A Closer Look at Fitness Shops in Wauwatosa

By Jenny Wisniewski


Personality and fitness choices go hand in hand – or foot in foot as the case may be.

Swimming or jogging is an exhilarating hour of exercise…unless you are one who needs the competition or variety of say, circuit training or boot camp. With its high energy and social interaction, a Zumba class is perfect…unless you are the person who needs a quiet hour of mind-body fitness in yoga or tai chi. Clearly personality plays a part in the type of fitness individuals choose and where they choose to do it.

The second part of our fitness series examined several yoga studios in town. Now in this third and final segment, we turn to two other forms of exercise, kickboxing and barre.

A Quick as Lightning Workout

punching bagOne of the newest kids on the fitness block is Drew Stauffacher. Stauffacher pursued a career in fitness from the get-go. He began training in martial arts at the age of seven and as an adult has worked in the fitness industry for 13 years. His newest venture is as owner of 9 Round (7954 Harwood Avenue).

Stauffacher describes his flavor of fitness as a hybrid of personal training blended with kickboxing. A client moves through nine stations of three minutes each. When the bell rings, it’s off to the next station. Within the three-minute interval, a client’s workout is individualized as they choose their own resistance. “It’s one badass 30-minute workout,” Stauffacher said.

A unique feature of his studio is the flexibility of no class times. A customer can stop in whenever they have thirty minutes and a certified trainer will be available to work with them. This feature appeals to employees with crazy schedules from the medical complex as well as moms who never know when they will have time to squeeze in a workout.

kickboxingThe studio itself is an adrenaline rush with its bright red interior, loud music and energetic trainers greeting clients as they walk in the door. Stauffacher loves the fact that “it is embedded right in the community.” “We have homes ten feet away from the gym. People walk here, run here, bike here,” he said.

A proponent of reaching out and working with other small business owners, Stauffacher joined his next door neighbors (Ty Gruber and Kayla Vogds of Power Cycle) in creating member options to accommodate those customers who want to access both gyms. He has done a service exchange with a local chiropractor that he uses. And though they seem incompatible, he has connected with local yoga teacher Melanie Landgraff of Tosa Yoga. Stauffacher and his wife have practiced yoga at her studio. Landgraff hopes to bring a group of her instructors to try Stauffacher’s gym. “It is an awesome yin to the yang,” Stauffacher says. “Kickboxing is fast; yoga is getting deep into stretch and thought. Kickboxing is reactionary; yoga is more mental.”

Staying On Their Toes

On the other side of town, and even a wee bit past, sits Barre District (5211 West North Avenue). Barre is a fitness program that combines elements of ballet, pilates and yoga. The barre is used as a prop to tone muscles and increase flexibility and balance. Some teachers might use other props such as free weights, exercise balls or resistance bands.

studio in tosaThough relatively new to our area, many might be surprised to learn that barre originated in the 1940s. The method used by Barre District was coined “the Lotte Berk method” after a woman who fled Nazi Germany, ended up in London, and created an exercise method based on her ballet background. “Lotte was fun, carefree and a bit cheeky,” owner Christina Zarnowski said. “Not only will this workout bring some amazing results but more importantly, a much-deserved boost in confidence and mental clarity.”

Formerly working in the beauty industry in Florida, Zarnowski became a runner in Florida’s year-round warm climate. Upon her move back to Milwaukee, where she was raised, Zarnowski moved her workout indoors in the winter.

After taking her first barre class, she was hooked. After much training, including obtaining a master level certification in the Lotte Berk method, she partnered with Nikki Meeusen and then founded and grew the Barre District Lifestyle Brand.

Reaching out to the community is a part of this. Barre District holds “Class With A Cause,” which is free and focuses on a different charity each month. Clients are asked to bring an item to donate. They have also hosted larger charity events with Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition, Barre District has partnerships with Simple Eats Milwaukee, Valentine Coffee, and Big White Yeti, all local Milwaukee establishments. Their products are sold in the studio.

We all seek ways to maintain our health, increase our strength and belong to a community. Different personalities, similar goals. Tosa seems to have something for everyone.