Boutique studios pull many away from gyms

Stick Pilates exercises instructed by Saloni
Stick Pilates exercises instructed by Saloni Kantaria (right) at Reform Cycling and Strength Studio in Westlands on July 27, 2016. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

Boutique studios are redefining fitness as we know it. In the past months, many are cropping up in Nairobi, offering exciting alternatives to traditional gyms.

In contrast to the traditional gyms, which offer a wide array of training programmes, boutique studios are smaller and focus on specific types of fitness. They offer either yoga or pilates or barre or pole and indoor cycling classes.

The boutique studio trend is the vogue world over with some catering for women-only customers.

Signature workouts

Reform Cycling and Strength Studio, Express Workout and Taut Body are some of the boutique studios in Nairobi.

They have fewer equipment and focus on innovative workouts. With dumbells, kettlebells, ropes, yoga mats, stationary bicycles the specialised instructors tailor high-intensity workouts that target specific body areas or outcomes.

Saloni Kantaria, the founder of Reform Cycling and Strength Studio said that unlike in traditional gyms their sessions are result-oriented.

 “Ours is a class-based studio where any person can have an efficient workout tailored to has or her body and fitness level,” she said.

In a class, you can have a 40-year-old, next to a 29-year-old who is next to a college student, and each one is getting a workout designed specifically for them.

Most boutique studios take in few members than conventional ‘all-service’ gyms, making it easier for instructors to offer more personal sessions.
The trainers also come up with custom workout calendars and diet programmes for members.

“We offer advice on nutrition and other lifestyle adjustments for all our clients based on the interaction that our trainers have with each of them,” said Veronica Waweru, the founder of Workout Express Studio.

Sessions last an average of 45 minutes and they are pre-booked, another feature that differentiates them from conventional gyms, whose doors are open to all members, all day long.

Before subscribing to boutique studio programmes, members are first required to fill health forms, outlining any present illness or past injuries, details that are used by the personal trainer to determine their workout limits. In some cases, members may be sent to health specialists for comprehensive reports.

While the cost of many boutique studio memberships and classes may appear a bit too pricey for the average person, many individuals are eager to pay a premium for the one type of exercise.

At Workout Express, for instance, the power plate is the main selling point. Power plate exercises give body muscles high speed work-outs using vibrations.

The time on the plate is combined with push-ups or squat exercises to achieve better results. Ms Waweru said that the regimen is intense and makes it possible for members to work out even when running busy schedules.

Performance tracker

“Instead of spending hours in the gym, exercises done on power plates lasts not longer than 30 minutes. Experts say that 10 minutes on the power plate has the same impact as 60 minutes of traditional training. It works very well for people who have tight schedules,” she said.

The power plate sessions are offered under the strict guidance of trainers to avoid fatigue and injury.

“One can only use the power plate once on alternate days,” said Ms Waweru, a lawyer by profession.

Taut Body Studio is best known for barre workouts—specific training regimes that are shaped around barre— a supportive stationary handrail used in ballet training and warm-ups.

The workouts are easy as concentration is all that is required during the one-hour session. The technique appeals to fitness lovers because it helps in strength training without the need for extreme exertion.

Reform, on the other hand, is best known for its spinning or indoor cycling classes. The classes are performance-oriented, with the 20 bikes in place being centrally linked to a panel through which the instructor can review each participant’s performance and track their progress during sessions.

The participants can also see their performance on a separate display screen and for comparison with the rest of the group.

Focus on groups
These studios also focus on group settings to keep people accountable and engaged. Running on the treadmill for 40 minutes is not the same as a trainer yelling at you to turn the resistance up a notch — and then physically doing it when you don’t comply.

At Reform, the technology enables instructors to organise group competitions as a way of keeping the participants engaged.