Story by Steve Kaufman | Photography by Steve Squall | Photography Assistance Provided By Shepherd Ahlers
B.YOU her modern fitness boutique coming to New Albany, lifts people off the ground, literally and figuratively.
There always seems to be something new in the world of fitness, but B.YOU Her Modern Fitness Boutique is here to stay and offers participants far more than a way to get fit.
Remember aerobics? Which gave way to yoga, which gave way to kick-boxing, which gave way to Jazzercise. Then there was Pilates. And spinning. And CrossFit. And Zumba.
It’s not just fashion or trendiness. Each seems to be a new and different way to build on what we’ve learned about conditioning, health and the human body.
But something new has come to the Southern Indiana area – by way of B.YOU, which is opening its first location on Pearl Street in New Albany – though it’s already quite popular in European and East Coast cities. It’s the same intense, well-crafted workout, only it’s done not on the ground, not on a mat, not reclining or sitting or squatting, not lotus pose or downward-facing dog, but in the air.
Actually, it’s not an “it” – it’s a “they.” Two separate types of workouts (though they offer far more than that). One is done while twirling and rotating in the air, using a long sash – a silque – suspended from the ceiling. Think Cirque du Soleil.
The other is done while bouncing up and down on a rebounding platform. Think trampoline.
The local pioneer of all this is Stephanie Bristow, a former ICU trauma nurse who just wanted to get in shape for her wedding. In a Lexington fitness studio in 2010, she discovered barre, the rave of the moment: stretching and toning using a ballet dancer’s simple flexibility routine. Two years later, Bristow moved to Louisville and opened a barre studio in St. Matthews.
“I fell in love with barre,” Bristow recalled. “It was challenging and low-impact, without any equipment. I saw a lot of changes in my body and felt challenged physically and mentally.”
Among the things Bristow liked was how barre addressed her particular gender needs. “I targeted what was important to me, to most women – my inner thighs and arms – with a lot of repetition and with stretching, so it didn’t bulk up my muscles.”
She found it safe and low-impact enough for women of all ages. And, most important perhaps, it was a welcoming, comfortable environment for women, away from the sweaty, muscular, masculine feel of so many gyms.
“At (the barre studio), it was the men who tended to feel out of place,” Bristow recalled. “Even the men who delivered the mail were uncomfortable.”
Eventually, the studio became so popular that Bristow and her partner, a fellow barre enthusiast named Rashna Carmicle, had opened a second location in Springhurst in Louisville. But they were already looking past barre to other things.
On a trip to the New York area, Bristow and Carmicle visited a facility in New Jersey called AntiGravity Yoga. Participants twirled off the ground, hammocked in a sash of material suspended from the ceiling by safety chains and carabiner shackles that gave them elements of calisthenics and also yoga, achieving a total-body workout.
Bristow was fascinated. But she wasn’t satisfied. “I didn’t like the way the class was created,” she said. “We wanted a more full-body approach, to burn calories but also strengthen the core. So we developed our own approach, a set of targeted exercises so you’re not just flipping around.”
The two barre studios were renamed B.YOU Modern Fitness Boutique. Recently, a third location was scouted in the bustling New Albany/Southern Indiana area.
And Bristow began looking for yet something more. On a trip to New York, she and Carmicle discovered a workout routine based on a mini-trampoline. “It was amazing,” Bristow said. “Sixty minutes of high-energy, adrenaline-packed fun. We’d never done this before, and there’s nothing like it in this area.”
So now, B.YOU offers three workout alternatives:
Barre fitness, using a ballet barre and light hand weights to lengthen and tone muscles through tiny movements and isolated holds, with two-, three- and five-pound weights. “There’s not a wide range of motion exercises,” said Brooke Vernon, one of B.You’s instructors (who are actually called “inspirers”), “it’s all precisely controlled.”
Aerial fitness, in which clients are enveloped in and suspended by silque hammocks. “You use your own body weight to build strength, length and muscle,” she said, “transforming your physique, head-to-toe.”
Trampoline fitness, incorporating the individual mini-rebounders along with hand-weights, to firm and tone muscle, improve balance and core strength, “all while being kind to our joints,” she said. “The rebounders absorb up to 80 percent of the shock to joints, versus that which you feel on roads, treadmills, running tracks and other hard surfaces.” Also, she said, it’s a low bounce that utilizes the body’s core and pelvis to lift your feet off the ground. The goal is to stay low. “Forget what you think you know about those big backyard trampolines, with a lot of aimless bouncing and jumping. This is very controlled, very targeted.”
Within the three methods are several different classes, Vernon said: cardio, sculpting, high-intensity interval training, stretching, yoga/meditation.
“The goal is a well-rounded repertoire of fitness levels and classes,” Bristow said. “We want to offer everything anyone needs at one location, so she doesn’t have to have five gym memberships. And we now feel we have that great, well-rounded, complimentary offering, three workout options that balance each other out.”
For example, she said, barre and silque are a great complement to one-another for full-body sculpting. “And, with the bounce, we now offer a great cardio workout, as well. We looked into spinning and treadmills, but we didn’t feel those things fit our studio environment. The rebounder seems perfect for us.
“The rebounder adds exercise science to our offering. It’s popular in physical therapy classes because it’s so good for your joints.”
A big part of B.YOU’s special sauce is its focus on women.
What’s important to women?” asked Vernon, a former cardiac nurse and self-described marathon runner and cardio junkie. “Safety. Effectiveness. Results. How fast are they seeing results? How much time are they having to spend before they see changes? Is there the potential for an residual injuries?”
It’s also aiming its service at all levels of fitness, age, physical acuity and objectives. “We have women in their 60s, women who are pregnant, women who are in fantastic shape and women who would like to get into challenge is always the fear of intimidation – that you’re not good at it and everyone else in the room is. That’s especially true with methods as new and unfamiliar as ours are. You might go to our web site and the aerial silques look terrifying, everyone up in the air, flying around.
“That’s not what we want. We have beginner-level classes and we help people advance at their own pace. We don’t want to be forcing anyone to do something, to advance beyond her comfort level. Our approach is to ask, ‘What do you do for exercise?’ If you say you don’t have the time, we say ‘Give us 60 minutes of your time and we’ll give you an escape.’ ”
While the boutiques are open seven days a week, most members are encouraged to work out only three or four days a week. “Within that time, switch up your classes so you’re varying your routine, so every workout every day is not the same,” said Bristow.
In fact, she said, “if you’re doing a strength workout, we encourage you to put 24 or 48 hours between those, to let your muscles rest. Take a cardio class in between to keep the blood flowing and relieve muscle soreness.”
B.YOU is currently in the midst of preparing the space for the third location at 302 Pearl St. in New Albany. Vernon believes it once was a Walgreen’s.
The 2,675-square-foot fitness studio will have shower facilities, a changing area, vanities and a boutique retail space.
The owners felt Southern Indiana was a natural location for another B.YOU location. There’s a growing community of interested consumers there and, in fact, Bristow said she was seeing an increase in the number of Indiana residents who came to the two Louisville locations. In October, said Vernon, B.YOU took space at New Albany’s annual Harvest Homecoming, with a portable barre device in the booth and a small trampoline on the sidewalk.
“It was amazing how much interest and excitement there was for this,” she said.
Vernon said there will likely be a soft opening some time in December. B.YOU will offer a special “founding membership” of $79 a month for unlimited use of the facility. “That’s locked in; it will never change,” she said. The membership will come with free child care, priority on all wait lists and 15 percent off all retail purchases. B.YOU has a small boutique inside, selling workout apparel from some of the top fitness brands, including Karma, Alo, Beyond Yoga, Shashi. Vernon said the post-founding membership rates have yet to be determined, but in the two Louisville locations, the going rate is $138 a month. Bristow is excited about the way her business is progressing. “There are other barres,” she said dismissively of the exercising phenomenon that, after all, hasn’t been the rage for two or three years, “but nobody else in has the silques or the rebounders.”
While the official New Albany opening is being pegged for January, Vernon said there will likely be a soft opening some time in December. B.YOU will offer a special “founding membership” of $79 a month for unlimited use of the facility. “That’s locked in; it will never change,” she said.
The membership will come with free child care, priority on all wait lists and 15 percent off all retail purchases. B.YOU has a small boutique inside, selling workout apparel from some of the top fitness brands, including Karma, Alo, Beyond Yoga, Shashi.
Vernon said the post-founding membership rates have yet to be determined, but in the two Louisville locations, the going rate is $138 a month.
Bristow is excited about the way her business is progressing. “There are other barres,” she said dismissively of the exercising phenomenon that, after all, hasn’t been the rage for two or three years, “but nobody else in has the silques or the rebounders.”
B.YOU Her Modern Fitness Boutique
302 Pearl St.