Boutique Gyms in Downtown Raleigh Put a Twist
on the Traditional Workout

By Karlie Justus Marlowe
Photos by Joe Reale
dusty Jamieson in action at madabolic. photo by joe reale.

dusty Jamieson in action at madabolic. photo by joe reale.

New Year’s new health resolutions often come with a new bout of anxiety: What studio is the best fit for my lifestyle? Which classes will best serve my fitness goals? And will I have any idea what the heck is going on?

    A new crop of boutique fitness studios recently joined mainstay gyms in the capital city, following the influx of crowds now living and working there. With everything from yoga and tabata to pilates and hip-hop beats, there’s now a variety of ways to break a sweat in downtown Raleigh.

    If running the capital grid isn’t for you, here are six studios to try out in 2017.

401 South Dawson Street,

WHERE: In downtown’s growing warehouse district, where construction and new condominium skeletons seem to grow and multiply by the day. It’s a fitting backdrop for the gritty and intense interval-driven strength and endurance classes that focus on work-to-rest ratios. 

VIBE: Despite being a chain with locations across North Carolina, Madabolic fits well in the up-and-coming warehouse neighborhood. The wide-open industrialist space gets a jolt from its bright turquoise columns and wall featuring a steel sliding barn door. 

MUST-TRY CLASS: Although classes don’t have different daily themes, the M.A.D. program (Momentum, Anaerobic, Durability) can be customized by your lifestyle and complementary workouts. Trainers can program a week’s worth of workouts by Madlifestyle monikers like “Power Yogi” or “Resilient Runner,” alternating in classes outside of this studio’s walls and recommending rest days.

photo by joe reale

photo by joe reale

Heat Studios
400 Glenwood Avenue,

WHERE: Located right on Glenwood South, Heat’s mix of signature classes take place with a view of one of the city’s most vibrant bar and restaurant scenes. Parking can be tough in the afternoon, but parking decks are close by and street parking is free in the evening.

VIBE: Urban to the max, with exposed brick and wood accents. Equipment woven into the group classes and training sessions, including treadmills and TRX bands, line the perimeter. Some classes take place outdoors in the surrounding downtown area.

MUST-TRY CLASS: Hustle & Flow, a blend of the gym’s signature energy-enhancing HEAT class with yoga, for a well-rounded workout that starts with a series of challenging exercises for strength and stamina and finishes with yoga flow and mediation.

PRO-TIP: Like real estate, location can be pricey. Take advantage of the studio’s introductory special of $25 for two unlimited weeks of classes to try out a mix of Strength, Tabata, and Repair + Rejuvenate style classes.

Blue Lotus
401 North West Street,

WHERE: Find some zen in the middle of the downtown boom at Blue Lotus, a yoga studio that offers a variety of practices.

VIBE: The single-space room has tall ceilings and a wall of windows covered in inspiring quotes, but it’s the teachers that make the space homey and welcoming. With more than 20 instructors offering more than 40 classes a week, it’s easy to find a style of yoga to connect with.

MUST-TRY CLASS: The Sunday restorative yoga class at Blue Lotus offers a pre-week reset, using props and breathing techniques to help yogis settle into rehabilitative poses on the ground.

PRO-TIP: Have a tough time working yoga into a busy schedule? Early birds can attend Pay What You Can classes on Wednesday mornings at 6am before work, or you can take a lunch break with the studio’s almost-daily lunchtime flow.

Yoga 110
444 South Blount Street #110,

WHERE: One of the newest studios on the block, this heated yoga gym moved into downtown’s eastern edge in late 2015. It offers power yoga classes in a hot room varying from 102 to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. Power yoga, while inspired by the Ashtanga practice, focuses more on core, strength and stability to build or maintain a strong, healthy body.

VIBE: Sleek and chic, with an empowering edge. The heated room has exposed brick and a wall of mirrors for perfecting poses.

MUST-TRY CLASS: Hip-Hop Hot Flow, a typical flow-style practice set to music by Beyonce, Drake and others.

PRO-TIP: Hot yoga is, well, hot. Varying degrees of heat and humidity allow you to deepen postures, boost metabolism and detoxify your body through your skin, the largest elimination system. In addition to your usual yoga mat, bring a mat towel, face and body towel, and plenty of water.

CORE Fitness
1105 Capital Boulevard

WHERE:On the northern edge of downtown where Capital Boulevard feeds into the urban center.

VIBE:The studio’s spacious 5,200 square feet and free on-site parking are perks of being on the urban fringe. However, it’s co-owner JoJo Polk’s inspiring story that really sets the tone: He’s a former arena football player who suffered a paralyzing neck injury while playing the sport, but fought back from paralysis to not only walk again, but to play football for another nine years. 

MUST-TRY CLASS: D.I.G., a combination of weight training and bursts of cardio based off of Polk’s mantra of Determination. Intensity. Guts. Plus, the studio also offers private training, corporate wellness classes, and nutrition sessions.

PRO-TIP: Stop by for a free first class to try out the studio.

Open Door Yoga
745 West Johnson Street



WHERE: Right off of Peace Street in the neighborhood of condos and apartments that line the edges of Glenwood South.

VIBE:Homey and comfortable, with serious but friendly teachers.

MUST-TRY CLASS: Hot Pilates, a take on theClassical Pilates mat class that adds the element of heat for additional cardiovascular challenge. The focus is on core strengthening, shoulder and hip stabilization and mobilization, and wraps up with some dynamic stretching, breathing and savasana.

PRO-TIP: Julep Massage Therapy, located right next door, offers a special $55 hourly massage to Open Door students.

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