Debra Trout-Kolb wants to bean inspiration for people who want to get in shape, said theowner of the newly opened The Fitness Haven, a group fitness center in East Rock.
At the grand opening of The Fitness Haven, located the intersection of State and Bishop Streets, a crowd of 12 New Haven residents gathered at the Upper State Street Fall Festival on Saturday to watch a demonstration of Zumba, a high energy hip-hop and latin dance cardio workout.
Trout-Kolb took over the space in May and turned Inner Light Studio, another fitness studio, into The Fitness Haven.Trout-Kolb said she was interested in managing her own business. Owninga fitness studio would combine her family’s passion for sports and provide a stable job, she added.
“My father, Robert Trout, played baseball with the Cleveland Indians, my grandfather, Roy Trout, played catcher while Babe Ruth was pitcher,” Trout-Kolb said.
Although shebought the studio in May, she said she wanted to take advantage of the annual Upper State Street Fall Festival to hold the grand opening. Summers are slow since students and residents on vacation, Trout-Kolb said.
For the opening ceremony, six of the instructors performed a Zumba work-out to four songs.
“I hate going to the gym but Zumba isn’t work. It’s fun and it’s addicting,” said Liz Johnston, a New Haven resident and customer of the Fitness Haven.
In response to the growing popularity of Zumba, Trout-Kolb said she expanded her schedule to include classes such as “Zumba Gold” for new moms, disabled people and beginners.The studio also offers Zumba Atomic Kids, Trout-Kolb said. In fact, one of the Zumba instructors is a former Yalie. Shana Schneider ’00 got into Zumba as a hobby and found it “a good way to work out.”
“It feels like you’re just going to a party and instead of a hangover you have better benefits,”Schneider said. She is a certified Zumba instructor who works part time at The Fitness Haven and New Haven Fitness.
Mallory Matteo, a New Haven residentwho danced along with the instructorsat the festival, said that the Zumba instructors are fantastic and she feels like they are her friends. Matteo also said she liked the flexible 10 and 20 class package deals. Unlike typical gyms such as New Haven Fitness, The Fitness Haven does not require membership. Customers pay for single classes or packages and attend any classes before the deal expires four or eight months later.
To accommodate Yale graduate students, Troub-Kolb said that they had “Lunch special” classes and classes as early as 6:30 AM.
But two students interviewed said The Fitness Haven is located too far from the Yale campus to be convenient. Yalies have access to so many free fitness facilites, Caitlin Cromwell ’14 said.
The Fitness Haven has no workout machines and all of its classes take place in the dance studio behind the front desk. The pink and green reception area opens into the studio featuring a wall of mirrors and various fitness equipment such as balance balls and yoga mats. The size of individual classes depends on the program but usually ranges from 14 to 20. So far, its variety of classes has kept people who were committed to the old studio and even attracted first time customers in the community. Some of the classes offered include cardio-boxing,yoga,belly-dancing and hip-hop abs.
“We want everybody here: young, old, kids,” Trout-Kolb said. “We just want to be family and be a welcoming, neighborhood place where people get together, see friends and do various group workouts.”
The opening ceremony was followed by 11 free thirty-minute fitness classes. The Fitness Haven offers classesMonday through Sunday.