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Workout on Water

By Virginia Pelley

Drawn to the area’s walkability, well-designed beauty near the Hillsborough River, and vibrant sense of community, residents and visitors to Water Street Tampa tend to be young, active, and social. They walk their dogs around the neighborhood and stroll, run or bike on the Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.6-mile path linking Water Street Tampa to Armature Works in Tampa Heights. A bonus to the area’s DIY fitness opportunities, Water Street Tampa offers an impressive variety of boutique studios. Here’s a run down of ways to sweat while at Water Street Tampa.

These hybrid Pilates classes—offered in group or in one-on-one sessions—up the intensity of traditional Pilates, a tried-and-true method for sculpting lean muscles and strengthening cores. Bodyrok’s aluminum reformer machines are larger than classic reformers, a little wider and slightly longer, with platforms in the front and in the back, says co-owner Alicia Whitis. In addition to incorporating strength work with hand weights, Bodyrok also veers from traditional Pilates classes with movements that are slow and controlled, but faster paced in transition times between moves, Whitis says. The moves are often timed to the beat of the music, which makes the workout more fun.

“We also have a three-stage lighting system, which changes colors to clue you in on how far along you’ve gotten in the workout,” Whitis says. “So that’s something unique as well.”
Since opening their doors in March 2022, Whitis and co-owner Erin Greco have found their location at Sparkman Wharf—the only Bodyrok franchise in Florida as of press time—to be a particularly good fit.

“We love the location—it’s great for the brand,” Greco says. “It’s really walkable so we get a mix of foot traffic and also people who drive by and like the city feel of the neighborhood.”
Bodyrok also offers free outdoor classes on the lawn at Sparkman Wharf once a month that have proved popular. “Water Street has a great community aspect; People are out and about, with their dogs,” Whitis says. “And they’re super supportive of local events.”

Orangetheory Fitness
Already a force among Tampa boutique fitness enthusiasts, Orangetheory Fitness opened its newest area location in Water Street in November 2022. The studio offers one-hour, full-body interval training workouts to help patrons build endurance, strength, and power. The studio workout room equipment includes treadmills (and alternative bikes and striders), WaterRowers, and floor equipment including dumbbells, benches, TRX suspension trainers, medicine balls, BOSU trainers, and AB Dolly, a portable, handled platform on wheels that helps keep the core engaged during plank exercises, mountain climbers, and crunches.

Patrons wear heart rate monitors so they, and Orangetheory coaches, can gauge progress throughout the workout, keeping them working hard enough to be challenged but without risk for overexertion or overtraining. The Orangetheory Fitness app also helps patrons chart their workouts and progress, even when they’re outside of the studio.

F45 Training
Despite opening their first location in the middle of the pandemic, F45 Training has thrived, opening six locations in the Tampa Bay area in only two years. Co-owned by former professional baseball outfielder Matthew Joyce and his wife, Brittany, F45 Fitness is a circuit and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout that’s a favorite of actor Mark Wahlberg (who’s also an investor) and legendary former English soccer player David Beckham, Joyce says.

Joyce played for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2009 to 2014, then played for teams in Oakland, California, Philadelphia, and Miami before returning to his roots in the Tampa Bay area. In his late 30s and after a lengthy career in baseball, Joyce felt it was time for a career shift. After trying F45 Fitness (which stands for “functional” fitness) themselves, the Joyces went all-in. Certified personal trainers lead strategically designed group classes through challenging intervals, keeping an eye on patrons’ heart rate data on the screens above each exercise station. Another part of the screen shows videos demonstrating proper form and technique for each exercise.

Exercise stations include stationary bikes, row machines, Plyometric jump boxes, TRX suspension trainers and space for burpees and weightlifting. The program includes more than 1,000 exercises and classes are divided into strength sessions, speed, agility and cardio sessions and hybrid classes, on Fridays.

“I’ve worked with a lot of trainers over the years, paying over $1,000 a month for personal training,” Joyce says. “We designed F45 to be exactly the same stuff you do with a personal trainer.”

Although the facilities are only available to residents and guests of Roost Tampa, the fitness offerings at Asher Residences are so well-appointed, we couldn’t neglect to include them. In addition to the large, resort-style outdoor heated pool, Asher boasts an airy, window-lined, 1,593-square-foot indoor fitness studio and outdoor dynamic fitness area for yoga and stretching that’s open 24 hours a day. State-of-the art equipment in the indoor fitness studio includes Precor weight benches, a squat rack, elliptical trainers, treadmills, and exercise bikes (Precor recumbent and three Les Mills spin bikes), as well as TRX weight bags, Concept SkiErg, StairMasters, row machines, and a Nautilus Pull Down. Also available are sets of free weights, plated weights, medicine balls, a Plyometric jump box, and two flip tires.

Union Three
One of the most vibrant community fitness spaces in Water Street Tampa is Union Three, known as “U3” to its many devotees since opening its doors in 2020. Union Three offers hot yoga, hot boot camp and hot cycling instruction in a cheery white brick building on Cumberland Ave. equipped with lockers, showers stocked with Malin + Goetz bath products and a blow dry bar in each locker room. Cycling shoes and yoga mats can be rented for $2 each.

Its yoga studio is drenched in natural light, and its cycling classes take place in a darkened, candle-lit studio. In Hot Boot Camp sessions, patrons use weights, resistance bands and bodyweight movements to tone the upper body, lower body, and core in addition to cardio drills to jack up the heart rate. Union Three also hosts special workshop classes, such as Acroyoga (a hybrid of yoga and acrobatics), in its studio and yoga (such as after-dark “Full Moon Silent Disco Yoga”) and dance events on the lawn at Sparkman Wharf.

But Union Three’s community activism makes it truly special. In the relatively short time it has been open, its clients have raised more than $100,000 at a fundraiser ride for the Children’s Cancer Center, raised $1,500 in donations for the Walk to Defeat ALS and recently raised $1,500 for the Mercy Full Project, a local animal rescue and adoption organization. Earlier this year, Union Three clients also raised money to benefit victims of Hurricane Ian.

With so many spaces to choose from, patrons and visitors can reflect on their goals, their fitness desires, and sample studios and workout regimes, figuring out which might best meet their individual needs. And with so many choices, it may be suggested to try them all—at least once.