the Insiders


May 20, 2011 1:10 PM

Eye, Media

FITiST.com: The Future of Fitness

Fitness trends come and go in New York like restaurants. First it was yoga and pilates studios, then the Kelly Ripa-approved, Lotte Berk-inspired barre classes like Physique 57 and Core Fusion, and now the latest fitness craze -- spinning...

Fitness trends come and go in New York like restaurants. First it was yoga and pilates studios, then the Kelly Ripa-approved, Lotte Berk-inspired barre classes like Physique 57 and Core Fusion, and now the latest fitness craze -- spinning at boutique cycling studios like Flywheel and SoulCycle. But if one trend shows no signs of slowing down, it's that New Yorkers are looking more and more to specialized boutique studios rather than an all-encompassing gym. With that in mind, the new members-only Web site FITiST launches next week -- aiming not to dethrone another workout craze, but rather to offer all of them in one place.

FITiST-homepage.jpgFITiST, the brainchild of New York-based fitness aficionados Neda Talebian Funk, Caroline Levy Limpert and Jonathan Cranin, bills itself as a "fitness concierge," and the first "one-stop booking website for fitness and wellness," where one can book from a number of boutique NY studios on one site, with the help of personalized workout programs.

Co-founder Neda Talebian Funk said that in a world with so many sites devoted to e-commerce from a social standpoint, there was an opportunity to reach the customer in a different way. "We have always been passionate about fitness and wellness and began to see the potential to create something dynamic in this space, given the new 'fit economy' we live in, the rise of boutique fitness studios and workouts and increasing importance of complimenting fitness with better wellness practices," she told WWD.

So what is FITiST exactly? In essence it's a Web site that helps users customize their workouts with the advent of bundled memberships and expertly curated plans. The site has called on a panel of fitness and wellness experts (who range from trainers to nutritionists and fertility doctors) including Lacey Stone, David Kirsch, pilates instructor Kristin McGee and "slim expert" Ariane Hundt to develop a series of 10 exercise regimens for users to choose from. Each one comes with a package of classes chosen from FITiST's vast network of cycling, performance, core, yoga and pilates boutique studios -- including FlyWheel, Aerospace High Performance Center, James Sherman Krav Maga, Bari Studio, Yogamaya and Core PIlates.

fitist2.jpgUpon logging on to the site for the first time, you are given an option to choose between the following fitness programs: All Access, Tri, 26.2, Intense, Slim, Body & Soul, Bride, Mom to Be, New Mom and Rookie. The packages are designed and priced as monthly programs -- the point being that individual classes are not what is available here, you come to FITiST for the full workout package. The Bride plan (a natural customer for any fitness brand) for example comes with 8 cycle, 4 core/pilates, 4 performance and 2 yoga classes -- for a total of 18 classes a month at $525.

Famed personal trainer Lacey Stone got involved as an expert via Talebian Funk, who Stone says took her spinning class for many years. "FITiST takes the thinking out of Fitness," she told WWD of the curated programs. "If you want to lose weight, get lean, or build Muscle, FITiST will help you create the perfect blend of workouts to reach your goals fast."

The panel of experts also serve as contributors to FITiST's blog, called EDiT, which Limpert hopes will serve as a tool to engage the site's community. "Increasingly, we see how websites are melding e-commerce with editorial. When developing FITiST, we wanted to create a repository of great editorial content throughout the site. Our experts play a major role in this at the plan level helping customers really understand why each plan is right for them and why each activity gets them to their goal," she said.

theedit.jpgExpect to see more from FITiST as the site gets its feet wet, including additional online coaching options, add-ons that include beauty and spa treatments and a "create your own" membership plan which is already in the works. The site is currently active on Twitter and Facebook, but Limpert and Talebian Funk hope to add a bigger social networking component to the site. Talebian Funk told WWD, "[That] will be a major focus of our growth, as we know working out is so much more fun with friends."

To request a membership visit FITiST.com.

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