A new workout concept blurring the line between boutique fitness and gym

BFX, a massive class-focused studio owned by Town Sports International, will open its first location near Union Square this May, with big expansion plans to follow.
A rendering of the check-in area at BFX. (Photo: BFX)
A rendering of the check-in area at BFX. (Photo: BFX)


Boutique fitness may be facing an identity crisis. New workout concept BFX (Boutique Fitness Experience) is set to open near Union Square in May, with three to four more locations opening within the next 12 months. And it bucks a slew of the qualities that have characterized the New York City scene to date.

It’s massive, will offer multiple kinds of classes, has spacious, amenity-packed locker rooms, and is owned by Town Sports International, the parent company of New York Sports Club and its affiliate gyms.

“We started to notice a gap in the boutique world,” says CEO Bob Giardina. “A studio is very single dimension,” and founded by an individual whose passion or method creates a workout focus, he observes. “Many people are going to two boutiques and a club; they need a complete program. Our idea is that as your life evolves, your program is going to change, so we want to make sure we can satisfy that demand without you having to go all over.”

And Giardina says that big and corporate doesn’t affect boutique fitness’s biggest draw. “What makes a boutique unique is not the facility. What makes it work is the instructors,” he says. “Not only will we be looking at hiring the best in all fields, but we’re going to give these instructors and trainers an opportunity to build their careers here.” As in, full-time salaries and benefits instead of frenzied runs between studios all over the city. Here are the preliminary details on what to expect when BFX opens next month:

Space for lounging while waiting for class to start. (Photo: BFX)
Space for lounging while waiting for class to start. (Photo: BFX)

Classes and instructors

BFX will feature three distinct programs. Spinning (yes, with a capital S), group fitness classes like barre, HIIT, and dance cardio (called Master Class), and personal training. While Giardina’s company is currently in aggressive recruitment mode for “rock stars of the facility,” they’re not ready to release most signed names yet.

However, one they’re already eagerly touting is Josh Taylor, a Spinning master instructor, who designed BFX’s cycling program, called Ride Republic. Spinning a la Mad Dogg Athletics tends to mimic road riding, so we’ll bet there won’t be any bike dancing or on-bike weights.

Spinning guru Josh Taylor (Photo: Josh Taylor, jtcycle.blogspot.com)
Spinning guru Josh Taylor (Photo: Josh Taylor, jtcycle.blogspot.com)

The space (and amenities)

BFX will occupy 10,000 square feet spread out over two levels, on Sixth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. The studio’s spaciousness will be used toward generously sized locker rooms with gym-style amenities, plus ample room for socializing before and after class, Giardina says. It’ll also include a tech program for booking classes and tracking workout stats on your smartphones.

Metrocard-weary New York fitness lovers may appreciate the fact that it sounds like a studio that aims to have it all. Except treadmills and weight machines, of course, because that would make it a gym. —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.bfxstudio.com

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