At Salire Fitness (4209 Magazine St., 504-821-4896; www.salirefitness.com), owner Nolan Ferraro eschews the rugged, industrial aesthetic that characterizes most fitness centers. Abstract paintings decorate the colorful walls at the converted warehouse, and its spacious rooms are lit by chandeliers and daylight from large windows overlooking Magazine Street.
"Basically, what we're trying to create is the most nonintimidating environment that we can," he says. "[The studio] takes people into a space where they get out of their head about being here for weight loss, or being conditioned, or needing to get more fit, and puts them in a space that's a bit more enjoyable."
Enjoyment may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to vigorous workouts, but it's a big part of Ferraro's philosophy. He encourages a less goal-driven mindset when exercising, pointing out that short-term goals with an end point (like a smaller pants size, or weight loss for a wedding or class reunion) rarely are maintained in the long run. Instead, he counsels clients to take a long-term view of fitness and wellness.
"The perspective that says 'I'm going to stay healthy for the rest of my life' [is the more] enjoyable, eternal perspective, not the temporal or immediate," he says. "Most people want to run to the destination, and they don't learn anything along the way because they don't stop to check the landmarks."
Ferraro's view of fitness as something that involves mental, physical and spiritual elements served him well as he built his company. After leaving a position as a personal trainer to pursue a dream of owning his own studio, he opened Salire Fitness in July 2005, two months before Hurricane Katrina. In the storm's aftermath, the studio closed for a year, then reopened with Ferraro's renewed focus on offering personal training, group outdoor exercise and life coaching.
"[I wanted to help people] get results, get past obstacles for things that keep resurfacing," he says. "Unless you have someone asking you [the right] questions and helping you set realistic goals, you may only keep approaching [problems] from the way you had been approaching them."
Salire Fitness offers one-on-one personal training and Pilates, life coaching and the company's most popular program, "Boot Camp" at City Park. At Boot Camp, clients pay $100 for a month of unlimited classes, which integrate calisthenics, body-weight exercises, light jogging and obstacle courses into a program that accommodates couch potatoes and gym rats alike.
Above all, Ferraro says he wants to tailor personalized strategies for his clients to help them live happier, healthier, more balanced lives.
"Everybody's an individual; their trainer and their workout plan should be individualized as well," he says. "I don't want people to work out like I work out. I want them to work out like they need to work out."