Must Try Fitness Studios in Lexington
Article written by Nikki Edds
Fitness instructors and gym goers alike will all tell you the same thing- the hardest part about working out is just getting yourself to go. For better or for worse, they are 100% correct.
I am one of those people that can never get myself to go to the classic weights and cardio machines type of gym. If I somehow manage it, I find myself wandering aimlessly for machines that I am either familiar with or that look simple enough to figure out. Even then, if you glance over at my phone you will find me watching a step-by-step YouTube tutorial that further explains what exactly I'm supposed to be doing.
It is for this reason that I fell in love with studio and group fitness classes. These types of classes hold you accountable when it comes to showing up on time and there's always another person in the room leading you through what you should be doing. My love for studio fitness really took off when I joined CycleBar in 2021. The high intensity spin class left me exhausted, sweaty and filled to the brim with endorphins, all within 30-45 minutes. While I am still an active and adoring member of CycleBar, I figured it was time to step out of my comfort zone for a bit.
This past week I have teamed up with Kentucky Taste Buds to try 3 unique, local and challenging fitness studios around Lexington. To get the most out of my exploration, I wanted to try studios that offered a variety of classes and really challenged me in different ways. Below you will find my in-depth review of Shine Pilates Lex, Sterling Hot Yoga and CycleYOU Fitness and Sauna.
Shine Pilates Lex was founded in 2018 and is co-owned by Porsche Brooks and our very own Tamara Schneider! Both women are also instructors with a huge passion for the practice of Pilates and sharing that love with their clients.
At the beginning of my very first class, Tamara walked me through a bit of the history of Pilates. Despite its recent popularity, Pilates was originally developed in the 1920’s when Joseph and Clara Pilates opened their ‘Body Conditioning Gym’ in New York City, according to the Pilates Foundation. Pilates was born in Germany and suffered from ailments such as asthma, rickets and other illnesses during childhood. However, these setbacks did not stop him from remaining incredibly active throughout his life. While working in a hospital, Pilates developed novel methods for helping patients regain mobility that consisted of attaching springs to patients beds. This spring-and-bed technology led to the invention of what we know today as the reformer. Reformers are still used today in many studios, including Shine!
The Pilates Foundation cites that the exercise is widely based on the principles of breath, concentration, centering, control, precision and flow. Seeing as how it can be done lying down and modified based on each individual's ability and needs, it can be done by all skill levels, by all bodies and at every age!
My first class at Shine Pilates was a Friday morning private session taught by Tamara. I had never done reformer Pilates before and was a little nervous about using all the new equipment. I parked in the back and came in through the side doors where I was met with a stairwell to a room with Shine's logo on it.
The studio itself is small in size, allowing instructors to focus their attention entirely on their private lesson client or small group. Tamara walked me through what each spring, strap and bar was used for on the machine before I laid on my back and did my first simple footwork movements.
Throughout the lesson, I did a variety of exercises, all that consisted of small movements focusing on a specific muscle group- but always engaging the core. Tamara even got on her own reformer at times to walk me through a movement visually. Especially when it came to the "Peter Pan" exercise... I still lie in bed some nights and try and practice this movement- it haunts me.
I walked out of my session feeling relaxed, stretched and overall accomplished. This workout has a sense of "play" incorporated into it that I admired. I was so curious to see the different ways I could use the machine and the props to challenge myself in new ways. While I may not have poured sweat during my session, my abs hurt for days after!
My best recommendation would be to try a private studio session with Tamara or Porsche, especially if you've never done reformer Pilates before. They will be sure to walk you through every single movement to make sure you get the best workout possible! To book click HERE!
Sterling Hot Yoga opened in Lexington in 2007 and offers a variety of classes for all who enjoy a good sweat. Their classes include classic Hot Yoga, Yin, Iron Hour, Vinyasa and Hot Pilates. All classes besides Yin are done in a heated room and run about 60 minutes, with the option to book 75 or 90 minutes with the classic.
The first name that comes to mind with yoga is, of course, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram’s first heated yoga studio came about in Japan in the 1970’s, where he heated the room to mirror the heat of his hometown in India, according to Yoga International. The heat is said to encourage participants to partake personal introspection while persevering through the class. In addition to the mental aspect, people tend to associate sweating more with a better workout, leaving the class less stressed, more fulfilled and more likely to keep coming back.
My first class at Sterling was a Saturday morning Sterling 60 taught by Jodi. The Sterling 60 is their classic hot yoga session consisting of 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
Now, I have done hot yoga once before when I was in high school and I would not say I particularly enjoyed myself. The heat was a lot for a younger me and I was used to moving my body in ways that were consistent with cheerleading and gymnastics. That being said, I don't know what has changed since then but I absolutely loved every second of this class.
When I first walked in, I was greeted by the instructor, Jodi, at the front desk who checked me in and walked me through what to expect for my first time. She assured me that class would be great and that I could set my mat, towel and water anywhere in the room that I liked. That first step into the heated room was the most intimidating part of the whole evening. The heat envelopes you and it seems like the first beads of sweat form prior to even rolling out your mat. Before class, you are allowed several minutes to stretch out your body how you'd like, center yourself and really focus on your breathing.
As class progressed, Jodi walked us all through each posture and even offered suggestions for modifications if needed. Everyone in the room varied in age, body type and skill level as the Sterling 60 is open to everyone but designed with beginners in mind!
By the end of the class, I had dripped sweat on the floor and stretched muscles I forgot even existed. That being said, I was on my phone booking my next session before I even left the parking lot.
Sterling is currently doing a deal that allows new clients to try a month of unlimited for only $39! A month of classes means you can try out each variation, curating your practice for what works best for your body. To learn more, click HERE!
The CycleYOU workout was created in 2011 by founder Noelle Dick, a former corporate marketing and sales executive with a passion for indoor cycling, according to the CycleYOU LinkedIn page. The Lexington native may have kickstarted her fitness studio dreams with a high-intensity spin class but CycleYOU has grown to offer cycling, barre, kickboxing, strength and yoga fitness experiences all under the same roof. In addition to over 68 classes a week to choose from, clients can also take advantage of the in-house infrared sauna. There is truly something for everyone!
Due to the variety and the amount of classes offered at this studio, it was by far the largest one I visited all week. There are multiple studios throughout the building that are catered to the specific class hosted there. There are also over 40 instructors, or motivators, "from all backgrounds, genders, and fitness levels who seek to bring you along on a journey of empowerment," according to the CycleYOU website.
I went into my CyclePUMP class at CycleYOU quite confident that I knew what was coming for me due to my familiarity with CycleBar. This class consisted of 25 minutes of high intensity cycling, 25 minutes of upper body and core work and then 5 minutes of stretching to finish out. It is safe to safe I was humbled pretty quickly.
I was greeted on Thursday evening by Jessica, the incredibly helpful and sweet concierge. Jessica gave me a tour of the whole building and explained what each room was used for. She also showed me where to find the free water, free lockers and free cold eucalyptus towels to use after class!
Jason, my motivator for the nights CyclePUMP class, led with high energy as the group followed his instructions to crank the gear on the bike, speed up to match the RPMs of the song or even add some fun but challenging choreography. The real killer of this 55-minute class came when we transitioned from the Cycle Studio to the Fierce Studio to begin strength training.
The 25 minutes of strength consisted of planks, pushups, kettlebell exercises, resistance band work and my fair share of crunches. I really appreciated that this class worked my entire body- my lower half on the bike and my upper half with weights and calisthenics. There was also a generous amount of Miss Britney Spears on Jason's playlist which is an extra point for CycleYOU in my book.
New clients at CycleYOU always get their first class free and their first sauna experience free! They also offer on-demand and livestreams options for those who want to join in on the fun from home. To book your first free class visit HERE!
While this week has left me more sore than anything, I have loved learning all that I am capable of by pushing my body to its limits. I cannot recommend any of these three studios enough if you live in Lexington or even if you're just in town for a weekend!