A Balanced Approach
Purenergy Studio, a beautiful new boutique studio that integrates state-of-the-art programming for mind-body and fitness, offers more than 100 classes each week to challenge and engage clients of all fitness levels
by Lindsey Getz

In April 2014, five good friends and fitness professionals partnered together and opened Purenergy Studio in Paoli. Chris Somers, Debbie Small, Suzanne Olson, Brenda Elko and Valerie Grant have seen it all in their combined 25-plus years in the fitness industry. Their backgrounds and experiences are just as interesting and diverse as their studio, which has an intimate, edgy and hip design, along with experienced instruction.

“The eastern Main Line is saturated with fitness centers and studios, but we felt this particular area was lacking—especially in variety,” says Olson. “Our studio brings a variety of fitness, performance and mind-body programming, and it’s been a big hit. It’s smart, it’s sophisticated and it’s refreshing.”

In addition to programs one would expect to find at a boutique fitness studio—barre, Pilates, yoga, etc.—Purenergy offers boxing, rowing, Spinning and Zumba, as well as CoreAlign Pilates and aerial yoga, which is exactly what it sounds like: yoga performed in the air with the use of a special hammock.

“Aerial yoga helps you to move more freely, with little effort, by counteracting gravity,” Somers says. “Suspension in the hammock releases tension and stress on the bones and muscles, increasing flexibility and deepening your practice. Aerial yoga strengthens core muscles, increases spinal and shoulder flexibility, and prevents back strain. The hammocks allow a greater range of motion and a deeper stretch than doing yoga on your mat. The aerial practice also enables you to practice the more difficult yoga poses with ease, by using the hammock as a prop.”

A new “skateboard” circuit workout is another unique offering that is spicing things up.

“We also have a program called Body Shred,” Olson says. “This program is high intensity and endurance based. The actual workout is only 30 minutes utilizing a ‘3-2-1’ approach: three minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio, and one minute of core—four circuits. You will shed fat, define muscle, transform the look of your entire physique and dramatically enhance your overall health and athletic performance.”

The idea is to constantly add fresh programming, classes and workshops, according to Olson. “It makes the boredom factor nil,” she says. “There’s simply no way to get bored when there’s always something new to try. But, most importantly, clients who take a variety of fitness classes see a significant [improvement] in their overall fitness and health.”

Branching Out

While all the owners admit that some people come in and sign up for a class they are familiar with, most begin branching out and trying something new. That’s what happened with Colleen Pearson, a Purenergy client who participated only in classes she was familiar with when she first started going to the studio. The variety offered by the studio encouraged her to do more.

“Purenergy has allowed me the opportunity to branch out and add yoga, CoreAlign, a variety of barre classes, rowing, treadmill and boxing to my routine,” Pearson says. “They continue to add new and fresh classes to challenge people at all fitness levels.”

The owners’ and fitness instructors’ efforts to make everyone feel comfortable have created an encouraging environment where people are willing to try new things.

“It’s normal to have some anxiety the first time you try a new studio or a new workout, but we have a lot of beginner-level programs,” Olson says. “Because we’re a boutique studio, we’re also able to offer more individualized attention and coaching. If you try a Spin class for the first time, we can spend time showing you how to set up the bike. And if you try yoga for the first time, we’re going to work with you on your form and alignment.”

This personal attention, Somers suggests, is one of the reasons people prefer a boutique studio. She says there is an emphasis on small-group training, with no more than 20 people per class. Most classes have eight to 12 people, and the small class sizes enable instructors to offer a lot of customization.

“We can coach based on fitness level,” Somers says. “If you’re just starting out, we know how to keep you engaged in the class. But if you’re a true athlete and need things ramped up, we have modifications to keep you challenged.”

Somers adds that the intimate setting also allows instructors to get to know the people that attend their classes, truly making Purenergy a community.

“People like to feel connected, like they’re a part of something,” Somers says. “And that’s what it’s like here. There’s a really wonderful community here. We have rallied with our clients, and when they have a breakthrough we are reminded why we opened.”

Rich O’Halloran is a perfect example. O’Halloran, who is a Purenergy personal training client, was diagnosed as diabetic in 2005 and has been on insulin since 2008. Since joining Purenergy, his blood-sugar levels have been at an all-time low.

“It might seem trite to say that my work with … Purenergy has changed my life for the better, but that is the truth,” O’Halloran says. “Before I started working with Dave Biebel [a personal trainer] at Purenergy, I was bumping along, doing fairly well with my diabetes control. A year into our work together I have a significantly improved medical present and future. On top of that I feel better and have more energy than I have ever had.”

Truly Diverse

“This isn’t a studio where everyone is in their 20s, skinny and gorgeous,” adds Somers. “We have baby boomers, teens and seniors, people with health issues, different fitness levels and different areas of interest. One of our clients is in her 50s, had multiple surgeries and has been struggling with balance and strength. Another just finished chemotherapy for brain cancer, and several [of our clients] are women recovering from breast cancer treatments. We have programs to get people back to leading a normal life.

“Offering the Feldenkrais Method has helped those that need to relearn proper movement patterns,” she continues. “Yoga for Recovery helps those suffering from any type of trauma to come and practice in a safe and nurturing space. Yoga Repose is available for cancer survivors, and Prenatal Yoga is for expecting moms. We are truly unique.”

The studio offers children’s karate, teen classes and aerial birthday parties. As an added bonus for parents, babysitting services are available. All these added benefits tie into the goal of meeting a diverse variety of wants and needs.

“It’s all about blending performance-based classes with the mind-body connection,” says Olson. “We believe you need both. Our high-energy, music-driven, indoor stadium cycling studio is equipped with the latest and greatest in spinning: brand-new Blade ION bikes from StarTrac, a Zoneboard to track performance, and virtual video rides to keep your ride fresh and fun. Purenergy’s SpinPower classes offer a sizzling workout that burns up to 800 calories per class.”

Purenergy’s technology guides clients to perform at the right intensity in order to get the most out of training and fosters motivation, as progress can be more accurately measured over time. After a quick sign in, live heart rate data, power (watts), calories and motivating rewards appear on the screen during class. Heart rate training technology is offered in both the Spin program and any classes in the Zone Studio.

When clients participate in any heart rate class, they receive a comprehensive training report, breaking down their calories burned, time spent in each heart rate zone and the training benefit of the session. “This is what will keep you motivated,” says Somers. “This is what will give you the results you’ve been longing for.

“When we put this [Purenergy] concept together, we really focused on a balanced schedule,” she continues. “People who are yogis [masters of yoga] can come here and find what they want, but so can a beginner. Our idea was to offer a variety of instruction and programming all under one roof. People like a boutique studio but don’t want to have multiple memberships—one for yoga, one for barre, one for boxing. They want to come to one place where they can get it all done, and that’s us.”

Purenergy Studio
21 Plank Ave.
Paoli, PA 19301

Purenergy Studio invites Suburban Life readers to come in to try the studio for 10 continuous days for unlimited classes (regularly $59) for just $25. This offer is for first-time clients only, with a limit of one per person. Go to
www.purenergystudio.com and use the promotional code CHESTER25.

Photograph courtesy of Purenergy Studio