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Southlake Style

Fitness in the Burbs

Jan 06, 2017 02:13PM ● By Ashley Pape
By Amy Reisner & Pamela Hammonds

B O U T I Q U E F I T N E S S 

Connie Montgomery first noticed 9Round fitness studio in Flower Mound’s Founders Square a year before she summoned up the courage to walk through the doors. “I was intimidated to check it out,” she says. “In my mind, everyone in there was buff.” But one day the door was propped open and curiosity got the better of her. 

“I’m such a non-worker-outer,” Montgomery says. But that’s a label she can’t attach to herself anymore. For the past two years, she has worked out at 9Round four days a week and admits she’s much stronger for it. “I tried big gyms and even a trainer and never stuck with anything until I found 9Round.” 

Robyn Harrigan found 9Round at the urging of her husband, but she didn’t stop by without calling first. “I talked to Christy [Williams, the owner] and told her I wasn’t comfortable in gyms,” she says. “From the first time I went in, I was hooked. Every day is different and no one is judging you—they’re too focused on getting through their three-minute session.” Harrigan has lost 30 pounds since that first day, and her husband, Kevin, is now a member as well. “I spent a lot of time feeling bad about myself, but I don’t now. I’ve never been in better shape.” 

When Christy Williams decided to open a 9Round kickboxing studio in Flower Mound three years ago, she was convinced that if the concept appealed to her, others would follow suit. “Fitness is not my background, and I could come up with every excuse not to work out,” she says. When the former hospitality executive decided to shift careers, 9Round made perfect sense. 

9Round combines a personal training component with a drop-in approach to working out. Fitness becomes something you can commit to in 30-minute intervals with upbeat music and a non-competitive environment. “It’s circuit-style training that’s ideal for any fitness level,” Williams says. 

Williams acknowledges that fitness fads ebb and flow but believes kickboxing is here to stay. “Every exercise can be modified for any fitness level, and everyone can devote 30 minutes to getting healthy.” 


Montgomery and Harrigan are not alone in their revelations. The majority of health-minded adults seek new ways to achieve their fitness goals. In fact, 70 percent of the 2,300 new health club facilities that opened in 2015 were boutiques and studios, according to the 2016 U.S. Industry Report from The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. 

Perhaps ahead of the trend, Yong Swearengin opened her first SunstoneFIT nine years ago. Her studio offers personalized fitness for the mind and body in a variety of disciplines, including yoga, Pilates, barre and cycling, among others. With a Flower Mound location having opened in 2011 and now 15 locations in North Texas, SunstoneFIT epitomizes the convenience factor that translates to client loyalty. 

“A boutique fitness studio is going to work if the concentration of people live close by,” Swearengin says. “Some people will drive for a workout, but I don’t think a lot of people do that. They want it to be a blip in their daily routine—go in, get it done and come out.” 

The studio and boutique fitness movement may not be a new trend, but as the numbers suggest, this exercise arena is certainly experiencing growth. Here in North Texas, residents of suburban cities such as Flower Mound, Coppell and Southlake have seen quite a few boutique fitness studios open up shop within the past few years. 

Some are national or international franchises, such as CycleBar, 9Round and Pure Barre in Flower Mound. Other fitness boutiques and studios in the area were started by local entrepreneurs with a vision to help people live healthier lives in a specialized way, such as Urban Vybe and NexGen Fitness. 


Staying healthy has become more than just purchasing a monthly membership and crossing your fingers you’ll get up in the morning to go work out. Self-motivation is hard. But these fitness studios and boutiques are working to change that mindset. 

Consider the CycleBar franchise, for example. The studio offers three core cycle classes along with a beginner’s intro class. The classic ride combines competition, choreography and classic elements of cycle in a 50-minute timeframe. The 50-minute connect ride focuses more on connecting with the bike and less on stats and competition. And finally, the performance ride, for clients who prefer a more challenging workout, includes stats and competition. 

Studios like CycleBar are indeed customized for a more authentic experience, but this experience isn’t limited to indoor cycling, yoga and barre. What you might think of as a typical “big box” gym experience can be had on a smaller level too, which fits right into the studio and boutique trend. 

NexGen Fitness founder and owner Bryan Whatley opened his studio’s Southlake location in 2014. Since then, NexGen has expanded to seven other markets in North Texas including Flower Mound and Colleyville. Each NexGen studio has two or three private suites where instructors provide one-on-one training. Each customized session lasts 45 minutes. “This unique model allows our trainers to know exactly how to motivate each individual client,” Whatley says. 

It’s no doubt that trainers and instructors play an important role in the success of a fitness studio. However, the bonds formed between clients can extend beyond the walls of the gym. Stacy Wise and Jo Stokes, co-owners of Urban Vybe in The Shops at Lakeside, learned this firsthand when they organized their first fitness retreat to Costa Rica. “We offered 15 spaces and quickly sold out,” Stokes says. The experience featured zip lining, hiking, yoga and meditation as well as freshly prepared meals from a personal chef. 

Back in the Flower Mound studio, Wise and Stokes see clients form friendships with lunch dates often following a class. Teachers get to know clients on a first-name basis because class sizes are intentionally small. “A lot of what we do at Urban Vybe comes from what we learned firsthand in big box gyms,” says Stokes, “and much of that is what didn’t work. We love being able to personally serve clients and create a community here.” 

Urban Vybe opened in March and already enjoys a robust membership over 200 strong. “In our yoga class, we’re able to do a lot of hands-on assistance with our clients to ensure poses are done correctly,” Stokes says. “You won’t find that in a big gym.” Urban Vybe also has infrared heating in its hot yoga classes so the surfaces are warm but the air stays cool. “It’s a much more comfortable and safer way to experience hot yoga,” she adds. 

Whether individuals decide to pick a class at various studios to attend off and on during the week or they attend one studio daily, one thing is certain: They have plenty of choices. And by offering different choices, studios and boutiques will charge ahead in the ever-competitive fitness market. 

THREE hot fiitness trends in 2017 

1. fiitness trackers 

From fitbit to Garmin and beyond, wearable technology is here to stay—and will be bigger than ever this year. 

2. group exercise programs 

Energy-packed classes will dominate the fitness scene this year, so get ready to sweat it out with like-minded exercise enthusiasts. 

3. exercise as medicine 

A jog a day keeps the doctor away? Apparently so. This year, expect health professionals to include physical activity in treatment plans