Yoga teaches Vanessa Muñoz-Pretzell gives her instructions in gentle but firm English. When the visitor obediently slides into the downward facing dog position, the muscles are relaxed and all the senses are strengthened. Through a hole in the white linen curtain, one can see a car being towed on the street outside, but that does not bother us at the moment. The scene seems to take place in a different universe, because everyday life seems far away in the Viva studio in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted with ginger and hibiscus tea from a golden samovar, and white orchids bloom in the airy light wood dressing room. Mats and soft blankets are available in the gym. Small steam baths, each with space for one person, are attached to the luxuriously equipped massage rooms. Vanessa Muñoz-Pretzell and her sister-in-law Viola Skjerven opened the studio in March. One of her sources of inspiration is the studio Radiantly Alive in Ubud, Bali, a smart facility made of natural stone, wood and glass. As in Bali, the new opening in Berlin offers chocolate without sugar, but enriched with medicinal mushrooms, and as in Bali, in addition to a yoga collection, the concept also includes its own gastronomy. An antique Balinese wooden door hovers over the counter at the café, which is decorated in pink and rust-colored tones, here the yogis order vegetarian quiches or matcha tea with oat milk after the workout – and possibly with a spoonful of collagen powder. The units can be booked online, but as in Bali, the motto “drop in” in Charlottenburg applies – just look past.
sports and wellness
The idea of having his own studio arose during the first lockdown two years ago, says Skjerven. “At one point, we didn’t feel like jogging in the woods or playing tennis in the parking lot. And we knew other people felt the same way. ” The Berlin operation is one of a series of exclusive new openings throughout Germany, which are currently trying to make the community experience of sports tasty again for a discerning clientele. During the pandemic, the gyms remained closed and training moved outdoors or into one’s own four walls. Those who wanted to stay in shape kept an exercise bike or a peloton bike in their bedroom or followed the yoga instructions on YouTube. A new generation of boutique studios is now tempting with holistic concepts that combine sport and wellness in an aesthetically pleasing environment, ideally with intensive personal care and innovative sports equipment.
At BodyMethod in Hamburg, everyone wants Megaforms. Frenchman Sebastien Lagree, who lives in California, patented the device in 2016, and since then it has been considered the magic machine of Hollywood stars. Sisters Kaya Ahrens and Linda Stork discovered it while vacationing on the west coast of the United States. The associated training method is called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and is performed on a moving bench equipped with handles and pulleys. Ahrens and Stork were so enthusiastic about it that eight years ago they brought the first six of the heavy appliances to Germany and equipped a studio in the Winterhude district with them. The sisters have just expanded: At the end of last year, they opened a 350 square meter attic-like branch in Eppendorf. “Here we have the opportunity to set up 16 megaformers,” says Ahrens. Hamburg model Toni Garrn has regularly worked on her muscles here. If you do not want to be compared to others, you can also practice on your own – in a “private room” with a personal trainer.
Ahrens also explains the interest in training sessions on the Megaformer with the pent-up demand that has arisen as a result of the Corona break: “I have the impression that people are now taking even more time for health and fitness.” And they give money for it from: An hour of sweating at BodyMethod costs 35 euros, but you can use luxury care products from Malin + Götz in the shower for free. But while offer prices cannot be expected from a boutique studio, offers have become more flexible and are moving away from long-term contracts. Usually there is no obligation to become a member, usually packages of five, ten and twenty are also offered. “We do not want any dead files,” says Skjerven from the Viva studio in Berlin, which has been working with sales for a large car group for years. “You only have to pay for the sport you actually play.”
Good group feeling
When returning to the gym, personal contact seems to play a bigger role than before the pandemic: The trend is moving from anonymous franchise operations to owner-managed businesses. Angela Thomas sees her study as a “favorite place for friends of friends”. The Frankfurter wants to get the traditional pilates training “from grandma’s corner”, as she says. For the offer in Studio Tuesday, which she opened in September 2021 with restaurateur Can Onat on Eschersheimer Landstrasse, Thomas also found inspiration in the United States and now offers different crossover variants of the sport. Courses such as “HIIT Reformer”, “Abs Extreme” or “Advanced Barre Burn” combine classic Pilates exercises with elements of dance and fitness training.
They also wanted to differentiate themselves from conventional studies in terms of aesthetics: “We placed great emphasis on clear lines and integrated both Scandinavian and Japanese elements,” says Thomas. The training takes place in front of a glass block wall that coordinates perfectly with the white metal and black leather-sled-like machines used in Studio Tuesday. Seven of the so-called Pilates reformers can be used at the same time. “It’s enough for a good group feeling, but still allows for very personal training,” explains Thomas. In the Ehrlich Grün deli, her business partner Can Onat serves smoothies, bowls, gluten-free granolas and homemade hummus. The ingredients come from local farms or are grown on site in huge glass showcases during vertical farming.
At Hagius in Berlin, there is no homemade hummus, but the spacious entrance hall smells of citrus and myrrh, accompanied by atmospheric music from the ceiling speakers. The fragrance is specially developed for the studio, which opened in September last year under the four-meter-high ceilings of a former post office in Berlin-Mitte. A pair of moss boxing gloves, a work by artist Sarah Illenberger, hangs in the shop window.
“We want to appeal to all the senses,” explains Nicolas Hagius, who runs the studio with his brother Timothy. Her multi-sensory approach is also expressed through the bright interior, designed by the renowned architectural firm Gonzalez Haase. The training takes place individually or in groups of up to eleven people – boxing, Pilates or Katonah yoga. Particularly popular is the “Movement” course, where participants glide along walls and floors in fluid movements. During the relaxation phases, the LED light is dimmed automatically. The Hagius brothers reject flickering TVs in the walls and bright lights in the ceiling. “We don’t want to create additional stress,” Nicolas explains. “The training is hard enough.”