RVA Boutique Fitness Guide

What even IS surf yoga, you know?

Photo by CrossFitPaleoDietFitnessClasses.

Fitness has gotten really, really specialized. Beyond yoga and weight lifting—heck, even beyond step classes!—there’s a ton of really interesting things you can do with your bod.

If you’re a member of the YMCA, Gold’s Gym, the VCU gym, the University of Richmond gym, or the JCC, you likely have access to many of these. Check your gym’s class schedule to learn more. If not, consider dropping by these fine fitness boutiques.

Indoor cycling

Don’t call it “spinning,” or you will be reminded that “spinning” would actually be followed by a ®. Indoor cycling is what you want to say, and it’s much more than the stationery bikes of the 1980s. It’s also a lot less, in that you’re not confronted with a big panel of options for programs and speed and such. Usually you’ve just got one resistance knob that controls how hard those legs (and that heart) are working, while an instructor kind of yells at you in an encouraging way to stand up, sit down, put your butt back, sprint, climb, and all that good stuff.

What it’s good for:

  • Cardio
  • An indoor workout
  • Proving that your new tech gear is good at “wicking.” You will sweat copiously.
  • Learning about new pop songs and then possibly hating them because you associate them with physical endurance.

Where you can partake in RVA


Named after early 20th century fitness innovator Joseph Pilates, this form of fitness can be described as “kind of like yoga but with weights and a chiropractor-like fixation on alignment, muscle groups, and such like.” “You’re only as strong as your spine,” Joseph Pilates is reported to have said, and you will soon find out how strong your spine really is. These days, various sophisticated machines (the “Reformer” is a very popular one) will direct how your experience goes. Pilates classes tend to be more expensive than your average yoga or indoor cycling class, due to the fact that you can’t have all that many people in a class–the instructor has to keep a close eye on each person to make sure they’re doing a thing right, plus all that equipment takes up a lot of space.

What it’s good for

  • Weight training and flexibility
  • An indoor workout that you can do and then go directly to a social engagement afterwards. You won’t sweat too much.
  • Complaining effusively the next day because you’ve awoken muscles you didn’t even know you possessed, and they’re not happy about it.

Where you can partake in RVA:


Inspired by ballet and using both a barre and a few lengthening ballet techniques, barre otherwise bears very little resemblance to the dance form. In other words, if you are expecting to come out of a few months of barre class ready to don the Sugar Plum Fairy outfit, prepare for disappointment! Barre’s got a little of everything though: Pilates, dance, yoga, functional training, that kind of thing. It’s popular with women, as barre is focused on slimming and sculpting with toned muscles. Plus, it may be the closest some of us will ever get to that dang tutu.

What it’s good for

  • Watching those arm muscles start to pop out.
  • Gazing in the mirror and fantasizing about becoming the Black Swan.
  • Gazing in the mirror and realizing you can only lift your leg, like, a foot off the ground. Nuts.

Where to partake in RVA

Hot Yoga (or Bikram Yoga)

If you’re a human being and you’ve heard other human beings talk, you’ve probably heard someone mention how they’re nuts over doing yoga in a very hot environment. While you’re muttering, “This person has gone truly insane,” to yourself, they’re using heat to increase their flexibility. The practice was begun by Bikram Choudhury, who founded the Yoga College of India. This particular practice consists of several poses done in heated environments, and it has the reputation of being less peace-and-love and more harden-those-thighs-ladies-and-gents, which is actually very refreshing to those who eye-roll the mental aspect of yoga. It’s also brought a fair amount of controversy with it, as it gets competitive, which some feel is the antithesis of a yoga practice. What you can learn from the internet! At any rate, people who get all sweaty doing hot yoga tend to love it with their heart, so it must be doing something right.

What it’s good for

  • Winter workouts, although, dang, coming outside after one of those sessions seems like a terrible shock.
  • Flexibility, conditioning, and strength.
  • Street cred among the lithe set.

Where to partake in RVA

Hot Yoga Barre

Hot yoga and barre come together in a sweaty and very slippery workout in really only one place in Richmond, a first-of-its-kind gym at Willow Lawn. It’s hard not to imagine this classroom as a box full of warm eels bending around each other, but judging from the intense fanbase Hot Yoga Barre already has, the eels are pretty happy. Classes involve words like “blast” and “power,” which makes me feel like it’s not for the faint of heart.

What it’s good for

  • Conditioning, flexibility, and weight loss, according to Hot Yoga Barre.
  • Being hot while holding onto a sturdy fixture.
  • Twister, an eel’s favorite game.

Where to partake in RVA

Aerial fitness, AntiGravity® fitness, aerial yoga, or anti-gravity yoga

Working out in a hammock! The jury’s out on whether or not hanging and twisting and bending around your very own anti-gravity hammock is as beneficial as it’s claimed to be, but glory day, does it look fun. And it’ll possibly get you that much closer to becoming an acrobat! Or just a bat!

What it’s good for

  • Stretching, lengthening, and stretching
  • Shout-singing “Defying Gravity” from Wicked
  • Curling up tightly, pretending you’re in a rainforest, and taking a nap

Where to partake in RVA

Surf Yoga

There are various things you can do on a surfboard–specifically the “Surfset board”, which is reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s land speeder. If you can get over the potential ludicrousness of exercising on an indoor surfboard (we do have indoor bikes, after all!), you will work your way towards the “lean agile body of a surfer. Word on the indoor beach is that it requires a lot of concentration (as you’re dealing with an unstable surface) but is a lot of fun.

What it’s good for

  • Cardio, agility, flexibility.
  • Humility.
  • Hanging ten minus your crippling fear of the ocean.

Where to partake in RVA


Drummers–they’re not only known for being total chick magnets, they’re known for being the sweatiest and most athletic musicians on the stage. Jump around all you like, David Lee Roth, you’re not doing 90 minutes of arm and core cardio like Alex Van Halen. TurnRVA brings you the POUND® workout, using Ripsticks™, drumsticks you exercise with. And guys, to be honest, this looks pretty dang fun. A cardio jam session that works best when you’re wearing a cutoff rock tank and cardio-jammin’ in warehouses. Bonus points for stacks of amps in the corner.

What it’s good for

  • A very cardio workout when you’re really tired of all the other cardio workouts.
  • Giving you the confidence to do that thing you do in front of the mirror where you hit two chopsticks together and yell “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR”–only in front of other people!
  • Breathing new life into that old Metallica T-shirt, your casually ripped yoga pants, and your cold, cynical heart.

Where to partake in RVA


Cross-training has long been praised for its ability to keep muscles alert and prevent complacency. The CrossFit mantra is to harness this, by basically giving you different things to do all the time. Intervals, bursts, and “workouts of the day” are all designed to up your heart rate, work your muscles, and keep your body and mind from getting bored. If you live or work near a CrossFit gym, you’ve no doubt seen very dedicated looking practitioners doing odd-looking routines over and over.

What it’s good for

  • CrossFit devotees will tell you that it’s good for practically everything–cardio, strength, interval training, and endurance.
  • Learning the discipline of doing exactly what’s asked of you without question.
  • Those easily bored by doing just one thing for 45 minutes

Where to partake in RVA

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Did we miss something? Use your sweaty but very toned fingers and leave it in the comments below.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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