Fit Chick Express in Longmont pushes the boundaries of what a fitness center can be. Under one roof, women work out, go to the hair salon or spa, train their brain and build a network of friends.
Angie Marone, owner of Fit Chick Express, refers to the company as an experience or a community rather than a gym. Though Fit Chick offers classes found in traditional fitness studio settings including kickboxing, power core classes and private training, Marone’s mission goes beyond physical health to provide a safe space for women to meet while practicing self-care.
“Our whole goal is to have women feel like they have a community. Somewhere they belong. Someplace that they can come feel comfortable, take care of themselves, feel good about themselves,” she said.Marone found a place where she belongs through fitness and forming Fit Chick. When she moved to Longmont about 16 years ago, she worked as a day care provider. During that time, she earned her fitness trainer license and began working with individual clients for private sessions.
Working long days training clients made her realize she could help more people in a class setting.
“I was working like eight hours a day, one client after the other and I was like ‘There’s gotta be a better way. And I want to work with a lot more women help more people in a shorter amount of time,’” Marone said.
She started bootcamp classes about 13 years ago, a signature program of Fit Chick that packs a full-body workout into 30-minute sessions. At the time, she worked with a small group in Loomiller Park.Her work as a fitness instructor pushed her out of her comfort zone, Marone said. Working in child care made it difficult to meet new people. But she made connections through her private training clients and Fit Chick group.
Before creating women-only Fit Chick, Marone worked with all genders for private training, but working with women resonated.
“I want to be the person to help (women) feel better about themselves,” Marone said.
A lot of women don't want to go to a gym and work out with men around, she said, adding that Fit Chick increases their comfort levels.
“They feel like they don't have to pretend to be somebody else, or they don't have to be in perfect shape. Somewhere they can just go and be who they are, and still get a good workout in,” Marone said.After a couple of years, Fit Chick moved to a couple of brick-and-mortar locations. It’s been at 340 Lashley St., for five years.
Fit Chick annually averages 90 to 100 members of all ages and skill levels, Marone said. She said trainers work with women where they are at. Even during group workouts, Marone and other trainers can customize exercises. She said that the best way for newcomers to test the waters is by using the free two-week trial to see which classes they like and if they prefer virtual or in-person lessons.
About 25% of Fit Chick members have been clients for eight or more years, Marone said.
By rejecting a traditional gym or fitness studio model, Marone created bonds with the people she works with and the women she trains.
“I felt like I just needed that group. Like it just needed to be more of that community, because I wanted it to be more than just, you know, me sitting at a desk and having people come in and work out and leave. I wanted to be absolutely a part of their life,” Marone said.She added that she regularly messages her clients to check in with them.
Marone said there are other ways that women can care for their health at Fit Chick. Fit Chick offers massage, an infrared sauna, a hair salon, and nutrition and brain training services.
Susan Lindgren, a neuroptimal neurofeedback trainer, operates her business Brain Training Lounge in partnership with Fit Chick. During brain training sessions, sensors capture brain activity. Lindgren describes it as power meditation without the effort. She has been working out at Fit Chick since it was still in the park.
Kristi Koons runs her hair and beauty business, Glamour by Kristi, in a connected room at Fit Chick. She also works as a masseuse for the fitness business. Koons extends her hair services to men, but not massage.
The one-chair salon opened inside of Fit Chick last year. Koons sees Fit Chick as a community of women rather than a fitness studio.
“It's more like a community here versus a fitness studio, so it was an easy decision for me to want to start my business here because the community is so amazing,” she said.On a recent day, Koons painted bleach highlights onto a strand of Ashley Dzilvelis’ hair before folding foil over it. Dzilvelis has been working out at Fit Chick for three years and visiting Glamour by Kristi since it opened inside the building. She said that she enjoys the one-stop shop.
“I love the fact that everything is all together,” Dzivelis said. “Angie is amazing. She really brings women together and the community together.”
Dzivelis said the Fit Chick group has stayed together during the COVID-19 pandemic and she can text Marone any time with questions. But Dzivelis still misses exercising and laughing with a large class.
Fit Chick still offers in-person classes with limited capacity. The sessions are simultaneously livestreamed for those working out from home. Instructors keep watch on at-home participants’ form via a TV at the studio.
Marone implemented virtual classes early in the pandemic. She said she wanted her clients to keep a sense of normalcy.
“I wanted to make sure that the girls were able to continue working out and taking care of themselves,” she said. “So that was of utmost importance to me, just make sure they still had that routine.”
Though Marone can see her clients through a screen, she looks forward to when everyone can be back in the studio. When a group of women are in a room, laughing, talking and working out, the energy is unmatched, she said.
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