The Collegian
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Richmond round-up: The best of boutique fitness

<p>A line of treadmills at Tread Happy, a boutique fitness studio in Richmond's Fan District.&nbsp;</p>

A line of treadmills at Tread Happy, a boutique fitness studio in Richmond's Fan District. 

From barre and yoga to boot camps and weight training, there are many fitness classes for people to try, although finding the right one can be difficult and expensive. Many boutique fitness studios in Richmond offer special packages for new clients and students. Below are some of my new favorites.

The Bar Method

The Bar Method might just be the perfect fit for some University of Richmond students. Found in the Village Shopping Center on Three Chopt Road, it is one of the closest workout studios to campus.  

The boutique fitness studio offers barre classes for all levels. Students do precise isometric exercises, predominantly relying on their body weight for resistance but also using the ballet barre and a few other props including light weights, mats and a ball throughout the class.

“The result is a graceful, strong, dancer-like body, including sculpted arms, flat abs, a lifted seat and elongated thighs, as well as improved posture and body alignment,” according to The Bar Method’s website. “The fast pace of the class spikes the heart rate at different intervals to burn calories not just in the classroom, but long after.” 

Liz Hall, an instructor at the studio and former UR student, was extremely helpful and adaptable to the beginners in the class. I was not the only first-timer -- there were two male UR students who timidly entered the class. 

Sophomore Fred Cammerzell said he initially hadn't known what he was getting himself into.

“When I realized we were the only guys in the class, I was honestly kind of worried because the other people made us look like we had absolutely no clue what we were doing,” Cammerzell said. “But, Liz was super friendly and helped us with all the tougher exercises.” 

Cammerzell ended up loving the workout and said he would recommend it to his friends.

The Bar Method was a great variation from my regular workout routine, and it is a great way to work muscles you may not know exist.

A unique feature of the Bar Method is that clients get their first class free. There are also great deals for new clients, including a 30-day unlimited class package for $99, and a back-to-school special, two weeks of unlimited classes for $50.


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After going to Solidcore on West Broad Street, I was left with no doubt: the 50-minute class is grueling, painful and scientifically genius. It was unlike any workout I had ever done before. 

Students use a piece of equipment called a sweatlana, also known as a Megaformer. The machine has two stable platforms – one on the front, one on the back – a gliding carriage and adjustable spring-loaded coils to allow for a customizable resistance that can increase the difficulty of the workout. 

Sweatlana is undeniably intimidating, but the Beginner Full Body class was the perfect place to learn the ins and outs of the foreign machine.

The Solidcore workout is unique because the controlled resistance training breaks down the slow-twitch muscle fibers, which is the most effective way to create long, lean muscle tone, according to Solidcore’s website

Although you’re often moving only an inch or so at a time, your muscles are constantly engaged, and those calculated inches were enough to have everyone in the studio dripping in sweat and clearly in pain. 

To finish up the agonizing -- yet liberating -- experience, everyone walked around the room high-fiving each other and celebrating the adventure we all had just completed together. 

Although I was aching the day after barre, I was sore minutes after my workout at Solidcore. I wobbled to my car and, with great difficulty, lifted my arms to the steering wheel. 

Senior Matthew Izzo said Solidcore was the hardest and best workout he had ever done. 

“After those classes, I am so sore I can barely walk,” Izzo said. “So, all in all, I would highly recommend Solidcore to anyone looking to mix it up and still get an intense workout.”

Solidcore offers a variety of specials ranging from two classes for $34 for new clients to a monthly unlimited membership for $199. It also has discounted off-peak classes.

Tread Happy 

Tread Happy is similar to the popular group cycling classes that people devote themselves to. The room is lined with treadmills and has an attached room for weights that clients work with during the last 10 minutes of the class.

What makes Tread Happy a particularly enjoyable experience is that it manifests its message that the classes are for runners of all levels. Although the instructor guides the class, clients can adjust their speed and inclination within the various levels to best match their fitness level. 

“It is such a welcoming, exciting and inclusive community where everyone is just excited that you walked through the door,” said Kelly Reagan, a coach at Tread Happy. “All levels and all abilities are welcomed and encouraged to come.”

Reagan said she had loved being both a coach and runner at Tread Happy and the support the Tread team had provided her with. 

“I’m super excited to continue coaching and continuing to build people’s confidence in the studio,” Reagan said.

Forty minutes of continuous running sounded like torture to a non-runner like myself. Although the class was challenging, and there were times I wanted to quit, the motivating atmosphere pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of. And, the workout’s design certainly causes a considerable calorie burn.

The one downside of Tread Happy is the limited class options. Typically, there are only a handful of classes each day, either early in the morning or at night. 

The studio does offer great deals for students, such as an unlimited month ($145) and semester ($130 per month), which are also available for UR staff.

Contact lifestyle writer Avery Wasson at

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