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Residents north of Boston have been treated to a gym upgrade this summer in Woburn, where a boutique studio opened up just three months ago. FitHouse, founded by Brittany Vitello, is a suburban destination for spinning, Pilates, yoga, and strength training all under one roof. Seven trainers, 6000 square feet, and 24 bikes help FitHouse clients obtain a personal training experience without the expense ($16 a class), due to small-group sessions and close guidance from instructors. Vitello was disillusioned about the typical gym circuit, both as a student and as a teacher. We spoke with her about this new venture, the fact that she is "living out her dream," and the tie between music and fitness. Don't be shocked if you feel compelled to take a jaunt up 93 to Woburn.
Music seems very crucial to the FitHouse environment. Is it as essential to the strength and yoga and Pilates classes as it is to spin?
Yes! It is. With a strength class I try to go with a theme, a lot of heavy rap music. People zone out and you can't play just any song. I design a playlist for every class. I always tell my instructors "get angry." Show them that this is tough. I think people do the best when they're angry; they'll lift harder, run faster.
Sometimes you bring in DJs. Do you have a music background or is it something you're just very passionate about? How did you come about that idea and lock them in?
My brother is a DJ, and we co-own FitHouse. Growing up music was always a huge part of everything we did. Naturally with rhythm, within 10 seconds of a song I know where it's going, even if I've never heard it before. Which makes it awesome when my brother DJs my classes. The cycling part of the studio is designed like a concert. There are three levels, stadium seating, flashing lights, everyone wears glo-sticks when we have the DJs in.
How do these classes compare to personal training in regard to price?
They are $16. We're with them the whole step of the way. When people go to huge classes with 30 people in the room you don't know what you're doing. I found that to be an issue, so I thought let's make a difference here and watch people's bodies change every week. They know it's going to be different here and that they are going to work hard, but I have people that will not miss a class if their life depended on it.
To what degree are you catering to people getting married at the studio?
I just had three brides that I shipped on out. I have three more. Just two weeks ago I had a personal letter from a client. She said she didn't feel comfortable in her own skin for five years. And she got married two weeks ago. It brought me to tears to be honest. It is their most important day but it helps self confidence that they have in general, and making a lifestyle change for after their married, because that's important too.
How do you build such strong relationships with your clients?
I'm part instructor, part therapist. If someone is having trouble I want to be there. One of our favorite clients who has been with us since day one recently broke her foot. The first thing she did after X-rays was drive to FitHouse. She was upset and I said, "Let's take it easy." Even when I wasn't teaching, I would sit next to her and give modifications on the side during class. Yesterday she dropped off flowers. I don't want them to ever feel like their doing something alone. We won't let them fall behind.
What do you think makes your amenities stand out?
A lot of people say when they walk in "Where are your other locations?" It looks like a corporate brand name, and that was the most important thing for me when I started designing this a year ago. You know you're not in a gym. The details of even a Keurig, West Elm curtains, everything is open. I wanted something clean and sophisticated. This isn't a Crossfit, there are no ballet barres. When you walk into the cycle room, it's just beautiful. There are the two studios and the cycle room is closed off. The main area is huge. In strength training we do sprints, it's awesome.
People used to travel into Boston for these types of classes and now they can drive down the street, pull into a parking lot, and they stay. I designed a lot of the classes back-to-back, and they don't need to travel around to different studios.
· FitHouse [Official Site]