Working out, like eating out, represents an investment in both time and money. And it’s the fitness instructors—the gym’s chefs—that can make that hour-long TRX, Spin, or bootcamp either a delicious experience or a dud.
Fitness review site, Rate Your Burn, wants to help you avoid lame-o classes, bad choreography, and cheesy fitness coaches—by allowing you to essentially run a background check on your barre instructor before signing up for class.
While the site, which launches its new platform this week (in limited-access beta form), posts reviews for gyms and studios, too, its focus on instructors reflects the celebrity instructor zeitgeist taking hold in New York.
Gillian Casten, Rate Your Burn’s 26-year-old founder, dreamed up the concept based on personal experience, and frustration. As an analyst at the Fortress Investment Group, a top investment management firm, gym time was precious for her and co-workers; they started sharing write-ups of the best Physique 57 and Equinox instructors. Casten knew she was onto something. She left private equity and started putting her sweat equity (and all her savings) into creating Rate Your Burn.
“To us at Rate Your Burn, an instructor is their own business,” says Casten. “Especially since many of them teach at multiple locations around the city.”
Since she launched the site’s blog in September 2011, Casten has been laying the groundwork for this new world of instructor critiquing with her own class reviews. As “Lactic Addict,” she unleashed her expertise and clever (and sometimes caustic) wit on trainers and facilities around the city:
On Noah Neiman at Barry’s Bootcamp: “I’m a sucker for guys who wear handmade tanks—ain’t no harm in a little sneak peek.”
On a Pure Barre class: “[It was] kind of like being hit on by a boy only to realize that my boyfriend is way more attractive and a better catch. Admittedly, it’s an open relationship… but my boyfriend’s name is Physique and he is 57.”
Now, every client that a fitness instructor encounters will be a potential reviewer. Anyone will be able to log on, add their comments, and rate the instructor (or facility) with 1-5 overall stars. The instructors ratings will also be connected to the gyms and studios they teach at.
Reviewers will be anonymous to eliminate inhibitions (and extra push-up retaliation), although reviews that are personal and inappropriate will be taken down. (You can say you were bummed because an instructor didn’t motivate you, but not that she stole your boyfriend.)
Casten has already populated the database with more than 14,000 instructor listings—from yogis to personal trainers—ripe for reviewing.
Within the year, she plans to roll out the site nationally, starting with big-city states like California and Massachusetts.
If the new Rate Your Burn catches on, it could take New York’s cult-of-the-instructor mentality to a whole new level. —Lisa Elaine Held