When fitness entrepreneur Clair Mason was vacationing in Spain last year, she dropped into a boutique fitness studio and spent an exhilarating hour being pushed through the paces of an intense group workout on an elliptical trainer. “After class I said, ‘This is genius. I’ve got to find a way to bring this home.’ ”
Sweat-drenched inspiration soon led to a partnership between Mason, a Westporter, and Laura Laboissonniere, a Greenwich resident and fellow Fairfield County fitness entrepreneur. They recently merged their diverse fitness business backgrounds to collaborate on the launch of ELLIPTICA, a new workout concept featuring vigorous, instructor-led workouts performed from the perch of sleek, elliptical-style machines.
Elliptica opened the first of its two Fairfield County studios in Fairfield’s Sportsplex complex in September 2017 and quickly followed up with an Old Greenwich outpost in January.
“What’s great about this is you’re going to sweat, have fun and the class is going to be filled with a contagious energy,” says Laboissonniere, who also owns the Pure Barre fitness franchises in Fairfield, Westport and Darien.
The Elliptica approach to group fitness is a lot like an indoor cycling class. An instructor leading from an elevated platform-based machine coaches students through an upbeat—yet upright—cardio routine set to a motivating, up-tempo playlist. “You are getting that energy of a spinning class, but because it’s done standing, you’re also working your core,” she adds.
Students are encouraged to pace themselves, varying their intensity by lowering and raising resistance from a small lever on their machine’s handles. Typical classes include hill climbs, sprints, and crank-up-the-resistance segments mixed with strategic pauses in full-on acceleration to perform squat sets and upper-body segments holding handheld weights.
Mason—who owns Intensity fitness club on the Westport/Norwalk line—imported Elliptica’s equipment from Europe soon after a test run in Spain. They are less bulky than typical gym floor elliptical machines and weigh in at less than 100 pounds each.
She notes the streamlined machines are ergonomically designed to encourage good posture, while allowing for a more whole-body fitness approach than a typical elliptical trainer does. Besides the cardio benefits, she says, “You are incorporating strength and balance, which is critical for all of us, especially as we mature.”
The owners report classes have been popular with both men and women and fitness enthusiasts of all ages eager to try something new. “One thing we’ve noticed are mothers and daughters coming in together,” says Laboissonniere. “It is a workout that appeals to a lot of people interested in something that’s going to get those good endorphins going.”
BEFORE YOUR FIRST CLASS…
1 BRINGING YOUR “A” GAME?
Try Elliptica’s longer HIIT classes, which mixes a vigorous thirty-five minutes on the elliptical and an extended, off-machine floor workout with additional abdominal and weight-bearing glute work, such as squats.
2 COME PREPARED
Wear supportive kicks, light layers and pants or shorts that allow for easy, vigorous leg movement. Bring water and hyper hydrate before class. You’ll sweat!
3 A FIRST-TIMER’S REVIEW
“I’ve never warmed to indoor cycling—and since the elliptical is normally my go-to machine when I’m dragging, and don’t want to work that hard—I was skeptical that I could truly embrace this workout. Yet I found the Elliptica workout physically taxing and mood elevating. My instructor, Stephanie, was warm and encouraging. The hands-free standing-while-peddling segments were a slightly wobbly challenge, but I was sold during the intense squat intervals. My heart rate was soaring. At the end of the hour, I was a fan. I booked a second class on my way out the door.”
READY TO STEP TO IT?
Classes are sold in bundles of five, ten and twenty or for a single-class drop-in fee. Elliptica currently offers seven days of free classes to first-time riders. ellipticastudios.com