The Ultimate 8
The most exclusive new fitness studios on five continents help customize the wellness experience.
In 2006, when Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice first launched the hyperspecialized spin studio SoulCycle on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, they had a clear vision: a space where transformation— physical, mental, possibly even spiritual—could occur.
Their formula of a beautiful space with high-intensity classes held in darkened rooms, fueled by exuberant instructors who are part DJ and part whip-cracking motivator, has created a nearly cult-like base of 10,000 daily riders in 32 locations nationwide. With SoulCycle, which is set to launch in London in 2015, Cutler and Rice kickstarted a philosophy that has gone global—the boutique fitness studio.
The latest component in this arena is a scrutiny of the inner workings of what we know the gym experience to be. This recent focus has given rise to gym-goers who want to belong to a genuine community of people sharing the wellness ethos and not just membered to another plush but anonymous weight room. We are not always looking for vast and various—sometimes we would prefer one singular and consistent experience.
Today’s fitness experience often includes nutrition experts, self-help gurus, unique classes that foster energy from a pack, and niche personal training that builds on a true lifestyle assessment. Eight such gyms have arisen in six countries and on five continents, with more to come. With a renewed accent on creating a peaceful and beautiful space, combined with the best equipment available and time-efficient workouts, these studios are paeans to wellness in a busy existence.
This focus has given rise to gym-goers who want to belong to a genuine community. We are not always looking for vast and various—sometimes we prefer a singular, consistent experience.
Pleasanton, Calif., USA
This unique studio on the fringe of Silicon Valley offers spinning, yoga, and circuit-training classes in a "hypoxic" room that emulates a high-altitude environment, the largest of its kind open to the public. Research has shown that exercising at a higher altitude increases caloric expenditure and encourages the production of red blood cells, which then carry more oxygen to muscles, lessening fatigue and improving performance at lower elevations. Part of this studio’s appeal lies in its efficiency: A 50-minute workout at a higher elevation can calorically match a 90-minute session at sea level. Faster dehydration and "brain fog" can be side effects, so, to ensure safety, AirFit’s director, Carlo Maravilla, encourages water breaks and the use of heart monitors, which are available to guests. AirFit plans to expand to Southern California and, later, the East Coast.
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