“Just five more seconds…” I kept telling myself as Ulrick pressed my leg back a smidge bit more, deepening the already “intense” stretch I’d been holding for what seemed like an eternity.
This is just one of the many moments that I felt like I was being stretched to my limits — literally and figuratively — during an hour-long training session with Ulrick Bien-Aimé, owner of Bien-Aimé Strength and Stretch Studio.
I was recently invited to get my sweat on at Bien-Aimé (disclaimer kids, my session was a freebie) and happily snatched up an opportunity to try a new approach to working out. The studio is a respite of calm on an otherwise grungy portion of Memorial Drive near downtown Atlanta. (Complete with a Zen garden and a gorgeous view of the city at night.) The studio is small but is equipped with everything you need for a FWABulous workout, whether you are there for personal training or one of the small group exercise classes.
Ulrick’s approach to training provides a balance between physical strength and overall well-being — with an emphasis on stretching and a lot of deep breathing. A few things that I loved from the get-go were that he chatted with me about any injuries, asked what kind of music I wanted to jam to (old-school hip hop, please), and asked if I’d be OK with working out in the outside space for part of our time together (absolutely — it was a beautiful evening!).
First, I warmed up for about 10 minutes on the exercise cycle that is meant to move like a road bike. Next came some of that intense stretching, which in spite of my whining, I really believe in and know does wonders for my body.
What followed was a blur of ab work, pulling weighted ropes and flipping a big old tire back and forth across the grassy area outside, pull-ups, push-ups, a quick interval on the rowing machine, and other weighted movements with free weights and body weight that challenged the heck out of me. The icing on this workout cake was a final deep stretching session at the end of the hour.
While some might call this torture, I call it a wonderful way to spend a Thursday night. Ulrick pushed me to my limits the way any good trainer does. He wasn’t fiddling with his cell phone and doing other things (the way I see way too many trainers act when they’re with clients) while he trained me. Ulrick was focused on motivating me and ensuring that I did the exercises properly. (And also encouraged me to drink water throughout our time together, which earned him another gold star in my book.) Love.
The evening ended with a high five and a promise on my behalf to return for one of the group ex classes. A definite “fit.”