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The New York Post
TEN years ago, working out typically meant paying a monthly fee to run indifferently on a treadmill in a grungy gym. These days, you'll likely be paying $35 an hour to be part of a tribe of like-minded fitness buffs in a white-walled boutique fitness studio.
Behind that shift were designers such as Peter Bryant, whose firm has worked on studios including SoulCycle, Physique 57, Barry's Bootcamp and, most recently, cold fitness studio Brrrn.
"We try to make these spaces feel like people can be there for a while, like a church," says Bryant, 55.
Bryant says all the boutique gyms he's designed tend to have a lot in common: a neutral color palette, clean angles and a minimalist aesthetic. His more recent designs include places where people can charge their phones, and tables where they can congregate after classes, sometimes with a juice or a shake.
And there's almost always motivational imagery, ideally that can also serve as the perfect backdrop for an Instagram photo, says architect Nathan Bright, who has designed studios such as Fhitting Room, Rumble and Flywheel. "That's an integral part of our design," Bright says.
"We lay out Instagram moments and where those moments can happen."
In the Noho boxing studio Rumble, for instance, boxing gloves are hung near and lit by subtle spotlights. Murals and statues are placed in open areas, where people can pose with them. "It's almost like you're in an art gallery," Bright says.
Space also has to be used strategically, especially if shaving an extra square foot off a locker room could mean an additional stationary bike, to fit in one more participant. To help open up cramped studios, designers typically rely on pleasing, nonfluorescent lighting, clean, straight lines and a simple color theme.
And, as technology and tastes evolve, so do the studios.
With more trainers broadcasting their classes on apps and socialmedia networks to reach a wider audience, we'll begin to see more filmfriendly fitness studios, says Bright.
And despite a premium on space, expect to see more room for lounging, says Doug Houstoun, the principal architect with Heitler Houstoun Architects, which designed popular studios such as women's-only gym Uplift, Pure Barre and cardio-dance studio 305 Fitness.
"These are the next generation of social clubs," says Houstoun.
Here are some of the key features that give studios a clubby feel and keep fitness fanatics coming back.
The thirst trap
Instagram photo ops are about as integral to boutique fitness design as exercise itself. At Pop Physique's cheeky barre studio (pictured), cherry and banana wallpaper serve as the perfect backdrop for an artful 'gram. Or, snap one at the actual selfie wall with the words "Pop Ur Selfie" printed backwards so that it's readable in photos. "It's very important to document what you do now," says the studio's founder, Jennifer Williams. "It's like you didn't do it if you didn't Instagram it."
The DJ booth
At cardio-dance gym 305 Fitness, each mirrored studio includes a DJ booth (right) for homespun tracks catered to each class, making it feel more like your favorite club than the gym. "Anyone can have a stereo, but when you walk in that class, it feels customized for you," says Houstoun, whose team designed the studio's Midtown location.
The stadium seating
At cycling studios such as Flywheel (right) and Swerve, stationary bikes are stacked theatrically in stadium formation so that those stuck in the rear don't feel left out. Clean sightlines to the instructor are a way for people in the back to still feel included, says Bryant. Plus, it adds to the competitive nature: "At Flywheel, you can see other people you are competing with in class, as well as the instructor," he says.
The micro locker room
For better or for worse, boutique gyms tend to have small changing areas, limited showers or communal locker rooms to accomodate larger class sizes. Spa-like products and amenities can make the inconvenience easier to bear, as do thoughtful design touches such as those at Mile High Run Club (above). "We have built some of the smallest locker rooms - with not an inch to spare," says Bryant. He admits that in SoulCycle's early days, he may have gone a little overboard on the small changing areas: "People were changing on the sidewalks because there wasn't even a locker room."
The conversation pit
The yoga studio Sky Ting, which has three NYC locations, fosters friendship with a small, pinkpillowed conversation pit in its Tribeca outpost (left). Its designer, artist Nick Poe, says it was all about nurturing community at the yoga studio. "It's an old idea and hadn't been revisited when we did it," he says, adding that the design feature - a throwback to the '70s - has since emerged at other venues, including the Wing, a women-only co-working space. "It's cozy, a little sexy, maybe, and really fun."
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