While COVID-19 has caused problems for some businesses, others have opened during the pandemic. The local fitness scene continues to grow with a new Pilates studio and retail store, Core Fitness Oxford, that opened June 8 off South Lamar Boulevard next to First Watch and Marco’s Pizza.
Owners Jennifer Bolton, Ferriday McClatchy and Amy Scruggs decided to open Core when the previous Oxford Pilates studio closed.
“At one point, we heard that Excite! was considering closing,” said Scruggs. “It didn’t take long for us to join forces and start to consider opening our own studio. It all came together pretty easily. The idea of the studio was an easy one – we all loved Pilates and (somewhat selfishly) didn’t want that to end.”
Scruggs said there were several obstacles to overcome due to delays and renovating the studio space.
“Initially, it was not being able to open as scheduled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and regulations regarding opening/reopening gyms,” said Scruggs. “We are all planners. We had this perfect timeline, and it was hard to be patient. We were so excited and ready to open.
“I think aside from those delays, probably the other challenging aspect was the build-out and trying to make sure the studio space and boutique spaces turned out as we hoped. I had built a few houses, but never a commercial space, so that was new territory.”
Scruggs, a Jackson native, has lived in Oxford off and on since 1993 and considers Oxford home. While living in Orlando for several years, she fell in love with Pilates and was eager to join a studio once she moved back to Oxford.
Madeline Appel, a University of Mississippi senior studying exercise science, has been a group fitness instructor for three years.
“I first got into instructing Pilates because I just really loved the Pilates Reformer and wanted to challenge myself by being trained to instruct using it,” she said. “The Reformer can be intimidating at first, but once you try it out, you never want to stop!”
Reformer Pilates, different from mat Pilates, utilizes a machine with a number of sprints for assistance and resistance. This form of exercise has grown in popularity the past several years due to it’s lower-impact resistance and focus on strengthening key muscle groups such as the core, back and glutes.
Each Core instructor is given the autonomy of their classes so each class offered throughout the day is different.
“Literally no class is ever the same,” Appel said. “Never. Some classes might have a fun theme like Flashback Friday with ’70s and ’80s music, or some classes might focus on more jumping. Every class incorporates strength training, balance work, cardio and stretching/relaxation. The instructors personalize each class, each play list and always change the order of the exercises.”
Classes are offered for eight clients per class and one instructor. These classes run 50 minutes and are offered throughout the day. Clients can purchase class bookings on Core’s app, Core Fitness Oxford, found in the App Store.
“The app also has our most updated class schedule,” Scruggs said. “We sell classes in ‘class packs’ rather than monthly memberships. Everyone uses classes differently. Some people like to come five times a week and some people come two to three times a week. Class packs give you 90 days to use the classes and allow for a lot of flexibility. Our class packs right now come in increments of 3,6,12, or 18 classes.”
While Core is most noticeably a fitness studio, it also offers boutique fitness clothing that can be found at the front of the studio. Several notable brands include Lululemon, Spiritual Gangster and Beyond Yoga.
“It is still a super fun, upbeat, workout studio, but also a fully functioning fitness clothing boutique, which is really exciting,” Appel said.
Scruggs said it is a workout for all ages and fitness levels.
“We have two primary demographics – college-aged clients, mainly women ages 18-24, and local residents, men and women roughly ages 35+,” she said. “One thing that makes our classes special is that an 18-year-old and a 65-year-old can take the same class and do the same workout, but modify as needing by simply adjusting the settings on the Reformer.”
Despite the initial setbacks, Scruggs is thankful for the response Oxford has given their business.
“Surround yourself with a good team – not only your business partners, but with the people you hire to deliver your product, whatever that product might be,” she said. “They are the face of your brand. Talk about little things as needed so they don’t turn into big things. And pray often. Ask for daily guidance and energy to be your best. In the beginning, there are a lot of long days, delays, set backs – and energy and wisdom can be in short supply.”
Core Fitness Oxford is open seven days a week, and offers classes throughout the day, beginning at 5:45 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m.