Boutique fitness facilities for women thrive in Viera


Two years ago, owners Diane Hawthorne Thomas and Dawn Garrison opened Empower Fitness, a boutique-style fitness facility focusing on overall health and fitness for women.

Located in The Avenue Viera, the 5,000-square-foot facility offers space for personal training, small group fitness, specialty classes and heart rate monitoring.

“She’s (Garrison) always wanted to have her own gym,” Thomas said. “I have always been in business to empower women. Our collaboration is very unique and what you would not find in most gyms.

“We focus on strength as well as resistance training."

Empower Fitness offers a free, three-day trial. There also is a free community workout at 8:30 a.m. each Saturday and a beach workout each Sunday. There is a drop-in fee for nonmembers. For members, the beach class is free.

Classes are small in size and are “designed to shape a woman’s body,” Thomas said. On average, membership is about 130 members.

On Jan. 10, the kickoff for the Ultimate 21-day Decade Challenge will take place. This individual challenge is offered monthly to members and includes workshops, guest speakers, a workbook, prizes and a drawing for $500 cash.

“What sets us apart is that we educate. That is our main key for our business,” Thomas said.  “We are driven to create a community where women feel safe when they walk into a gym.”

Also at The Avenue Viera is Club Pilates Viera, “a boutique Pilates studio specializing in reformer fusion classes for anyone, at any age or fitness level. Pure to Joseph Pilates’ original Reformer-based Contrology Method, but modernized with group practice and expanded state-of-the-art equipment, Club Pilates offers high-quality, life-changing training at a surprisingly affordable price,” according to the Facebook page, clubpilatesviera.

“Pilates is a great form of exercise that heals the body,” said Julia Pontones, the general manager of Club Pilates Viera. “It is meant to correct misalignment and strengthen the core.”

Owners Emily and Heath Rehkop, a married couple who are both disabled veterans, were looking for a business that would allow them to give back to the community.

For more information, go to EmpowerFitnessViera and ClubPilatesViera on Facebook.