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Candy After Class: The Rise of the Feel-Good Fitness Studio

Candy After Class: The Rise of the Feel-Good Fitness Studio

While some boutique fitness studios are leaning into intensity, others are finding success with a “come as you are” attitude

Hardcore boutique fitness studios have had their time in the limelight for too long. Some consumers seek out instructors who yell at them for motivation, while others prefer dark studios with neon lighting. 

But what about the market for consumers who want a feel-good workout? Americans’ stress levels are in a dire state. Loneliness became a core facet of mental health issues during the pandemic and has continued to be an issue for many. A community-oriented, feel-good workout might be just what the doctor ordered. 

Heatwise is one such “feel-good” studio. The New York-based brand takes a hospitality-driven approach to hot yoga and focuses on providing a stress-free, premium experience for its members. The studio’s offerings include extra space between mats for comfort, hands-on teachers, the ability to pre-book a spot in the room and post-class cold towels. 

“Helping people stress less and feel good is at the core of everything we do. We don’t speak about weight loss or fat burning,” Ben Kopelman, a partner at Heatwise, told Athletech News about the studio’s approach. “We are all about feeling good. Seriously, we have candy at the front desk. Our intention is for you to access a feeling, and we have fostered a community that aligns with our mission.” 

A Heatwise studio is designed more like a living room than a locker room, with plants, exposed brick and light wood furniture. It’s designed to offer warmth and homeyness to its guests. In addition to classes, Heatwise offers workshops like its Full Moon Workshop and sound baths as well as yoga teacher trainings and retreats abroad. 

credit: Heatwise

“Our mission is to help people feel good. Whatever that may mean to you. If you want to sweat and work on your core, we’ve got you,” Kopelman explained. “If you want to roll around in the heat and just stretch your hamstrings, we’ve got you. If you want to nail your first crow pose, we’ve got you.” 

Mantra is another studio that prioritizes mental health. Founded in 2012 in Sarasota, Florida, Mantra is an innovative approach to Pilates, combining the workout with cardio, strength, balance and flexibility. Its mission is to create a positive mindset toward mental and physical health, utilizing Pilates methods.

Kathy Maloy, Mantra’s Founder, spoke to Athletech News about why the “feel-good’ approach has resonated with consumers.

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“At the core of Mantra Fitness lies a commitment to fostering mindfulness and positivity,” Maloy said. “By focusing your attention on the present moment, you reduce stress and anxiety while increasing mental clarity. Our clients resonate with these feelings and come back time and time again to find that headspace.” 

credit: Mantra Fitness

Mantra offers a holistic workout and uses a specialized reformer to engage muscles with slow and controlled movements. The workout highlights the connection between good fitness and a positive mindset. 

As mental health continues to be a challenge for much of the country, studios like Heatwise and Mantra are providing community, acceptance and positivity amidst a sea of workout classes focused on intensity. Move over, smoothies — candy after class might be the next big trend. 

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