Opening a boutique fitness studio in London is an inarguably ambitious undertaking, but in a market that’s flooded with exclusive studios proclaiming miraculous body transformations for the small cost of an arm and a leg, it’s easy to see why the city is going ‘Gaga’ for POPfit, the pop music-set workout founded by trained ballet dancer and mum of 2, Stephanie Burrows.
When Stephanie set out to start POPfit, she wanted to create a new workout that combined the most effective elements of traditional fitness types but was also, most importantly, fun.
‘I wanted to do something myself where I could combine my dance and choreography experience with music and fitness by bringing them all under one roof,’ she explains. ‘That’s where POPfit comes from. The classes revolve around a song and we choreograph a routine to each song. It’s not a dance class, though. It’s all fitness. It’s a workout, but it’s dance-inspired.’
She breaks it down: ‘There’s lot of plyometrics in there, so you squat, you jump, you punch and twist. There are a couple of burpees, you plank; it’s all those traditional fitness exercises, but the structure is all about counting to the music and getting your hips moving.’
POPfit isn’t just about getting your body into shape. It’s about what Stephanie aptly calls ‘mind fitness’.
‘I’ve had depression and anxiety in the past and exercise helped me through that,’ she admits. ‘It’s really important for me that POPfit isn’t about weight loss. It’s a lifestyle change and a lot of that is mind fitness.’
‘People are coming around to that idea more. Yoga is great at promoting mindfulness, but I’m just not sure that outside of Yoga there’s fitness or exercise that’s promoting a healthy mind that’s not meditative. POPfit is energetic, it’s intense and sweaty and gets your heart rate up. When you’re working out, you’re using your muscles, and part of that is your nervous system as well. All the messages from your brain to your body become stronger and that really affects your mind.’
Stephanie is enthusiastic and emotive and throughout our chat it becomes more and more obvious that POPfit won’t be a craze. It’s a workout that confronts our biggest hurdle when it comes to exercising – ourselves.
‘There’s this mentality that goes along with working out,’ she explains. ‘You don’t want to go to your workout class. During the class, you’re like, “I hate this. When is it going to finish?” At the end of the class, you’re like, “I’m so happy I did that class. I feel really good!”
‘I just wanted to change that mentality and get people to look forward to working out. POPfit is hard work but it’s enjoyable and the music is such a big part of it. It distracts you and you end up forgetting that you’ve just done eight squat jumps.’
It’s also a great excuse to be selfish.
‘You get a whole hour to spend on yourself and your body. It’s got nothing to do with anybody else. You’re just doing something for you and there aren’t that many things that in life that are just that.’ The mother of two gorgeous girls would know.
And dressing the part helps, too.
‘I don’t like wearing t-shirts so much, so I think it’s important to be confident in leggings and a sports bra no matter what size and shape you are. To see your body and be proud of it is really important.’
‘I live in Fabletics,’ Stephanie confesses. ‘They have a signature legging that I love. I wore them through my pregnancy. They hold you in really tight and they just feel good. They’re comfortable, they’re supportive and I think that’s really nice to have in a legging.’
It’s serendipitous then that good friend and Fabletics founder Kate Hudson has teamed up with the studio.
‘Kate’s a good friend and she’s going to be involved in the studio as well. She’s given me a lot of support and encouragement.’
In the central space of the studio is a curated selection from the latest Fabletics line. Stephanie’s favourite pieces.
‘I like supportive sports bras!’ she laughs. ‘Baggy t-shirts make you feel a bit meh, whereas a sports bra is like when you get into a bikini and you go to the beach, it gets you in the mood.’
Even when you’re not in the mood to show some skin, ‘At POPfit there’s a big open space where you can go and just let that energy out. You want to release that built up, pent up energy that you have, especially in London where everything feels stuffy.’
‘If you let go of your inhibitions with POPfit, the dance element and music will help you forget about worrying that people are watching you, or judging you or whatever. There’s a real freedom and release to be found in that.’
POPfit is now open at London fields.