Health Features

Workout with Patty

Gone are the days when you hit the treadmill (one of about 50 assembled in row after row) for 30 minutes in a huge gym with no personality other than those on the TV screens above you. The current fitness trend is all about the boutique experience: small spaces, personal relationships with the trainer and hardcore workouts. St. Louis offers countless options, so it might seem overwhelming to figure out which one is right for you. Let me help. I took my 57-year-old body, with its achy knees and bad shoulder, on a tour of friend-recommended studios, trying to stick to those that are owned and operated by St. Louisans. Following is brief recap of each class. Remember: if I can do it, anyone can.

clayton community center
class: TRX
instructor: Renee Kanefield
My abs! I thought I had toned abs, but apparently not. I was reminded about this class days later when I coughed. TRX is a suspension training system that provides an overall workout using your own body weight. The straps are a little confusing, but Renee had lots of patience and made sure I wasn’t left hanging (literally). Best deal around in terms of price for a 60-minute class; plus, the center offers childcare.

pilates & custom fitness
class: Pilates equipment
instructor/owner: Heather Epperly
location: Des Peres
I’ve taken Pilates for years, and this 60-minute class was fast-paced and fun but made me sweat, something I really don’t like! We spent time working on the Pilates tower and managed to hit every major muscle group, particularly our bum. This is the workout that pro baseball players swear by, so it was fun to have some guys in the mix. The location is a little hidden but worth finding, and the studio is beautiful. Its Facebook page keeps you up to date on pricing specials and events.

iron tribe
instructor/owner: Steve Baum
location: Brentwood
I didn’t want to go because the name scared me. I expected it to be primal with a large number of steroid-enhanced people. I was so wrong. This 45-minute workout is efficient and consists of a warm-up, five sets of three key moves, and a stretch. There were three trainers in my class to correct positions and make suggestions for those of us with weak shoulders and knees. It could become an addiction, but the good kind. Plus, the people are really welcoming. Don’t worry about your fitness level; you can work at your own pace.

gyrotonic saint louis central 
class: One-on-one session
instructor: Anne Thomasson
location: Brentwood
I have always been a bit unbalanced, both my mind and body. Here is a workout that tries very hard to actually connect the two. This workout stretches and moves your body in ways you weren’t sure it could move. Could I actually become graceful and lithe? Besides one-on-one sessions, classes are offered in Gyrokinesis and Gyrotonics. It’s a different kind of workout, but I sure felt good when I finished.

central studio
class: Thai massage
instructor/owner: Mary Ellen Bryan
location: central west end
While the studio offers just about any adult dance, Pilates or fitness class, by the time I got there, I was tired from all my workouts, so Mary Ellen suggested a Thai massage. This type of massage focuses on acupressure, stretching and compression and helps relieve pain and muscle tension. It was just what I needed. Central Studio is one of the few places that offers this service in St. Louis. The studio is beautiful and peaceful.

class: Core F.I.T.
instructor: Sarah Woods
location: Frontenac
I am not a morning person, but I got up and was ready to tackle this class at 6 a.m. Yikes! The good news: my workout for the day was over by 7 a.m. The bad news: it was a tough class for someone who thinks their core is in good shape! F.I.T. stands for Functional Integrated Training, which are small group classes focused on burning fat and building strength. This class took place on the Pilates reformer. Sarah did a great job with her directions, and the time went quickly. I was sorry the next day, but in a good way.

kickstart fitness & injury prevention llc
class: One-on-one
instructor: Valerie Silberman
location: Brentwood
What do you do if you’re a formerly fit person who has to take off six months because of surgery and needs to get back in shape? You visit Val! During her customized, one-on-one sessions, she makes sure I get a tough workout without hurting my body as it heals.

sweet peace yoga 
class: Sweet Peace Saturday
instructor/owner: Liz Roodman
location: Kirkwood
Here is my problem with yoga: You aren’t supposed to talk during class. Well, Liz, an old friend, assured me that my occasional remarks would be welcome. Unfortunately for me, I was so focused on what I was doing, I couldn’t talk. I never thought of yoga as a workout, but my thighs beg to differ. Great studio in an old, beautiful house in the Kirkwood business district.

core 3 fitness
class: Core 3 Surf
instructor: Cara Eplin
location: Brentwood
I don’t have the best balance, and this certainly proved it! The 45-minute class takes place on top of a Surfset land-based surf board. Cara led us through a cardio phase and then a great core workout. My lack of coordination made it extremely challenging, but the class flew by and I would go back again just to try and prove I can be a surfer girl! Classes are small, and the instructor offered modifications for my recently repaired shoulder.

Believe it or not, I still have 18 classes left on my list, and I plan on trying all of them. (Insane? Perhaps.) Let me know if you want to join me or if you have a class I should try by emailing