A no-excuses guide to find the right local gym or studio for you
AS SUMMER APPROACHES so do the ads for fitness challenges, bikini body workouts and summer shape ups. By now, the 92% of New Year’s resolutions that won’t be kept this year are already a distant memory.
There’s a growing trend that says it’s this quick-fix approach to fitness, not the people making the resolutions, that could be to blame. Fitness and exercise are typically presented in a have-to, prescription style rather than a relationship with movement or connection to the body or “just for fun.”
According to Decatur’s Clarity Fitness owner, Abbey Griffith, the promise of a quick fix doesn’t work and often results in guilt and shame with “with a laundry list of things you’re not doing well enough.”
It makes sense that with that framework, 26% of Americans don’t participate in leisure time physical activity at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.
Griffith opened Clarity Fitness, Georgia’s first body positive gym as part of recovery from an eating disorder. “Body positivity is the lifeblood of what we’re about,” she said. “We live in a climate where we’re told our body is the problem. But the world needs to accommodate to make spaces available for every body.”
The high-end gym offers group classes and personal training through an approach where movement comes from love of the body and desire to care for it rather than obligation and desire to change it.
The common belief that if you love your body, you won’t be motivated to work out “is case in point of toxic fitness,” she said. “Movement is great for mental health, sleep, life…. We’re creating a partnership or team with your body and a healthy relationship with movement.”
Specialty gyms, like Griffith’s, that offer alternative forms of movement, goal setting and supportive communities are having a larger presence locally and nationwide. Decatur has an array of options, most of which have free or reduced trial periods or consultations. And for those who truly can’t decide or don’t want to commit, there’s the classpass app, where credits to participating studios, gyms, salons and spas can be purchased without committing to a term.
We’ve put together the most comprehensive list of Decatur movement offerings, no more excuses.
185 Sams St., #B
Strength training is the focus of this facility, known as a “black iron gym” (meaning primarily using free weights). Self-described as a small gym where social interactions are the norm. Membership includes open access to the equipment seven days a week, with one free coaching session. Day passes are also available. Check out Atlanta Women’s Barbell Club, which brings groups of women together a few times each week to participate in an individualized barbell strength program.
Body and Brain
308 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., #F2
The studio combines several Eastern practices including yoga, breathwork, meditation and martial arts to enhance physical, mental and spiritual health. Participants begin with a oneon-one introductory session where a rained instructors checks their current energy (Qi or Ki) condition and recommends a practice. Yoga includes signature breathing postures designed to accumulate energy and strengthen core. The tai chi and qigong classes incorporate a form of healing martial arts known as DahnMuDo, which means “the art of being limitless.”
Burn Boot Camp
2659 E. College Ave.
Never the same workout twice, the camps (45 minute sessions) are designed within a weekly protocol that includes a combination of strength and high intensity interval training (HIIT) followed with a specific finisher. Each class is led by a certified coach to offer the benefits of personal training in a group setting. The gym boasts a signature “floating floor” that protects joints and prevents injuries. Find the gym outfitted with equipment chosen with intention including free weights, hurdles, kettlebells, jump ropes, resistance bands, battle ropes and a pull-up rig.
One W. Court Sq., #100
Doors at this high-end gym open to a smashed-scale wall and scale-free, diet-free, BMI-free space designed to help clients find their version of joyful movement. Find personal training or a group class. Trainers are eating disorder-informed and maintain a Health at Every Size atmosphere. The studio includes a gym with state-of-the-art equipment and group exercise spaces plus high-end athletic turf and a rope wall.
630 E. Lake Dr.
The gym offers training to improve strength, conditioning and mobility in a sustainable and supportive environment. With an emphasis on community and coaches, the facility promises the team spirit, camaraderie and thrill of sports. Group and private training classes are available for adults, including a low-impact class. There is an extensive youth department with soccer and speed training as well as birthday parties and summer camp.
431 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., #1
Not only will this shop set you up with the perfect fit for your foot, it hosts running and walking groups weekly on Wednesdays. Find the right match for your ambition level.
533 W. Howard Ave., #C2
Find a community-centered yoga studio with accessible classes and plenty of playfulness, where inspiration and body positivity are at the heart of instruction. Or learn to teach yoga with a light-hearted, inspirational approach. Teachers guide in a safe, supportive and non-competitive atmosphere. The comprehensive COVID adaptation includes fully masked and mask-optional classes for vaccinated students.
319 W. Ponce de Leon Ave.
This total-body group workout combines science, coaching and technology to charge your metabolism and build confidence. During the heart-rate based HIIT workout, a coach guides participants through five different heart rate zones from resting to all out with instruction for when to push harder and when to pull back for recovery. The goal is to spend 12 minutes or more in the elevated “orange zone.” The workout includes rowing, cardio and strength training.
1971 College Ave.
Customized programs for individuals, couples or small groups are the hallmark of this gym, with two locations in historic Kirkwood. Smugs takes a big picture approach to wellness by assessing four key aspects of a healthy and active life – movement, nutrition, sleep quality and stress management. The focus is on building resilience, and the goal is longevity.
185 Sams St. #A
Owned and led by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Jeff Boudreaux, Unit 2 Fitness offers martial arts programs to improve fitness, discipline and confidence. With an early focus on competitive fighting, the gym has expanded to become a family-friendly environment catered to people who want to “get in shape by doing something fun, and sparking their mind as well as their body” in a positive community environment. The facility offers programs for all fitness levels in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing and Muay Thai (the primary striking art used in most mixed martial arts competitions). Find programs for every age including children, teens and summer camp options.