Yoga blocks, pilates balls, low weights, yoga straps, resistance bands, closed-loop bands, a ballet barre and even the mirrors lining the studio walls are used to help with engagement and alignment at Alkalign.
A contemporary fitness studio with polished wood floors and the image of rippling water running the length of one of its walls, Alkalign uses this myriad of tools to enhance a client’s workout.
Alkalign goes “beyond the barre” to emphasize engagement and alignment in exercise. “No class is ever the same, which keeps it interesting and also challenges the body to work muscle groups in different ways,” said Elise Fiechtner, Grand Rapids Alkalign Studio owner.
“My husband, who is an avid road cyclist, golfer and work-week road-warrior, has found a huge benefit from Alkalign. His golf swing has improved as he’s been able to build more core strength and pelvic stability. I get a little chuckle when he shows me his golf swing and asks me to assess his ‘square hips’ and ‘neutral spine,’” Fiechtner said.
Alkalign targets muscles in different ways, which Fiechtner said has also been great for her husband’s cycling as he strengthens his legs. “Most importantly, he’s been able to counteract some of the low-back issues he’s developed as a result of sitting at a desk and on airplanes for most of the work week.”
Alklalign studio opened earlier this year in Ada, introducing its holistic approach to strength training, balance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and mobility to the community. Using a wide variety of tools and practices, Alkalign creates a safe, low-impact workout that challenges clients in a highly effective way.
“Because our practice is rooted in functional movement and training it’s good for everybody and every body,” Fiechtner said. “Everyone needs to strengthen their core, enhance their cardiovascular endurance, increase flexibility, and add mobility to their regular routine.”
Fiechtner is a Michigan native who recently returned to the area with her family. She said after graduating from Michigan State University in 2007, she landed a teaching job in the San Francisco Bay area. Two years later, she moved to Chicago and taught in the suburbs.
During her time in Chicago, Fiechtner developed an interest in the “studio community” of a barre studio. “I really loved and admired that space and it really changed my perspective on exercise,” she said.
In 2015, Fiechtner had a child, which she described as “a bit of a game changer.” After finding out that many friends were relocating to Grand Rapids, mixed with the fact that her and her husband were both Michigan natives, Fiechtner began to entertain the idea of moving to Grand Rapids. “We wanted our daughter, Reese, to grow up closer to family and friends and that is what really got the ball rolling,” she said.
After deciding to move to Grand Rapids and conducting research on the fitness market in the area, Fiechtner was introduced to Erin Paruszewski, the founder of Alkalign. After learning about the philosophy, brand and team, she was sold.
Alkalign was founded in 2015 in Silicon Valley. Since then, Alkalign has opened two franchised locations, one in Irvine, California and one in Grand Rapids, making Fiechtner’s studio the first of its kind in the Midwest.
Through Alkalign, clients are challenged not only in their physical activity, but challenged to discover the healthiest and safest way to exercise for their bodies as well.
“So many of our clients have ‘ah-ha’ moments after the first few classes and it has been amazing to watch. We’ve had numerous clients tell us about different types of exercise they do and how they love the burn or the soreness the next day, but that it wasn’t until Alkalign that they realized it wasn’t a deep muscle engagement soreness, it was chronic pain,” said Fiechtner.
Clients are also able to embrace the studio community that initially attracted Fiechtner to the idea of owning a fitness studio. “We’re connected to our clients in a multitude of ways and that connection extends amongst our clients as well,” she said.
Since opening earlier this year, the studio has hosted client birthday parties, workshops, member-appreciation events, fundraisers and has also forged partnerships with fellow businesses in Ada.