New Kid on the Block: Nova Fitness

One thing to know about Nova Fitness, the new fitness studio on the corner of Leonard and Church, is these guys are not your average personal trainers. Founder Jackie Wilson is a former sports agency general counsel (Duke ’04, Notre Dame ’07) and founded Jackfit, a company that ran fitness classes in hotels around the country. His facilities manager, Dre Figueroa, ran track and played football and rugby for Tufts, going in (from Regis) as a math major and coming out as a nutrition major. This is their second location in the city; the plan is to have these all over the country.

The idea starts with EMS – electrical muscle stimulation – the zappy things physical therapists use to treat dysfunctional muscles, or as they like to say, to “re-educate” muscles. Nova had 20 electrodes fitted into neoprene suits that look like shorty wetsuits and positioned them over the major muscle groups. Each electrode sends (adjustable) currents that make your muscle contract 40 times per second, making each rep count 40 times more. (Naturally I was thinking if I lie on the ground and do nothing, does that count?) The result is a workout takes just 20 to 30 minutes.

There’s no proprietary workout here; it’s personal training, but with a boost. You can only come to the gym if you book a session with a trainer or take a class.

“The suit is not the experience,” says Dre. “It enhances the experience. It makes the most out of every movement you do.”
When I stopped by a couple weeks ago, the man and woman working out were so gorgeous I was looking around for the film crew. But they were actually working out – two models from Germany who have long used the technique in Europe, where Jackie first spotted it – tossing medicine balls to each other, walking in a plank position, all sorts of intense stuff.

Of course, this is not an inexpensive proposition, but well within the Tracy Anderson realm. You can buy a membership that allows you to come either one or two times a week (they cap it at two because a workout is extremely taxing). Rates are $500 per month for one visit a week; $600 a month for two; both get cheaper if you enroll for more months at a time. There is also a variety of 45-minute classes (barre, boxing, core) at $40 per.

“It seems like such a gimmicky thing – like home-shopping-network-esque,” said Dre. “But once you try it, you’re a believer.”

I know what some of you are thinking, and yes, the suits are washed and dried each time in a regular machine, which the gym has on site. They own 200 in every shape and size. The actual gym space is small, but that’s part of the point: you don’t need a lot of room or a lot of equipment. There’s a classroom, a workout room and a locker room. That’s it. It’s really just about the tech.

“You don’t have to be super fit to do this,” said Jackie, as I stared slack-jawed at the models. “It helps your muscles work no matter what you need to do.”

The best part in my mind? There’s a massage setting for the end of your workout.

Nova Fitness
67 Leonard (at Church)