When your favorite fitness instructor is a local fitlebrity, forming a personal relationship can be a challenge. Sure, you can follow them on Instagram, favorite their motivating tweets, and try to stay after class to talk, but having a cult following doesn’t allow much time for interaction. But a new start-up is giving in-demand trainers a way to build their personal brands—while connecting with clients on the reg.
YG Studios, which launched in November in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, organizes workout classes with in-demand fitness instructors at rented studio spaces—and at a price ($28 a pop) that’s usually way lower than what you’d usually have to pay to sweat with them elsewhere. Instructors—KGBody founder Katherine Greiner and Yogaworks‘ Irina Ovsiannikova, for example—use it as an opportunity to create their own custom classes, all while offering fans (err, we mean clients) their trademark regimens for cheaper. Total win-win, right?
And, starting today, instructors will also have a home base with the opening of YG Studios’ first-ever permanent space in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. “Think event space-meets-studio, wrapped in a clubhouse and surrounded by an Apple store,” YG Studios founder Nt Etuk says of the industrial loft-like spot.
It’s not fancy—don’t expect a tricked-out locker room or juice bar—but it’s also not intimidating. In fact, you’re invited to linger; unlike many other studios, which don’t offer much in the way of hang-out space (save for the occasional bench wedged in by a row of cubbies), YG Studios has both a lounge and a sofa-filled balcony.
Etuk’s hope is that class-goers will be able to form real relationships with their favorite trainers, rather than just double-tap their routines from afar. “We want to peel back the curtain that most gyms and studios cloak over the instructor and expose the talent behind the workouts,” he says.
Courtney Paul, for example, cultivated a serious following as a teacher at Barry’s Bootcamp before launching his own boot camp class exclusively through YG Studios (yes, it’s already got a waiting list). And according to the reality TV trainer, it’s a way more personal experience: He’ll text his regulars if they miss a workout, and even check their Instagram feeds for shots of unhealthy food or late-night high jinks.
But Etuk doesn’t want YG’ers to just get to know their instructor; he wants them to get to know each other, too. “Within a couple weeks, we’ll begin to roll out the social networking components we’ve been building and testing in beta,” he says, adding that soon clients will be able to invite friends to classes, recommend instructors, and get alerted when their BFF signs up for a class (because you’ll want to join in too, natch). Post-workout happy hours, he promises, are in the works as well.
While a lot is changing for YG Studios—starting with the fact that what began as an intentionally homeless concept is now putting down roots—Etuk says the core mission is not. “We want to make health and fitness accessible to folks so they have no choice but to engage,” he says. “It’s a movement to recognize, promote, and celebrate the instructor—the core of the experience and what gives us the results we desire— above all else.” Hey, maybe soon your favorite fitlebrity will be Instagramming you.
YG Studios, 33 W. 17th St., New York, NY 10011, ygstudios.com
Want to really get your sweat on? Check out this list of the seven hardest workouts in New York City. Or go high-tech with this futuristic class where the room literally responds to you.