Encouraging people to do what they like and be who they want is at the core of Manayunk’s newest fitness studio, Launchpad Fitness.
By Megan Douress Photos by JPG Photo & Video (jpgphotoandvideo.com)
One size doesn’t always fit all. Nor does Kelly Maguire, owner of Manayunk’s newest boutique fitness studio, Launchpad Fitness, want it to. Launchpad Fitness has a mission of separating fitness goals from physical appearance, welcoming people of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.
The all-inclusive studio stems from the idea that fit bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Take, for instance, Kelly herself. Kelly has never identified as “athletic.” In fact, it wasn’t until about ten years ago that fitness started to take a larger role in her life.
“It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I found something that I actually enjoyed,” Kelly explained. “I felt it had a really positive impact on my life, how I interact with the world, and how I feel physically and mentally. So, I really got into it because I want other people to discover that same thing for themselves.” That “something” was BODYPUMP classes at the Roxborough YMCA. The workout uses lightweight barbells and focuses on repetition, building both strength and endurance. Kelly had been taking the classes for some time when she came to a fork in the road within her career. She had been a tech freelancer, but the job was winding down. She took it as an opportunity to try something different, influenced by a friend who was previously her BODYPUMP instructor. She took the workshop and became an instructor.
“I loved it. It was awesome,” Kelly said. “From there, I also got a personal training certification so I started working one-on-one with people and just really, really enjoyed it.”
“Finally, I found something I enjoyed and it was rather helpful,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be the same thing everyone else is doing. There are a lot of different options and avenues.”
A few short years later, the building at 106 Gay Street, one that Kelly and her husband, Chris (who co-owns Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory), had been eyeing up as a real estate investment, was listed for sale. The warehouse formerly housed fashion designer, Paula Hian, and was just what they were looking for. Things fell into place for the husband-wife small business owners, who purchased the building in 2019. “Chris needed a place to expand his kitchen space for Tubby Robot,” Kelly explained. “We built out this portion [the first floor] as a gym and I just dove head first into fitness.”
With a wide-open studio space and a few years of experience in the fitness world on her side, Kelly opened Launchpad Fitness in May 2021 with a class schedule that fit the lifestyles of all sorts of people looking to get healthy, from classes to personal training sessions. Group classes include Core + Mobility, which focuses on the small core muscle groups to ensure performance gains; 30 Minute Cardio Pump, a new lunchtime low-impact workout that uses light weights and cardio moves to music; and Kelly’s favorite, Flexibility through Strength.
“That’s made up of all of my favorite little exercises,” Kelly said of the class. “For the first two reps, you’re like, ‘This is easy. Is this even an exercise?’ By the last two reps out of 15, you’re like, ‘What is this? Why does this hurt so much?’ I love the slow burn ones!”
Launchpad Fitness’ flagship class is the unique Cirque-It Fitness, inspired by Kelly’s love of circus aerial arts. The all levels class is a fast-paced circuit-style training infused with circus arts, including aerial apparatuses.
“We’re not doing performance, artsy flowy stuff,” Kelly emphasized. “We’re doing the pull ups and upper body workout part of that stuff.
As a studio that welcomes all fitness levels, Kelly and her team see a lot of people who are looking to start – and stick with – a workout routine. Kelly’s advice is what she learned from her own experience.
“Start with something you genuinely enjoy,” Kelly explained. “Not just what you hate less than other things, but the things that you think are fun and you maybe want to do a little bit better. For me, that’s flying trapeze. I know that in order for me to get better at it, I need to build my lat strength and I need to work on my flexibility so I can tuck under the bar and do fun little shapes. Once I identified the thing that drives me and the thing that I’m excited about, I built my workouts around that.”
Kelly also suggests that people new to the workout scene start slowly to not overwork your body, which will inevitably mean taking longer breaks and potentially breaking the healthy habit before it really gets off the ground.
“Don’t reinvent your life in one day,” she said. “You found an activity you like? Great! You found the thing you need to do to strengthen or get faster at. Do that once a week with enough time to recover in between.”
“Plan to rest because if you don’t make that plan, it’s really easy to overdo it, especially if you have other people you’re doing this stuff with, and that’s how you end up injured,” Kelly added.
Encouraging people to do what they like and be who they want is at the core of what Kelly is trying to accomplish at Launchpad Fitness, including creating a body positive environment. One thing she’ll never do at her studio? Talk about weight loss.
“We’re not going to tell someone they should stop being fat,” she said. “We’re here to help them get stronger and to develop more cardiovascular strength, stamina, and all of the other good things that come with it. “
“That’s something I really actively wanted to create – a space that’s safe for folks,” she added. Her support has been reciprocated by the Manayunk community since opening just a year ago. Kelly acknowledges that trying something new can be intimidating – especially since there’s no “hiding in the back” in her studio classes.
“I really appreciate that people are willing to give us that chance,” Kelly said. “Even when we’re not a good fit for someone, I’m really glad they came out and checked it out.”