|Vince Pupera instructs Jessica Kuhar on the Megaformer Black machine, which inventor Sebastien Lagree developed a year ago. Photo by Robin May|
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
It’s no secret that Louisiana is better known for its food than fitness habits, and after the nation has recognized that Lafayette is the best city in the country to stuff your face, it’s unlikely that will change. But Vince Purpera’s new Body Factory may also begin attracting fitness gurus to Lafayette along with foodies.
Purpera, 31, the portrait of fitness in his sleeveless workout shirt, opened Body Factory in Parc Lafayette in February and is the only studio in the world to offer four of the globe’s most effective and strenuous exercise methods: hot yoga, Barre Blast, the Real Ryder stationary bike and the Lagree Fitness method that uses an amped-up Pilates-like machine for circuit training but requires a multiple-month specialized training regimen from inventor Sebastien Lagree himself. There are less than 60 Lagree-certified studios in the world, and fewer than 10 studios (Purpera included) have the updated machines, the Megaformer Black, which Lagree developed a year ago. The closest studios with the updated machines are in Miami and Los Angeles.
Purpera grew up in New Roads and was originally destined to take over his father’s grocery store business; instead, he moved to Los Angeles after graduating from LSU in business when he was 23 and dove into the fitness scene at Lagree’s studio. Initially, he hated it but saw how the workout challenged his already fit body and then began sneaking into classes because he couldn’t afford them.
When Purpera decided to open his own studio in 2009, the national economy was in poor shape and he knew Lafayette was a city ripe for development. Opening here also allowed him to return to his family — an important aspect of his life, marked by his left inner-arm tattoo that reads “famiglia,” Italian for “family.” Two years before opening Body Factory, Purpera owned a studio for strictly Lagree Fitness in River Ranch. Purpera says he was unable to expand the space there, so he moved to Parc Lafayette and broadened his selection of workouts, adding services that complement each other. The Real Ryder stationary bike mimics a real road bike, swaying from side to side, requiring the rider to maintain better balance than on a regular stationary bicycle, providing both cardio and a core workout and less strain on joints. Body Factory is also one of two studios in the world offering Barre Blast, a high-interval training method that combines a ballet barre with cardio to produce leaner and stronger muscles.
“I always try to take evolved, proven fitness,” says Purpera. “They’re not fad workouts. Cycling has been around for years. It’s proven — I just have the evolved version. I have a very evolved version of Pilates, and it’s just called Lagree Fitness. Barre has been around for years.”
Purpera says having a service-based business also surprises customers, because clients determine their own class schedules through an online booking system. Purpera has 30 instructors on staff to cater to all clients’ schedules. “I leave it up to my client,” says Purpera. “I’m all about convenience.” A Lagree Fitness class provides a full body workout in only 40 minutes, and clients can do 175 different exercises on one machine. Along with 45-minute to 1.5 hour-long classes for bike, barre or yoga, Purpera also offers 30/30 classes, which is 30 minutes of Lagree Fitness and then 30 minutes on barre or bike, giving clients a combination of strength training and butt-kicking cardio.
Purpera says his No. 1 priority is for his clients to have fun while exercising, but to also challenge them in a safe way. “I love the human body, I love to challenge people. I think it’s really important as humans that we take care of ourselves.” He says he is happiest when clients’ doctors inquire about improvements in their patients’ bodies. “It’s things like that that really make me happy. It’s not just because not only am I changing people’s lives to work out and feel better about themselves, but to actually fix ongoing complications.”
When Purpera opened in Lafayette, he set a goal to have five studios, and, two months ago, expanded to Baton Rouge with Lagree Fitness. Next, Purpera is poised to trigger a fitness revolution to transform the South from stout to svelte.
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