By: Taylor Mahlinger
Downtown Lexington has something to offer for everyone’s health and wellness resolutions, whether you want to participate in group fitness classes, try a high-intensity workout, or focus more on meditation and overall wellness. We interviewed three different downtown businesses that specialize in health and wellness to find out more about what they each have to offer.
The High Street YMCA is, as one of their personal trainers Beth Hack said, one of the “best-kept secrets” of downtown. The YMCA has served the Lexington area since 1853 as a nonprofit organization focused on bringing healthy living to the surrounding community. People don’t often realize that the YMCA has a lot to offer when it comes to health and wellness. They offer over 50 group classes per week, meaning you are likely to find something that works for your fitness level and targets your personal goals. The group fitness classes, which range from Zumba to yoga and cycling, are included in a YMCA membership along with access to all four floors. They also offer more specialized, boutique-style classes like Pilates Reformer to members at a discounted rate.
Not only do they have something to offer for all skill levels, but also all ages. Hack said, “We have leagues for little kids, we have sports skills if you don’t want to put them in a specific sport yet. Just some movement classes, dance classes. We have the tippy toes program, which is ballet, we have tap and jazz. With your membership, you get a discount on all of these classes.” They also offer swimming lessons for all ages, beginning at six months.
With all of these different options comes a community too. “The biggest benefit of the Y is the community you get along with it.” said Hack. “The number one reason that people usually quit gyms is because they say they didn’t feel connected. They didn’t connect with either the staff or the other members, or they felt like no one knew who they were and didn’t feel a part of the gym. At the Y, you’ve got people just falling all over themselves to get to know you, to get to know what you’re doing here. You just get a lot of that good comradery from every single side.” Hack says the Y is a great place to work towards your goals because at the Y, you won’t feel the “gymtimidation” effect. “That’s kind of our goal: we want this to be the most welcoming place, and you’re never gonna feel alone.”
Hack said people don’t always realize that the YMCA’s membership fee is discounted depending on income. “We are one of the few gyms in town where we can take into account your income.” said Hack. “If members were to give us their income information, they might get 50% off that membership or 70% off that membership.” Their memberships also include discounts on child care. “We have some of the best child care staff here,” said Hack. “We also have a lot of really good employee discounts across the city, so sometimes employers will partner with us and we highly recommend if a business is reading this to get in touch with our membership director and find out about having that option for their employees.”
This month, the YMCA’s “Refer a Friend” program offers members a chance to earn one month of membership free for every friend they refer that stays three months. Each friend will also receive a 100% discount on the joining fee.
CycleYOU is more than a cycling studio, despite their name. Owned and operated by Noelle Dick, they offer different types of cycling along with boxing, strength training, and barre classes. They have around 25 fit-fusion classes per week, meaning that they offer something for everyone’s new year’s fitness goals. Because cycling and high-intensity workouts can be intimidating, Dick said it is important to set realistic goals. “It’s very wise for you to be realistic about what your genetics bring to the table, what your lifestyle brings to the table.” Dick said, “What we focus on at CycleYOU is not immediacy, but sustainability. Nothing will work for you unless you enjoy doing it and are mentally connected to coming back, which I think a lot of fitness places miss the boat on. If it’s not gonna be a lifestyle choice, then it’s gonna be a temporary hit. We work with people on saying, just show up. It’s so cliché, but just show up.”
CycleYou’s classes are beat-based, meaning that they move to the beat of the music. They are a total-body, high-intensity interval workout while on a stationary bike. ” Dick said, “It’s a total body workout, we’re not just going for the cardio push all the time, that’s a little dangerous. We do intervals where we’ll bring your heart rate up and then bring it back down.”
“I think most people in today’s vernacular will say today, ‘I just want to be healthy,’ but what they’re really saying is, ‘I just want to lose weight’” said Dick. But exercise is about more than just losing weight and strengthening your muscles according to Dick. “At the end of the day, we have overstated what exercise can do for weight loss, but we’ve understated what exercise can do for your mental well-being and for your longevity of life.” said Dick. “We spend a lot of money and investment in our team so that people get encouragement. When people come to CycleYOU, you’ll hear them say ‘I do it because it feels good.’ That’s us working with them and saying ‘let’s be realistic about what your goals are.’ The weight loss comes second.”
Boutique fitness can be expensive because of the high quality of instruction and concierge service offered by CycleYOU. But Dick said she tries to keep it affordable. “My business philosophy is, I’d rather keep it affordable. I say that knowing that boutique fitness is not always affordable for everyone. We have a concierge who sits in the classrooms and gets you water so you don’t ever have to get off your bike. We’re about 15% lower than most in town, so rather than doing a bunch of sales, we do one sale in November and that’s it. But what we do offer is the first time you come in, the largest discount you’re gonna get. We offer not only our first class free to get you in, we offer $50 off any package and a free week because I want you to come in and try everything. Find out what you like, then come use your package. What I’ve also found is, we’re one of the few if not the only place in town that our packages never expire. Once you buy a package, it’s yours forever. I’ve had people come back two or three years later.”
Because the packages never expire at CycleYOU, it can hold customers more accountable to stay committed. “Our selling process is, you’re not committing to us, you’re committing to you.”
Cara Meade decided to open Creative Yoga in downtown Lexington after she fell in love with practicing hot yoga and moved to the area from Louisville. While there are other hot yoga studios here in Lexington, Meade felt there was a need for one that specialized in the traditional method and solely offered hot yoga rather than a studio that offered other types of classes like cycling. Creative Yoga has been open for five years and offers a variety of hot yoga classes to accommodate different skill levels. Hot yoga has a lot of benefits according to Meade. “Hot yoga is much more forgiving. I always compare it to riding a bicycle versus running. The warm room helps you ease into the poses a little more, you have a better recovery time. Also, the flooring that we have is really forgiving on the joints as opposed to a hardwood that is designed for hot yoga practice. When you leave, I think you feel just a little bit more rejuvenated than a traditional yoga practice.”
Meade said that she will often have people come into the studio who were referred by physicians in the area for stress relief or injury recovery. “Whatever their physical ailments are, yoga is quite often prescribed from psychiatrists to physical therapists.” Creative Yoga’s studio has a humidity system in addition to their heating system, which helps the body cool naturally during the hot yoga classes. “It takes a few times to get accustomed to the heat, but after a couple of times, you really enjoy the benefits of the hot.”
People can be intimidated by yoga sometimes because of the misconception that you have to be flexible. Meade said that yoga isn’t about being flexible, but rather “breath and movement.”
“I often like to quote Snoop Dogg who says, ‘if you’re breathing, you’re achieving’ so I think that is the key to yoga. Flexibility comes over time and with consistent practice, so that’s not anything to be intimidated about. I have great pride in our studio that everyone that comes here is very welcoming. We really encourage people to go at their own pace and get away from any idea of perfection, to just be where they are in the moment.” Their classes, ranging from vinyasa to power hour along with more advanced ones, are open to all levels although they do offer a class on Sundays called “Yoga 101” that is for beginners.
Creative Yoga is more than just a hot yoga studio. Meade said that she always wanted a space where people could come for an hour and be themselves. “The community here is so amazing. There’s a word we use in yoga called kula and it means your community, where you find like-minded people. I am always so grateful when I walk into the room and there are people of every age, every skin color, every body shape, and that’s a good day for me.” Creative Yoga is currently offering a special: 21 days of unlimited classes for $35. “We love that because we love new people. I think people have heard of yoga or wanna try it and that just gives them an opportunity to try it out.” Meade said that people often give up on new year’s resolutions because they feel like they messed up early on and didn’t stay on track. According to Meade, giving yourself the chance to begin again is key. “In yoga, we say that every inhale is a new beginning and every exhale is your chance to let go.”
“Giving yourself that freedom as adults, like you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have the answer. When you give yourself the space to do these resolutions, what you might find is something along the way that was way better than maybe your original goal.”
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