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Different twist on fitness options abound in Spring area

June 12, 2018 GMT

Fitness buffs searching to shake up their workouts have a number of options to try in the Spring area.

Industry professionals are saying that their clients want an alternative to the big, franchise gyms of the past. These entrepreneurs came up with something different and are offering a new way to get in shape.

Some of the new boutique gyms are even designed with couch potatoes in mind - with owners hoping to encourage a new, healthy daily routine.

Kelli Barrett, for example, was inspired to open Blast Mobile Fitness after overcoming her own struggle with weight.

In 2007, she was not living a healthy lifestyle. “I was 80 pounds overweight, and I had two small kids, a full-time job and a husband,” she said.

Still, she decided to take time for herself and focus on getting fit. “I joined a local gym, took a spin class,” she said. “I promised myself to go twice a week.”

Before long, Barrett was taking a new course in her career. “Finding a small gym and connecting with the people there really changed things for me,” she said.

She started offering boot camps in the park to share what she learned. “It was super cheap and easy, just in and out,” she said. “It started growing from there.”

Before long, she was offering several classes a week, using parking lots at area schools and businesses. Then, she got a good deal on a bunch of spin bikes and bought a trailer so she could offer the course almost anywhere.

By 2014, Barrett rented her first exercise studio and the following year moved to her current location at 3730 FM 2920. Now she’s going strong and offering 25 classes a week, ranging from Barre and Pilates to weight lifting and circuit training.

“Everything is created out of our own design for a better workout,” Barrett said. “You can’t get our classes anywhere else. We like to mix it up.”

On request, the gym still offers mobile classes. “We’re trying to cover the whole gamut of what people need to get healthy,” Barrett said. “There’s so much more focus out there on being a smaller size than on being strong and being healthy and living to 100. That’s what we teach.”

She enjoys the challenge of a new member who hates exercise or who is convinced that the gym won’t be a match.

“We’re hearing people more and more come in and say, ‘I had a membership at a big gym, but I’m bored and I don’t even go,’” Barrett said.

She believes that the key is having a smaller environment and a community.

“When people come into our studio, we make it a point to get to know them,” she said. “We’re committed to giving you the opportunity to be successful. We have an environment where people can be healthy together, pull inspiration from each other and ultimately empower each other.”

Matt Houser has a similar concept behind his new business, Inner Element Fitness, 4057 Riley Fuzzel Road. “From the minute you walk in the door, if you’re a member, you’re greeted by someone who knows your name, someone knowledgeable and well-trained,” he said.

Houser was convinced that a smaller, more structured gym with a focus on customer service would be a success.

“We wanted something that was motivating and encouraging,” he said. “All you have to do is show up and we’ll lead you.”

The classes at Inner Element Fitness last 50-minutes and participants are heart-monitored. Upbeat music and a fun, group environment are part of Houser’s arsenal aimed at fighting what he calls the intimidation factor of other gyms.

“You’ve got a bunch of guys grunting over weights or you have a lot of equipment that you just don’t know how to use or you just don’t know what to do,” he said.

Personal training in an expensive alternative, Houser added.

He has two trainers leading his courses and the workouts change everyday. “A lot of folks come from big box gyms or they tell us, ‘I haven’t worked out in years,’” he said.

Inner Element is there to help. There are programs for injury recovery and personal trainers on deck. There’s even a course designed for seniors called Fit After 50.

The gym opened in early September and is already preparing to expand to a second location in The Woodlands.

For those looking for something totally different, Christina Mitchell offers Twisted Fit, 318 Main St. in Old Town Spring.

Mitchell has always been an active type and pursued swimming, diving, dance, Crossfit, running and even MMA but nothing completely captured her interest until she bought a pole and set it up in her house.

“There was really no place to learn pole dancing,” she said. “I started teaching my friends and things got out of hand from there. It just snowballed. Everyone wanted to take classes.”

Mitchell purchased a studio seven years ago and her client base continues to steadily grow. “It’s unique and it’s fun,” she said. “And it gets you in shape.”

She said anyone can sign up. “Weight doesn’t matter, and age doesn’t matter,” she said. “Your first class, no one know what they’re doing. We all progress together.”

Mitchell is able to modify exercises for any level. “We start slow and you gain strength,” she said. “You continue to burn calories after class, because you’re building muscles.”

Her students are also gaining confidence and making friends.

“It’s just evolved into something really awesome,” she said. “It’s a completely different way to get fit. The environment is cozy. You don’t feel like you’re working out. You’re listening to awesome music and chatting with friends. It tricks you.”

Mitchell offers bellydance, adult ballet and jazz classes as well.