The Vision: Sydney Holly was content being a yoga teacher. Then the Yoga House in Edina fell into her lap. Holly had been teaching in the space and had a huge cult-like following. She opened up the room and changed the décor from earthy reds to cool blues and named it “Kula,” which means community.
Workout: Holly teaches the flowing style of vinyasa yoga, a series of postures that stretch and strengthen without a predictable sequence.
Vibe: In an upstairs studio overlooking France Avenue, the open room is lined with lanterns, which give a nice glow to evening classes. The place is only a few months old, but the teachers have large followings, so expect mats to be squeezed together. Music gets loud and the popular playlists are posted on their website. Many of the yogis are advanced and experienced, but everything can be modified and newbies are always welcome.
Our take: A killer flow class for an effective workout without weights. Postures were challenging, but modifications made the 75-minute class doable. Plus, the playlists and candlelight are an awesome way to unwind after a long day.
Gear: Dress comfortably and be prepared to be barefoot; yoga mats are available at the studio.
Cost: $20 for a single class; $400 for a 30-class package.
4402 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-836-6316, kulayogamn.com
The Vision: Based on the belief that baby boomers aren’t willing to accept the physical decline that traditionally accompanies aging, Suzy and Tom Boerboom, along with Paul Contris, founded Welcyon. With two metro locations and multiple franchise locations in development, Welcyon is reinventing the fitness club paradigm to meet the needs of people age 50 and older. Assisted by full-time training staff, Welcyon members dressed in sweats or comfortable street clothes work out in a smaller studio and then linger for coffee, conversation, classes, a book club, and other programs.
Workout: After three one-hour orientation sessions, club members use a programmed smart card to guide them through a personalized workout routine that may include Finnish air-powered strength-training machines, seated ellipticals, and other exercises. Fitness coaches are on hand to assist members with their workout at no extra cost.
Vibe: More Cheers than Baywatch, the club is all about building strength, confidence, and community.
Our take: With no noisy treadmills, no clanking weight machines, no loud music, and no buff bodies, this is a happy place for people who don’t feel at home in traditional fitness clubs.
Gear: Dress comfortably.
Cost: $59 orientation fee and $59 per month for a 12-month contract.
10615 France Ave. S., Bloomington, 952-888-4408; 4420 Valley View Rd., Edina, 952-929-0279, welcyon.com
The Vision: David LaChapelle is no one-trick pony—he skis, he bikes, he runs. His homey little studio tucked into an old Lowertown warehouse is there to help people achieve the kind of active, creative, and eco-minded lifestyle he’s passionate about. For more than a decade, he’s offered personal training and an array of classes that echo his holistic “green body” approach. People hear about it through word of mouth because LaChapelle does things like partner with Sisu ski clubs to help cross-country competitors get stronger.
Workout: At the kettlebell class, students are encouraged to work at their own pace and level, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. After swinging bells for a half-hour, all four students groaned loudly when the trainer demonstrated the “man makers” (a combo of pushups and burpees with weights) that were up next. Then came a killer round of sit-ups.
Vibe: If it weren’t for the fitness equipment, you might think you were in an artist’s loft. It’s a warm bamboo-and-brick space with a small kitchen and a philodendron covering the ceiling, so it feels more like stopping in at a friend’s house than going to a gym.
Our take: We had never tried kettlebells before, and this was a great place to do it. Students laughed and chitchatted with trainer Andrew Freeman like old friends as they got their butts kicked, and the small class size meant the newbie got plenty of attention (and a few breaks).
Gear: Everything you need is available onsite.
Cost: $20 for a single class.
330 E. 9th St., St. Paul, 651-225-9895, greenbody.net
The Vision: Phil Martens, a certified trainer and weightlifting enthusiast, invented G-Werx, a patented strength-training machine that can be used for more than 100 exercises. Because the machine is so compact, he lined up several of them and developed training sessions for as many as 10 people at a time. The method caught on, and 501 FIT has been offering group weight training for eight years—five in its current downtown location.
Workout: Classes are 45, 60, or 90 minutes long and focus on legs, arms, chest, abs, or full body. Most members cover all muscle groups by taking two to three classes per week. It’s easy to work at your own intensity by adding or removing weight.
Vibe: Because of its Washington Avenue location, 501 attracts mainly downtown dwellers and workers—both men and women of all ages. Many clients have been working out together in small groups for years, but the attitude is very open and welcoming.
Our take: This is an efficient way to get toned in a hurry without sweating as much as you might in a cardio class. The trainers are knowledgeable and groups are small enough that you get plenty of individual attention, which helps with form, focus, and expanding your repertoire of exercises.
Gear: Everything you need is available onsite.
Cost: The four-week program is $239 ($20/hour); gym memberships start at $49 per month.
501 Washington Ave. S. (third floor), Mpls., 612-767-4415, 501fit.com
Steele Smiley began STEELE Fitness in 2002 as an in-home personal training option for busy professionals and those who didn’t want to deal with the chaos of a big-box gym. His goal was to make life a little easier by bringing STEELE’s training to people’s homes, and it was a hit. The company grew and expanded into sleek boutique fitness studios that offer personal training, team workout classes, and, of course, in-home services, making it one of the most powerful triple threats in town.
Five metro locations, including 714 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-476-8004, steelefitness.com