New fit­ness stu­dios com­bine well­ness and work­outs

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Carolyne Zinko Visit MNT Stu­dio, 766 Bran­nan St., San Fran­cisco. http://mntstu­dio.co. Carolyne Zinko is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: czinko@sfchron­i­cle.com

From Pi­lates to power lift­ing, new stu­dios and fit­ness pros com­bine well­ness and work­outs.

Bay Area na­tive Elaine Hayes long wanted a ca­reer where she could help peo­ple. Af­ter vol­un­teer­ing and tu­tor­ing in high school and then grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, she en­rolled in law school.

It was just the thing her par­ents wanted her to do, but af­ter a year, she re­al­ized law school wasn’t her call­ing. To fig­ure out what was, she took a break. That’s when some­thing from her past bub­bled up — Pi­lates, which she had taken up as a teenager to as­sist with knee in­juries sus­tained while studying bal­let.

“I fell in love with it,” she said of the ex­er­cise pro­gram of con­trolled move­ments. “I could jump higher, dance bet­ter, had no knee pain and I de­vel­oped a new sense of con­fi­dence in my body and self-em­pow­er­ment in what I could do.”

She loved it in high school, and still did. Pi­lates, she said, “was the high­light of my week.” She dropped out of law school, be­came a Pi­lates in­struc­tor and never looked back, not­ing, “I re­al­ized I could be suc­cess­ful help­ing peo­ple while do­ing what I love.”

It was 2010. The seeds for her MNT Stu­dio — “move, nour­ish, trans­form” — were sown.

Af­ter work­ing at sev­eral stu­dios, she started a prac­tice in the SoMa apart­ment she shared with her boyfriend (now hus­band). She bought a re­former ma­chine — one was all she could af­ford — and put it in her spare bed­room. Within six months, she was see­ing more than 60 clients a week, so busy that she was turn­ing peo­ple away. In 2011, she be­gan look­ing for a com­mer­cial space, and two years later found it at 766 Bran­nan St., half a block from her apart­ment. (Pin­ter­est, Airbnb and Drop­box are all nearby.) She opened MNT Stu­dio in 2,000 square feet and ex­panded to 6,000 square feet in 2015 with the de­par­ture of two other ten­ants, one of whom had occupied the en­tire sec­ond floor.

In fall of 2016, Hayes en­listed Adri­anna Doringa of ADBC Ar­chi­tects in Oak­land and in­te­rior designer Cas­san­dra Crain to trans­form the en­tire space — once home to 13 sep­a­rate rooms on two floors — into a co­he­sive stu­dio with seven rooms that are light, airy and ex­ude a sense of calm.

Up­stairs, where a con­trac­tor’s of­fice had been housed, work­ers re­moved old car­pet­ing, flu­o­res­cent light­ing, over­head wires and wa­ter-dam­aged ceil­ing tiles. Non­func­tion­ing heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing were re­paired. Win­dows were re­placed. Hayes learned that the con­trac­tor had used one room for tango danc­ing on the side, which ex­plained its shiny wood floors, red cur­tains sta­ple-gunned to the wall and sparkling chan­de­liers over­head.

Dur­ing the re­mod­el­ing, orig­i­nal trusses and sky­lights dat­ing to the 1920s were un­cov­ered, to ev­ery­one’s de­light The sky­lights were re­fur­bished and the trusses painted white. “In Pi­lates, you’re look­ing up a lot and you’re on your back,” Hayes said. “It’s nice to have that open feel­ing.” Work fin­ished in April 2017, two weeks be­fore the birth of her first child, a son. MNT of­fers 66 classes a week in yoga, barre and Pi­lates, in­clud­ing pre­na­tal classes. Pri­vate ses­sions are also avail­able.

Hayes could have picked a vi­brant color scheme, whic some fit­ness en­thu­si­asts pre­fer, but went with white and gray — not to stim­u­late, but to soothe.

“Our clients are mostly pro­fes­sion­als who work a lot, are al­ways in a rush, com­mut­ing,” she said. “I wanted a space that of­fered an oa­sis from busy city life.”

Fit­ness en­tre­pre­neur Elaine Hayes at MNTSTU­DIO on Bran­nan St. in SoMa. Hayes opened the stu­dio in a smaller space and had it up­dated in 2017 by designer Cas­san­dra Crain and ar­chi­tect Adri­ana Daringa. The stu­dio of­fers Pi­lates, barre and yoga classes in a space of 6,000 square feet on two lev­els.

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