Meet you at the barre: How exercise became a social activity
Rewind 17 years – when Sweaty Betty opened the doors to its very first boutique in Notting Hill, London – and most people’s fitness regimes revolved around chain gyms. Today, the picture looks rather different. Boutique studios are popping up in LA, New York and London on a weekly basis. Many of them featuring in-house cafés or juice bars, perfect for hanging out before or after your workout.
It’s now easier than ever to fit more virtuous catch-ups into your diary. Drinks in the bar become plié squats at the barre. Weekend coffees are preceded by bootcamp in the park. And why go for a walk when you can pick up the pace and join a local running club?
Sweaty Betty founder and creative director Tamara Hill-Norton predicted this trend from the very beginning, and she knew that worn-out old tees would no longer be fashionable enough for your weekly workouts. Enter highly-technical ladies activewear designed especially for different disciplines. Fashion-forward pieces that look so cool they blur the lines between sportswear and streetwear. A genre of clothing called ‘fit fashion’, as Sweaty Betty created and defined it back in 1989.
So now that Instagram is saturated with healthy snaps taken in world-class fitness boutiques and increasingly prominent healthy eating cafes, Sweaty Betty is proud to partner with a diverse range of studios. From working with hand-picked Ambassadors, to offering complimentary in-store classes, to running exclusive studio takeovers and producing workout videos to follow along to online, we’re at the heart of the boutique fitness boom and love helping to fuel its evolution.
“If I wanted to do a yoga class, I once had to book in at a large multi-purpose fitness centre where the yoga studio would be right next to a spin studio with booming music coming through the walls,” says Tamara. “Now I can choose between a variety of specialist yoga studios, and even pick out my favourite instructor to pin down the practice that’s perfect for me.”
Most recently, Tamara joined wellbeing writer Calgary Avansino at a TriYoga class in Soho, London and caught up afterwards with smoothies and matcha lattes at the Retreat Café next door. “I love that people are just as likely to go to a class or enjoy a green juice as they are to meet at a bar. It’s so much nicer to kill two birds with one stone and nourish your body while spending time with a friend or holding a business meeting,” says Calgary.
“Following on the heels of boutique fitness studios, cafes and bars specialising in healthy food and drink are becoming hugely popular and offering an alternative way to refuel and meet with friends after a workout,” adds Tamara. Although she confesses to pairing the odd Psycle London class with a celebratory cocktail as well. Life is all about balance, after all.
Bianca Posterli, Director of US online lifestyle magazine Glam.com, also comments on the 'healthy happy hour' trend that has become a New York way of life: "Instead of skipping a workout in lieu of catching up with friends or meeting a client, opting to spend time together at a fun fitness class like SLT, Fhitting Room or Title Boxing lets you maintain your fitness and your social life.”
And if you haven’t found your perfect studio yet, ClassPass offers a convenient access scheme that allows you to book into a variety of your city’s top studios for an affordable flat monthly rate.
Lauren (left) wears the Drishti Yoga Vest and Virasana Padded Bra; Erika (right) wears the Flow Yoga Vest, Sweat It Out Bra and Nidra Yoga Capris
Here are a few more of Team SB’s favourite active outings. This is the cue to dig out your diary…
Capoeira in Dance Attic in Fulham, followed by smoothies from Moosh in Fulham Broadway. – Kimberley, Battersea boutique
A new weekly location for a Sunday run, plus brunch with the friendly group at the London Brunch Club. – Jennie Holmes, Garment Technician
Rocket Yoga at Frame Shoreditch and a quick jaunt up the road for a juice and raw treat from Loveage inside the trendy Ace Hotel. - Brit, Copywriter
A signature Blast class at Lomax Chelsea (combining calisthenics and high-intensity intervals), then head downstairs to build your own breakfast at the Grill Market. – Georgie, UK Roadshow Manager
Fast-paced TRX at Heartcore Chelsea and wind down at Tanya’s Café. Don’t miss the Instagram-worthy raw chocolate cheesecake. – Georgie, UK Roadshow Manager
A classic barreMIXED class at barrecore and organic brunch at The Yard. – Georgie, UK Roadshow Manager
Infinity Hot Yoga, stick around for a coldpressed juice by Juice Warrior, then move on to Riverhill for a deli lunch with lots of gluten free and vegan treats. – Robyn, Glasgow boutique
Hot yin yoga at Meadowlark and a cacao elixir at in-studio Cafe 39 is an ideal afternoon in Edinburgh. – Tess, Edinburgh Boutique
A relaxing Sunday yoga class at Exhale Central Park South, followed by a massage and late brunch at Sarabeth’s! – Jen, US Community Manager
Saturdays centre around Barry's Bootcamp followed by shopping in Flatiron and brunch at Irvington. – Kate, New York Roadshow Manager
Visits to NYC comprise of sculpt classes at modelFIT and brunch at the organic hot spot The Butchers Daughter for a delicious juice and salad. – Kyna, Los Angeles Road Show Manager
An early start at Carrie’s Pilates Plus, with a post-workout organic caffine fix at Urth Caffé. – Kyna, LA Roadshow Manager
Body By Simone for a high-impact cardio class in West Hollywood, followed by a cleansing smoothie and lunch from Cafe Gratitude. – Kyna, LA Roadshow Manager
A challenging Pilates or yoga flow class at the beautiful Body Mind Life studio in Bondi, then a healthy brunch at Bondi Wholefoods. – Louise, Content and Events Marketing Manager