Boutique Fitness Craze

SoulCycle, Barre, Crossfit — boutique fitness is taking over. We’ll look at the promises, the community, the obsessions, when fitness goes boutique.

Hunter Lydon works out at a CrossFit gym in Glendale, California. (Photo by Matt Hein / FitBit)

Hunter Lydon works out at a CrossFit gym in Glendale, California. (Photo by Matt Hein / CrossFit)

Once, working out meant sweatpants and jumping jacks. Or running shorts and the open road. Then came Jazzercise, Zumba, hot yoga, Pilates. Today, for a growing number of Americans, fitness has gone more grueling and more glam at the same time. Boutique fitness. High-priced. Intense. Quasi-spiritual. With followers who are almost religious in the fervor. SoulCycle. Core Power. Flywheel. Barre. This hour On Point, the boutique fitness craze, and what drives it.

— Tom Ashbrook


Karen Heller, national features reporter for the Washington Post. (@kheller)

Jaclyn Emerick, fitness director at Shape Magazine. (@jaclynemerick)

Greg Glassman, co-founder and CEO of CrossFit. (@crossfitceo)

Angie Thurston, master’s of divinity student at the Harvard Divinity School and co-author, with Casper ter Kuile, of the report, “How We Gather.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Sweat equity: What’s behind the rise of intense boutique fitness programs? — “Forget the Y, or even the bespoke gym. Boutique fitness programs — extreme versions of yoga, spinning, CrossFit, whatever — are America’s current urban exercise obsession, selling community, self-improvement and $90 leggings. And plenty of people are buying, not just in the predictable places such as New York and Washington, but in cities as seemingly low-key as Minneapolis.”

Harvard Divinity School: How We Gather — “Strikingly, spaces traditionally meant for exercise have become the locations of shared, transformative experience. This raises a question about the responsibility of class instructors, and how they can best prepare for the increasingly pastoral role they may be asked to take on.”

Shape: Are You Too Dependent on Your Workout Studio? — “Obsessing over an awesome fitness instructor or class is a fantastic motivator to exercise. When a particular yoga teacher or spin studio rocks your world, it’s easier to say ‘no’ to after-work drinks or reschedule a date for your fave sweat sessions. But what happens when your dream trainer and/or class skip out on you?”

Read An On Point Producer’s Defense Of His SoulCycle Addiction


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