On July 15, Old Town Alexandria’s fitness scene changed a little, as Xtend Barre Old Town officially rebranded and relaunched as The MVMNT Society, offering a new mix of workout classes for clients.
Xtend Barre Old Town owner Natalie Strahorn remains as the owner and face of the studio. Here, she shares more information about the rebrand, what makes her excited to bring The MVMNT Society to Northern Virginians and more. Highlights from our conversation are below.
What does The MVMNT Society rebrand offer to clients? Why did you choose to rebrand?
I’ve been teaching fitness classes for nearly 10 years in the DMV area, and over the past couple of years I’ve become really passionate about offering a diverse class program to my clients. It’s so important to constantly mix up our workouts so that we don’t plateau mentally and physically. I always say your body needs change to see change. That said, I believe in the methodology of heavy repetitions, low-impact movement using your body weight and props like ankle weights, hand weights, stretch bands and more to create lean, sculpted muscle that’s ideal for a woman’s physique.
Prior to the pandemic, we started to expand our class programming. With the help of my lead instructor, Mary Love, we created a mini rebounder class called BOUNCE that’s equal parts low-impact cardio and sculpting. It took off like wildfire. BOUNCE is an incredible workout but does require a bit of coordination that can be challenging for new clients, so I wanted to bring something with similar incredible benefits of BOUNCE (like improved balance, bone density, circulation, core strength and muscle strength), but easier to follow along. I created a program with similar formatting to BOUNCE using the Bosu Balance Trainer, appropriately named BOSU, and my clients are obsessed. I used the downtime of the pandemic when my studio was closed, between teaching classes virtually, to create the programming for BOSU.
The MVMNT Society offers five class types: Bosu, Bounce, Pilates Stick, Sweat and Sculpt. Our class offerings, coupled with our dedicated teaching team, is what sets us apart. So few studios are offering mini rebounder classes and they have a ton of health benefits. No one is offering the Bosu class program, because we created it. All of our classes have unique choreography and are constantly changing, andour teaching team is critical for bringing the energy, passion and body knowledge. A good instructor is the difference between someone falling in love and coming back, and we pride ourselves in that.
The rebrand actually wasn’t planned, but was a result of the negative impact of the pandemic that I fell into it. In an extremely short period of time I had to throw together a brand, website, signage and marketing materials. I have to give a huge shout out to The Falcon Lab for rushing to help me put together a website, signs and branding in a matter of weeks. I shot images on my iPhone and edited them in the Lightroom App for the website. Garette from BrightlyEverAfter is a friend and installed a gorgeous accent wall in our lobby. My parents spent weekends painting and hanging shelves for me. The rebrand literally took a village; there are so many names that I’m not mentioning, but there’s no way I would have been able to pull this off alone.
I haven’t taken a penny for myself in about five months and let me just say, owning a boutique fitness studio doesn’t pay well. But it’s my passion. It will probably be a long time before I’m able to pay myself, so it feels like I’m starting all over again, but my heart is in this business and community.
I also feel I’ve personally become so much more rooted in the Alexandria community over the past two years, becoming a member of The Old Town Boutique District and The Scout Guide Alexandria, and I’ve been able to experience the incredible.
What makes you excited about The MVMNT Society?
I’m excited to give our community something new to be excited about. Our clients get excited at the idea of a new prop, so this is another level for them. But I’m also excited to reunite our clients after being closed for over three months. The community is such a huge part of my business.
Is The MVMNT Society offering virtual and in-person classes right now as the pandemic continues on?
Yes, we’re offering classes in our studio with a schedule that will expand upon demand, as well as weekend outdoor classes, and our Society Streaming, which offers live and on-demand classes.
What was it like to make a brand switch in the middle of the pandemic?
The lows are that I literally had no money. I called in a ton of favors and really relied on my friends and community to help, and it’s been honestly touching to see this new brand come to fruition. The highs are the outpouring of support from everyone, including my team, my family, friends and small-business peers. I even had instructors who have moved teaching classes virtually for free for my studio to help keep it going. Those are the highs: the incredible relationships I’ve made and how those people have helped my small business during a really scary time.
What have client’s reactions been like so far to The MVMNT Society?
Super excited! Of course, our Bosu class is wait-listing, people always love something new. Everyone loves the new brand, as it’s more a reflection of my personal style. I wanted the space to feel like my home: warm and inviting.
Is there anything else our readers should know?
They should come take class with me! Also, I share a lot of my life on Instagram (@nataliestrahorn) to connect with my community and share what it’s like to be a small business owner with two kiddos. Sharing through Instagram has been an incredible outlet to let me connect even more with the community and also support other local small businesses.