Food halls, your days are numbered. There’s a new kind of hall coming to DC, and this one’s all about fitness.
BYNDfit (pronounced “Beyond Fit”) will be the first fitness hall in DC when it opens downtown next year. The all-in-one space will provide not only a traditional gym area and machines for working out, but also individual exercise studios that mirror the high-end experiences you’d get at boutique spots like SoulCycle or Barry’s Bootcamp. Think of it as a Union Market-like concept, but instead of sampling the food at different stalls, you’re hopping between fitness studios.
But whatever you do, don’t call the space a gym, says one of the three co-founders Carl Pierre. “We’re using the word fitness hall because it’s not really quite a gym. It’s a stodgy word,” he says, pointing to the gross showers, old machines, and limited classes that the term often calls to mind. “We want our [space] to be almost experimental.”
Pierre and BYNDfit’s other co-founders Raymond Rahbar and Ryan Macaulay all have backgrounds in tech and start-ups. The three originally came from the coworking world—Rahbar founded the coworking spot MakeOffices, where Macaulay was chief technology officer, and Pierre has a background at WeWork and as a tech journalist.
The idea for BYNDfit was born in 2018 when the three were hanging out and bemoaning the lack of options within the fitness industry. They way they saw it, at one end of the spectrum were the SoulCycle-like boutique fitness studios, which are high-end and challenging, but expensive (think around $30 a class) and don’t give you the flexibility of customizing your exercises. On the other end, you had traditional gyms, which let you structure your own workouts, but often aren’t as nice and can trap users into frustrating contracts.
So they decided to combine the whole spectrum under one roof.
“At the end of the day, if you’re spending upwards of $300 on workouts at other studios and you’re not getting the full experience, we have to be able to bridge that gap,” says Pierre. “We want to be the final solution in fitness.”
BYNDfit will contain five studios offering 250 classes like yoga, bootcamp, Zumba, HIIT, and immersive cycling. (Think riding to a music-driven beat through digital courses projected on a huge IMAX-like wall. “It’s just dazzling,” says Pierre.) And each studio is built to be flexible, so if another fitness craze pops up, the BYNDfit crew can rework the space to offer a new class.
And then there’s the virtual reality workout, which is the first of its kind on the East Coast, says the BYNDfit team. Users will put on a headset and immediately be transported to a virtual reality landscape filled with competitive games. How do you play? By doing exercises like squats and rows, of course. “You’re sweating and having a great time and you don’t realize 30 minutes have gone by,” says Pierre. “It’s the forefront of what’s in the future of fitness tech.”
On that note, if you head to the gym area, you’ll find all the traditional equipment you’d typically use, but with a tech-forward bent. Use the BYNDfit app on your smart phone to scan a QR code on the equipment, and it’ll record your reps and weight used so you can track your progress over time.
Also important when it comes to a high-end fitness spot: the amenities. BYNDfit will have Dyson hair dryers, individual make-up stations, and infrared saunas in its locker rooms. There will also be a juice bar on the first floor with smoothies and acai bowls.
A BYNDfit membership will be $150 a month, and you can either purchase individual studio classes at $10 a workout or include unlimited classes into your package for $210 a month. And, just like the coworking spaces where the three co-founders started out, everything is month-to-month, meaning no one’s trapped in a long-term contract.
The similarities between the coworking model and BYNDfit’s approach are something Pierre points out often, especially when it comes to upsetting the status quo. He sees both as examples of tech-driven start-ups using flexibility and ease-of-access to reconstruct a landscape.
“All three of us are very familiar with how transformative tech can be and how transformative anything can be that is disruptive to an archaic market,” he says. “At the end of the day, we want to keep disrupting ourselves. I don’t want our gym to run the same [things] constantly because at that point, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”
BYNDfit, which will be located across from Capital One Arena and the Chinatown Metro stop, will start selling memberships in October. Keep your eyes peeled for a soft launch in mid-November, says Pierre, with a grand opening planned for the beginning of 2020.
BYNDfit; 650 F St. NW