ENGAGING IN The Boutique Fitness Zone

It’s lunchtime on a Wednesday and rather than munching on a turkey on wheat, 17 women and two men hunker over stationary bikes, ready to rock their trip. A blond instructor in electric blue hops onto her own bicycle. The lighting dim completely the darkness punctuated only by the glowing computer shows on the bikes.

As Chris Brown’s “I Can Transform Ya” blasts from the audio speakers, the instructor starts shouting instructions. Everyone starts pedaling furiously. Welcome to CycleBar Novato, one of the latest boutique fitness studios to open in the Bay Area. Using its palette of dark, gray, white, and lipstick red, the sleek, shiny service looks and sounds more like a nightclub when compared to the ongoing health and fitness center. But as riders perform the grueling one-hour ride nearly, increasing the resistance on their bikes and their speed steadily, the burn is as real as Dante’s Sixth Circle and the sweat is pouring. Unlike SoulCycle, the mammoth indoor bicycling string that charges for shoe rental and water, CycleBar, with 42 U.S.

After the course, every rider receives an individual email with performance ratings: the way they ranked in the class, the number of calories burnt and more. If you’re working as hard as you can, you should burn 500 to 700 calories. “I love it,” says Zuley Azzolino, a 44-year-old Novatan who is taking CycleBar’s problem to ride 10 times in 21 times so she can get 10 free trips.

Seriously. Double a day She’s coming. “It’s amazing for the cardio, for weight maintenance,” says Azzolino, who’s also a known person in a normal fitness center where she does weight training exercise. “The people are great. I’ve made friends and I’ve recommended to other friends that they check it out. Millions of Americans like Azzolino exercise on a regular basis. But where they’re breaking a sweat has transformed.

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Instead of training in cavernous multipurpose gyms, more than 54 million exercise buffs are gathering these days for extreme, personalized sessions in small, stylish, theme-oriented venues that offer a single-discipline sport like cycling often. The trend covers rigorous cross-training outfits like CrossFit, in 142 countries now, and franchise chains like Orange Theory Fitness, where the workout focuses on intervals of cardiovascular and weight training with performance tracking. The development also takes in studios that specialize in a couple of sports like bicycle traveling or barre.

Devotees come as much for the social atmosphere as the workout, comfortable in a place small enough that individuals know and remember them. They like the structure and accountability within an intimate atmosphere where everyone motivates everybody else, and where exercisers become friends simply by consistently taking the same class together.

With some classes enduring just 35 minutes, they also like quickly getting back in and away, while not having to think about which workout to do. And fitness followers don’t mind spending money on the knowledge. “People want the experience,” says Stacey Agoustari, discussing the boutique workout. A Novato fitness expert Agoustari is also part owner of the Novato CycleBar franchise. Agoustari’s companions are Mill Valley’s Cindi King, a lawyer, and Novatan Julie Kertzman, previously in sales and marketing with Hewlett Packard and IBM.

They get that at Basecamp, a little string of studios founded by British-born Nick Swinmurn, the creator of online shoe large Zappos. With two Bay Area studios (SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA and Burlingame), Basecamp offers an intense, no-frills, heart-pumping circuit workout adapted from one created for Ultimate Fighting Champion athletes originally. Unlike almost every other studios, that have 50- or 60-minute classes Basecamp’s extreme sweat sessions are just a half hour – they comprise 30 one-minute exercises performed fast.