon) taught by a tight-knit group of industry pros who may look tough but truly make you feel inspired. Be sure to take a class with female dream-team duo Bianca Vesco and Dara Hartman, who prove it’s not just men who can flip a humongous tire.
Studio Three, Chicago
This three-story megastudio, in a renovated hotel space in the River North neighborhood, houses three different disciplines under one modern roof—so ideally anyone can find the workout for them. What’s offered? A 60-bike, stadium-seating Peloton class with ride-coordinated lights, a hot yoga studio with exposed brick, and an interval studio that features rowing, treadmill, and weight-training circuits (the classes are called Amped and Torch), in addition to the studio’s juice bar and lounge area. (Why leave, ever?) Yes, Studio Three wants you to come by, often: It’s particularly focused on community, highlighting an athlete every month and hosting post-class treks to Chinatown and other neighborhood haunts (hence the Torch and Tacos slogan that decorates some of the studio’s merch). Consider it a (healthy) second home.
Sculpthouse is the only studio that combines the uber-trendy Megaformer with a treadmill (an NFL-approved Woodway Curve one, at that) for a seriously intense workout—think Barry’s Bootcamp for the Pilates-on-crack obsessed. Founded by SLT veteran Katherine Mason, the high-end studio in Buckhead offers both interval classes and classic Megaformer sessions—either way, you’ll be leaving with trembling abs and limbs. The studio’s also a boutique that sells the hottest activewear (Koral, Michi, and Terez, among others) and natural post-gym beauty essentials from Tata Harper and Soapwalla (and more), so you can get your fitness and fashion taken care of in one chic locale.
Tight Club, Vancouver
Known by locals as the “anti-gym,” Tight Club is a community of artists and baristas-turned-trainers who don’t define themselves as athletes yet want to impart their love of movement. What started as a free, weekly outdoor run crew and bike club has morphed into an in-studio group class mecca that offers diverse training methods (everything from HIIT to yoga) in addition to its outdoor (free) run and cycling sessions. Founder and tattooed trainer Keighty Gallagher’s dad built the cool space, which feels like a chic basketball court slash hangout space that encourages people to not get fit just for the gym.
Speir Pilates, Los Angeles
Ever since the airy, mirror-walled Pilates studio opened in March, it’s been adding more classes to its roster out of necessity (every class fills up quickly). Founder Andrea Speir has created hybrid classes (Reformer exercises combined with barre/HIIT/cardio elements) that offer a 55-minute full-body workout you won’t get anywhere else. Other perks? It’s the only studio with an in-house, curated Carbon38 pop-up—so after you crush your planks, you can shop the hottest printed leggings while sipping on a buzzy concoction from Speir’s espresso bar.
Lifted, San Francisco
The resistance training/meditation combo class is where Soylent-sipping Silicon Valley developers and designers come to train both their bodies and minds in one 90-minute session. (They like efficiency, after all.) Trainer Ryan Allen wanted a small group structure—each class has seven students, max—that empowers people to use the clarity they achieve after their workout in their lives outside of the studio. Lifted begins with meditative breathing, works its way into pop music-driven kettlebell, dumbell, and body weight reps, and ends with a 15- to 20-minute guided meditation so your body’s not in a state of stress when you leave the studio.
Palo Santo Wellness Boutique, Philadelphia
Named after a mystical tree (in Spanish, it means “holy wood”), Palo Santo is a wood-paneled wellness sanctuary for the tattooed crowd to do yoga and shop for wellness necessities (or luxuries, depending on how into woo-woo wellness you are) like herbal remedies and crystals. The boutique is also constantly offering workshops on breathing exercises, reiki, handstands, and more—so it’s the perfect, healing respite for the city dwellers of Philly.
XO Fitness, Los Angeles
The brainchild of celeb trainer Sara Lewis (she’s taught Kim and Khloe Kardashian and Ryan Gosling among others), XO Fitness—short for “crossover”—is where badass girls in Lululemon and motivational tanks go for circuit training. But it’s not your average circuit: XO utilizes water rowers, Pilates Reformers, boxing moves, circuit boards, Bosu balls, and free weights for a truly comprehensive, head-to-toe burn (yes, all equipment is used in every class). If it sounds like too much, trust us: Once the class starts, all components work (and the trainers are extremely hands-on and helpful), and you’ll leave feeling the elongated Zen from Pilates and the satisfaction of having punched out all your stress—which you can’t say after any other typical circuit training class.
Plum Yoga, Dallas
Nestled on a block full of farm-to-table restaurants in the Lower Greenville neighborhood, Plum Yoga is a community for millennial yogis who believe yoga makes you better at life—a message that is reinforced on its cheeky tanks that say “Get off your asana.” The light, airy space offers various types of yoga classes in addition to fitness classes that involve gymnastics rings, which are all about increasing your mobility. Plum’s also the exclusive retailer of San Francisco-based T-WE—a tongue-in-cheek, artisanal loose-leaf tea brand with crafted blends (you can order a tea called “precious angel kitten”)—and has a full boutique full of activewear for every body type, to take you from happy baby to happy hour.
LIT Method, Los Angeles
LIT stands for low-impact training, but don’t be fooled: Just because it was created for people with injuries from other boutique fitness classes doesn’t mean it’s easy. Created by super-cute power couple Taylor Gainor and Justin Norris (who tag team as cheerleaders during your workout), LIT works your muscles with water rowers, resistance training with bands, and body weight exercises for a creative, low-impact but high-intensity workout that’ll challenge you while focusing on injury prevention. (The goal? No need for rest days.) The classes are small and taught with two (passionate) instructors for that private workout feel with the group class motivation, and they end with a foam rolling sesh so you leave feeling, well, lit.
New York Pilates, New York City
Although Heather Andersen’s New York Pilates first location opened more than a year ago, the past 12 months have had immense growth for the go-to reformer class of the downtown cool-girl crowd, with two new locations opening (one down the street from Opening Ceremony, the other at chic Montauk resort Gurney’s) and studio number four slated to open its (minimalist-chic) doors on the Bowery this fall. What to expect? More Outdoor Voices-clad, tattooed girls doing hundreds to Grimes and then hanging and exchanging matcha recommendations in the crystal-adorned, all-white lobby (it’s too pretty to leave) where peach emoji-adorned merchandise (in honor of the studio’s signature Abs/Arms/Ass class) is sold.
By: Rachel Lapidos