New fitness center reaches out to women

An old pre-war building on Humphrey Street began exuding a new vibe early this month with the opening of The Studio, an exercise space offering fitness and yoga classes geared especially towards women.

Celebrity trainer Ellen Barrett designed the fitness center as part of her Buff Girl Fitness company, which caters to the workout needs of the modern woman. The Studio is a 2,000-square-foot exercise space that offers 28 classes per week, almost all of which are taught by Barrett. Three types of classes are offered, including “Fat-Burning Pilates,” “Slim Sculpt” and “Harmony Yoga.”

Barrett said she opened this center in New Haven to provide a new opportunity for the female population.

“New Haven is the coolest city in New England, and I felt there was a void to fill,” Barrett said. “I have found that the women that reside here are sophisticated and modern, and I wanted to create a fitness studio that served that crowd.”

Barrett has earned a reputation as the personal trainer to Paul McCartney, Christina Ricci and Justine Bateman. She founded Buff Girl Fitness in 2000 after noticing that men and women have completely different patterns of working out. She said women not only have vastly different physiques but also are motivated by different verbal cues and want different results. Although her classes are open to both men and women, she said the majority of her students are female.

“All classes have the same goal — to flatter the female physique,” Barrett said.

The classes focus on what Barrett calls the three main components to physical fitness — cardiovascular exercise, flexibility and strength. The program also emphasizes general practices like reducing stress, improving circulation and increasing breathing power.

Bristol Maryott ’07, who leads yoga sessions for Yogis at Yale, said although she believes yoga is a practice that should be available for everyone, she would be interested in experiencing a class geared entirely toward women.

“I understand that some women may feel self-conscious about exercising in front of men.” Maryott said. “Any yoga is good, so if this enables women to practice who wouldn’t have otherwise, then that is a positive thing.”

While Yogis at Yale offers four classes a week, there are also inexpensive classes taught at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, a Bikram yoga studio on Elm Street and a studio called Fresh Yoga in Erector Square.

Yogis at Yale president Lily Diamond ’05 said she is excited that people will have yet another option to practice yoga and release their stress in New Haven. She said she thinks it is important for students to use yoga as a spiritual release.

“By stilling the mind and concentrating on the body, we make space to cultivate a more balanced relationship between our inner and outer worlds,” Diamond said.

Barrett said The Studio has already received an enthusiastic response from the East Rock neighborhood since its Oct. 11 opening, and she hopes Yale students will come try out her classes. This is the first studio she has opened, but Barrett said she has plans for new facilities in the future.

Located at 291 Humphrey St., The Studio, a new fitness center, offers 28 classes each week directed mostly towards women.
Sachiko Donley
Located at 291 Humphrey St., The Studio, a new fitness center, offers 28 classes each week directed mostly towards women.

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