Healthy living. Mindfulness. Clean eating. Building strength. In this city, in this decade, in this day and age, there are no shortages of choices when it comes to well-being and fitness. There’s Barre, yoga and high intensity training. Regimens that target small muscle groups, build strength with weights, interval sprints, cross-country running groups and CrossFit. Don’t forget slow breathing through meditation and walks around the city lakes.
So how do you choose which fitness regime works for you in a market saturated with options in an area that prides itself on being ahead of the curve on healthy lifestyle?
AQ Fit Lab, one of the newest group fitness locales, is testing a concept by moving past the “well” and the “fit,” and into the idea of “community.” In addition to achievable yet challenging interval training, accessible strength building, a small group of experienced coaches and cutting-edge technology, they offer community as a commodity for their clients. It’s an element often lacking in today’s in-and-out, one-and-done, group fitness world.
“Our purpose is that we strongly believe that by challenging people through fitness we help them overcome the challenges they face in their everyday life,” says co-founder Logan Bautch. Together with his wife Anne Mezzenga and business partner Mark FunkMeyer and his husband and co-founder Tim FunkMeyer, they’ve placed decades of fitness, education, healthcare and retail experience onto AQ Fit Lab. The concept they created is one they think is accessible to anyone, regardless of fitness experience, ability or age.
Bautch and Mark FunkMeyer met through the CrossFit community as coach and member. After Bautch opened two CrossFit locations in Northeast Minneapolis and Linden Hills, he and Mark began discussing what might help remove some barriers people often face with CrossFit gyms. Together they created a concept that meets participants wherever they are on their fitness journey.
The intense, intelligent, interval training is predictable, without boring you with a same old routine. “High intensity concepts are coming out like crazy, because they are effective,” says Mezzenga. “However, providing just that is not our mission. You can come in here, do your workout and checkout if you want. But the thing that will keep AQ Fit Lab unique is that we are driven by community … We don’t care what you look like, who you are, where you come from or what your background is. We care about creating a community for you to do something you didn’t think you could do a week ago.”
A mixture of branded Rogue Echo Bikes and Assault AirRunners that work off of the user’s body weight and momentum allow participants to choose their own level of cardiovascular adventure. Plus, there are rowing machines, kettlebells, wall balls, boxes, a rig and machines that mimic the arm movements of Nordic skiing. Every workout is programmed to give clients a new experience rarely repeated over time. “Even if you are only familiar with half of the movements, you are still going to get a good workout,” says Mark.
“Forty years ago, I started out as the last one picked for kickball. Fast forward to now, and I’ve spent a lot of years wondering if I was able or worthy to have a fitness routine,” says Tim. “This is the premier high intensity interval training gym for equipment, coaches and technology. It’s for everyone. And we deliver on that.”
“This isn’t just a business for us,” says Mezzenga. “It’s a passion and genuine care for our community. We want to connect people to one another during a time when it is really hard to connect to people in real life.”