Kirsten Ulve


Boutique Fitness in a Jar

I enjoyed my workout at Plano's Body Machine Fitness, the 'only stadium-style treadmill studio in the world.' But the 'brain octane' left me a bit lightheaded.

While I waited in the lobby of Body Machine Fitness for the doors of “the world’s largest luxury HIIT studio” to open, I found myself somewhere between the “BMFer” merchandise and the smoothie bar, among the nearly 60 other spandex-clad people that had signed up for a Saturday morning class. A buff, muscle-tee-wearing man walked by me with a tray lined with little paper cups. “Have you had your pre-workout yet?” he asked.

It was then that I noticed the table behind me stacked with massive jars of whey protein powder and a fridge stocked with prepared meals by a company called Territory. To my left, two television screens above the BMF Bar flashed to reveal the Smoothie of the Month: something called a Keto Cupcake that included protein powder and “brain octane.” The girl next to me stole the last cup of pre-workout (she said it tasted like kiwi), and I suddenly felt unprepared.

Everything I knew about Body Machine Fitness, which opened in Plano last summer, I’d gathered from months of receiving emails and Instagram messages urging me to experience “Barry’s Bootcamp on a new level” in “the only stadium-style treadmill studio in the world” featuring a “50,000-watt audio system and 3D light system.” As a millennial, I guess I’m in their target demo. So I anticipated the massive chandelier in the luxurious ladies’ locker room and the live DJ, but I didn’t expect this to be a place where people might blend their water with heaping helpings of cookies-and-cream-flavored vegan protein from jars with an abundance of X’s on their labels (retailing anywhere from $30 to $50). You find that stuff in chain gyms, not in the niche boutique fitness world where, apart from some apparel, the workout remains a brand’s sole focus. Last June, as a guest on the Dallas-based podcast Recover With Purpose, Pete Stickney, one of Body Machine’s founders, said they recognized an unmet need in Dallas’ boutique fitness space. I think they just filled it with more protein powder.

With the thriving wellness industry encompassing everything from fitness to all-natural beauty, it won’t be surprising to see established boutique fitness brands get in on the lucrative skin care and supplement business by creating their own lines, but hopefully ones that feel like natural extensions of their workout. Body Machine Fitness, with its own all-natural vegan skin care line and whey protein powders, is a full-fledged lifestyle brand right out of the gate. It’s a lot to take in at once—like some sort of Cold Stone Creamery-style mashup of fitness trends. The workout almost feels secondary.

We filed into the Transformation Room (true to their word, it was impressively enormous) for our HIIT class with a toned trainer named Ethan. The workout itself—which alternated between interval-based cardio on a treadmill and strength training on the floor—was great. I didn’t love that it was difficult to see the studio’s few mirrors (which are helpful when lifting weights and almost ubiquitous at Body Machine Fitness’ local competitors) or that the space was so cavernous that I often lost sight of the trainer.

High on endorphins, I’d nearly forgotten about the tubs of processed supplements that had given me a bad taste in my mouth. But then, as we positioned our hands in a prayer pose, Ethan told us he wanted to remind us of two things. The first: to be grateful for the work our bodies just did. The second: to ask them about their new line of vegan protein powders.