By Ayala Ben-Yehuda
Geralyn Marchisello doesn’t use the word “gym” to describe A WomanSpace, her new fitness studio in Bayside that offers yoga, Pilates and aerobic circuit training in a relaxed setting. Marchisello prefers to call it “a gentle exercise and wellness studio” for women. “It’s more about taking care of self — all of self,” said Marchisello, who opened for business Jan. 4.
The fragrance of incense wafting through the air is the first thing that sets A WomanSpace apart from traditional health club chains. With its soft music, sunny rooms and carpeted floors, the fitness studio provides a peaceful environment where women can exercise without the blaring rock music, harsh lighting and anonymity of a big-box gym.
Marchisello has divided the quiet second-floor studio into three sections: mind, body and spirit. Mind is the center area, where Marchisello welcomes clients by their first names and stocks shelves of information on nutrition, as well as books on living with menopause, a stage of life most of her clients have reached.
Body is the cardiovascular room, which contains aerobic machines such as bicycle and treadmill as well as resistance-training machines found in ordinary gyms — without the lines.
Spirit is the large room used for group classes in yoga and Pilates, an exercise technique that emphasizes strengthening of the abdominal muscles. The studio also features a large contraption with pulleys and springs that Pilates clients push and pull for a more passive style of resistance training that targets deep muscles.
The idea for a mind, body and spirit wellness studio was inspired by what Marchisello called “a core defining moment” in her life – the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. On her way to work that day, Marchisello, a former event producer and vice president of public affairs at Merrill Lynch, emerged from the subway only to watch a plane hit the first tower.
That day made her re-evaluate her career and motivated her to pursue her dream of helping women develop inner strength.
“I want to work with women, particularly women that have put themselves aside,” said Marchisello, who intended to pursue a doctorate in psychology but decided instead to open a studio where she could work more directly with the public.
Marchisello wants to change the view of menopause from medical burden to “a creative and spiritual process,” an opportunity for women to learn about themselves.
Women can do that by joining the studio as members or they can attend individual group classes. A variety of packages is available, from individual yoga classes at $16 each to private Pilates sessions at $60 an hour.
Memberships carry a one-time initiation fee and a renewable contract that includes aerobic training and discounts on private sessions and group classes. Fees vary according to the contract chosen.
A WomanSpace is located at 213-37 40th Ave. in Bayside. For more information, call 718-229-4470.
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.