Yoga teacher vanessa Muñoz-Pretzell gives instructions in smooth but firm English. As the visitor obediently slides into downward facing dog, muscles relax and all senses are heightened. Through a gap in the white linen curtain, a car can be seen being towed down the street, but that doesn’t bother us at the moment. The scene seems to take place in a different universe, because everyday life seems far away in the Viva studio in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted with ginger and hibiscus tea from a gilded samovar, and white orchids bloom in the airy light-wood dressing room. Fluffy mats and blankets are available in the training room. Small steam rooms, each with room for one person, are attached to the luxuriously appointed massage rooms. Vanessa Muñoz-Pretzell and her sister-in-law Viola Skjerven opened the studio in March. One of his sources of inspiration is the Radiantly Alive studio in Ubud, Bali, an elegant installation made of natural stone, wood and glass. As in Bali, the new opening in Berlin offers chocolate without sugar, but enriched with medicinal mushrooms, and as in Bali, in addition to a yoga collection, the concept also includes its own gastronomy. An ancient Balinese wooden door looms over the café counter, which is decorated in shades of pink and rust. This is where yoginis order vegetarian quiches or matcha tea with oat milk after their workout, and with a dollop of collagen powder if you wish. Units can be booked online, but just like in Bali, Charlottenburg goes by the “visit” motto.
sports and wellness
The idea of having your own studio came up during the first lockdown two years ago, says Skjerven. “At some point we didn’t feel like jogging in the woods or playing tennis in the parking lot. And we knew other people felt the same way.” The Berlin operation is one of a series of exclusive new openings across Germany that are currently trying to make the community experience of esports palatable again to a discerning clientele. During the pandemic, gyms have been closed and workouts have been moved outdoors or within one’s own four walls. Those who wanted to keep fit had an exercise bike or a peloton bike in their room or followed yoga instructions on YouTube. A new generation of boutique studios is now tempting with holistic concepts that combine sport and wellness in an aesthetically pleasing environment, ideally with intensive personal care and innovative sports equipment.
At BodyMethod in Hamburg, everyone wants the Megaformer. Frenchman Sebastien Lagree, who lives in California, patented the device in 2016, and since then it has been considered the magic machine of Hollywood stars. Sisters Kaya Ahrens and Linda Stork discovered it while vacationing on the West Coast of the United States. The associated training method is called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and is performed on a mobile bench equipped with handles and pulleys. Ahrens and Stork were so enthusiastic that they brought the first six heavy devices to Germany eight years ago and outfitted a studio in the Winterhude district with them. The sisters have just expanded: At the end of last year, they opened a 350-square-meter loft branch in Eppendorf. “Here we have the opportunity to set up 16 mega trainers,” says Ahrens. The Hamburg model Toni Garrn has regularly worked on her muscles here. If you don’t want to be compared to others, you can also practice on your own, in a “private room” with a personal trainer.
Ahrens also explains the interest in training sessions at Megaformer with the pent-up demand that has arisen as a result of the Corona break: “I get the impression that people are now spending even more time on health and fitness.” gives money for it from: An hour of sweating at BodyMethod costs 35 euros, but you can use luxury care products from Malin+Götz in the shower for free. But while you can’t expect bargain prices from a boutique studio, offerings have become more flexible and are moving away from long-term contracts. There is usually no obligation to become a member, packs of five, ten and twenty are usually offered as well. “We don’t want dead files,” says Skjerven of the Viva studio in Berlin, who worked for years in sales for a large automotive group. “You should only pay for the sport you actually play.”
good group feeling
Returning to the gym, personal contact seems to play a bigger role than it did before the pandemic: The trend is shifting from anonymous franchise operations to owner-managed businesses. Angela Thomas sees her studio as a “favorite hangout for friends of friends.” The frankfurt wants to receive traditional Pilates training “from grandma’s corner”, as she puts it. For the offer at Studio Tuesday, which opened in September 2021 with restaurateur Can Onat on Eschersheimer Landstrasse, Thomas also found inspiration in the US and now offers various crossover variants of the sport. Courses like “HIIT Reformer”, “Abs Extreme” or “Advanced Barre Burn” combine classic Pilates exercises with elements of dance and physical training.
They also wanted to set themselves apart from conventional studios in terms of aesthetics: “We placed great value on clean lines and integrated both Scandinavian and Japanese elements,” says Thomas. The workout takes place in front of a glass block wall designed to perfectly complement the white metal and black leather sled-like machines used at Studio Tuesday. Seven of the so-called Pilates reformers can be used at the same time. “That’s enough for a good group feel, but it allows for very personal training,” explains Thomas. At the Ehrlich Grün delicatessen, its business partner Can Onat serves shakes, bowls, gluten-free granola and homemade hummus. Ingredients come from local farms or are grown on-site in huge glass cabinets during vertical farming.
At Hagius in Berlin there’s no homemade hummus, but the spacious entrance smells of citrus and myrrh, accompanied by ambient music from ceiling speakers. The fragrance was specially developed for the studio, which opened last September under the four-meter-high ceilings of a former post office in Berlin-Mitte. A pair of mossy boxing gloves by artist Sarah Illenberger hang in the window.
“We want to appeal to all the senses,” explains Nicolas Hagius, who runs the studio with his brother Timothy. Its multi-sensory approach is also expressed through the light-filled interior, which was designed by renowned architecture firm Gonzalez Haase. The training is done individually or in groups of a maximum of eleven people: boxing, pilates or katonah yoga. The “Movement” course is especially popular, in which participants slide along the walls and floor in fluid movements. In relaxation phases, the LED light dims automatically. The Hagius brothers reject flickering televisions on the walls and bright lights on the ceiling. “We don’t want to create any additional stress,” explains Nicolás. “The training is pretty tough.”