Last week I was incognito (we’re talking baseball hat, shifty eyes, “the whole 9”) at a dance fitness class.  Let me tell you why.

The good news: here at StudioHop we like to #preach about the value of boutique fitness. We love boutique fitness. We’re obsessed with boutique fitness. The semi-bad news: we only do boutique fitness.  So, when our Director of Marketing asked me to write about why our followers should “Think Outside the Box (gym)” I gave her a “deer-in-head-lights” expression (think: Elle Woods’ face the moment Parker breaks up with her at their engagement dinner). Because I realized I’ve never actually, really spent time at a box gym.

Fast-forward to me sweating to death in my fugliest, full-coverage, fitness wear and baseball hat last Monday night. Highlight of the experience: After spending about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to work the lockers in the packed locker room (there were dozens of people around me and I could have asked any one of them for help, but they were all NAKED, so it seemed like bad timing), I actually ran into someone I knew in college (she was clothed) and she excitedly said “I had no idea you went here!” and I said “I don’t, I’m doing research for a blog about why boutique fitness is better…” and then it got a little awkward (obviously).

Based on my “research” last week, I’ve come to some conclusions. First of all, I think that any conduit for people getting out, moving their bodies, working up a sweat, and being healthy is awesome. I think that there are tons of people who get a great work out at a box gym every day. So, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with box gyms. However, I am still partial to the #boutique #experience. Keep reading to learn why.

Accountability: When I arrived at the box gym my fiancé checked in at the front desk with his keytag and announced, “she’s with me.”  The person behind the counter didn’t look up at me, didn’t have me sign anything, didn’t ask my name, or address my fiancé by his name, and just said “ok (gesture to gate).” I nervously whispered to him, “don’t I have to sign up for the class?” and he said “no people can just walk into the classes, no sign-ups.” I’m sure you can imagine that I had just realized I was in an Aladdin-style, whole-new-world. Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I like it when I show up to a boutique studio and they address me by name and maybe comment on how I’ve been improving week after week. Not to mention, I like having to sign up ahead of time because it helps me to keep myself accountable (AKA late fees, AKA bummers).

Personalization: My biggest takeaway from the box gym experience was the sheer number of people working out within the box. It was bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. As I mentioned earlier, the locker room was swarming with naked bodies, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I walked into the dance fitness class and found myself surrounded by 70 of my new best friends. It had me longing for my usual dance fitness experience (picture me two beats behind 30 other people, rather than 4 beats behind 70 other people).  I’m used to the instructor being visible from all spots in the room and I guess I’m #spoiled because I’m also used to the instructor making eye contact with me, realizing I’m doing something totally stupid, and offering me modifications. My box gym experience just couldn’t offer any of those modifications/adjustments because there were 70 participants and 1 instructor. She was a badass instructor, but there were just a TON of people in her class.

/D Method in Fort Worth, TX

Dedicated Space: This goes without saying, but a box gym is a space that can be used for several types of activities. So, the space is not tailored to a specific type of work-out the way that boutique studios are. The dance fitness class that I took was in a room that is also used for boxing, yoga, HIIT, pilates, and several other types of workouts. I kept accidentally running into a punching bag whenever our steps took us too far to the right. It made me realize how much I appreciate taking classes that are in spaces specifically designed for that type of exercise. I like going to a yoga class and knowing to expect calming colors, lighting, smells, and sounds or going to a HIIT class and knowing to expect an invigorating environment.

Im summation, there is nothing wrong with box gyms. But the boutique experience is just #extra special.

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