A brand-new fitness studio called Physical Culture (v) opened in Edina over the summer. The (v) is to remind visitors that co-founders, Joy Himley and Angie Bartness, want their studio’s name read as a verb rather than a noun—as in more an action than a place, a culture of doing, of being and of movement. But the differentiation goes beyond the name. Himley and Bartness seek to transform the local fitness landscape by offering many of the top-trending fitness classes all in one place. And their recognition of this health and wellness niche meant these longtime friends could finally realize their entrepreneurial vision.
Meet the Visionaries
Joy Himley is a wife and mother who worked full time as a director at a marketing firm. But fitness has always been her passion. So she became certified to teach barre, Yoga Sculpt and TRX (Total body Resistance eXercise, an exercise method using leveraged body weight). She taught at a variety of locations in and around Edina and developed a following, including Caryn Kelly, owner of Melly in the Galleria. “I’ve known Joy for almost three years,” Kelly says. “I followed her from studio to studio because I’ve never known an instructor as energetic or as creative with choreography. She plays great music and manages to push me to my limits. Physical Culture (v) is going to be a great addition to Edina.”
Angie Bartness has three young children; she obtained certification as a personal trainer from the National Personal Trainer Institute and is TRX-certified. (Both women are also near completing a course with the Institute of Integrated Nutrition.) Bartness has been working regularly with 10 personal training clients but has wanted to establish more of a long-term business plan. Owning a fitness-focused business was a dream, “but I didn’t want to do it alone,” Bartness says. So when she explored a vacant retail space on Valley View Road in Edina with Mike Collins, who was considering opening a pizza place at the location, Bartness had no idea that it would be she and Himley who would ultimately transform the site of a bike shop into an avant-garde fitness studio.
“It was my anniversary,” Himley says about the day she and her husband were driving along Valley View and he suggested that a location near Snuffy’s Malt Shop—the same location Bartness had scouted with Collins—might be a good place to locate a new fitness studio. “There is easy access to the freeway and plenty of parking,” says Himley. The area also has a great community feel, perfect for their local clientele. So Himley approached her friend of 12 years with the idea of partnering up and Bartness readily agreed. The two committed to renovating the vacant storefront and setting up shop. Physical Culture (v) was born.
Peek Behind the Scenes
Himley and Bartness had specific ideas for the look and vibe of their new venture and created vision boards for cohesive inspiration. The result is an industrial ambiance that mixes elements of brick, reclaimed barn wood and stainless steel with modern furniture and chandeliers from West Elm. The 3,500 square feet is divided into two workout studios at the back, men’s and women’s locker rooms on either side of a center corridor, and a front reception area that’s just as inviting and lovely as a France Ave. boutique.
A wall, sliding door, front desk and benches were custom-made by Himley’s father-in-law with reclaimed barn wood from Ham Lake. The floors in the lobby and locker rooms are gleaming concrete while the floors of the workout rooms are overlaid with rubber. “We chose rubber floors because it’s easier on the joints,” says Himley.
The sound system also had to be perfect. It took several tries and additional speakers to get it just right. “It’s important to have great-sounding music,” Himley says. They also wanted microphones synced with the system so instructors wouldn’t have to yell. “You can lose your voice pretty quickly without a microphone.”
The duo worked for weeks on little sleep while still working other jobs and keeping up with family responsibilities. Himley says sitting down for an interview with Edina Magazine was likely their first break from work in over a week. Since then, they’ve left other employment and are singularly focused on spreading the word to potential new members.
More Than a Workout
Seventeen instructors (including two personal trainers) with a variety of teaching styles and expertise lead several different workout classes daily at Physical Culture (v). Classes include sculpt, physical HIIT, barre culture, barre TRX, HIIT the barre and yoga culture. The goal is to create a place where people can find several types of workouts without driving to several different locations. Himley says, “We will continue to delight and surprise our guests” by tweaking and adding classes as requested. For example, “we offer classes at 5:45 a.m., and people love that time slot.” Plus, it’s easy for anyone to sign up for a class through an online reservation system. You don’t need to be a member to take a class at Physical Culture (v), although members do get priority reservations and a discounted rate.
In addition to workout classes, Physical Culture (v) offers personal training services and wellness packages. Wellness packages can involve a fitness assessment, an accompanied grocery visit and an at-home cupboard cleanout visit. “It’s not just about food,” Bartness says. “Wellness is about crowding out bad foods without feeling deprived.”
To further their emphasis on healthy eating, Himley and Bartness have struck a deal with Agra Culture to sell salads and sandwiches from a refrigerated showcase inside the Physical Culture (v) lobby. Agra Culture will also offer raw juices twice a week at a pop-up shop located at Physical Culture (v). (Himley and Bartness hope to one day also offer their studio members pre-packaged Agra Culture meals for pickup at their studio location.) Health-conscious consumers can also purchase beverages from locally owned Aspire at Physical Culture (v).
But what’s most rewarding for these dedicated fitness professionals is owning a business that makes a positive impact on people’s lives. Himley tells of a woman who, after her first class at Physical Culture (v), asked Himley to take her picture in front of the studio’s custom-designed entry wall. She told Himley that she wants to document her progress because she knew after only one class that being a part of Physical Culture (v) would ensure positive change.
Since its launch, Physical Culture (v) has been active on the local fitness scene. Joy Himley and instructor Michele Henkle were invited to be guest instructors for Galleria Edina’s Root Down Ramp Up summer outdoor yoga series sponsored by lululemon athletica Edina Galleria and the Westin Galleria Edina. Himley was also invited to teach during the Tour de France Avenue event in July. Physical Culture (v) was named studio of the month by lululemon athletica Edina Galleria in June. Ongoing Instagram challenges reward studio-goers. And Himley and Bartness are developing a line of organic cotton T-shirts and sweatshirts by Alternative Apparel to be sold at their studio. To find out more about what these two superwomen are up to or for more information about classes or memberships at Physical Culture (v), visit physicalculturev.com.