I’ve been to more than 100 different types of boutique fitness studios. Long before Class Pass, Fit Reserve and Zenrez were a thing – hell, even before Instagram was a thing – I unshackled myself from an annual gym membership in search of the more focused workouts, fun camaraderie and long, lean muscles that each individual method proposed. While the workouts have varied, one constant remains the same; the exasperating characters that are bound to be sweating it out with you.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
1. Fitspo: Typically a model or social media influencer. This is the girl right in front of the mirror searching for the perfect light and optimal angle to highlight her, um, assets. Instead of rolling your eyes or glaring, grab your phone and ask to take a #fitfriend picture with her. Tag her and the studio in your own post with a bunch of trending hashtags and watch the “likes” roll in.
2. The Hangover: Girlfriend went OUT last night and is detoxing next to you this morning in a puddle of aromatic perspiration with strong notes of garlicky moules frites, rosé wine and late-night tequila shots. While you can’t control her body odor, you can deceive your brain and nose into not smelling it. The trick? Simply place a Listerine strip on your tongue. Seriously. The strip will distract your olfactory system to focus on processing its strong antiseptic scent instead your neighbor’s. Listerine strips are small enough to stash in your sports bra or legging pocket. The plastic case makes them virtually sweat-proof and unlike candy mints or gum, there is no danger of choking. You’re welcome.
3. The Mayor: This extreme “regular” works out at the studio every day – probably since the venue’s opening. She’s friendly with all the trainers and has a specific spot/favorite equipment in the class with an unspoken “no trespassing” rule. Even if it’s your first time at the studio and Her Honor arrives to class half an hour late, you will subconsciously know to move out of her designated area. Complaining is futile. This person is a consistent revenue source for the studio and serves as an informal brand evangelist on her social media channels and in her outside life. The tactic here is to make friends. She’s called The Mayor for a reason, and will likely be thrilled to chat you up and tell you where the secret bathroom is.
4. Gen Z Princess Posse: Finally old enough to participate in the boutique fitness trend, these young pups have made it a priority to take a class at the studios and trainers associated with their favorite celebrity, fashion blogger or Kardashian. They arrive in two’s and three’s and are recognizable by their shiny long hair, pristinely expensive workout outfits and giggles. They are bewildered by the endurance needed to survive the class IRL and generally just take up space. Be kind, patient and lead by example. These [damn] kids are our future.
5. Mom: She’s in town for the weekend and thought it would be fun to come with you and meet all your workout friends. This is another occasion to employ kindness and patience. And make sure the studio has a defibrillator.
And since friends don’t let friends commit studio faux pas, we’ve garnered advice from some of the fitness industry’s hottest trainers to help make your workout the happiest part of your day…
Rising fitness star and creator of The Rope & The Dance, Amanda Kloots says, "I always advise my clients to smile during class. It makes a challenging workout feel easier, lifts your spirits and puts everyone around you at ease."
"Give it your all!" says Beth Nicely, Master Trainer at Body by Simone and founder of POPTAP. "I approach each class like it's my chance to win a championship. My clients are really motivated by that enthusiasm, which in turn encourages them to 'infect' new members with the joyful intensity."
Above image: A sampling of the looks we always love from Athleta.