Culture / Sporting Life

The Most Beautiful Gym in the World Hits Houston

Exclusive New River Oaks Spot Will Limit Memberships, Bring Nature In

BY // 01.19.18

Editor’s note: This is second in a series on Houston’s burgeoning exercise scene — and the fitness boutique trend.

When it comes to New Year’s goals, it can be hard to strike a balance. Often, when improving your overall well-being, two main elements stand out: physical health and mental health. But do you have time to improve both?

If you had the choice, would you rather focus on your fitness, sweating it out in a Pilates class? Or would you rather take some time to refocus your mind and enjoy the outdoors?

Now, you don’t have to choose between getting back to the gym and getting back to nature. The Preserve, a new full-service gym in River Oaks, is bringing the tranquility of nature to your workouts. The just-opened gym at 3303 Audley makes it possible to unwind while you pump up.

Get one-on-one time with a personal trainer. Take an extensive list of group classes. Or go for the classic weights and machines, against a backdrop of garden views and a lush, green atrium. Walking in, it feels strange to call it a gym. Well-lit and largely open air, it more closely resembles a retreat, spa, or resort.

The health and fitness facility is based on one core premise. “The concept is that nature inspires fitness,” general manager Adam Horak tells PaperCity. Like every instructor and trainer at The Preserve, Horak has five-plus years in the fitness industry, and an extensive client base.

Molly Carter, owner and founder, has been working on bringing the comprehensive gym and nature-inspired aesthetics together for four years.

“I just like to be outside,” the Houston native says. Carter, who holds an MBA from the Rice University Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, is a fitness fanatic who just wasn’t satisfied by Houston’s offerings.

She respected some Texas limitations, but she wanted to push the boundaries. “Houston weather can restrict you to working out inside. It can make you get this cinderblock feeling, working out in an indoor gym,” Carter says.

At The Preserve, “you can still feel like you’re outside.” Architect Josh Jones has seen to that, with high-end designs that emphasize the outdoors as much as possible, like an upper deck for sunrise, sunset and Vinyasa yoga al fresco.

The Preserve open space
The expansive downstairs space is full of top-of-the line equipment and machines.

The two-level gym is just under 16,000 square feet. Think of The Preserve like “a privately owned Equinox, a boutique,” community marketing specialist Tara Treleaven tells PaperCity. 

“We’re more exclusive than standard gyms. We cater to smaller groups of people,” trainer Vick Gelsomino says“It’s limited membership, it’s not super crowded. It’s not about selling memberships. It’s about bringing quality to members so everyone can get the benefits and enjoy a higher level of fitness and service than you’d get at 24 Hour Fitness.”

The Preserve’s Membership Model

All classes are included with the membership. More than 60 classes are offered each week, starting as early as 5:45 on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The only thing that’s costs extra is personal training and there are 20 trainers to choose from.

At other, more standard gyms, you end up having to look outside to get more specific workouts. Between signing up for Pilates classes and SoulCycle, people “can end up spending $400 in one month. The Preserve has everything,” Treleaven claims.

Horak agrees. “Look at the fitness industry over the last five, 10 years. It’s gone away from all-inclusive to specialized studios. In doing so, workouts have become very one-dimensional.

“We’re taking the boutique-style quality class instruction you could typically only be able to find at a studio and putting it all under one roof.”

Classes range from high-intensity Tabata to five types of yoga, kickboxing, total-body workouts, and more.

The fitness center has a strong Pilates foundation course in a 1,500 square-foot-studio. Pilates is the most frequented class for now, and the program will be expanded and diversified in February.

“The second most popular has been a plethora of classes with names like Triple Threat and B.R.I.C., which is battle rope interval and cardio-circuit training,” Horak says. Treleaven adds Burning Desire and HIIT n Hills to the list.

They are looking forward to the launch of their cycle program in February. The end result will be a theater-style studio with additional risers and lights that correspond to the music.

“It’ll be more of an entertainment-based experience than a traditional spin class,” Horak says.

To read the first story in this series on the Lagree method and its devoted celebrity following, click here.

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