Co-owner of NoVA-based StarFit Studio talks women-focused fitness

From two locations in Arlington and Alexandria, women’s fitness studio StarFit builds an empowered community through strength training.

four women doing planks
Photo courtesy of Allie Baier

Entering a gym with zero to little training experience can be intimidating. There’s the vast array of machines that appear to be complex and there’s the daunting thought that everyone there knows what they are doing, and you, of course, do not. Plus, for women, the weight room can often feel like a no-go zone, as it is often dominated by men.

According to research, the gender disparity within gyms isn’t just in your head.

Globally, women are less likely than men to get enough exercise, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, and the gap becomes even larger when looking at aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. The reasons why tend to stem from women’s experience with weight stigma, harassment (over 40% of women experience harassment while running, according to a 2017 poll by Runner’s World) and even the physical design of most gyms. 

Allie Baier, the manager and co-owner of local StarFit Studio, recognizes the stigma, and proves to local women that they are able to reach their fitness goals every day at the female-centered studios in Arlington and Alexandria. At StarFit, small group strength training sessions are the main attraction, while one-on-one training, supplemental classes and nutrition coaching are also available. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, we chatted with the local leader of StarFit to learn more about the unique concept. Find highlights from our conversation with Baier below.

three women in front of studio
Photo courtesy of Allie Baier
What inspired you to get involved with this studio?

At the core of StarFit is the desire to help others. In my opinion, strength training is the most important component of anyone’s overall fitness. At this point, the benefits of strength training are widely known and proven, but most women (even active ones) are not incorporating a real strength training program into their routine. The free weight section of any big box gym has been stereotyped as the “man area” and women feel intimidated, overwhelmed or embarrassed to even try, so they tend to stick to the dreaded cardio machines. Most group classes are also centered around cardiovascular work and so many women are missing this vital piece of their fitness routine! 

StarFit was built because we wanted women to have a place where they can learn proper form, feel safe and confident, and get an amazing, well-balanced workout. What makes my job so fun is seeing how empowered and healthy StarFit makes our clients. There is no better feeling than when one of our clients brags to me about their weight loss or their new personal record in a lift!

Talk about the differences in training individuals in an all-female environment, versus mixed-gender classes.

There are a lot of benefits to training in an all-female environment.  To start, because we have a more specific clientele, we can make a more custom program that is built around our average client. Rather than cookie-cutter classes built for the masses, we build workouts specifically for women in our demographic. We know our “average client” incredibly well, down to very specific details, and as a result we can serve them better. Our community, our workouts, our trainers, our services, how we on-board clients … all of it is designed very specifically to better serve our awesome ladies. 

How does that impact your clients’ abilities to successfully stick to a fitness regimen and see results?

Our studios are very small; in a good way! We pride ourselves in being the Cheers of workout studios. Our trainers and staff will know your name, your needs and your goals. Clients also make a ton of friends in the studio. The small groups actually allow for interaction and makes it a very social environment. 

We also have a new, trainer-designed workout routine every single day, so there’s no boredom or burnout. Even the best fitness program won’t work if you don’t show up, so we strive to make sure being at StarFit is the best hour of our clients’ days. By creating such a safe and fun environment, with personalized and addictive workouts, we are able to get clients phenomenal results because they keep coming back.

What does the nutrition program consists of?

Our nutrition program is led by our outstanding registered dietitian, Siobhan Vogel. Siobhan has more certifications than I can count and is such a great and knowledgeable person to work with. The plans we offer vary from meal plans and guides based on body weight, all the way up to custom one-on-one work with the dietitian. Based on body composition, Siobhan will prescribe you a custom macronutrient plan to follow and make sure you are sticking to it. Clients in the nutrition program have an app to upload pictures of each meal so Siobhan can check in and hold you accountable every day.

This spring, StarFit is offering its 90-Day Jumpstart program for all new clients, giving local residents the chance to try the studio’s offerings at a discounted price. Plus, all newcomers will receive a composition analysis using an InBody Scanner to see exactly what areas of the body need strengthening.

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