Rowing hasn't always been the trendiest form of exercise. "Rowing was always tried and true and very impactful, and everyone knew it was good for you, but it wasn't cool," says CityRow founder Helaine Knapp. She changed that: After opening its doors in 2014, CityRow helped transform a sweat sesh on boxy, old-fashioned machines into a luxury experience; its stunning WaterRowers use, well, water to mimic rowing on a river and allow for a more fluid-feeling motion once you get into your rowing groove. And that luxe experience is no longer going to be limited to New Yorkers: A new partnership with franchising firm Franworth is allowing CityRow to take its model to cities across the country.
"We took our first two or three years to continue to build our brand and our programming and refine how we bring this sexy and cool twist on rowing to the masses," Knapp says. But now, she's ready to branch out.
"You'll walk in feeling empowered and strong and leave that way as well."" —Helaine Knapp, CityRow founder
So what can the rest of the country expect from CityRow's expansion plans? The first studio outside of New York will open early this year in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Knapp says the new spaces combine the best parts of the OG studios to create the ultimate experience.
"We've perfected the way the actual classroom feels, as well as the community element," Knapp says of the new Ann Arbor outpost. "I'm very conscious of the fact that we've created this New York City phenomenon in a luxury way, so making sure that translates is at the forefront of my mind as we build out the experience. You'll walk in feeling empowered and strong and leave that way as well."
"I get excited about the opportunity for someone who doesn't have access to New York City boutique fitness studios to be able to tap into the magic we've created, whether that's in Knoxville, Tampa, or Santa Barbara. Every city that wants one can have one." —Knapp
While the first franchised spot will be in the Midwest, Knapp's hope is that this expansion enables CityRow to touch an exponential amount of people.
"Fitness is an $81 billion industry, and more and more people are flocking to boutique fitness—not just in New York and LA. It's happening everywhere," Knapp says. "We've spent four years perfecting the way we deliver this luxury experience, and I get excited about the opportunity for someone who doesn't have access to New York City boutique fitness studios to be able to tap into the magic we've created, whether that's in Knoxville, Tampa, or Santa Barbara. Every city that wants one can have one."
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