Red-faced, sweating buckets and smelling a little ripe. While these signs indicate a kick-butt spinning class, it’s not exactly the fresh-faced look you want to have when you see a hunky date-prospect or a male co-worker across the room.
That’s why women are migrating like ants at a picnic to women-only fitness studios. According to Flo Stahly, owner of West Chester- and Liberty Township-based Shape Express, women’s-only gyms have been popular for the last decade. She says it all started with the introduction of Curves. “Curves was the first major entity to identify that women were more comfortable working out with other women,” Stahly explains. “The other business models, like ours, have taken what was good about the initial concept and moved it forward with a broader selection of equipment and services.”
Stahly says Shape Express addresses several things that appeal to women: They want an attractive and clean place to come to that understands their unique needs. “Most women are targeting weight loss as their primary purpose for joining a gym,” she says. “Using machines can be helpful, but only if they are given direction on the proper use of the equipment.” Stahly says a smaller fitness boutique, such as Shape Express, can provide an educated staff of nationally-certified personal trainers, who show members how to properly and safely use equipment to get results for their unique body type.
But, Stahly says, she has also found that women need more than just a room to work out in to stay engaged in the process. That is why they started offering what they call “Power Hours,” one hour sessions that are led by Shape Express trainers or coaches who provide an accelerated cardio workout while working out every major muscle group.
Stahly also discovered that women weren’t just there for the workout. “Women are social creatures and look to find ways to connect with other women. We do a lot of networking in our clubs, promoting our members’ businesses through special events like Spa Night,” she says. Shape Express works in conjuntion with Ambience Salon Spa to provide free hair and nail services for the evening. They will also be providing free chair massage, samples of heart-healthy foods from Dream Dinners, free footbaths, Mary Kay makeovers, free sauna and tanning use, consultations with their in-house physician Dr. Jill Manahan on her laser services and mini-body wrap treatments.
Stahly says one of the biggest challenges women face is trying to find time to take care of themselves while still taking care of others. She says that’s why Shape Express offers extended hours and are open seven days a week. Elyse Jarard, owner of Olde Montgomery-based Venus Fitness Studio, which not only has unique hours, but also has programs that allow you to workout and bond with your daughter at the same time. “Venus is a place where women and girls can come to get personalized service for achieving optimal health and have fun in the process,” says Jarard. “We offer an intimate, friendly environment where women and girls can open up, exercise in private, get a massage, do yoga, have a spa party. You know, girl stuff!”
Jarard says she started Venus because she saw a need for women and girls to bond in a positive, healthy environment. “Women and girls need each other for support in so many ways, especially in taking care of themselves, developing a healthy body image and sorting out hype from solid information about achieving and maintaining optimal health.”
Venus also offers complementary services for overall fitness – not just physical. Jarard says Venus offers health, nutritional, postural and flexibility assessments as well as massage, herbal teas and cancer-survivor programs.
In fact, exposure to so many local women and health conditions affecting women has opened Jarard’s eyes to the need to do something even more than owning a fitness studio for women. Last year, she started a fitness fundraiser called Fit to Fight Ovarian Cancer. This year, she changed the format to a family-friendly triathlon in Mason. She currently has triathlon training courses available at Venus for anyone interested in taking on a multi-sport challenge this Summer!