Just Breathe: A New Boutique Fitness Studio Moves Into Rhinebeck
Nicole McGrathPhoto credit: Yannis Malevitis
The first inkling things weren’t going to be quite as dreamy and relaxed as originally thought is when Breathe Barre & Pilates owner Nicole McGrath kicked off her barre class by telling us that “involuntary shaking is completely normal.” In other words, don’t let this new exercise studio’s airy, lovely vibe or Nicole’s upbeat, encouraging demeanor fool you. If you’re so inclined, you will have your butt — and your thighs, and your core — handed to you during class, making for a challenging and invigorating 60 minutes of your time.
Intense, yes. Surprisingly delightful, too. McGrath’s “no judgment, no pressure, and no competition,” philosophy shines through, whether someone is taking barre, Pilates, or one of her other low-impact classes. As an instructor, she prides herself on accommodating all fitness levels and skills, meaning us newcomers got plenty of help to make sure we were using proper form and given suggestions for modifications, while our more advanced classmates were shown ways to further challenge each move. She’s also taught clients who’ve had injuries or are returning to fitness after time away.
“Every workout here is low impact for a reason,” McGrath says. “People can come here when they have injuries and want to move their bodies, and I want every age group and every fitness level to be able to work out here and be able to come to a group class and get just as good a workout as someone who comes every week.”
Breathe, which opened this summer in Rhinebeck, is a manifestation of McGrath’s longtime dream of passing on that sense of empowerment that exercise has given to her. A Southern Dutchess native, she and her husband, who is also from the area, returned after years living in Boston so they could be near their extended families. After staying home for a year with her young children, McGrath decided it was time to start teaching fitness again. (Back when she was still in a corporate job, McGrath had gotten certified to teach Pilates during her off-duty hours.) She'd originally discovered it in her 20s, after a serious back injury had her in and out of physical therapy for years. Pilates was ultimately what made her feel “like a new person.”
Locally, McGrath started teaching Pilates and barre classes at a variety of locations, toting her equipment from class to class in contractor garbage bags. Finally, she took the plunge and opened her own studio in a lovely second-floor space in the Montgomery Row building.
“I love Rhinebeck so much,” she says. “We live in the village, my kids go to school here, so opening Breathe here was a no-brainer.” Her husband, a graphic designer and small-business owner, helped McGrath set up Breathe, and they’ve created a gorgeous, light-filled space that is welcoming and friendly. Welcoming and friendly is also her teaching style.
“I want people to be able to move their bodies and feel good, not feel like they’re in competition with anyone else,” she explains. “A place where women and men can work out stress, get out of their heads, and do something for themselves.”
She admits she was nervous about starting her own business, but that the response has been fantastic. Her existing clients followed her to Breathe, and between positive word of mouth, social media, and the Mindbody app, she’s been adding new clients all summer, from locals in Rhinebeck to weekenders and tourists. “It’s amazing to have this space, and it’s been so nice to see people branching out and trying new classes and meeting new people and making new friends,” she says.
As someone who focuses as much on the social interaction and human connection as on the physicality of her job, McGrath ends each class with an optional essential oil massage, using a custom blend she makes herself, and is careful to never schedule back-to-back classes so people can stay after class and chat or have a cup of tea without feeling rushed out the door. Next up? Helping clients connect with each other in other ways, including starting a free run/walk club so people can find workout buddies, and offering more classes, including yoga, with the same emphasis on building core strength that her other classes offer.
The journey has been as inspiring to McGrath as she is to her clients. “I am always so motivated every day no matter how tired I’m feeling. Once the music is on and people get on the floor, all of a sudden I have this energy,” she says. “Since we’ve been in here, the people that I have met have been so amazing and so inspiring. They have overcome injuries, life events. There is not one person who has walked through the door who I have not been grateful to have met.”
Breathe is holding its official grand opening on September 20, 2018
Breathe Barre & Pilates
6423 Montgomery St., Suite 17A (2nd Floor), Rhinebeck, NY
New client introductory offer: $20 for 2 classes
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