Working out next to a guy in a SoulCycle or even a hot yoga class is rare. They’re there, but they’re outnumbered by a long shot, most preferring to sweat at the gym solo. Which is why it’s so surprising that the newest category of fitness spots wooing them—cardio dance and barre studios—are actually succeeding (somewhat).
AKT in Motion founder Anna Kaiser launched Man Camp (now called 4Play) a little over a year ago, and Bari Studio officially debuted BariMen last fall. Tracy Anderson introduced her first Men’s Program in October, and Flybarre created Flybarre for Men last year (now called Sport). It seems the world is taking cues from the yoga scene, which has had all manner of “yoga for dudes” and “broga” offerings over the past few years.
So why do guys first walk through the doors of studios known for booty-shaking choreography and tiny weights? Often because of their mates.
“I discovered Bari through my girlfriend, who’s obsessed with the classes,” says 26-year-old Andrew Weiss, a social media manager in New York. “I stopped thinking it was girly after my first Bounce class. It was harder than any workout I’d been to.” He now attends BariMen classes nearly every Saturday.
The fact that the classes have “men” in the name also helps lower the intimidation factor. “That’s essentially why we made our class ‘just for men’ in the beginning,” Anna Kaiser explains. “So they knew they weren’t coming in to a ‘women’s’ class.”
The studios also adapt their methods to create classes that appeal more to men, swapping dance choreography for circuit training, for example, and often adding heavier weights. “Our trainers tailor the class to achieve goals like increased speed, agility, and power,” says Bari head trainer Michelle Pellizzon.
And there are benefits from these workouts that men aren’t getting elsewhere in their fitness routine. The aforementioned agility, for example, and especially flexibility. “Guys never stretch. Most have lower back pain because they have tightness,” Kaiser says. They may also be surprised to discover that they push themselves harder in a group, like the rest of us.
Interestingly, while the “for men” designation gets the guys in the door, it often doesn’t stick. Kaiser opened her class up to both sexes and changed the name to 4Play (“We had full classes with the men, and then a lot of them were like ‘I’d love for my girlfriend to come,’ so we just opened it up to both.”). Flybarre changed its class to “Sport” and both men and women now attend for its more explosive moves and big muscle burn. In the end, a good workout is a good workout, right? —Lisa Elaine Held