Welcome to an all-fitness edition of Talking Shop, a biweekly column on retail trends in the Greater Boston area.
Golfers looking to keep their swing sharp in the frigid winter months now have a gym to call their own: The Lynx Fitness Club just opened in the former David Barton space in Back Bay.
You’ll find many of the trappings of other elite clubs at this high-end fitness facility: just 1,200 memberships, top-notch trainers, and cutting-edge equipment for workout regimens like TRX, and Peloton bikes. But what distinguishes Lynx from other clubs is its virtual golf facilities, says co-founder and chief executive Bill Najam.
Lynx is the first outpost in New England to feature Topgolf Swing Suite simulators, which let users virtually play dozens of exclusive courses around the world. “They’re the same simulators that Tiger Woods or Jordan Spieth use when they’re practicing indoors,” Najam says. Members can pay $150 for a basic monthly gym rate, or $275 a month for both the fitness club and golf.
Lynx has three simulators on site where golfers can take a full swing toward a massive screen, then wait as cameras and high-speed sensors measure the direction and speed of the ball. PGA-certified golf trainers will be on hand to help members work on their form.
And for those who see golf as more of a team outing than a personal workout, the lounge-like simulator areas can be rented for private events, with cocktails and a catering menu. It’s like a high-end bowling alley, says Najam, but for golf.
“We want to create that country club type of environment within the city,” he says.
Now streaming live: your workout
If your waistline is showing evidence of too many Netflix binges, a startup is offering a healthier streaming experience. New York City-based Fortë is working with boutique fitness studios to live-stream exercise classes. It just announced a partnership with MyStryde, Boston’s first group running studio, which opened a year ago in the North End.
Fortë’s existing partners include Exhale yoga and JoyRide spinning studios. The company installs cameras in the facilities so that someone in, say, Dubuque or Des Moines can log in and spin alongside an instructor as they holler at their students in a studio across the country. The sweat sessions are also available on-demand for a limited time once they’ve been recorded. The company now streams 30 live classes a week, and counts about 6,000 members since launching in the spring of last year.
The business is part of a larger subscription-based fitness trend.
ClassPass exploded on the market with its monthly access to a swath of boutique studios, but then dealt with some blowback when it upped its Boston prices in spring of 2016. And there’s been a surge in interest for Peloton spin bicycles, thanks to the live-stream spin classes it offers, but with a $2,000 price tag, the bikes are a big upfront investment. Fortë is attempting to undercut both by offering its fitness streaming service for $39 a month. Its focus is on the technology, says Fortë spokeswoman Jamie Kinsley, and on being a service that fitness studios can use to extend their profitability. The company shares the revenue with the studios from each class that’s attended or streamed online.
“Peloton has proved that the model works,” Kinsley says. “But we don’t want to be in the hardware business.”
Life Time expands in Massachusetts
Life Time, the chain of resort-like ultra-luxe fitness complexes with outposts in Framingham, Westwood, and Chestnut Hill, will open its fourth location in Massachusetts in Burlington this spring. The former one-story office building just off Middlesex Turnpike will be transformed into a three-story, 127,000-square-foot building with an additional 30,000-square-foot outdoor aquatic center.
This is the second Diamond level club that will open in the region (the Chestnut Hill location, in the former Atrium Mall, was the first), meaning members can access it and any other club locations in the Life Time network. Members can look forward to outdoor lap pools, cycle and yoga studios, food offerings from a LifeCafe, and nine treatment rooms at the LifeSpa salon.